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Knox Together: COVID-19 Plans & Policies

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Knox Together

together@​knox.edu

Ford Center for the Fine Arts

Latest Updates

August 1

Dear Knox Community,

As the start of the academic year nears, we wanted to reach out to ensure that every member of our Knox College campus community clearly understands our COVID-19 protocols for the start of the 2022-2023 academic year. 

We continue to monitor federal, state, and local guidance, work with medical experts, and remain prepared to update our protocols as necessary to protect our campus community. We also appreciate your ongoing dedication to the health and wellbeing of one another. 

Vaccination Requirements for the Upcoming Academic Year

Vaccinations, including boosters, continue to be required for students, faculty, and staff, as recommended by the CDC. New first-year and transfer students must be fully vaccinated, except for those with approved medical or religious exemptions. Students requesting an exemption should reach out to Health Services; faculty and staff requesting an exemption should reach out to Human Resources

New students should upload proof of their COVID-19 vaccinations in the pre-arrival tracker.

Current students who have a COVID vaccine dose that they have not already uploaded should upload that proof here.

Masks are Optional for Campus Community in Most Indoor Settings 

Masks will be optional; we will not require individuals to wear masks indoors, except for in these settings:

  • Instructors may require masks in indoor classrooms, labs, and studios. Failure to comply with a classroom mask requirement may result in a violation of our student conduct policy. 
  • Inside the Student Health Services building, and at the T. Fleming Fieldhouse COVID testing site during arrival testing.
  • Masks may be required by the organizers of large meetings and events with 25 attendees or more. 

Any individual may require masks in their personal offices and living spaces as they deem necessary, and anyone who is not yet fully vaccinated (including receiving boosters), who is at elevated risk, or who has family members at risk are strongly encouraged to wear masks indoors. Everyone on campus should keep a mask with them for times when extra protection is needed, or if they are exhibiting COVID-like symptoms. 

We ask every member of our campus community to support and offer respect for those who choose to wear masks.

Testing Before and Upon Arrival 

We strongly encourage all new and returning students to conduct an at-home COVID-19 test prior to departure for Knox to ensure that if they test positive, they can comfortably isolate themselves at home. Pre-arrival testing prevents further discomfort for anyone who tests positive, or transmission to others.

Arrival testing will be conducted for all students to gauge the prevalence of COVID-19 on our campus and isolate anyone who tests positive. Emails with specific instructions for each group arriving on campus during the next few weeks will be sent out soon to ensure that all students know details regarding when and where to get tested, and what to do following the tests. 

Ongoing Testing

Following arrival testing we will conduct symptomatic testing out of Health Services, 175 West Knox Street (Furrow Hall). Testing will be available Monday, Wednesday, and Friday 9:00 a.m. to noon. 

Isolation Protocols

Any students testing positive for COVID-19 must isolate for five days, in their own room if they have a single and in isolation spaces if they have roommates, and follow isolation with five days of masking. Should students test positive, they will need to work directly with faculty members to make arrangements to stay current in classes as they would for other medical situations.

Updated Visitor Policy 

Starting this academic year, students can host overnight visitors in their residence hall rooms, and are strongly encouraged to check with their roommates to make sure everyone agrees to the visitors and length of time for the visit. Visitors are limited to three consecutive nights. 

Admission visitors that wish to stay overnight at Knox will need to be fully vaccinated, including boosters, and must provide proof of vaccination. If they have a medical or religious exemption, they must get the exemptions approved and take rapid tests prior to staying in our residence halls. Admission visitors who want to observe classes will be required to abide by the rules of the classroom.

As you can see, we are moving towards the Knox residential living and learning experience we all enjoy, and will continue to do so unless the guidance from our experts and government officials necessitates changes. In the meantime, if you have any questions or concerns, please email together@knox.edu.

We look forward to a terrific and healthy year, and most importantly, to welcoming you all to campus in just a few weeks!

Regards,

MarQuita Barker
Vice President for Student Development

Michael Schneider
Provost and Dean of the College

July 5

Hello,

Given the low demand for COVID testing during the summer, Health Services is moving the COVID testing site from the Fieldhouse to the Health Services waiting room until further notice. Health Services is located in Furrow Hall at 175 W Knox Street, across the street from the soccer field. This change will be effective on Wednesday July 6, 2022. We will update you with any other changes that may occur as we approach the fall term. 

As a reminder, COVID testing is available during the summer on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays from 10 am until 12:30 pm. You can make an appointment in your Shield portal. 

If you do not already have a Shield IL account: 

To create your new SHIELD Illinois portal account, please visit Portal.shieldillinois.com and click Sign up for an account. Using the student or employee agency code below, create your new portal account. Once you submit your information, you will be sent a verification code to enter and confirm your identity. You can also create your portal by going to the Apple Store or Google Play Store and downloading the SHIELDIL app (Point and Click Solutions) and using the appropriate code below. We recommend that you copy and paste this code in order to avoid errors.

Student Agency Code: antfzz8i-stu

Employee Agency Code:  antfzz8i-empl 

If you have trouble creating an account, please call the patient support line at 217-265-6059, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Thank you!

Abby A. Putnam MS, NP-C
Director of Health Services

May 24

Upcoming Holiday Closures and Schedule Changes-COVID Saliva Testing

Memorial Day: Saturday May 28 to Monday May 30

In observance of the Memorial Day holiday, Shield Illinois is closed and we will NOT be able to collect Shield saliva tests on Monday May 30, 2022. When making travel plans after finals, please keep this in mind.

Regular hours/operations for testing at the Fieldhouse of 8:30 am to 12:30 pm will resume on Tuesday, May 31 and will continue through Friday June 10, 2022.

Change in Testing Days Starting June 13 

Beginning Monday June 13th, we will offer Shield Illinois COVID testing on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays from 10 am until 12:30 pm at the T. Fleming Fieldhouse. 

Juneteenth: Friday June 17 to Monday June 20

In observance of the Juneteenth holiday, Shield Illinois is closed and we will NOT be able to collect Shield saliva tests on Friday, June 17 or Monday June 20th. 

After June 30, 2022

As the pandemic changes, Shield Illinois continues to change their model for delivering testing services. We will continue to work with Shield Illinois to provide COVID testing with the quickest turnaround time for results. At this time, we await further information from them about mid to late summer and fall testing options. 

Please let us know if you have questions!

Abby A. Putnam MS, NP-C
Director of Health Services

May 23

Dear Knox Community,

The results from last week’s COVID-19 testing have been updated on our dashboard. Tests on 746 members of our campus community, including surveillance tests and tests for those proactively monitored due to close contacts, display of symptoms, or other concerns, yielded a 6.9% positivity rate with 52 positive cases confirmed. We also received reports of three cases in isolation not tested through our on-campus system. This data shows that our community is experiencing the surge in cases that the nation and Illinois are also experiencing. Although our assessment of this data does not indicate that a significant change to our COVID-19 mitigation efforts is warranted, we do believe extra attention to our policies and extra care in monitoring one’s health are required at this time.

We are strongly encouraging all of you to wear masks indoors to further support the health and safety of our community. Please remember that instructors and supervisors may require masks in classrooms, labs, studios and workspaces at their discretion. This rule also applies to final examination spaces. Everyone on campus should continue to keep a mask with them for situations where extra protection is needed, or if they are exhibiting COVID-like symptoms. 

With the high vaccination rate on our campus, Health Services is reporting that the positive cases we have seen have been asymptomatic or mild. We continue to require anyone who tests positive to immediately complete the survey that Health Services forwards when a test is positive, and follow our isolation protocols on our Health and Wellness page. 

It is important for all of us to note, as we finish this academic year, that the pandemic continues to evolve. Knox County’s CDC community risk level remains low, like 54% of the population in the United States. At the same time, the CDC is also reporting that many areas have moved into medium and high levels. For these reasons, the CDC emphasizes that people who are up to date on vaccines, including boosters, have a significantly lower risk of serious illness, hospitalization, and death, compared with those who are unvaccinated.  

We as a country are moving towards living with COVID-19 as our reality and should all be taking measures to help prevent the spread of COVID-19: Getting vaccinated and boosted, getting tested, masking when event organizers require it in large group settings, and choosing to mask for your health and others’ well-being. The CDC has also released recommendations for who should get a second booster – adults over 50+, or those 12 years or older who are moderately to severely immunocompromised. If you fall into one of these groups, please seriously consider getting a second booster, if you haven’t done so already.

As we conclude this academic year and move towards Commencement for the Class of 2022, please remember that we continue to foster a community of care, with all of us responsible for following our campus requirements to keep each other safe. Your continued commitment to our campus community’s health is, as always, greatly appreciated. Please also be aware that every week, sometimes daily, we are reviewing a number of data sources and making decisions about everything from masks to visitors and all other COVID-19 related topics based upon the data. If you have additional questions, please visit the Knox Together page or email us at together@knox.edu.

Thank you.

Regards,

Dr. Michael Schneider
Provost and Dean of the College

Dr. MarQuita Barker
Vice President for Student Development

May 18

Dear Knox Community,

In response to inquiries regarding close contact protocols and testing information, I want to share the following information with you. Should you have any further questions, please contact Health Services at health@knox.edu, or you can also contact together@knox.edu.

Close Contact Protocols

Students who test positive for COVID are required to complete a Close Contact Survey in which they list close contacts in different categories: (1) Rooms/suites/apartments; (2)  Classrooms; and (3) Campus activities/clubs/jobs. We continue to follow CDC guidance for determining close contacts. 

Students are provided with the following prompt to keep in mind when answering these questions:

The next few questions are regarding your CLOSE CONTACTS. A CLOSE CONTACT is someone you've been within 6 feet of for 15 minutes or more (even if both of you were wearing a mask). Please only list people who fit this definition.

Please answer the following questions about only those who would be considered close contacts 48 hours before your symptoms started. If you have no symptoms, please answer the following questions about only those who would be considered close contacts 48 hours before your positive test. 

Once students submit the survey, a staff member will send a close contact email and protocol to each person listed.

Testing and Positivity Rate

The number of new tests reported on the dashboard includes tests conducted at our testing center through SheildIL or Health Services and includes surveillance tests and tests for those proactively monitored due to close contacts, display of symptoms, or other concerns. The number of new cases reported on the dashboard includes positive tests from the sources above and any tests reported to Health Services or Human Resources that were not tested through our on-campus system.

The positivity rate is calculated based on the tests administered through our on-campus system and the number of positives identified within that group. As such, the positivity rate will skew high because the group being tested is not an entirely random sample. And, while we are including the number of new positive cases reported to us from outside sources, we do not collect results or report on negative tests from outside sources.

Taking into consideration the factors above, as well as information regarding the surrounding community and national trends, we carefully review and monitor the results  in great detail to inform our decision making. We will continue to closely monitor the results of our testing, and remain prepared to update our policies if necessary to ensure our campus community stays safe and healthy.

I hope this information is helpful to you.

Regards,

Abby A. Putnam MS, NP-C
Director of Health Services

May 16

Dear Knox Community:

The results from last week’s Covid testing have been updated on our dashboard. Tests on 307 members of our campus community, including surveillance tests and tests for those proactively monitored due to close contacts, display of symptoms, or other concerns, yielded a 4.9% positivity rate with 15 positive cases confirmed. We also received reports of five cases in isolation not tested through our on-campus system.

As expected with our mask optional policy, the number of cases continues to be higher than those we have seen in awhile. We have also seen an uptick in self reporting due to the wide availability of home tests. With the high vaccination rate on our campus, the positive cases we have seen have been asymptomatic or mild.

We continue to closely monitor federal, state, and local data, and the weekly results of testing and self reporting those with exemptions continue to test twice weekly. We require anyone who tests positive to follow our isolation protocols as found on our Health and Wellness page.

Our current health and wellness policies will remain in place until further notice, and we ask everyone to continue to be vigilant in monitoring one’s health and addressing any concerns immediately. Anyone who wants to wear a mask is encouraged to do so, and individuals can require masks in their personal offices and living spaces as they deem necessary. Event organizers can also require masks. Everyone on campus should continue to keep a mask with them for situations where extra protection is needed, or if they are exhibiting COVID-like symptoms.

COVID testing is available this week, Monday through Friday, at the T. Fleming Fieldhouse from 8:30 am to 12:30 pm. ShieldIL will be closed this Thursday May 19, so Thursday appointments won’t be available in the ShieldIL portal. Testing on Thursday will be walk-in only; results from Thursday testing will be delayed to Friday.

We remain prepared to update our policies if necessary to ensure our campus community stays safe and healthy. If you have additional questions, please visit the Knox Together page or email us at together@knox.edu.

Regards,

Dr. Michael Schneider
Provost and Dean of the College

Dr. MarQuita Barker
Vice President for Student Development

May 2

Dear Knox Community:

In our last COVID-19 policy update communication, we shared that we would review the results of our surveillance testing as part of our commitment to keeping our community safe. We indicated that should positive cases reach or exceed a CDC-recommended threshold of 5%, we would reassess current policies and be prepared to update them. We have reported the numbers from last week’s surveillance testing in our dashboard, and note that tests on 376 members of our campus community last week yielded a 3.9% positivity rate with 15 positive cases confirmed. 

This number of cases is indeed higher than those we have seen in awhile, though this result is to be expected with the introduction of a mask optional policy. It is our current thinking that this number does not necessitate a change in our policies. We expect to continue to see slightly higher positive case numbers going forward as our population builds immunity to severe illness through vaccination and natural infection. 

We will continue to closely monitor federal, state, and local data, and most importantly, the weekly results of our continued surveillance testing. Also, due to the high vaccination rate on our campus, the positive cases we have seen have been asymptomatic or mild. We are following the same isolation protocols as we have previously for any positive cases, and continue to test those with exemptions twice weekly. 

Please remember that anyone who wants to wear a mask is encouraged to do so, and individuals can require masks in their personal offices and living spaces as they deem necessary. Everyone on campus should keep a mask with them for situations where extra protection is needed, or if they are exhibiting COVID-like symptoms. Please also keep in mind the times during which masks are required on campus:

  • Instructors may require masks of everyone in indoor classrooms, labs, and studios. Failure to comply with a classroom mask requirement may result in a violation of our student conduct policy. 
  • Inside the Student Health Services building and at the T. Fleming Fieldhouse COVID testing site.
  • Masks may be required by the organizers of large meetings and events with 25 attendees or more. Some examples include performances in the Ford Center for Fine Arts or indoor spectator or other guest events in the T. Fleming Fieldhouse or Memorial Gym. 

We will continue to conduct random surveillance testing with all campus community members, testing 20% of our campus community on a weekly basis, and will report the results early the following week. This testing is mandatory, and if you receive an email requiring you to test, please schedule an appointment on your ShieldIL app. 

Testing will also remain available at the T. Fleming Fieldhouse Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. until 12:30 p.m. for anyone who is symptomatic, anyone who has been exposed, and those with exemptions. 

Finally, we will continue to remain a booster-mandated campus (vaccine/s and one booster), with the exception of approved medical and religious exemptions. Visitors must comply with the masking requirements in effect at the time of their visit. While visitors are allowed, overnight visitors will not be permitted in residence halls until further notice.

