New Coronavirus Restrictions in Region 4 Won't Impact Southern Illinois University, School Says

The new restrictions limit gatherings to 25 people or 25% of a building's capacity, but don't apply to schools, officials say

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Even as one of Illinois’ healthcare regions sees new coronavirus mitigation restrictions implemented due to elevated positivity rates, one of the state’s biggest public universities says its classes won’t be impacted as students return to campus.

According to officials with Southern Illinois University-Edwardsville, state health officials have ruled that new restrictions on the sizes of gatherings will not apply to classrooms and to lectures on the campus.  

SIUE is located in Region 4, the healthcare region in Illinois that saw new coronavirus mitigation plans put into place after its collective 7-day positivity rate remained above 8% for more than three consecutive days.

Under that mitigation plan, group sizes must be limited to either 25 or fewer individuals, or to 25% of a building’s capacity, whichever is lower.

According to SIUE officials, the definition of gatherings does “not affect classrooms at schools, colleges or universities.”

The school is already adhering to education guidelines put forward by Gov. J.B. Pritzker and the State Board of Education, including limits on classroom sizes and requirements for students, faculty and staff to wear masks at all times.

Social distancing guidelines are also in effect at SIUE, with students maintaining at least six feet of distance between one another in classrooms.

According to NBC 5 Investigates, the positivity rate in Edwardsville over the last seven days has been slightly lower than that of the surrounding healthcare region, sitting at 8.6%. The city is also averaging 23.3 new coronavirus cases per 100,000 people, which is also a concerning number for health officials, as the state has targeted staying below 15 new cases per 100,000 residents.

In all, Edwardsville has confirmed 420 cases of coronavirus since the pandemic began.

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