ISU to implement mandatory COVID-19 testing for on-campus students

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NORMAL, Ill. (WMBD) — After an explosion of cases on campus, mandatory testing will follow for students at Illinois State University.

More than 1,300 students have tested positive since classes resumed this fall, but as numbers are starting to subdue, administrators are taking steps to make sure another surge doesn’t happen.

University leaders said when they created the Redbird Return plan, they knew they were going to implement mandatory COVID-19 testing. However, they didn’t know when it would be, as they based the timeline on if and when the virus spread on campus. JNow, that required screening could come as soon as sometime this month.

“I definitely think Illinois State should have their own mandatory testing,” said Freshman Jack O’Mahoney. “We are one of the top 10 schools that have COVID cases.”

Cases at the university climbed in a matter of weeks, beginning on the first day of class. University Spokesman Eric Jome said the hope is that mandatory testing will drive that number down.

“Certainly with this age group of college-age students, they can be asymptomatic, have the virus, and simply not know,” said Jome. “Having that certain kind of testing capacity in place is really important.”

Some students said they would’ve liked to see the university make this decision sooner.

“I’m sad that we weren’t all tested before we came,” said Freshman Alyssa Munis. “I think that could’ve prevented a lot of problems. There are people that haven’t gotten tested and people maybe don’t care about getting tested.”

Jome said the delay was calculated.

“This was part of what we had planned all along,” he said. “We were going in phases, and we are working to get our plans finalized by getting the logistics in place to be able to do this.”

Jome said a letter will be going out to students who live on campus soon.

ISU is also implementing salvia based testing, for the students who live off-campus and want a quick easy way to learn their results, but that is still about two months away.

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