We are hopeful that our positive cases will stay at about 5% or lower, and we will be prepared to update our policies if necessary to further ensure our campus community stays safe and healthy. If you have additional questions, please visit the Knox Together page or email us at together@knox.edu.

Regards,
Dr. MarQuita Barker
Vice President for Student Development

Michael Schneider
Provost & Dean of the College

April 8

In our last communication, we shared with you that we would assess next steps with our COVID-19 policies following the testing of all students upon arrival for spring term. We also continue to monitor federal, state and local policies and data, and continue to update our policies while aligning with the guidance of our medical experts. In our testing of students, we had a very low positive COVID-19 rate; in fact, this rate was 0.2%. This is encouraging, given all of our ongoing efforts to keep our community safe. Our updated policies are outlined below.

Masks Optional for Campus Community in Most Indoor Settings Starting Saturday, April 16

As a result of the low incidence of COVID-19 in our testing, the low incidence in the weeks leading up to spring break, and the high rates of booster vaccinations on our campus, we are adopting a mask optional policy effective Saturday, April 16. Those who are not yet fully vaccinated (this includes receiving the booster), who are at elevated risk, or who have family members at risk are strongly encouraged to continue the use of masks indoors. 

Beginning Saturday, April 16, we will no longer require individuals to wear masks indoors, except for the settings outlined below:

  • Instructors may require masks of everyone in indoor classrooms, labs, and studios. Instructors will inform their classes of their mask policy before the start of classes the week of April 18. Failure to comply with a classroom mask requirement may result in a violation of our student conduct policy. 
  • Inside the Student Health Services building, and at the T. Fleming Fieldhouse COVID testing site.
  • Masks may be required by the organizers of large meetings and events with 25 attendees or more. Some examples include performances in the Ford Center for Fine Arts or indoor spectator or other guest events in the T. Fleming Fieldhouse or Memorial Gym. 

Any individual can continue to require masks in their personal offices and living spaces as they deem necessary.

Everyone on campus should keep a mask with them for situations where extra protection is needed or if they are exhibiting COVID-like symptoms. Everyone should support and offer respect for those who choose to wear masks.

Weekly Surveillance Testing Required

We will continue to monitor and report case counts on campus, and will conduct weekly random surveillance testing with all campus community members. If you receive an email requiring you to test, please schedule an appointment on your ShieldIL app. Weekly surveillance testing is mandatory. 

Testing will also remain available at the T. Fleming Fieldhouse Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. until 12:30 p.m. for anyone who is symptomatic, anyone who has been exposed, and those with exemptions. Should we see significant changes in case counts, or in federal, state, and local data in our monitoring efforts, we remain ready to pivot, as we always have, to ensure the health and safety of our campus community.

Vaccinations

We will continue to remain a booster-mandated campus (vaccine/s and one booster), with the exception of approved medical and religious exemptions. Testing of those members of our community who have medical and religious exemptions will continue twice per week until further notice.

Visitors 

Visitors must comply with the masking requirements in effect at the time of their visit. They will also be able to eat in indoor dining areas on campus. Any admission visitor observing classes must also comply with the requirements of the instructor teaching the class. Overnight visitors will not be permitted in residence halls until further notice.

We remain committed to keeping our community safe. It is important to note that should positive cases reach or exceed a CDC-recommended threshold of 5%, we will reassess current policies, and will be prepared to update our policies to ensure that we all remain healthy and safe.

If you have additional questions, please visit the Knox Together page or email us at together@knox.edu.

Regards,

Dr. Michael Schneider
Provost and Dean of the College

Dr. MarQuita Barker
Vice President for Student Development

March 16

Dear Knox Community,

As we indicated in our previous communication regarding COVID-19 policies, we have been monitoring federal, state, and local policies and data. We have not had a positive COVID-19 case on campus for more than three weeks, which is a testament to your ongoing, unwavering commitment to keeping our community safe. In light of these developments, we continue to update our policies while aligning with the guidance of our medical experts. A few important changes to the announcements in our February 26 community email are outlined below. 

Testing at Start of Spring Term

Based on the advice of our medical experts this week, we WILL conduct testing of all students upon return for spring term. Students who had a positive COVID-19 test in the last 90 days reported to Health Services will not be required to test. The testing center will be open Monday, March 21 through Friday, March 25  between 8:30 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. at the Fieldhouse. Please use your ShieldIL app to make an appointment. 

If you remained on campus during break or are approved to return early, please schedule your test as soon as possible, preferably Monday, March 21 or Tuesday, March 22 to help reduce wait times and lines later in the week. 

Mask Requirements for Campus Community

We continue to require that everyone on campus wear well-fitting, medical grade masks in public locations indoors, as we have done previously.  

Should our testing confirm low positivity rates and low risk of COVID-19 transmission, we are ready to adopt modifications to our mask policies that reflect that low risk environment. Regardless of these potential modifications, any individual can continue to require masks in their personal offices and living spaces as they deem necessary.

During the week of March 28, we will notify the campus community regarding the surveillance testing results and any potential changes to indoor mask requirements. 

Vaccinations

We will remain a booster-mandated campus (vaccine/s and one booster), with the exception of medical and religious exemptions. Testing of those members of our community who aren’t vaccinated will continue twice per week until further notice.

Per CDC guidance, people ages 12 years and older who are moderately or severely immunocompromised should receive a total of 4 doses of COVID-19 vaccine. The 4 doses are made up of a primary series of 3 doses of an mRNA COVID-19 vaccine, plus 1 booster of an mRNA COVID-19 vaccine (4th dose). 

At this time, a fourth vaccine or second booster is not recommended for healthy adults under age 65. We will continue to monitor the recommendations on vaccines and boosters and adjust our policies as needed.

Changes to Visitor Policy

Effective immediately, day visitors to campus are no longer required to be fully vaccinated or to register upon arrival. All visitors, including admission visitors, are required to wear masks when indoors at all times and are not allowed in residence halls or allowed to eat indoors. Visitors may enter dining facilities to purchase or pick up meals, but may not eat or remain in the dining facilities after they have picked up their meals. Visitors are welcome to enjoy meals outside on the Gizmo patio or another outdoor location.

Class observation and individual meetings with professors, staff, and advisors will also be offered for admission visitors. Current students, faculty members, and staff members will be able to join admission visitors for meals outside on the Gizmo patio or another outdoor location.

No visitors from outside our campus will be allowed in residence halls. Admission tours will not show student residences, and there will be no overnight visits by prospective students in residence halls until further notice.

Individuals with recent COVID exposure, positive tests, or who are feeling ill will be asked to reschedule their visits. 

We are excited to share these positive steps forward with you, and look forward to seeing you all back on campus.

Regards,

Mike Schneider
Provost and Dean of the College

MarQuita Barker
Vice President for Student Development

February 26

Dear Knox Community,


With the CDC changing its mask guidance based upon community transmission levels, Illinois relaxing indoor mask requirements but still recommending them, and with the end of winter term nearing, we wanted to ensure you are clear about current College mask requirements, and testing protocols following spring break. These requirements and protocols support our number one goal for our campus – keeping our community safe and healthy.

Masks continue to be required in most indoor public settings

The medical experts we consult with have been consistent in their guidance that wearing masks protects others, especially those who cannot be vaccinated. 

Starting Monday, February 28, students may remove their masks in the common areas of residence halls, where they gather with their social groups. Masks are still required in all other indoor settings.

No Spring Term Arrival Testing Required

Our COVID-19 numbers, as recorded on our COVID-19 Dashboard, have decreased significantly, and therefore at this time, we will not require testing upon arrival for spring term.

COVID-19 Surveillance Testing in Spring Term

In order to assess the presence of COVID-19 on campus, we will begin surveillance testing of our population following spring break. At the beginning of each week, a random sample of faculty, staff, and students will be chosen for testing. If you are chosen, you will receive an email instructing you to go to the Field House for a test during normal testing hours that week.

Testing will continue for anyone who is unvaccinated, experiencing symptoms, or is identified as a close contact of someone who tested positive for COVID-19. 

Availability of testing will remain the same: Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. until 12:30 p.m. at the T. Fleming Fieldhouse. 

Please note that our visitor and vaccine policies will remain in place until further notice. If necessary, you can review them by visiting our Knox Together website. 

We will continue to monitor the guidance from our medical experts, as well as federal, state, and local information, and adjust protocols and policies accordingly. We will also communicate any changes to our protocols with you. Thank you for your continued commitment to keeping our community healthy.

Regards,

Michael Schneider
Provost and Dean of the College

Dr. MarQuita Barker
Vice President, Student Development

January 28

Dear Knox Community,

The Omicron variant is starting its retreat in our local community and, with a continued commitment to our health and safety protocols, we will begin welcoming visitors to our campus starting February 1. Visitors must follow all our current health and safety requirements, and will be allowed in all campus spaces except residence halls and dining facilities. Please read the important updates below; you can also find important updated COVID-19 information on the Knox Together website.

Visitor Protocols as of February 1, 2022

  • All visitors must be fully vaccinated, including any boosters for which they are eligible. Visitors must show proof of full vaccination before being permitted in campus facilities. No exceptions will be made.
  • All visitors must wear medical-grade masks (N95, KN95 or three-ply surgical masks) at all times throughout their visit, indoors and outdoors.
  • All visitors except prospective students and their families and spectators at athletics events must check in at Campus Safety to provide proof of vaccination and receive a long-term (lanyard) or day pass.
  • Prospective students and their families must check in at the Office of Admission and supply proof of vaccination.
  • Students, faculty, and staff are welcome to attend basketball events beginning February 1. Please be prepared to show your Knox ID to enter the designated on-campus spectator areas.
  • Off-campus visitors are welcome to attend basketball events beginning February 5 and must follow the updated spectator policy that will require vaccination and mask wearing. (The athletics spectator policy for basketball will be available on athletic website prior to February 5.)
  • No visitors exhibiting any symptoms of illness or who have had recent exposure to the COVID-19 virus are allowed on campus.
  • No visitors are allowed in residence halls or dining facilities.

We will revisit this updated visitor policy at the end of February.

Reminder: Boosters Required

We have begun individualized outreach to anyone eligible who has not yet provided proof of a booster. 

Students must upload their vaccine record here.

Faculty and staff members must upload their record here.

As a reminder, booster vaccines are available in the Galesburg community through multiple Walgreens and Hy-Vee Pharmacy locations, as well as CVS, Walmart, and the Knox County Health Department

Important Campus Dining Information

A number of issues across the country including worker shortages, Omicron, severe weather, rising food costs, and produce recalls continue to cause serious disruption to the food supply chain. While the College is absorbing the increased costs, our dining services team is dedicated to providing the best dining experience possible despite these many challenges beyond our control. The team is also working very hard to get staff hired so we can extend The Gizmo hours. We will let you know as soon as we are able to return to the regular Gizmo schedule.

Thank you for your continued care for our community and each other.

Regards,

Michael Schneider
Provost and Dean of the College

Dr. MarQuita Barker
Vice President for Student Development

January 20

Dear Knox Students, Staff, and Faculty,

We are nearing the end of week three of our winter term and I write today to share some data and my thoughts on our recent return to campus. I also want to take a brief moment to acknowledge and thank each of you for your ongoing commitment to our health and safety protocols.

Since the beginning of January, we have completed nearly 2,000 COVID-19 tests. Among those tests, we had just over 160 positive results. Certainly, the symptoms and isolation for those who have tested positive are not pleasant, but we are not aware of any serious illness or hospitalization for those in our campus community who have tested positive.

Over the last three weeks – and the last two years –  we have all been forced to manage rapidly and constantly changing circumstances. I want you to know that I continue to approach each day and each decision with one goal: Preserving the health and wellness of our campus community. As we enter the third year of this global pandemic, the decisions I’m faced with as President of Knox College remain difficult and complex. I continue to seek out the counsel of health experts, our faculty leadership and senior staff, and colleagues at other colleges and universities throughout the country, and use science and data to make the best and most informed decisions. Here are just a few examples of the factors we consider in our daily deliberations about campus health and wellness:

Best Practice Precautionary Measures
We have taken a three-pronged precautionary approach to mitigate the risk of infection and severity of COVID-19 on our campus, and it has worked well so far. Ninety-five percent of our community is fully vaccinated, boosters are required of all who are eligible, medical masks are required, and we have extensive testing and isolation protocols in place.

Each of these measures is known to significantly reduce the risk of infection and serious illness from COVID-19. Together, they are even more powerful. By comparison, the rate of fully vaccinated people in the U.S. is 63 percent, with only 39 percent having received a booster so far.

On-Campus Positivity Rate
Our on-campus seven-day positivity rate moving average is 8.1 percent, as compared to well over 20 percent in the U.S. and over 12 percent in Illinois. As the Omicron variant moves through the United States, experts expect positivity rates to continue to decline. We expect that here at Knox, too.

Isolation Capacity
Our extensive planning for the winter term return to campus includes our health services, campus life, and facilities staff managing several dozen isolation spaces and ensuring that every step of the isolation process is carefully thought through and executed so that those in isolation and the rest of our community remain safe.

Through our phased arrival and ongoing precautionary measures, we have been able to make isolation arrangements for all students who have tested positive. Our isolation capacity for students who test positive in the coming days and weeks continues to be favorable. We also have isolation processes for faculty and staff, ensuring that they isolate at home for the required time and only return to campus when it is safe for them to do so. 

Mask Distribution and Usage
Our student development team and other staff members distributed medical masks to everyone on campus. In my travels across campus during the past three weeks, I have been heartened to see every community member I have come across wearing these higher grade masks, which have been proven to better protect wearers from the Omiron variant than cloth masks.

Please remember that all students, faculty, and staff eligible for a booster are required to get the booster and upload their vaccine record by tomorrow, January 21, 2022 or within five days of becoming eligible for a booster if after January 21. 

Tomorrow is also the final day of our second round of required testing for this term. If you have not been tested this week, you need to make an appointment for tomorrow between 8:30 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. using the ShieldIL app or portal.shieldillinois.com. If you have tested positive for COVID-19 in the 90 days prior to this round of testing, you do not need to do a test. If you have not already done so, please send proof of your recent positive test to health@knox.edu.

Many of the questions we have received over the last three weeks through the together@knox.edu email or directly to health@knox.edu have been answered in a FAQ section at the top of the Knox Together website under Latest Updates for your reference. Please remember the Knox Together website is your best source for all information regarding COVID-19 and to find answers to most of your questions.

I want to conclude by assuring you that while my team and I must make decisions in the best interest of the entire community, I fully understand that each of us continues to be faced with challenges and deeply personal decisions that may at times not align with our campus protocols and policies. Being a member of a community like ours often means that we must compromise for the greater good. At this moment, I ask that each of us review The Knox Together Pledge and recommit ourselves to our community and each other. 

Thank you.

C. ANDREW MCGADNEY
President

January 13

Dear Knox Community,

We want to share our thanks to everyone in the Knox College community for their efforts to keep our community safe while continuing to live, teach, learn, and work, and share updates to our health and safety measures for the winter term. Please read the information below carefully.

