By Abigail Kishimoto, Head Culture Co-Writer
Photo from news.lvhn.org
Congratulations everybody, the fall semester is quickly coming to a close, and we did so without a COVID-19 shutdown! These times have been very unprecedented for universities everywhere, and McKendree has navigated these challenges exquisitely. If current events have taught us anything, it is to be prepared for things to change at any moment. By this line of thinking, many professors continued to structure their classes to be able to switch to remote learning quickly if need be. For many, this meant more final projects instead of final exams, and schedules that could be easily adjusted if a shutdown did occur.
Looking back, McKendree students have been very lucky to have had the opportunity to return to campus since the fall of 2020, when many schools had to remain remote. This was able to be done through social distancing and masks in public spaces, bi-weekly testing for athletes, surveillance testing through Health Services, and strict quarantine protocol for positive cases on campus. Even so, during the Fall 2020 semester, McKendree had a total of 197 COVID-19 positive cases in the student body.
During the spring semester of 2021, social distancing and mask-wearing protocols remained, and vaccines were increasingly made available for certain populations on campus. This helped to reduce the total number of cases for the spring semester down to only 67. By the end of the semester, vaccines were approved for all adults, so the campus began to offer clinics for students to get vaccinated.
Coming into this semester, vaccines were required for students living on campus, unless you were approved to opt out of the vaccine. As of October 27, 86% of students and 85% of faculty and staff were fully vaccinated. For those who opted out of the vaccine, there is weekly surveillance testing done through Health Services. This allowed for classrooms to be back to normal capacities and masks to only be worn indoors. With these modifications, McKendree has only had 29 active cases this term!
Moving forward, the COVID Response team continues to make updates to protocol to provide a healthy learning environment for students and faculty. Additionally, if you are ready for your booster shot, keep an eye out for vaccine clinics hosted on campus and announced by the response team. Thank you to the McKendree COVID Response team for continuing to guide us through these unprecedented times!