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January 6, 2021 | by the Elmhurst University COVID-19 Task Force

The following message was sent by the COVID-19 Task Force to the campus community on Wednesday, Jan. 6, 2021:

Dear Bluejay Community:

Happy New Year, and welcome to January Term at Elmhurst University. We’d like to offer our most sincere gratitude for a successful Fall Term, and at the same time remind all of us that we have to be more diligent than ever in doing our part to stay healthy and safe.

We ended the Fall Term with a remarkably low 1% positivity rate for those tested on campus. We administered 2,803 COVID-19 nasal swab tests from August 21 through December 14. Of those tests, only 29 individuals tested positive. For more information on the fall numbers and the most current campus COVID-19 information, please visit our COVID-19 Updates webpage.

To date, there have been over 354,000 deaths from COVID-19 in the United States. In the next week or two, medical experts predict a surge from the holidays. Now more than ever, we all need to double down on our efforts to wear a mask, wash our hands, stay six feet apart, and use hand sanitizer whenever possible. Vaccines have been rolling out much slower than anticipated. Therefore, we are not out of the woods yet.

As we did in the Fall Term, we will continue to provide free random testing on campus during J-Term and Spring Term. Over the break, the COVID-19 Task Force was able to secure saliva testing kits, as well as nasal swab tests, that deliver results in 15 minutes. We anticipate both options will be available for use beginning later in January. In the meantime, we will continue to provide PCR nasal swab tests.

Please pay particular attention to the following two items.

  • First, upon the recommendation of the CDC, individuals who have to quarantine will only need to do so for 10 days rather than the previously required 14 days. Additionally, students placed in quarantine will be allowed to leave quarantine to get tested on campus if they are not experiencing any symptoms.
  • Second, food and drink will not be allowed in Founders Lounge until further notice. There were several complaints regarding individuals removing their face masks under the pretense of eating or drinking. We apologize in advance for any inconveniences this may pose to the University community.

The University does not have information on when vaccines will be available to the general public. Once we hear something, we will share the information with the campus.

This term, the Task Force plans to provide mid-week COVID-19 email updates to the entire community.

Finally, the COVID-19 Task Force is aware that a number of us struggled with depression, anxiety, and loneliness this past semester. You are not alone, and there are people on campus who are willing to help.

  • For students, please reach out to the Counseling Center (630-617-3565) or the University Chaplain (630-617-3025). The Counseling Center services are free and confidential. Additionally, the Counseling Center offers groups for students with depression, anxiety, or loneliness.
  • For faculty and staff members, the Employee Assistance Program (through Human Resources) or the University Chaplain are excellent places to start to receive support. Please take advantage of these services now and make 2021 a year of self-help.

As spiritual leader, poet, and peace activist Thich Nhat Hanh said: “Hope is important because it can make the present moment less difficult to bear. If we believe that tomorrow will be better, we can bear a hardship today.” As a University community, we invite you to embrace the hope that together we can face the current hardship and emerge stronger because of it.

Please continue to be safe and healthy, and continue to monitor your email and the COVID-19 Updates webpage for future announcements.

We are all proud to be Bluejays!

Dr. Phil Riordan, Co-Chair
Dr. Dean Pribbenow, Co-Chair
The COVID-19 Task Force

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