Limited Quarantine Lifted on Saturday, January 15 at Noon

  • Students will be able to enter academic buildings starting on Saturday. 
  • In-person learning will resume on Monday January 17.
  • The Library information page has updated hours for Seymour Library and the Amott Science Commons. 
  • Winter term athletics recreation facility operations will resume at noon on Saturday, January 15; please visit this web page with the athletics recreation facilities schedule for more information. 
  • The ITS Help Desk is taking in-person appointments; please use the Help Desk Appointment Calendar to schedule a time for technical assistance.
  • Temporary remote work arrangements put in place for staff will be lifted starting Saturday, January 15. All staff should return to in-person work on January 17 unless they make arrangements for an exception with their supervisor. All staff will return to in-person work by the end of the month.  

Second Round of Testing for Students, Faculty, and Staff Next Week is Required

All students, faculty, and staff are required to test a second time, between Tuesday, January 18 and Friday, January 21. Those who have approved medical and religious exemptions will continue to be tested twice weekly on an ongoing basis. 

This testing will enable us to continue to assess the presence of COVID-19 on our campus and ensure that those who test positive are isolated in the spaces set aside for them. 

Required testing hours in the T. Fleming Field House: 

  • No testing Monday, January 17; ShieldIL is closed due to the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday
  • Tuesday, January 18, 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. 
  • Wednesday, January 19, 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m
  • Thursday, January 20, 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.
  • Friday, January 21, 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.

Please use your ShieldIL app or portal.shieldillinois.com to make an appointment.

If you have tested positive for COVID-19 in the 90 days prior to this round of testing, you do not need to do a test. Instead, if you have not already done so, please send proof of your recent positive test to health@knox.edu.

Boosters, Masks, and Visitors

The information provided in the January 7 communication regarding boosters, masks, and visitors remains current. 

  • Boosters are required for all students, faculty, and staff by next Friday, January 21, 2022.
  • Medical masks are required.
  • Visitors are not allowed on campus through the end of January.

For more details on the specifics regarding boosters, masks, and visitors, please review the January 7, 2022 communication on the Knox Together website.

We are looking forward to continuing to move forward through this term, and ensuring our students receive the human-powered Knox education we are known for. Please be sure, when you can, to review the Knox Together Pledge, which provides guidance for caring for ourselves and each other on our campus. Thank you for your continued commitment to supporting our students and each other through this time. If you have any questions about the information in this email, please contact health@knox.edu, or together@knox.edu.

Thank you.

Regards,

Michael Schneider
Provost and Dean of the College

Abby Putnam
Director of Health Services

January 7

Dear Knox Community,

Welcome back to those who have already returned to campus, and I wish safe travels to those returning this weekend. With apologies in advance for a Friday evening communication, I wanted to share the following health and safety updates for our winter term as soon as possible. Our team has been working diligently to prepare the campus for in-person instruction beginning on Monday, January 17.

As we have experienced so many times over the last two years, flexibility and the need to adjust in response to fast-changing circumstances and scientific guidance remain critical to keeping our community safe as well as to providing the personalized, experience-based education each of our students deserve.

The message below is quite long, but it contains a lot of very important information so I ask that you please take the time to read the entire message carefully. This communication will also be made available on the Knox Together website.

Since Dean Schneider’s message regarding our winter term health and safety policies last week, we have had the benefit of a week of COVID-19 testing of those who have already returned, additional public health data, and further advice from a group of medical doctors who specialize in the research and treatment of infectious diseases at leading medical institutions across the country.

Here is what we have learned over the last week. Between December 26 and January 6, we administered 994 COVID-19 tests on campus and of those, 79 positive cases were detected. This is a significantly higher positivity rate, about 8 percent, than we were seeing in the fall, but is in line with what we expected based on what we know about the Omicron variant.

We are fortunate that all of these positive cases have been in individuals who are asymptomatic or have had relatively mild symptoms. The very high vaccination rate among our on-campus community, over 95 percent, coupled with our masking and other precautionary measures, continues to be extremely important as we work toward our January 17 return to classrooms, studios, and labs.

The protocols outlined below are what we believe to be the most effective in reducing the transmission of COVID-19, specifically the highly infectious Omicron variant, based upon science and data. These protocols will continue to evolve, and we will communicate updates as soon as possible to students, faculty, staff, and families. This message, along with all other COVID-19 messages and information, including the dashboard, is available on the Knox Together web pages. The Knox Together website remains our primary medium of the latest information on policies, communications, etc.

BOOSTERS are Now REQUIRED for Students, Faculty, and Staff

All students, faculty, and staff eligible for a booster, according to CDC guidelines, are required to get and report a booster as soon as possible but no later than Friday, January 21, 2022 or within five days of becoming eligible (five days after the final dose of the initial vaccine).

Students who already received a booster, please upload your vaccine record here. If you have reported you received a booster but have not provided an updated copy of your vaccine record, please upload your record with the booster information included.

Faculty and staff who have already received a booster, please upload your record here. If you already uploaded your vaccine record in response to the OSHA requirement (see more below) as indicated in the message from Human Resources last week, and that vaccine record included booster information, you do not need to upload again.

Booster vaccines are available in the Galesburg community through multiple Walgreens and Hy-Vee Pharmacy locations, as well as CVS, Walmart, and the Knox County Health Department. While many of the above options require an appointment, the Knox County Health Department will host two walk-in booster clinics for anyone who received their final initial vaccine dose prior to July 11, 2021. We will be back in touch with you in the coming days with a transportation schedule in the event you need a ride to attend one of these clinics.

Knox County Health Department walk-in booster clinics
Unified Command Vaccine Center
1150 W. Carl Sandburg Dr., Galesburg


Tuesday, January 11, 7:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. Moderna and Pfizer 
Thursday, January 13, 1:00 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. Moderna and Pfizer

We are exploring options for an on-campus booster clinic but with the high demand in our area, it is unlikely we will be able to provide an on campus clinic next week. If we are able to schedule an on-campus booster clinic we will share that information as soon as possible.

If you have any questions regarding the booster requirement, please email health@knox.edu.

TESTING of Students, Faculty and Staff is REQUIRED Upon Return to Campus

Students arriving this weekend, January 8-9, will test between Monday, January 10 and Wednesday, January 12. You are strongly encouraged to test as soon as possible after arrival.

Required testing hours in the T. Fleming Field House:
Monday, January 10, 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.
Tuesday, January 11, 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.
Wednesday, January 12, 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m

Please use your ShieldIL app or portal.shieldillinois.com to make an appointment.

All students, faculty, and staff on campus will be required to test a second time, two weeks after their initial winter term test. Reminders will be sent out in advance of those dates.Those who have approved medical and religious exemptions will continue to be tested twice weekly on an ongoing basis. 

This testing will enable us to continue to assess the presence of COVID-19 on our campus and ensure that those who test positive are isolated in the spaces set aside for them.

Please note: If you have tested positive for COVID-19 in the 90 days prior to this arrival testing, you do not need to do an arrival test. Instead, please send proof of your recent positive test to health@knox.edu.

MEDICAL MASKS are REQUIRED at all Times, Regardless of Vaccination Status

Medical masks (N95, KN95 or three-ply surgical masks) are required in all Knox College spaces. N95 and KN95 masks may be worn alone and should be fitted tightly around the nose and face. Surgical masks, worn in combination with a cloth mask are also acceptable, and should also be fitted tightly around the nose and face.

The only instances where masks may be removed are:

  • When students are in their own residence hall bedrooms;
  • When faculty and staff are alone in their own offices;
  • When actively eating or drinking; and
  • When showering, brushing teeth, or attending to personal care where removal of a mask is necessary.

N95, KN95, and surgical masks are currently being distributed to RAs. Please check with your RA to pick up approved medical masks if you do not already have a supply of your own. Masks are also available for pick up at the Campus Life Office for students or the Dean of the College’s office for faculty and staff.

Three types of masks (N95, KN95, medical mask) will arrive in a brown paper bag. Cloth masks alone do not provide sufficient protection. Please keep the brown paper bag. Masks can be reused if they are allowed to dry for two days in the bag.

Keeping as much distance as possible from other individuals when unmasked is strongly encouraged. Dining and communal living spaces such as bathrooms, hallways, and lounges are some of the highest risk areas for transmission.

VISITORS and GUESTS are NOT Allowed on Campus Until Further Notice

Visitors are defined as anyone other than a Knox student, faculty, or staff member. This includes athletic event spectators; prospective students and their families; family and friends of current students, faculty, and staff; and local community members. We will revisit this decision at the end of January.

A one-time exception is being made for family members returning students to campus this weekend, January 8-9. Each student may have one fully vaccinated and masked family member assist with move-in. Family members will need to limit the time inside the residence hall, and masks must be worn at all times.

From time to time, essential and emergency service workers will need to access campus buildings. Contractors providing essential services will be required to be vaccinated and boosted, wear a medical mask, and check in with Campus Safety prior to entering any campus facility.

Creating and Maintaining our Campus “BUBBLE”

According to the medical experts we have been consulting with, creating and maintaining our “bubble” until the Omicron variant has peaked and begins to decline in our area will be key to our success. In order to do this, we are requiring students limit their travel and interaction off-campus to only what is essential (booster and/or medical appointments).

After we have completed our second round of testing and have identified and isolated as many positive cases as possible – and if we are vigilant with our masking and reducing exposure to outside sources – we expect that we will be able to return to as normal of a student experience as possible under the current circumstances. 

OSHA Requirement for Faculty and Staff: Upload Proof of Vaccination Now!

The 6th U.S.Circuit Court of Appeals has lifted a stay on the OSHA vaccine-or-test policy, now requiring Knox College to collect proof of vaccination (a pdf or photo of your vaccination card) from all employees no later than this coming Monday, January 10, 2022.

Although the College has already collected vaccination dates from employees, the new OSHA vaccine-or-test standard requires us to obtain acceptable proof of vaccination from vaccinated employees and maintain records and a roster of each employee’s vaccination status to be in compliance. Failure to provide proof of vaccination will result in required twice-weekly testing starting this month, January, 2022.

If any employees have a current medical or religious exemption on file, you do not have to upload any documentation, but will be required to continue twice weekly testing.

Please upload proof of vaccination by this coming Monday at the very latest. And please note that your vaccine information will only be available to Human Resources staff. 

Dining Update

Please refer to Dean Schneider’s message from last week with information about dining options available for the winter term. As always you can access information about hours and menus on the Dining & Food Services website.

Due to staffing shortages on January 8 and 9, the Gizmo will not be open this weekend but is scheduled to reopen on the limited schedule at 11 a.m. on Monday, January 10.

Think You Have a Cold? Get Tested!

The Omicron COVID-19 variant can present itself in a much milder way than previous variants. You may think you have a winter cold, or the sniffles, when in fact it can be Omicron. Should you exhibit mild symptoms of a cold or other virus, please get yourself tested for COVID-19 at the onset of symptoms. You can do this on campus at the T. Fleming Fieldhouse from 8:30 a.m. until 12:30 p.m. every weekday, following the initial testing phase.

There is a lot of information here and there are no doubt things we haven’t covered. If you have any questions about anything including virtual learning, staggered arrivals, arrival testing, or other COVID-19 protocols, please email together@knox.edu.

The medical and infectious disease experts we are consulting with continue to stress to us that limiting the spread of COVID-19 in our community is within our control. Vaccines, boosters, and medical grade masks worn at all times are our most effective tools for limiting the spread. It is likely that the peak in Omicron cases in our region will happen at some point in late January or early February, and we will need to keep the above protocols in place until at least that time. As I mentioned earlier, science and data will guide our decision making, and we will continue to communicate with you as changes are needed.

I understand the challenges these protocols create for all members of our Knox community. I also appreciate the commitment of Knox faculty and staff to create a safe learning experience for our students. We will do our best to explain why we are making the decisions that we are making, and we welcome your questions. We also know that you may not always understand or agree with our decisions, but ask that you keep in mind that the health and safety of the entire Knox community is, above all, our top priority. When we all come together to make this our shared goal, we give ourselves the best chance possible for success. I’m looking forward to a great winter term and getting our students and faculty back to in-person learning on January 17.

Sincerely,

C. Andrew McGadney
President
Knox College

January 4

Dear Knox Community,

In the email I sent to you late last week, I committed to updating you on dining options and status. Below are the measures we are taking to ensure students can safely choose from the dining options that work best for them. 

Dining Options and Protocols

To deliver the best dining experience possible during our quarantine period, we have taken the following precautions in our dining venues:

Hard Knox is open during regular hours, with most food options that were available prior to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Monday - Saturday
Breakfast: 7:30am - 9:30am
Lunch: 11:00am - 2:00pm
Dinner: 4:30pm - 7:30pm

Sunday
Brunch: 10:00am - 2:00pm
Dinner: 4:30pm - 7:30pm

Take out is available and encouraged through the dining reusable container program, available at the entrance to Hard Knox. Reusable containers are a one time purchase for $5.00, and can be exchanged for a sanitized container upon the next visit. Students can exchange them at the end of the academic year for a refund. Compostable clamshell containers are also available at the service counters.

For those choosing to dine in at Hard Knox, seating is available in seating arrangements of two or four chair groupings to provide social distancing and dining with a close social group. Please do not eat in groups larger than four. Two of the Hard Knox banquet rooms are open for additional social distanced seating.

The Gizmo is currently open for reduced hours with limited, socially distanced seating; the full Gizmo menu and beverage offerings are available and will be in a take out format.

Monday - Sunday
Full service: 11:00am - 3:00pm

For students who are in isolation, Dining Services has converted the Lincoln Room in Seymour Union to a dedicated food venue for meal pickup nightly. Students will enter and exit through a dedicated entrance separate from the rest of our students. Students in temporary isolation are submitting a meal form to ensure that Dining addresses any dietary restrictions and other requests during isolation.

Important Testing Reminders

All students currently on campus must complete their arrival test by Wednesday, January 5. An arrival test is required of all on-campus students, faculty and staff. All those currently on campus must test by tomorrow, Wednesday, January 5.

We are also requiring testing for arrivals during the weekend of January 8-9, 2022. Students arriving during the weekend of January 8-9 must test between Monday, January 10 and Wednesday, January 12. This testing will enable us to further assess the presence of COVID-19 on our campus and ensure that those who test positive are isolated in the spaces set aside for them.

Please note: If you have tested positive for COVID-19 in the 90 days prior to this arrival testing, you do not need to do an arrival test. Instead, please send proof of your recent positive test to health@knox.edu.

Also, in order to continue our assessment of the status of COVID-19 on our campus, we will be testing all members of the community again, following the arrival testing during the first two weeks of winter term. We will share a reminder and additional details for the second, and possibly third, rounds of testing soon. 

Reminder: Masks Required in Residential Common Areas Until Further Notice

Masks are required in all indoor public spaces. Additionally, we are requiring that masks be worn in residential common areas after arrival, and until further notice, as we conduct virtual instruction. Taking this extra step for the first two weeks that our students are back on campus will offer an additional layer of protection against COVID-19 transmission. This enhanced requirement will start on the date you return to campus and will end when the campus-wide initial quarantine is lifted.

Important: Think You Have a Cold? Get Tested!

