UIndy updates COVID-19 policies as spring semester begins

by Nathan Herbst | Opinion Editor

As the University of Indianapolis continues to deal with the evolving situation of the COVID-19 pandemic, the protocols and guidelines put in place to protect the public’s health may require updating. Most of the rules have stayed the same, but some have recently changed, Vice President for Student and Campus Affairs and Dean of Students Kory Vitangeli said. However, all students are still required to practice social distancing and wear masks on campus, unless they are outdoors and able to maintain adequate spacing, according to UIndy’s Road to Re-engagement plan.

The first major change residential students may have noticed was the mandatory testing requirement before arriving on campus this semester. All students living in residence halls or campus apartments were required to test negative for COVID-19 prior to moving back into their living spaces, according to an email sent out on Jan. 8 by Vitangeli. Only specific student groups, such as student-athletes, were required to test at the start of last semester, according to Vitangeli.

“When we looked at the numbers, it really made sense just to be safe and test everybody because we were already going to be testing such a huge percentage [of students],” Vitangeli said.

Random surveillance testing will also continue this semester and will take place in the Health & Wellness Center in the Health Pavilion, according to Vitangeli. The first few rounds will focus on testing commuters and faculty and staff since all residential students have been recently tested, Vitangeli said.

“We really were so fortunate that our positivity rate was less than 1%,” Vitangeli said. “I felt really good about what students did to keep themselves and others safe over break. I think it speaks really highly of the UIndy community.”

UIndy now has on-campus testing facilities for those requiring a test, according to Vitangeli. The university had no such testing capacity last semester when students were required to test off-campus. Now, the university has acquired 33 testing machines to conduct their own testing, Vitangeli said.

“We have multiple locations where we’re able to test, which has been a huge shift in us being able to know almost instantaneously if we have a student that needs to be quarantined or isolated off-campus,” Vitangeli said.

These testing locations are located in the Health Pavilion, the ARC, and Student Affairs office.

The quarantine protocols have also changed from what they were for most of last semester. According to Vitangeli, UIndy now follows the quarantine guidelines the Center for Disease Control and Prevention updated late last year, which gives one two options to follow:

  • Option 1: Quarantine for a full 10 days.
  • Option 2: Quarantine for five days, get tested on day five, and stay in quarantine until day seven. If the results come back negative, then a student can leave quarantine.

The daily health check is still required for everyone coming to campus. The consequences for not following protocols are outlined in the UIndy Student Handbook and can include official university warnings, fines, social conduct probation or removal from campus spaces for repeat offenders.

“Our community has been very good about complying with our policies,” Vitangeli said. “We’ve had very few individuals that we’ve really had to enforce strict consequences with … For the most part, our community is really good about caring for themselves and others.”

Receiving one of the COVID-19 vaccines does not excuse students from following the university’s protocols. Vitangeli said one can still potentially pass on the virus even if one has received the full dosage of the vaccine. Furthermore, if one is vaccinated and exposed to COVID-19, they will still be required to follow quarantine and isolation protocols, Vitangeli said.

“I really have been so impressed at the way our community has embraced the guidelines and really tried to keep the community safe,” Vitangeli said. “I’ve always loved working at UIndy and I think in times of crisis it just shows that people do care about one another …. Thank you to everybody for everything they’ve done to try to do the right thing.”

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