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IU officials answer questions about returning to campus amid the coronavirus in webinar



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In a Zoom webinar Wednesday afternoon, IU spokesperson Chuck Carney and Aaron Carroll, IU’s director of surveillance and mitigation for the COVID-19 pandemic, answered student questions about returning to campus. 

Many questions, submitted in advance by students who registered for the Q&A, focused on IU’s testing requirements and protocols for students. 

While IU is requiring all students living on-campus to be tested before their arrival, Carroll acknowledged that some students may not be able to be tested or receive results before returning to campus based on testing capacities where they are living. 

Carroll said that the university is “actively considering” testing some or all students upon arrival to campus, but has no finalized plans for doing so. He said plans for “surveillance testing” of students who may be asymptomatic throughout the fall semester are being discussed. 

He said that all students who experience COVID-19 symptoms during the semester will be able to access free testing from the university.

The university has said that all students will receive two free masks. Carney showed attendees a photo of the two masks, showing one black and one gray mask, each with a small IU logo in the corner. The masks for IU-Purdue University Indianapolis students will have an IUPUI logo instead, he said. 

Carney said students could expect their IU masks to arrive in the mail in the coming days. 

The Student Mask Mailing Address Form, a new app on One.IU, gives students a place to provide a mailing address for their masks. Students living in residence halls will receive their masks during move-in, according to the website. All other students will receive their masks in the mail by August 10. The app was not discussed in the webinar.

Carney and Carroll also addressed social distancing and mask enforcement on campus. IUPD will not be enforcing these rules, they said. 

Carney said there will be lower capacity limits on IU buses. There may be additional buses or routes to accommodate this change. He said that students should not ride the buses unless necessary.  

Communal study spaces like libraries will have new rules to encourage social distancing and masks will be required, Carney said. New hand sanitizer stations will be set up across campuses, he said.

Carroll said new protocols for campus gyms are still being discussed, but they will be open in some capacity. 

In response to a question about how the university will respond to potential coronavirus outbreaks on campus, Carroll said the response teams are following a variety of metrics, including local case numbers, hospital capacity and campus isolation capacity.

He said decisions about tightening or loosening campus restrictions will be made on a campus level and not for the entire university system. He expects that each campus may have to make changes in both directions throughout the semester as circumstances change, he said. 

Throughout the discussion, Carroll emphasized that the goal is not “perfection” and that he expects there will be COVID-19 cases on campus. He repeatedly said that they don’t need everyone to behave perfectly, but that they need as many students as possible to follow recommendations such as mask-wearing and social distancing as well as they can. 

He repeated the phrase “don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good.”

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