The Omicron COVID-19 variant can present itself in a much milder way than previous variants. You may think you have a winter cold, or the sniffles, when in fact it can be Omicron. Should you exhibit mild symptoms of a cold or other virus, please get yourself tested for COVID-19 at the onset of symptoms. You can do this on campus at the T. Fleming Fieldhouse from 8:30 a.m. until 12:30 p.m. every weekday. 

If you have any questions about the information in this email, please contact together@knox.edu. Thank you for your patience and support as we do all we can to ensure our campus remains healthy during these unpredictable times.

Regards,

Michael A. Schneider
Provost and Dean of the College
Interim Vice President of Student Development

December 31

Dear Knox Community,

I write to you today to share an urgent update regarding changes in plans for student arrivals on campus, and extended virtual instruction to start winter term. We are making these late adjustments to start winter term in the best way possible for our community, with an abundance of caution when it comes to ensuring safety for all.

You have undoubtedly read about the impact of the rapidly spreading Omicron COVID-19 variant. We are learning more about its high rate of transmission, and overall case counts are spiking nationally. Although there is strong evidence that vaccinations provide continued protection in mitigating the impact of infection, we are also seeing more breakthrough and asymptomatic cases here on campus. Our initial arrival testing this week revealed a significantly higher positivity test rate than we have observed at any time during the pandemic.

In addition to responding to these new trends in the pandemic, we want to promote the safe travel of our students to campus. A severe winter storm warning has been issued for the West-Central Illinois region. The storm is expected to deliver five to seven inches of snowfall to the region on January 1, impacting travel with flight cancellations and causing risky driving conditions. Our campus safety office is already anticipating a snow emergency will be declared in the City of Galesburg tomorrow. These challenges will only contribute to many disruptions to travel that we have witnessed across the nation in the past week.

In urgent response to these new challenges, we are making the following additions and modifications to our winter arrival plan:

Two Weeks of Virtual Instruction
We will extend virtual instruction for all winter term courses to two weeks. No in-person course activities will be permitted during the weeks of January 3-7 and January 10-14.

Staged Return to Campus
Given the high transmissibility of the Omicron COVID-19 variant, we want to be sure our campus community is able to return to the protocols we followed during fall term as soon as possible. We are strongly encouraging any students who can delay their arrival to campus at this time to please do so.

The two weeks of virtual instruction to start winter term will allow us to repopulate campus in stages. Students who are able to delay their arrival to campus and participate in courses remotely for the first week should do so. Students whose travel plans cannot be changed should still arrive on campus over the next few days. We are planning for approximately half of the current students to arrive on campus this weekend and the remainder next weekend.

Students!
Please complete this form to indicate when you plan to return to campus: January 2 or January 9.

All students must be back on campus by January 10 in order to complete arrival testing and the initial quarantine.

Arrival Testing Reminder
As a reminder, our testing protocols planned for the first two weeks back on campus are as follows:

An arrival test is required of all on-campus students, faculty and staff between Monday, January 3 and Wednesday, January 5. Those already on campus who have completed their test at the Fieldhouse on December 29 or 30 have the option to get tested again, but it is not required. All others must be tested on campus during this time. Required testing will be held from 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Monday, January 3, Tuesday, January 4, and Wednesday, January 5 in the Fieldhouse.

Students arriving during the weekend of January 8-9 will test between Monday, January 10 and Wednesday, January 12.

This testing will enable us to assess the presence of COVID-19 on our campus and ensure that those who test positive are isolated in the spaces set aside for them.

Please note: If you have tested positive for COVID-19 in the 90 days prior to this arrival testing, you do not need to do an arrival test. Instead, please send proof of your recent positive test to health@knox.edu.

Also, in order to continue our assessment of the status of COVID-19 on our campus, we will be testing all members of the community again, following the first round of arrival testing. We will share a reminder and additional details for the second, and possibly third, rounds of testing after the start of winter term.

Dining Questions
We are currently working through dining options during virtual instruction, and possibly through the month of January. We are doing our best to provide a number of options to students that enable them to have the dining experience of their choice while protecting the wellness of our community. We will update you on these options soon.

Masks Required in Residential Common Areas Until Further Notice
Masks are required in all indoor public spaces. Additionally, we are requiring that masks be worn in residential common areas after arrival, and until further notice, as we conduct virtual instruction. Taking this extra step for the first two weeks that our students are back on campus will offer an additional layer of protection against COVID-19 transmission. This enhanced requirement will start on the date you return to campus and will end when the campus-wide initial quarantine is lifted.

Think You Have a Cold? Get Tested!
The Omicron COVID-19 variant can present itself in a much milder way than previous variants. You may think you have a winter cold, or the sniffles, when in fact it can be Omicron. Should you exhibit mild symptoms of a cold or other virus, please get yourself tested for COVID-19 at the onset of symptoms. You can do this on campus at the T. Fleming Fieldhouse from 8:30 a.m. until 12:30 p.m. every weekday, following the initial testing phase.

Reminder: Office Staffing and Remote Work
As we take these steps to return as quickly as possible to in-person instruction during the start of the term, student and instructional support and community-facing offices and staff should be on campus while taking maximum care to mitigate risks to the fullest extent possible.

Supervisors have the flexibility to approve temporary remote work arrangements during the two week virtual instruction and initial quarantine period. Such temporary remote work arrangements will last until the initial quarantine is formally lifted by the Dean, at which time all temporary remote work arrangements will cease.

Finally, we continue to urge you to adopt the following best practices to combat the spread of COVID-19 on our campus:

  • If fully vaccinated, please get a booster as soon as possible. Please see the CDC’s updated recommendations.
  • Upgrade your mask. Medical experts are clear in their guidance that N95, KN95, KF94, and surgical masks are more effective than ordinary cloth masks.
  • When you arrive on campus, please keep social groups small (3-5 people, maximum). Small social circles will interrupt paths of transmission while we complete our arrival testing during the first two weeks of the term. Eat with the same small group throughout the first two weeks of the term.

We hope that encouraging delayed arrivals to campus and extending virtual learning for the first two weeks of the term will ease worries about the health and safety of our community. Thank you for your patience and support as we pivot as quickly as possible to manage the impact of these forces on our campus community.

Regards,

Michael Schneider
Provost and Dean of the College
Interim Vice President for Student Development

December 28

Dear Knox Community,

To support the return of students to campus for winter term, the Knox Community will adopt a required limited quarantine beginning today, Tuesday, December 28, 2021. This limited quarantine will continue until it is formally lifted by an announcement from the Dean of the College.

All Knox College faculty, staff, and students are strongly urged to adopt the following best practices to combat the spread of COVID-19 on our campus:

  • If fully vaccinated, please get a booster as soon as possible. Please see the CDC’s updated recommendations.
  • Upgrade your mask. Medical experts are clear in their guidance that N95, KN95, KF94, and surgical masks are more effective than ordinary cloth masks. 

Please do your very best to keep social groups small (3-5 people). Small social circles will interrupt paths of transmission while we complete our arrival testing. For that reason, you should keep a small social circle and eat with the same small group throughout the limited quarantine. Any modifications to on-campus dining services will be announced before reopening on January 2.

The following additional health and wellness policies go into effect beginning tomorrow, Wednesday, December 29, 2021 until further notice:

Overall Policies:

  • Masking is required in all suites and common areas. (i.e. mask-free only in private living and work spaces).
  • Only registered residents may enter a residence hall suite or apartment. No visitors permitted (the only exception is parents helping new arrivals move in).
  • All social events must be virtual. No in-person group activities are permitted.
  • No spectators at athletic events until the quarantine is lifted.
  • No off-campus visitors – except regular deliveries and maintenance – are allowed.
  • Students who fail to test during the week of January 3 may not attend class on Monday, January 10.

Academic Buildings (CFA, GDH, Library, Old Main, SMC, WAC, etc.): 

  • Students should not enter academic buildings during the quarantine.
  • Student workers and students engaged in independent lab, studio, or other work are permitted in these spaces as approved by a supervisor on a case-by-case basis. Supervisors may submit requests through this form.
  • Approved students will have access to individual music practice rooms. The Music Department will contact approved students directly with instructions.

Library Services:

  • Seymour Library will be open for faculty and staff only from 8:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m. beginning Monday, January 3. Amott Science Commons (ASC) will be closed.
  • Course Reserves are available according to their usual two- and four-hour checkout periods, but must be used outside the library. Students can use curbside pickup at the accessible side door by the Seymour Library parking lot. 
    • ASC reserves will be available at Seymour Library.
    • To arrange pickup of course reserves, please email libcirc@knox.edu with the name of the book/material requested. Students are expected to return materials on time so they are available for the next student.
  • I-Share and local holds will be available for curbside pickup. Students can come to the accessible side door by the parking lot to receive their items.

Athletics Facilities:

  • Student-athletes should consult with Athletics for the specific rules related to practices and competitions during the limited quarantine.
  • Athletic Facilities will remain closed to all faculty, students, and staff, except for in-season student athletes and staff, until the quarantine is lifted.

Office Staffing and Remote Work:

  • As we take these steps to return as quickly as possible to in-person instruction during the start of the term, student and instructional support and community-facing offices and staff should be on campus while taking care to mitigate risks to the fullest extent possible.
  • Supervisors have flexibility to approve temporary remote work arrangements during the limited quarantine period. Such temporary remote work arrangements will last until the limited quarantine is formally lifted by the Dean, at which time all temporary remote work arrangements will cease. 

Finally, we thank you for your ongoing commitment to the policies supporting the health and wellness of our community. This limited quarantine will allow us to navigate the return to in-person education on campus, the hallmark of a Knox education. With your assistance, we will be able to monitor the results of our arrival testing and ease these restrictions at the earliest possible moment.

We look forward to seeing you soon. If you have any questions regarding the limited quarantine protocols, please email together@knox.edu.

Regards, 

Michael Schneider
Provost and Dean of the College
Interim Vice President of Student Development

Abby Putnam
Director, Health Services

December 22

Dear Knox Community,

We sent you an email last week regarding returning to campus for winter term. In that email, we let you know that we are closely monitoring the Omicron COVID-19 variant and would be prepared to pivot should information change about the varant. We are now pivoting. Within the past week, we have seen increasing evidence confirming the higher transmissibility of the Omicron variant over the Delta variant. Since our students will be traveling back to Knox during a period of high case counts and cases linked to Omicron will be growing, we will implement the following additional and updated protocols for our winter return to campus plan:

All Instruction Will Be On-Campus and Virtual During the First Week
During the first week back to campus for winter term, all courses will be delivered through virtual (online) instruction. No in-person class activities are permitted. Virtual delivery will reduce the number of close contacts a student has and, therefore, reduce the possibility of spread of the Omicron variant on our campus. Virtual instruction will run from Monday, January 3 through Friday, January 7. We expect that regular, in-person instruction will begin again on Monday, January 10.

Testing at Home Prior to Campus Return Strongly Recommended
We strongly recommend that students test at home before departing for Knox, preferably 24-48 hours prior to returning to campus. This can even be an at-home rapid test. Testing before you arrive back to campus will allow you to isolate for 10 days in the comfort of your own home if you were to test positive for COVID-19.

Should you choose to test at home prior to returning to campus, we ask that you please upload the result of your pre-arrival test here.

Required Campus Arrival on Sunday, January 2
The required arrival date for winter term is Sunday, January 2. All members of the campus community will be tested starting Monday to re-establish our campus community and participate in the initial quarantine. If we start the term with minimal quarantines, we will ward off longer quarantines later. Late arrivals will be subject to a longer quarantine.

Arrival Testing Required January 3 - 5
As a reminder, our testing protocols planned for the first week back on campus are as follows:

An arrival test is required of all students, faculty and staff between Monday, January 3 and Wednesday, January 5. Those already on campus who have completed their test at the Fieldhouse on December 29 or 30 have the option to get tested again, but it is not required. All others must be tested on campus during this time. Required testing will be held from 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Monday, January 3, Tuesday, January 4, and Wednesday, January 5 in the Fieldhouse. Following testing, we will be able to assess the presence of COVID-19 on our campus and ensure that those who test positive are isolated in the spaces set aside for them. 

Please note: If you have tested positive for COVID-19 in the 90 days prior to this arrival testing, you do not need to do an arrival test. Instead, please send the proof of your recent positive test to health@knox.edu.

Also, in order to continue our assessment of the status of COVID-19 on our campus, we will be testing all members of the community a second time. We will share a reminder and additional details for the second round of testing after the start of winter term.

Masks Required in Residential Common Areas During the First Week
Masks are required in all indoor public spaces. Additionally, we are requiring that masks be worn in residential common areas after arrival, during a limited quarantine as we conduct virtual instruction. Taking this extra step for the first week that our students are back on campus will offer an additional layer of protection against COVID-19 transmission. This enhanced requirement will start upon the date you return to campus and will end when the campus-wide quarantine is lifted.

Quarantine Details Forthcoming
A limited quarantine will be in effect from the moment students return to campus until the results of testing are complete. The goal of the quarantine is to keep social groups small and reduce close contacts. Full details regarding the quarantine will be shared next week.

Please note that our faculty have already been notified of the shift to virtual instruction for the first week, and are now planning for virtual delivery of courses during the week of January 3.

If you have any questions, please contact together@knox.edu. We thank you for your patience and support as we continue to strive to keep our campus community – and our Galesburg neighbors – safe and healthy.

Regards,

Michael Schneider
Provost and Dean of the College
Interim Vice President of Student Development

December 16

Dear Knox Community,

We hope you are enjoying your winter break. As we look forward to your return, we want to thank you for ensuring that Knox continues its community of care for one another, and advise you of health and wellness protocols we have put in place to ensure a safe start to winter term. Your commitment is vital to our ability to continue to deliver the residential, in-person learning experience we all enjoy and value. 

COVID-19 cases on campus for the fall term remained at low levels, which can be attributed to our dedication to masking while indoors, getting vaccinated, and for those with exemptions, weekly testing. We will continue this three-pronged approach into winter term with a few additional required protocols to ensure a strong start to the term. 

Before we address the return protocols, we want to let you know that we continue to monitor the data about the Omicron COVID-19 variant. At this time, the best available evidence indicates that our existing policies will continue to serve us well in combating this variant. We are, however, ready to pivot at any time with additional safety measures, should emerging data and transmission levels indicate that a change is necessary. 

COVID-19 Booster Questions

During the past few weeks, we have received a number of questions about vaccine boosters. We currently are not requiring the booster. However, we anticipate that in the new year, it is likely we will be mandating booster vaccines for all members of our campus community. Until then, we are strongly encouraging all community members to get their vaccination booster at the appropriate time, in accordance with CDC recommendations. Winter break could be the perfect time to receive your vaccine booster.

Should you choose to receive a booster vaccine when you arrive in Galesburg, a number of pharmacies, such as CVS, Walmart, Walgreens, and Hy-Vee, as well as the Knox County Health Department, are all offering booster shots. Once you have received a booster, please upload picture documentation of your booster dose here

We Strongly Recommend that Students Test Before Returning to Campus

We strongly recommend that students test at home prior to returning to campus. This can even be an at-home test. Testing before you arrive back to campus will allow you to isolate for 10 days in the comfort of your own home if you were to test positive for COVID-19.

Should you choose to test at home prior to returning to campus, we ask that you please upload the result of your pre-arrival test here. This pre-arrival test will contribute to ensuring that we can return to in-person instruction on Monday, January 3.

For those students currently on campus, and any faculty and staff who prefer to get tested prior to the start of winter term, testing will be offered at the Field House from 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. on Wednesday, December 29 and Thursday, December 30.

Testing Required for all Monday, January 3 through Wednesday, January 5 

An arrival test is required of all community members  – students, faculty and staff -- Monday, January 3 through Wednesday, January 5. Those who complete their test on campus on December 29 or 30 have the option to get tested again, but it is not required. All others must be tested on campus during this time. 

Starting the term with testing ensures that we can quickly and effectively assess and address the potential for positive cases and do all we can to prevent transmission. 

Required testing will be held from 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Monday, January 3, Tuesday, January 4, and Wednesday, January 5 in the Field House. 

Please book your required testing appointment through your ShieldIL app. Testing appointments can only be booked through ShieldIL up to one week in advance of the appointment date. If you are not already registered with ShieldIL, please visit Portal.shieldillinois.com and click Sign up for an account. Using the student or employee agency code below, create your new portal account. Once you submit your information, you will be sent a verification code to enter and confirm your identity. You can also create your portal by going to the Apple Store or Google Play Store and downloading the ShieldIL app (Point and Click Solutions) and using the appropriate code below. We recommend that you copy and paste this code in order to avoid errors.

Student Agency Code: antfzz8i-stu

Employee Agency Code:  antfzz8i-empl 

If you have trouble creating an account, please call the patient support line at 217-265-6059, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Mask Required In Residential Common Areas During Week of January 2

As all members of the community await test results, we are requiring that masks be worn in residential common areas during the week of January 2. Taking this extra step for the first week that our students are back on campus will offer an extra layer of protection against COVID-19 transmission. This enhanced requirement will start upon the date you return to campus and is projected to end on January 9, assuming negative test results.

Second Round of Testing for All Required During Week of January 17

In order to accurately assess the status of COVID-19 on our campus two weeks after we return to campus, we will be testing all members of the community again during the week of January 17. We will share a reminder and additional details for testing a second time after the start of winter term. 

Should you have any questions about the required protocols, please contact Knox Health Services at health@knox.edu

Thank you for your ongoing dedication to keeping our Knox Community well.

Regards,

Michael Schneider
Provost and Dean of the College
Interim Vice President for Student Development

Abby Putnam
Director of Health Services

November 8

Dear Knox Community,

As we approach the end of fall term and students prepare to return home for winter break, we would like to remind faculty, staff, and students that COVID-19 PCR saliva testing through Shield IL is available Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. until 12:30 p.m. at the T. Fleming Fieldhouse. 

We strongly encourage students to utilize this testing prior to departure. If you are in need of testing as a requirement for a flight, you should also plan to test at the fieldhouse during the normally-scheduled times listed in this email. Shield IL test results have been coming back within 24 hours. Please do not forget to schedule an appointment through your Shield IL portal at Portal Shield illinois login or the SHIELDIL app. 

Monday through Friday COVID-19 Saliva Testing Ends Friday November 19

Beginning Monday November 22, saliva testing availability will be limited. The test site hours will continue to be 8:30 a.m. until 12:30 p.m. on the days that testing is open. Please consult the following list of dates for winter break COVID-19 testing availability.

Monday 11/22 and Tuesday 11/23
Monday 11/29, Wednesday 12/1, and Friday 12/3
Monday 12/6, Wednesday 12/8, and Friday 12/10
Monday 12/13, Wednesday 12/15, and Friday 12/17
Monday 12/20 and Wednesday 12/22
Wednesday 12/29 and Thursday 12/30

Monday through Friday Testing Resumes Monday, January 3, 2022 

We will announce our specific plans for winter arrival testing in December, as we continue to monitor evolving public health conditions and guidance from the CDC and our medical consultants.

Thank you for all you have done during fall term to keep our campus safe and healthy. 

Regards,

Mike Schneider

Abby Putnam

October 11

Dear Knox Campus Community,

We are encouraged by the results from our first round of required COVID-19 testing during the week of September 20. As you may know, we identified just five COVID-19 cases, a strong indicator that our three-pronged approach of vaccinations, testing, and masking is currently working to keep infection rates low on our campus. 

While an optimistic start to the academic year, we need to remain vigilant, and make sure we build the best testing capacity on campus that we can. This step will ensure we can quickly respond to the unpredictable nature of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Switching COVID-19 Testing Provider to SHIELD Illinois; Please Register Now

With this in mind, we are switching our testing provider to SHIELD Illinois, and are requiring all members of our campus community to take a few minutes to register with SHIELD Illinois by Monday, October 18. You may recall that we utilized Shield IL last year during winter and spring terms, and many campus members already have SHIELD Illinois accounts. 

SHIELD Illinois will be our testing provider for the remainder of this academic year, as it provides a more streamlined experience for you -- a fast and efficient registration process, a simple and rapid on-site testing experience, and you will receive your results quickly and reliably.

SHIELD Illinois will be new to many; registration is simple and takes just a few minutes.

How to Register for SHIELD Illinois 

We understand that most returning students, and some faculty and staff, are already registered with SHIELD Illinois. At this time, we are asking all students, faculty and staff to visit Portal.shieldillinois.com, and if you find that you are already registered, please ensure your information is accurate. 

To create your new SHIELD Illinois portal account, please visit Portal.shieldillinois.com and click Sign up for an account. Using the student or employee agency code below, create your new portal account. Once you submit your information, you will be sent a verification code to enter and confirm your identity. You can also create your portal by going to the Apple Store or Google Play Store and downloading the SHIELDIL app (Point and Click Solutions, Inc.) and using the appropriate code below. We recommend that you copy and paste this code in order to avoid errors.

Student Agency Code: antfzz8i-stu

Employee Agency Code:  antfzz8i-empl 

If you have trouble creating an account, please call the patient support line at 217-265-6059, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Registering now will ensure everyone is prepared to use SHIELD IL whether we announce another all-campus testing event in the future, whether you have an exemption and need to test twice weekly, or whether you are symptomatic and need to be tested.

Thank you for your support and your ongoing dedication to keeping our campus safe.

Regards,

Michael Schneider

Abby Putnam

September 14

Dear Knox Community,

This email details two important announcements regarding COVID-19 testing. Please read the information below carefully.

REQUIRED COVID-19 TESTING FOR ALL DURING WEEK OF SEPTEMBER 20-24

We are requiring all faculty, staff and students to complete campus-wide COVID-19 testing during the week of September 20-24. This campus-wide testing will help us assess the presence of the virus in our campus community, which will in turn inform the strategies needed to continue to safely hold in-person classes, gatherings, and activities. 

Testing will be conducted Monday through Friday, September 20-24, at the T. Fleming Fieldhouse from 8:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. No appointment is needed. The state of Illinois requires certain demographic information for test registration. In order to shorten wait times and make the testing process as quick as possible for you, please complete this form prior to arriving for your test.

Also, please note that if you have tested positive for COVID-19 in the last 90 days, according to the CDC, you do not need to test. If you have tested positive in the last 90 days, please report this information to Health Services at health@knox.edu by Monday, September 20.

In order to avoid long wait times at the end of the week, please plan your test as early in the week as possible. Prior to arriving for a test, avoid drinks, food, smoking, nasal sprays, teeth cleaning, and chewing gum for at least 60 minutes before sample collection. Test results will be sent to you by email in one to two days. Health Services will also receive a confidential test result report.

Employees will receive release time to get tested during that week. Please coordinate with your supervisor to schedule the release time for your test.

COVID-19 TESTING AVAILABLE EVERY WEEK ON CAMPUS UNTIL FURTHER NOTICE

In addition to the required testing outlined above, COVID-19 testing is available to all students, faculty, and staff regardless of vaccination status, Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. until 12:30 p.m. at the T. Fleming Fieldhouse at no cost. All community members are welcome and encouraged to test if they have any symptoms of COVID-19, or if they have had a concerning exposure, whether they are vaccinated or not. No appointment is needed. 

Faculty and staff can visit the Knox Together Workplace for Faculty and Staff web page for more information and answers to any questions regarding when a COVID-19 test is appropriate. Students can visit the Health and Wellness web page for information and answers to questions about COVID-19 testing.

If you have any questions, please email together@knox.edu

Thank you for your continued commitment to doing all you can to keep everyone in our community safe and healthy.

Regards,
Michael A. Schneider
Provost and Dean of the College
Interim Vice President of Student Development

Paul Eisenmenger
Vice President for Finance and Administrative Services

August 12

Dear Knox Community,

Opening our campus, bringing our community back together, and providing an in-person student experience that is as close to normal as possible are our priorities that are guiding our planning and preparation for the upcoming academic year. We know we are at our best when we are living and learning together on campus, and we are committed to doing all we can to provide a healthy and safe environment for all members of our community. 

The protocols outlined below are informed by CDC and WHO guidelines and we continue to monitor the COVID-19 conditions nationally, locally, and in our community. We will adjust these health and safety policies as needed to create the safest possible environment for our community. 

Vaccinations are required for students, faculty, and staff for the upcoming academic year. In May, we announced that all students are required to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 for the 2021-22 academic year except for those with an approved medical or religious exemption. On August 1, we announced that all faculty and staff are required to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 by Monday, September 13, except for those with an approved medical or religious exemption. Students requesting an exemption should reach out to Health Services; faculty and staff requesting an exemption should reach out to Human Resources. If you have not yet reported your vaccination information, please do so as soon as possible using the appropriate link below.

Returning students: Upload Your COVID-19 Vaccine Record

New incoming students: Pre-arrival Tracker

Faculty and staff: Confidential Vaccination Verification Form 

Masks are now required indoors, regardless of vaccination status. 

This includes all Knox College buildings and spaces. There are several instances where it is not required or practical to remain masked at all times including: 

  • When students are in their private residential suites;
  • When faculty and staff are in their own offices; and
  • When actively eating or drinking in the dining facilities.

The NCAA and Midwest Conference have protocols in place to allow athletic competition to resume this fall. Knox athletic teams and visiting teams are subject to those protocols. In some cases, student-athletes and/or coaches may not be masked during particular practice and competition activities.  

Masks are not required outdoors, but are recommended in crowded outdoor settings, and when interacting with campus visitors. 

All students will be tested for COVID-19 upon arrival; those who have approved medical and religious exemptions will be tested twice weekly on an ongoing basis. New and returning students will be tested upon arrival, and those students and faculty and staff who have approved medical and religious exemptions will be tested twice weekly. We will share details of the testing process soon.

In addition, a small number of new and returning international students are unable to complete the full vaccination process prior to arrival due to the limited availability of the vaccine in their area. If you are an international student and do not have access to a vaccine in your home country, please contact Health Services immediately to make arrangements to be vaccinated upon arrival if you have not done so already. Testing for those who arrive without being fully vaccinated will be twice weekly until they are fully vaccinated. 

Visitor and guest policy 

Residence hall visitors:Visitors and guests (anyone other than a Knox student, faculty, or staff member) are NOT allowed in residence halls. A one-time exception is being made for families on move-in day. Family members assisting with move-in must wear masks at all times, limit the time inside the residence hall, and limit the number of family members in the residence hall to only those essential for move-in.

The policy regarding residence hall visitors will be revisited near the end of September.

Day visitors to non-residential buildings: Speakers, performers, and alumni visitors fall into this category. These visitors are subject to the indoor mask policy. Prior to entering a non-residential campus building, visitors for the day must check in with campus safety and complete a form providing vaccination status. If a visitor is vaccinated, or unvaccinated and provides proof of a negative COVID test within 72 hours of arrival on campus, they will receive a Knox wristband, and will be able to enter non-residential campus buildings. 

Prospective students and their families: Prospective students and their families are required to wear masks indoors and outdoors when physical distancing is not possible. They will be required to check in with admission. They are also encouraged to limit the number of family members who join them for their visit. Prospective students and their families will not visit residence halls, observe classes, or participate in overnight visits. 

Repeat visitors to non-residential buildings: These visitors include ensemble members, community groups that regularly use our indoor facilities, or other members of the community who do ongoing research in our library. Members of this visitor category are subject to the indoor mask policy, and must be vaccinated. They will be required to check in with campus safety, complete a form and provide proof of vaccination and will be issued a lanyard and visitor pass which will include their name and date approved.

15 minutes or under visitors to non-residential buildings: These visitors include those delivering supplies, mail, or other items to campus. These visitors are subject to the indoor mask policy and must limit their time indoors to 15 minutes or under. Any time over 15 minutes will require following the day visitor policy. 

Athletics spectator policies (with guidance from the NCAA and Midwest Conference) are being developed and will be available on the Prairie Fire and Knox Together website. Please check the policies frequently as they are subject to change.

We will also update our Knox Together website to ensure any information provided there is current. We understand that you may have questions; please email them to health@knox.edu

Following these policies will ensure that we can safely bring our community back together, and provide an in-person student experience that is as close to normal as possible. Thank you for doing your part to keep us all safe and healthy.

C. Andrew McGadney
President

July 30

Dear Knox Faculty and Staff,

I’m looking forward to having nearly all Knox staff be back on campus next week for the first time in well over a year, with faculty and students arriving soon after. The next few weeks are critical to our success in creating a safe environment for our students and colleagues as we begin the 2021-2022 academic year.  

You may recall that in May, we announced our students are required to be vaccinated for the upcoming academic year. After consultation with the Board of Trustees, FASCom, Staff Council, and members of the senior staff, we are now requiring that all faculty and staff members be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 by September 13, 2021. As is necessary for unionized employees, Knox will engage with leaders of the Collective Bargaining Unit to discuss and formalize the obligations of union-represented employees. Employees requesting a medical or religious exemption may contact Human Resources. 

The decision to require students, faculty, and staff to be vaccinated is based on scientific fact, our responsibility to each other as members of the Knox community, and our ability to carry out our mission. Please keep in mind that infection (including the more contagious Delta variant), hospitalizations, and death rates are rising among those who are not vaccinated. 

We join countless for-profit, state, and federal organizations and hundreds of colleges and universities throughout the country making this difficult but necessary decision. The Chronicle of Higher Education is tracking vaccination policies here

For those who have not yet received a vaccination, free vaccinations are available at the following locations:

Knox County Health Department
Walgreens
Hy-Vee 

All faculty and staff are required to provide vaccination status here by August 6. And, as stated above, all faculty and staff must be fully vaccinated by September 13. 

Finally, we are in the process of updating health and wellness guidelines for fall as well as a FAQ document which will be available soon. We will hold an open forum on Thursday, August 5 at 12 p.m. in Kresge Recital Hall for any staff and faculty members who would like to ask questions. Thank you for doing all you can to ensure that we can provide a healthy, happy, and productive learning and work environment for everyone this fall.

C. Andrew McGadney
President

The policies above are for the 2021-2022 academic year.

July 8

Dear Knox Community,

We hope you are having an enjoyable and productive summer. 

As we move through this season and continue to monitor Illinois Phase 5 guidelines and Knox County metrics, we wanted to provide you with an important update to our summer campus COVID-19 health and wellness protocols. 

Updated Summer Health and Wellness Protocols

Starting tomorrow, Friday, July 9, we are transitioning to protocols that are in line with Illinois Phase 5 guidelines. These protocols are in place to protect the health and safety of our entire community and we trust that everyone will follow the protocols out of respect for our colleagues and students.

  • If you are vaccinated, you are not required to wear a mask indoors or outdoors on campus. Masks are encouraged for vaccinated individuals.
  • If you are not vaccinated, masks are required indoors and outdoors if you cannot maintain six feet of social distancing. 

At this time, we are not mandating the COVID-19 vaccine for faculty and staff, but continue to strongly encourage anyone who has not yet received  a vaccination to get one as soon as possible. If you need assistance in obtaining a vaccine, please reach out to Abby Putnam in Health Services at 309-341-7559 or email health@knox.edu.

Returning to Campus

While many staff have been on campus throughout the pandemic, we look forward to welcoming everyone back to campus by Monday, August 2.

  • Supervisors will work with their individual teams to develop a plan for the return to campus leading up to Monday, August 2.
  • Temporary telecommuting arrangements that were approved during the pandemic will be discontinued as of August 2, 2021.
  • We understand there may be a limited number of employees who will need temporary accommodations to account for certain health conditions, making long-term childcare arrangements, etc. Requests for accommodations may be made to the immediate supervisor and requests will be reviewed with Human Resources. 

Should you have any questions about the updated summer COVID-19 health and wellness policies, please contact Abby Putnam in Health Services at 309-341-7559 or email health@knox.edu. If you have any questions about returning to campus or telecommuting arrangements, please contact your supervisor or me at 309-341-7200 or email hr@knox.edu.

The last 18 months have been extremely challenging for many of us both personally and professionally. We are grateful for your flexibility and perseverance throughout this difficult time and look forward to bringing our community back together on the campus. I’ll see you in August, if not before.

Regards,

Amy Chambers
Assistant Vice President
Human Resources

June 17

Dear Knox Community,

Going forward, Knox Together emails will be sent on an as-needed basis. During the pandemic, these notes primarily shared information on health and wellbeing. Now that we have the vaccine and positivity rates are declining, we no longer need weekly updates. With our new president starting on July 1, there may be new updates about campus news and events. 

Illinois Restored Plan Phase 5 

As of last Friday, June 11, Illinois is now in the Illinois Restored Plan  Phase 5 (fully reopened). Please read the guidelines carefully since not all restrictions have been lifted. Face coverings are recommended for unvaccinated persons and all individuals on public transportation, in transportation hubs, and congregate facilities (healthcare facilities and long-term care homes, for instance). Also, businesses and venues should continue to allow for social distancing to the greatest extent possible, especially indoors, and they can continue to put in place additional public health mitigations as they deem appropriate (wearing masks, for example).

Summer COVID-19 Policies

Please check here <link no longer available> for any updates to our summer COVID-19 policies, including our visitor policy, which you will find at the bottom of the linked web page. As we near the start of the academic year, we will update the website, and campus leadership will advise you of any changes.

Thank you for your attention to this weekly email during the past months and for your questions, feedback, patience and support. Enjoy your summer, and best of luck in the coming academic year as you return to your “new normal.”

TERESA L. AMOTT
President

June 10

Dear Knox Community,

Commencement was an especially joyous occasion this year, as we celebrated our 2021 graduates during two in-person ceremonies this past Saturday. When I rose to welcome the assembled students, faculty, staff, family and friends, I was overcome by the size and presence of the audience. After such a long and unprecedented period in the history of the College, at long last, we were truly together. Congratulations once again to all of our graduates. Thank you to our faculty and staff for everything you did this year to enable their success and to support the health and well being of our campus during the last 15 months. 

This past Monday, Illinois Governor Pritzker announced that the state is moving into Phase 5 (full reopening) tomorrow. This is wonderful news, and a very encouraging sign for a fully reopened Knox College campus in the fall. Please note that not all restrictions will be lifted, as we continue to battle COVID-19. 

PLEASE GET VACCINATED

Even though Illinois is moving to full reopening, vaccinations are lagging in the state and across the country. We are strongly encouraging everyone in the Knox community to get vaccinated. According to responses from those members of our community who used the Healthcheck 360 tracker, we estimate that 88% of our students are fully vaccinated, and according to the most recent information, a comparable number of faculty and staff have had at least one dose of the vaccine. Vaccines are widely available; for local vaccine sites, or more information about getting vaccinated, please contact the Knox County Health Department

REMINDER: SUMMER COVID 19 POLICIES

Summer health and wellness policies took effect on Monday. As we move into Phase 5, we have relaxed many of our restrictions while maintaining safety as our priority. Please visit the Knox Together website for updated information about mask requirements, physical distancing, gathering size restrictions, COVID testing, and more. Also, please stay tuned for updates to these policies throughout the summer. 

UPDATED VISITOR POLICY

Starting immediately, visitors to campus do not need to be temperature and symptom checked upon arrival to campus. Visitors who will be inside campus buildings for more than 15 minutes do still need to be preapproved by a senior staff member, and do still need to check in upon arrival. Please review our updated visitor policy for more information.

COMMENCEMENT AND AWARDS LINKS

If you would like to watch the two Commencement ceremonies that took place last Saturday, you can find the videos on the Knox College YouTube channel. Our honorary degree recipients recorded special messages for our graduates. More than 30 of our students received academic honors awards. You can view our faculty announcing the awards and recipients here

While we do not have video from The First Generation Reception, I want to acknowledge the inspiring remarks from student speaker Matrice Young and faculty speaker Prof. Mary Crawford. Both shared their personal stories of being the first in their families to graduate from college and their recognitions of all those who helped them achieve their dreams.

Ray and I send our heartfelt thanks to all of you who were able to attend our campus farewell event, either virtually or in person, and to all those who planned yet one more event in a busy season. It was wonderful to see you and talk with you before our last drive back from Galesburg to Laporte, Pennsylvania -- a drive we made many times during the past ten years, but one made more poignant by knowing that we were starting a new chapter in our lives. More about that in a later message.

Please enjoy your summer with family and friends, and stay safe and well.

TERESA L. AMOTT
President

May 27

Dear Knox Community,

We have quite a few important items to share with you this week; we have published our Summer 2021 COVID Health and Wellness policies and continue to share important vaccine and Commencement information. 

Please Read: Summer 2021 COVID Health and Wellness Policies

Summer Health and Wellness Policies will take effect June 7. In alignment with state and federal guidelines, and thanks to low positivity rates on campus, we are pleased to be able to relax some of our restrictions while maintaining safety as our priority. Please visit the Knox Together website for updated information about mask requirements, physical distancing, gathering sizes, COVID testing, and more. Also, please stay tuned for updates to these policies throughout the summer. 

We have had many questions about visitors to campus. A visitor is defined as any individual coming to campus who is not a Knox College student, faculty, or staff member. Please be sure to check the details of our summer visitor policy at the bottom of this page <link no longer available>. There are policies that apply to outdoor and indoor spaces, as well as approval processes for different categories of visitors, such as individuals visiting students on campus and contractors, vendors, and admission visitors.

Important Hy-Vee Vaccine Clinic Follow-Up Information

People who received their first dose at the Hy-Vee on-campus clinic this past Tuesday or those who missed their second dose should go to a Hy-Vee pharmacy or find a location close to home that can give the second dose. 

We have received inquiries about vaccines for international students arriving on campus in the fall. We are aware that campus-approved COVID-19 vaccines (Pfizer, Moderna, or Johnson & Johnson) are not widely available in all countries. We will facilitate vaccinations for students who are unable to be immunized prior to arriving on campus in the fall. Although fall policies have not been fully drafted, at this time, we do not anticipate that unvaccinated students will be required to arrive early to campus or quarantine upon arrival. 

Commencement - Those Not Working or Not a Ticketed Guest

Anyone who is not working Commencement or who is not a ticketed guest will be asked to maintain a reasonable distance from the Commencement perimeters for safety and to allow for the flow of graduates and guests in and out of the area. Anyone in the area outside of the perimeter will be expected to follow current campus COVID-19 protocols and guidelines for gathering. Please contact commencement@knox.edu if you have any questions about Commencement.

As we continue through the Bridge Phase in Illinois and summer and Phase 5 (full reopening) approaches, hope for a healthy and peaceful future is well within our reach. As we have done for the past year, let’s continue to do our part to end this academic year on a high note and celebrate our resilience, innovation, and deep care for one another.

TERESA L. AMOTT
President

May 20

Dear Knox Community,

As we near the end of the academic year and prepare to celebrate our graduating class, please accept my heartfelt gratitude for everything you have all done to ensure our campus community emerges from the past year as healthy and hopeful as humanly possible. It has been a long year, and yet together, we are getting much closer to the light at the end of the pandemic tunnel. 

COVID Vaccination Policy for Fall Announced

Students will be required to be vaccinated for the 2021-22 academic year, subject to medical or religious exemptions. Students returning for the 2021-22 academic year should submit their vaccine record to health@knox.edu once fully vaccinated. Health Services will work with students who are unable to access one of the FDA-approved COVID vaccines prior to returning to campus.  

At this time, faculty and staff are strongly urged to receive the vaccine, but for now, it is not required.   

May 25 HyVee Vaccination Clinic - First and Second Doses

Hy-Vee Pharmacy will return to campus on Tuesday, May 25 for the second dose Moderna vaccine clinic. This event will take place in the T. Fleming Fieldhouse from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. You can sign up here

Students, faculty, and staff who have not received their first dose of the vaccine are also welcome to sign up with this link. People who receive their first dose at this clinic will need to go to the Hy-Vee pharmacy for their second dose, or find a location close to home that can give the second dose. 

Reminder - Please Continue to Wear Your Mask on Campus

We understand that the recent CDC guidance regarding wearing a mask may be confusing for many individuals and organizations. To avoid any confusion at Knox with the short time remaining in the term, we will not change our policies on wearing masks on campus at this time. 

Even if you are fully vaccinated, please continue to wear your masks according to the Knox Together guidelines through the end of the academic year.

Important Commencement Reminders for Graduates

This is a gentle reminder that we are asking graduates who do not plan to use their tickets to please log into the system to release their tickets by this Sunday, May 23. After this deadline, if there are any unused guest tickets, they will be made available to other graduates. If available, groups of tickets will be released and can be claimed on a first come, first served basis on Tuesday, May 25 at 8:00 a.m. and 8:00 p.m. 

Also, please mark your calendar for Commencement rehearsal on Thursday, June 3 on the South Lawn. All students walking in the ceremonies are required to attend. Morning graduates will rehearse at 10:30 a.m., and afternoon graduates will rehearse at 1:00 p.m. Graduates will pick up their cap and gown at rehearsal. Please contact commencement@knox.edu if you are unable to attend rehearsal.

Please accept my wishes for a peaceful, healthy, and successful conclusion to this academic year.

TERESA L. AMOTT
President

May 14

Dear Knox Community,

Yesterday, Governor Pritzker announced that the state has made sufficient progress in mitigating COVID-19 to enter the next phase of our state’s reopening plan, a bridge phase that starts today. This phase offers slightly relaxed capacity restrictions before reaching Phase 5, the full reopening phase. In his announcement, he also said that Illinois is expected to fully reopen and enter Phase 5 of its COVID reopening plan on Friday, June 11, barring any significant reversals in our key COVID-19 statewide indicators.

Campus Health and Wellness Policies through End of Academic Term
While the bridge phase expands gathering capacity restriction, given that we have only two weeks left in the academic year and seek to maintain our low COVID positivity rates, we will continue to cap indoor and outdoor gathering limits at 50 people. There may be exceptions to this 50-person limit, particularly for outdoor activities. Exceptions may be requested through the appropriate senior staff member.

Additionally, we have all heard the news about the CDC issuing updated guidance for fully vaccinated people; the guidance says that if you are fully vaccinated, you can resume activities without wearing a mask or physically distancing, except where required by federal, state, local, tribal, or territorial laws, rules, and regulations, including local business and workplace guidance.

With the short time remaining in the term, we want to avoid any confusion and will not be changing our policies on wearing masks on campus at this time. Even if you are fully vaccinated, please continue to follow the Knox Together guidelines through the end of the academic year.

We will communicate summer campus health and wellness policies later this month.

Graduates Can Bring An Additional Guest to Commencement
Given this heartening news, we have good news for our 2021 graduates: With capacity limits slightly increased in the bridge phase, and keeping in mind that the six foot social distance requirement is still in place, we have been able to plan for each graduate to invite an additional guest to the Commencement exercises on June 5. This raises the number of guests per graduate from two to three.

Graduates will receive an email tomorrow, Saturday, May 15 with a link to the electronic ticketing system, along with instructions for how to claim guest tickets. We are asking graduates who do not plan to use their tickets to please log into the system as soon as possible to release their tickets so that others who would like to invite additional guests can claim them. We ask that tickets be released by May 23. After this deadline, if there are any unused guest tickets, they will be made available to other graduates. If available, groups of tickets will be released and can be claimed on a first come, first served basis on May 25 at 8:00 a.m. and 8:00 p.m.

Finally, I want to thank the faculty and staff who quickly volunteered to assist with Commencement. The volunteer slots are full! We appreciate your enthusiasm and willingness to help make the day extra special for our graduates and their guests.

If you have any questions about Commencement, please email commencement@knox.edu.

Thank you for your patience during these unpredictable times as we continue to do our best to provide a joyful Commencement to our graduates while abiding with public health guidelines.

Best,
Teresa

May 6

Dear Knox Community,

On Tuesday, Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker announced that the state of Illinois is on track to enter Phase 5 of its reopening plan in July. This would mark a full reopening with no capacity limits. He also reiterated that we are very likely to enter the next phase of our state’s reopening plan soon -- a transition phase with slightly relaxed capacity restrictions -- before reaching a full reopening this summer. What wonderful news! I am confident that the Knox community will contribute to this positive momentum by continuing to practice our Knox Together Pledge protocols and ensuring that all eligible individuals get vaccinated.

Important 2021 Commencement Updates

With one month remaining until our 2021 Commencement exercises, I wanted to share important news with you about the event. We have created a 2021 Commencement site on our Knox College website and are providing answers to frequently asked questions as well, for your convenience.

As a reminder, we will hold two Commencement events on Saturday, June 5, 2021. The first is scheduled for 10:00 a.m.; the second is scheduled for 3:00 p.m. We anticipate that each ceremony will last one to 1.5 hours. 

Students were provided the opportunity to indicate a preference for the morning or afternoon ceremony, and they were sent an email on May 1 with their assigned ceremony time to enable their guests to plan travel. By splitting the number of graduates in half, we have the space to safely accommodate graduates and their guests for each ceremony. 

We  have confirmed the location for our 2021 Commencement; both ceremonies will be held on South Lawn. To ensure we abide by state capacity restrictions, we will be fencing off the stage and seating areas and taking tickets at entrances. Entrance to the Commencement event area is restricted to ticketed guests and those participating in the formal ceremony. 

A limited number of faculty will participate in the ceremonies formally in light of space limitations on the commencement stage. Faculty and staff can also participate by volunteering to help with the ceremonies. We will need more volunteers than ever before to welcome guests to campus and assist with seating.  If you are interested in volunteering, please sign up here or email kridlon@knox.edu

We hope that this information is helpful to you, and I look forward to seeing many of you on June 5. And, if you have any questions that our communications, website or FAQs about commencement do not answer, please email commencement@knox.edu. Thank you, and see you soon.

TERESA L. AMOTT
President

April 30

Dear Knox Community,

We delayed this email for a day since yesterday was Knox Proud Day. A huge thank you to those of you who volunteered, gave, and supported our efforts on this annual day of giving. You can view our thank you video, which shares current donor and dollar amounts, here.

On Wednesday, Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker announced that the state is "making progress" in its coronavirus metrics and that we could soon enter the next phase of our state’s reopening plan, a transition phase with slightly relaxed capacity restrictions before reaching a full reopening. This is hopeful news and along with spring weather, should help us all restore and rebalance.

In order for us to contribute to these positive metrics and keep our campus healthy, we are providing information and reminders below. Please read the information carefully. 

On-Campus Vaccine Clinic

Kudos to the 137 students, faculty and staff who received their first Moderna COVID-19 vaccine at the on-campus Hy-Vee clinic on Wednesday! We so appreciate your efforts to keep yourself and your community healthy and safe. Regarding the second dose of the vaccine, Hy-Vee is committed to providing the second dose vaccine clinic, but has not yet set the date and time. This information will come at a later date.

Students: Email Photo of Your Proof of Vaccination to Health Services 

As you are aware, in the fall we may require proof of vaccination for students, faculty and staff. To ensure that we have proof of vaccination should anyone misplace their vaccination cards, Health Services is asking students who have completed their COVID vaccination series to send a picture of their proof of vaccination record cards to Health@knox.edu

Fully Vaccinated? Please Continue to Wear Your Mask on Campus

On Tuesday, the CDC issued updated guidance for fully vaccinated people regarding wearing masks. Given that we have only one month left in the academic year, we want to avoid any confusion and will not change our policies on wearing masks on campus. If you are fully vaccinated, please continue to follow the Knox Together guidelines through the end of the academic year.

Please Continue to Complete Your Daily Symptom Tracker

As a reminder, all members of the Knox campus community are required to complete their daily symptom tracker through the end of the academic year. Doing so supports our commitment to following the Knox Together Pledge. The information in the tracker is critical for us as we monitor the overall health status of the community, so If you are not completing your daily symptom tracker, you are putting your fellow community members at risk. If you have any questions about the daily symptom tracker, please contact Health Services.

Local Vaccination Clinics Scheduled for May 1 - May 4

If you were unable to receive a vaccination at the on-campus Hy-Vee clinic on Wednesday, the Knox County Unified Command, a coalition of health, safety and education agencies and organizations, is holding four consecutive days of large scale vaccine clinics in Galesburg at 1150 W Carl Sandburg Drive (the old Bergner’s building) from Saturday, May 1 through Tuesday, May 4.

Please register for the clinics here. To register, you will need to choose a time slot and follow the prompts to submit your registration. Please note that all the green time slots have openings. If a time slot turns red, all time slots at that time are filled. You will receive an email confirmation with a QR code when your registration is finalized; to make sign-in easier, please do your best to take the QR Code with you to your vaccine appointment. 

Please also consider using these other available vaccination sites.

Thank you so much for your continued support of one another as we near the end of this challenging academic year.

TERESA L. AMOTT
President

April 22

KNOX TOGETHER EMAIL - Week of April 19, 2021

Dear Knox Community,

We have received a number of questions about end of the year COVID testing and pre-graduation testing for seniors. This email will provide you with answers to those questions and also a reminder about upcoming vaccine clinics, both on campus and in Galesburg.

All Students: End of the Year Testing

COVID testing with Shield Illinois will continue through the week of 5/26 on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. in the Fieldhouse. Students should continue to schedule their weekly tests by last name in their MyShield portal. Additional testing related to air travel can be scheduled through Health Services by emailing Health@knox.edu. 

Seniors: Pre-Commencement Testing

All seniors participating in Commencement must test the week prior to Saturday’s event. Testing will take place during the following dates and times at the Fieldhouse:

Monday May 31-- 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Tuesday June 1-- 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Wednesday June 2 -- 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

These tests can also be scheduled in your MyShield portal. 

Please note, this is a change from our normal weekly schedule to allow for all test results to be back prior to Commencement. In addition, to allow for a busy senior week schedule, the hours have been extended on Wednesday to 4 p.m. 

Reminder - Vaccine Clinic Scheduled for April 28

If you are eligible for a vaccination, please consider signing up for the vaccine clinic for students, faculty, and staff in the Fieldhouse next Wednesday, April 28 from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. The clinic is a partnership with Hy-Vee, and the Moderna vaccine will be administered at that time.  

Please note that you do not need health insurance to get a COVID-19 vaccine with Hy-Vee. The vaccination is free. Pharmacies might collect insurance information, but they cannot charge you for the vaccine or for any fees, copays or coinsurance. In addition, if you do not have insurance, they will not bill you anything nor will they turn you away.

You can sign up for a vaccine here; slots are on a first come, first served basis. It takes about five to 10 minutes to sign up. There are a total of 208 slots available for the clinic, and when a slot fills, it will no longer appear on the list of available times.

Regarding the second dose of the vaccine, Hy-Vee has not yet set the second dose vaccine date and time. This information will come at a later date. Please go ahead and schedule your first dose; we will update you as soon as we know the second date and time. 

Another Option: Local Vaccination Clinics, May 1 - May 4

We were recently notified that the Knox County Unified Command, a coalition of health, safety and education agencies and organizations, will hold four consecutive days of large scale vaccine clinics in Galesburg at 1150 W Carl Sandburg Drive (the old Bergner’s building) from Saturday, May 1 through Tuesday, May 4.

Please register for the clinics here. To register, you will need to choose a time slot and follow the prompts to submit your registration. Please note that all the green time slots have openings. If a time slot turns red, all time slots are filled. You will receive an email confirmation with a QR code when your registration is finalized; to make sign-in easier, please do your best to bring the QR Code with you to your vaccine appointment. 

Please also consider using these other available vaccination sites.

As more and more of our campus community gets vaccinated, we need to remember that we must stay vigilant and continue to abide by the Knox Together Pledge to keep one another safe and healthy. The pandemic is still with us, as reported this week.

TERESA L. AMOTT
President

April 15

More info on the Knox Together Email - Week of April 12, 2021

Dear Knox Community,

I'm writing to follow up on my earlier Knox Together message. Since then, we have learned that there may be some confusion surrounding the need to have proof of health insurance in order to schedule a vaccine appointment. You do not need health insurance in order to get a covid vaccine or to schedule an appointment with Hy Vee. The vaccination is free. Pharmacies might collect insurance information but they cannot charge you for the vaccine or for any fees, copays or coinsurance. In addition, if you do not have insurance, they will not bill you anything nor will they turn you away.

Questions have also been asked about the second dose. At this time, Hy-Vee has not set the second dose vaccine date and time. This information will come at a later date. Please go ahead and schedule  your first dose and watch for more information to come. 

Thanks for those who wrote to me with their questions,

Teresa

April 15

Knox Together Email - Week of April 12, 2021

Dear Knox Community,

I am keeping this week’s Knox Together email brief, because I have two very important reminders to share with you today.

First, COVID-19 cases are on the rise in Knox County, and the State of Illinois is also experiencing a resurgence of the pandemic.  Yesterday, the Illinois Department of Health reported that approximately 24% of the population is fully vaccinated. Although the number of people getting vaccinated continues to rise, the availability of ICU beds is decreasing -- an indicator that the pandemic is still very much with us. You can see how we’re doing at Knox College by visiting our COVID-19 Testing Dashboard, which is updated every Friday afternoon.

In light of this news, I want to remind our community to stay vigilant and continue to follow the protocols outlined in the Knox Together Pledge. It is essential that everyone on our campus follow safety protocols, including social distancing, masking, and adhering to guidelines for campus events.

Vaccine Clinic Scheduled for April 28

I am pleased to announce that we are partnering with Hy-Vee to hold a vaccine clinic for students, faculty, and staff on our campus on Wednesday, April 28 from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. in the Fieldhouse. The Moderna vaccine will be administered at that time.  

You can sign up for a vaccine here; slots are on a first come, first served basis. It takes about five to 10 minutes to sign up. There are 13 openings for every 15 minute time slot -- a total of 208 slots available for the clinic. When a slot fills, it will not show up anymore. I encourage you to sign up quickly if you are interested in getting a vaccine at the onsite clinic.

Please also consider using these other available vaccination sites if you prefer not to wait until April 28:

Knox County Health Department
Hy-Vee 
CVS (Target) 
A list of statewide mass vaccination clinic locations.
Walgreens requires a personalized account. Once you have created your account, you can check vaccine availability by zip code.    

Finally, I ask all supervisors to remain as flexible as possible in accommodating employee requests to get vaccinated. Hourly employees will receive up to one hour of paid time off to visit the clinic of their choice for each vaccine dose during work hours, coordinated in advance with their supervisors.  Employees should record this time by using the pay code “COVID” on their time cards, with supervisor approval.

If you have any questions about Knox Together safety protocols or vaccines, please email Health Services at health@knox.edu.

TERESA L. AMOTT
President

April 8

Knox Together Email - Week of April 5, 2021

Dear Knox Community,

Today, we want to address the trial of Derek Chauvin, the former Minneapolis police officer charged with the murder of George Floyd, and its impact. People are making choices daily on how to engage with the trial, whether that is watching it in full or reading news reports. We want to acknowledge that the information being presented and shared is difficult to hear, and may be amplified by racial battle fatigue for our Black community members.  

This trial acts as another mirror to the history of racial violence in the United States as much as it is about Derek Chauvin's actions. George Floyd’s murder follows an all-too-familiar pattern that our country must commit to undoing -- the systemic racism and violence communities of color have faced for hundreds of years. This offers an opportunity for each of us to ask ourselves how we can take action in our lives to address racial injustice.  Intercultural Life has provided a set of resources to help us learn more about anti-racism efforts and direct actions that can be taken.

As the trial continues, we also wanted to share a number of resources with all of you that may be of help during the next few weeks. The HOPE Center will be hosting a racial healing circle for Black students, faculty and staff in the coming weeks, more details to come. The Center is also open for students, faculty and staff who want a space to talk or be in community with others. Staff are available to meet one on one with students as well. Counseling Services continues to provide remote sessions, and can be reached simply by emailing counseling@knox.edu to request an appointment. You can find a number of mental health resources related to the Chauvin trial on the NAMI Minnesota website. There are also many racial justice resources that provide ideas for actions you can take now to educate yourself and hold police accountable, including Campaign Zero, Black Lives Matter, the NAACP, and Color of Change

Last Fall during Opening Convocation, our speaker, Randall Strickland ‘90, challenged us to fight for the oppressed, saying “it is so vital to understand that as justice touches everyone, so does injustice.” He encouraged us to “say their names” at every opportunity. So we remember George Floyd. Rayshard Brooks. Breonna Taylor. Atatianna Jefferson. Stephon Clark. Botham Jean. Jamar Clark. Philando Castile. Michael Brown. Eric Garner, and many others. We must continue our work together to fight racism in the United States in all its forms and create a more just world. Today, especially, we ask that you join us in supporting our Black students and colleagues, and in remembering that each of us is obligated to stand up to injustice whenever and wherever it occurs.

Teresa Amott, President
Tianna Cervantez, Executive Director for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion

April 1

KNOX TOGETHER EMAIL - Week of March 29, 2021

Dear Knox Community,

Earlier this week, we announced our current Commencement plan for the class of 2021, and we also shared with the class of 2020 that we are planning a Commencement celebration for them during Homecoming on the afternoon of Sunday, October 10. While both celebrations are contingent upon public health guidance, we are hopeful that we will be able to deliver the joyful, celebratory experience our graduates deserve.

COVID-19 Update

This week, the Illinois Department of Public Health reported that an increase in COVID-19 cases, positivity rates, and hospitalizations will keep the state from entering the next phase of Governor Pritzker’s reopening plan. Currently, the Illinois Department of Public health is monitoring key indicators in all 11 health regions of the state that potentially signify a resurgence. The state will continue to monitor for 14 days to determine if current mitigations should remain in place. 

Since the beginning of Spring term, we have seen three positive student cases, which came with a significant number of close contacts who are currently in quarantine. While our campus positivity rate remains low at 0.53% for the term so far, it is more important than ever for us all to abide by the Knox Together Pledge. We must continue to commit to keeping our campus community healthy.

Vaccine Update

The Galesburg Register-Mail has also reported that eligibility for the COVID-19 vaccine in Knox County is expanding to all adults in the county. The Illinois Department of Health advised local health departments to expand eligibility if they have available vaccines. Adults 18 years and over must contact the Knox County Health Department to schedule an appointment.

We just learned that Cottage Hospital Clinics has COVID vaccine availability this Friday, April 2nd, from 8 am to 4 pm for anyone age 18 and older. You can call 309-343-7130 during normal business hours to ask for an appointment time. 

There is no shuttle planned for this event. However, Cottage Hospital is within walking distance of the College and the city bus is free to students. Please reach out to Health Services if you have further questions. 

This expansion is yet another positive step toward our return to the “human-powered” experience that is so special at Knox. We strongly encourage all eligible Knox community members 18 years and over to make an appointment if you have not done so already. 

We certainly understand that it has been more than a year since the pandemic began its deadly spread across our country, and with the warmer weather and the start of spring term, we are all getting restless to spend time with others. Now, more than ever, we need every member of our community to commit to keeping one another safe and continuing to follow necessary safety protocols. Thank you in advance for your cooperation at this critical time.

TERESA L. AMOTT
President

March 25

KNOX TOGETHER EMAIL - Week of March 22, 2021

Dear Knox Community,

Following a brief Spring Break, classes have resumed and Spring Term, our final term of this academic year, is underway. The white tents used for outdoor classrooms and gatherings in the fall are going up again on our campus (tent reservations are available through the Room Reservations App on MyKnox; login required).

I do want to remind our community to stay vigilant and continue to follow the protocols outlined in The Knox Together Pledge. Yesterday, Illinois Governor Pritzker indicated concern over very recent reversals in several positive trends, stating public health officials are monitoring to see whether the data indicate spreading COVID-19 variants or just a temporary situation. 

Vaccine Update

The Governor has now included higher education employees as a priority group for vaccination, starting this week. This expansion is another step toward returning to the face-to-face residential community that is so special at Knox. We strongly encourage any Knox community members who are eligible for a vaccine to make an appointment

Also, we want to remind you that last week, the Governor announced that COVID-19 vaccinations will be expanded to all residents 16 and older outside of Chicago beginning Monday, April 12. We recommend that students take something with their College address on it just in case they are asked about a local address prior to receiving a vaccine.  

For your reference, here are links to those offering vaccines in the area:

  • Knox County Health Department
  • CVS (Target)
  • Hy-Vee 
  • A list of statewide mass vaccination clinic locations (for these locations, the closest is Fulton County.) 
  • Walgreens requires a personalized account. Once you have created your account, you can check vaccine availability by zip code.    

Last week, the Governor announced a phased approach to reopening that will offer us more opportunities over time to gather in groups both inside and outside. We all eagerly anticipate these next stages, as long as the reversals reported yesterday are temporary, and we return to positive trends. 

Parents and students have asked about COVID-19 vaccination requirements for Knox students. As long as public health guidance continues to support that it is safe and effective, as evidenced by FDA approval beyond emergency use, we anticipate that we will require our students to be vaccinated unless they have a medical, physical, or philosophical objection. We will follow legal and public health guidance. We do not anticipate implementing this requirement until the 2021-2022 academic year.

Limited Spectator Capacity at Knox Athletic Outdoor Contests

Beginning March 28, a limited number of spectators will be allowed to attend Knox College athletic outdoor contests for baseball, football, men’s and women’s golf, men’s and women’s soccer, softball, and track and field. Designated seating areas will be assigned for the Knox community (students, faculty and staff) and Prairie Fire student-athletes’ family members. No members of the general public will be admitted to athletics events at this time, and no visiting team spectators are allowed. Our spectator policies are contingent upon COVID-19 guidance and information provided by state and county public health officials. 

Many Prairie Fire competitions on the Knox campus will be livestreamed to give our fans, families, and friends an opportunity to remain engaged and see our student-athletes in action. All competitions that are planned for livestreaming are already designated as such on the schedules on the Prairie Fire website

For more details on spectator seating areas and expectations at Knox College sports events, please visit our Fan Zone. Check back frequently, as changes may occur at the NCAA, MWC, federal, state, and local levels. Please check for updates on game-day.

Hope remains on the horizon if we all continue to do our part! Please stay safe and well, and continue to send your questions and ideas to together@knox.edu.

TERESA L. AMOTT
President

March 18

KNOX TOGETHER EMAIL - Week of March 15, 2021

Dear Knox Community,

As we finish our winter term and look forward to the spring, we want to provide a few brief but important updates to you. 

Spectators at Spring Athletics Events

The Midwest Conference (MWC) announced its redefined spectator policy on Thursday, March 10th. Each campus will be allowed to make spectator decisions based on its campus conditions and the state and local restrictions in effect. The MWC granted member schools the discretion to make these decisions due to the varying venue and facility situations on each campus and each institution’s ability to control access to its facilities and address the entire campus community’s overall safety. 

We are hopeful that by early April, we will have the opportunity to open up our athletic events in a safe, limited manner. We are in constant touch with the local public health authorities and medical professionals and are confident that we will be able to accommodate limited spectators in the near future. 

There are many moving parts to consider as we develop manageable options based on NCAA, Midwest Conference, state, and local requirements, as well as our facility configurations, capacity, and staff size, so please stay tuned for announcements about spectators.

Vaccinations

Illinois Governor Pritzker announced earlier today a plan for gradually reopening the state, and stated COVID-19 vaccinations will be expanded to all residents 16 and older outside of Chicago beginning April 12. Illinois is receiving increasing shipments of doses from the federal government. When 70% of Illinois residents 65 and over are vaccinated, capacity limits will be relaxed, (unless the downward trend in COVID-19 metrics reverses during a 28-day monitoring period). As of this morning, 58% of those 65 and  older had been vaccinated. As Knox has been guided by the Illinois capacity limits, these changes will offer us opportunities to gather -- masked and distanced in groups in groups larger than are currently permitted. 

As vaccines become more available, we strongly encourage any Knox community members who are eligible for a vaccine to make an appointment. Depending upon the location, you may be asked to show proof that you are living in the area. We recommend that students take something with their College address on it just in case they are asked prior to receiving a vaccine.  

Right now the vaccine clinics continue to be offered by pharmacies, hospitals, and the Knox County Health Department. Additionally, the state of Illinois is adding new statewide mass vaccine clinics every week. It is strongly advised that individuals register themselves, as there are questions specific to the registrant, such as potential for allergic reactions and use of blood thinners.

We are providing you with a number of links to ensure you have the resources you need to determine eligibility and find a vaccination site.

State and County Resource Links:

  • For students, faculty, or staff to see if they qualify for the criteria in Illinois, please visit the Illinois Department of Health Site
  • Here is the list of statewide mass vaccination clinic locations (for these locations, the closest is Fulton County. We are hopeful that the state will add more locations soon.) 
  • Knox County Health Department
     

Pharmacies:

  • CVS
  • Hy-Vee 
  • Walgreens requires you to create a personalized account. Once you have created this account, you can check vaccine availability by zip code.    

Students - Spring Break

The three-day spring break is scheduled for Sunday, March 21 through Tuesday, March 23.  We recognize that this is a very short period of time between two intensive academic terms, and that many members of our community are feeling stress and burnout. We wish there were an opportunity for a longer break, but the short break allows us to complete the year on time while also protecting the community from transmission of the new variants which are circulating across the country. So, we ask you to stay focused on health and safety, and to please use this time to rest, recover and relax. Practice self-care and if you are feeling stressed, reach out to someone who can assist you.

  • Counseling Services is here to assist students with overall mental wellness to help them achieve academic and personal goals.  To make an appointment, please email counseling@knox.edu using your Knox email account or call (309) 341-7492 Monday through Friday between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. CDT.
  • If you are considering an internship, check out the Internship Jamboree sessions with Knox alumni and recruiters; they are listed in the Knox Calendar on March 22
  • Please refrain from traveling during this short  break. If you have an essential reason to travel outside of Knox County during this period, please email Health@Knox.edu as soon as possible.
     

Thank you for all you have done during the past year to keep our campus safe. I am confident that together, we can all successfully complete this academic year. I hope you all take pride in knowing we all did our part to take care of our community during these unprecedented times.

TERESA L. AMOTT
President

March 12

Dear Knox Community,

There has been some confusion and several questions on COVID testing times. Please view the information below for times and dates of testing. 

Faculty and staff: 

Knox College employees are able to access saliva testing through MySHIELDIllinois at Knox College. As a courtesy, the College is allowing any employee that feels ill, has been exposed, or would like to take part in COVID-19 testing to do so at no charge. 

  • On February 7th you should have received an email from NO-REPLY@illinois.edu in regards to activating your MySHIELDIllinois account. If you haven’t already done so, please go through the steps outlined in that email to set-up your MyShield Portal account. The activation code expires 30 days from the time that you received it. We strongly encourage interested employees to activate their account now so that they are able to use the testing if they find it necessary. Again, this is a courtesy to all employees, and not mandatory that employees are tested. If you have trouble activating your account, you may call the SHIELD IL Patient Technical Support Call center at (217) 265-6059. 
  • Once you have set-up your account, you can login and click “schedule an appointment” in the upper right corner. 
  • Select COVID-19 Testing 
  • You will need to select the correct testing site the first time you schedule. Select Shield Knox College
  • Next you will select a date and time. PLEASE BE AWARE our testing site days and hours are as follows: 
    • Location: T. Fleming Fieldhouse 
    • Dates and Times: 
      Mondays 8 am to 1 pm 
      Wednesdays 8 am to 1 pm 
      Thursdays 8 am to 1 pm 

Please do not schedule a test outside of these time frames. The Shield Illinois website will allow you to schedule for any day and time of the week, even days that Knox College is not conducting testing. 

You should refrain from eating, drinking, tooth brushing, mouth washing, and tobacco use for 1 hour before submitting your saliva sample. 

Please feel free to contact Human Resources at hr@knox.edu or Health Services at health@knox.edu with any questions you may have.

Students: 

Students are required to test every other week, based on the first letter of their last name. Students should also test if they have symptoms of COVID-19 or have been exposed. Testing occurs in the T. Fleming Fieldhouse and the schedule is as follows: 

  • Mondays 8 am to 1 pm 
  • Wednesdays 8 am to 1 pm 
  • Thursdays 8 am to 1 pm 

Please do not schedule a test outside of these time frames. The Shield Illinois website will allow you to schedule for any day and time of the week, even days that Knox College is not conducting testing.

  • Week of 2/22 Last names starting with A-K
  • Week of 3/1 Last names starting with L-Z
  • Week of 3/8 Last names starting with A-K
  • Week of 3/15 Last names starting with L-Z
  • Week of 3/22 (Spring Term Arrival) Last names starting with A-K
  • Week of 3/29 Last names starting with L-Z
  • Week of 4/5 Last names starting with A-K
  • Week of 4/12 Last names starting with L-Z
  • Week of 4/19 Last names starting with A-K
  • Week of 4/26 Last names starting with L-Z
  • Week of 5/3 Last names starting with A-K
  • Week of 5/10 Last names starting with L-Z
  • Week 5/17 Last names starting with A-K
  • Week of 5/24 Last names starting with L-Z
  • Week of 5/31 Last names starting with A-K

Students should visit their MyShield portal to schedule their bi-weekly COVID test.  

You should refrain from eating, drinking, tooth brushing, mouth washing, and tobacco use for 1 hour before submitting your saliva sample.

March 11

KNOX TOGETHER EMAIL - Week of March 8, 2021

Dear Knox Community,

This week marks one year of the world taking extraordinary measures to stem the spread of COVID-19. Reaching this significant milestone, we are all feeling hopeful as more and more vaccines are distributed and administered across the globe. This week’s email addresses questions about whether we plan to resume in-person learning and operations in the fall. It also includes some important reminders about ensuring we all do our part to preserve the health and safety of our campus community.

Plans for Fall Term 2021 

Many of you have asked whether we will resume normal operations starting Fall 2021. I want to let you know that it is our intention to fully return to our regular, in-person classroom and intercollegiate athletics environment starting with the Fall Term. 

The residential character of our College, coupled with our human-powered educational delivery model, are our institution’s greatest strengths. We are committed to bringing both fully back for our students’ benefit as soon as conditions permit. 

When we move back to normal operations, remote learning requests will be evaluated on a case-by-case basis, as they were in pre-pandemic times.  

Students Returning to Campus for Spring Term

Those of you who are not currently living on campus but are returning to campus housing for Spring Term should have received an email from Campus Life yesterday. The email covers the following important items: 

  • COVID testing times and location
  • Move-in process
  • Quarantine procedures 
     

If you did not receive this email, please contact Assistant Dean for Campus Life Jacob McLean at jrmclean@knox.edu

Please Don’t Travel During Spring Break

The three-day spring break is scheduled for March 21-23, and we are advising you to please refrain from traveling during this brief, three-day period. This will help to preserve the safety and wellbeing of our community, and it will prevent the potential spread of COVID-19, including its newer and more transmissible variants. If you have an essential reason to travel outside of Knox County during this period, please consult with Health Services in advance of your travel.

If You’ve Been Vaccinated, You Still Must Wear a Mask on Campus

Health officials are reporting that after you get vaccinated against COVID-19, you still need to practice the usual pandemic precautions, including continuing to wear a mask and maintaining six feet or more of distance from people outside your household. Here’s why:

  • You need to wear your mask until researchers have the data they need about post-vaccination viral shedding (spreading the virus to others through coughing, sneezing, etc.). 
  • The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advise that experts need to understand more about the protection that the vaccines provide before deciding to change recommendations on steps that everyone should take to slow the spread of COVID-19. 
  • The vaccines are not 100% effective; once most people are protected and there’s less virus circulating in the community, the advice and restrictions may change. 
  • It will take some time for the vaccine’s effectiveness to build up, and you will need to take precautions to protect yourself and those around you.  
     

Vaccinated Employees - Use HealthCheck Through Remainder of Year

We have received questions about whether employees who have been fully vaccinated and are past the two-week waiting period after their second shot should continue to use the HealthCheck app. Health Services has advised that everyone must continue to use HealthCheck through the remainder of the academic year. As research into the vaccines and immunity progresses and everyone has been offered the vaccine, we may be able to relax our precautions. 

This pandemic year has upset our sense of the passage of time in so many ways, and we are only now starting to understand how much has changed and how much has been lost. Some of you have said that you are sorry that I had to spend the last year of my presidency coping with the pandemic, but I want you to know that I have never been more proud of Knox  because of all that we have done as a community to preserve one another’s health and safety. Thank you for your continued support and vigilance. 

TERESA L. AMOTT
President

March 4

KNOX TOGETHER EMAIL - Week of March 1, 2021

Dear Knox Community,

We have heard feedback from many of you that these emails are helpful -- but too long. Going forward, we will make every effort to keep them brief and informative. We are providing reminders about spring return and vaccines in this email.

I want to again recognize the dedication of our students in keeping our campus healthy. You can see how we’re doing on our COVID-19 Testing Dashboard

Spring Term Return and Protocols - Students and Parents

  • We provided spring term return and protocols information in last week’s Knox Together email. Key points from this email include:
  • Students not currently residing on campus but who plan to live on campus for the spring term should return on Sunday, March 21. 
  • Students will receive their first COVID test upon arrival and a second one approximately five days later. Testing will be available on March 21 from 12:00 - 5:00 p.m. in the Fieldhouse. 
  • Please respond to the February 7 email you received from NO-REPLY@UILLINOIS.EDU to create an account. If you cannot locate your email or if your activation code expires, please call SHIELD at 217-265-6059 to get a new one. 
  • Students must quarantine in their rooms until they receive notice that their first test result is negative, and they may not attend in-person classes or other group activities until receiving a second negative result. 
  • Students who are planning to return to campus housing for the spring term should contact Campus Life immediately by emailing campuslife@knox.edu

Vaccine News for All

Some key points to keep in mind:

  • We are currently in Phase 1B Plus, which includes individuals who are 65+, certain frontline essential workers, and residents under the age of 65 with certain high-risk medical conditions. You can find the list of those conditions here.
  • From an education sector standpoint, the state continues to restrict eligibility to the K-12 sector. We continue to monitor eligibility requirements and will notify our campus as soon as anything changes.
  • The Knox County Health Department appointment links go live at 2:00 pm every Friday on their Facebook page and their website. You can also check out the Hy-Vee Pharmacy and Walgreens sites for vaccine availability. 
     

While the news continues to be hopeful and our future is indeed bright, we still have new COVID-19 variants out there to worry about. Please continue to follow safety protocols and the principles in the Knox Together Pledge.

Thank you for reading and for your continued support for our efforts to keep the Knox community safe.

TERESA L. AMOTT
President

February 25

Dear Knox Community,

Unlike some of the emails we have sent in recent months, this email shares some heartening and hopeful news with you. 

As of last Friday, we wrapped up the second round of COVID-19 baseline testing with our students. During the two weeks of baseline testing, we conducted 1,589 tests and had 1 positive result, which means we had a 0.06% test positivity rate. Amazing! The low number of positive tests we had throughout our two rounds of baseline testing is a clear indication that all of our students remain committed to our Knox Together Pledge. I am so proud of the dedication our students have exhibited to ensure that our campus remains safe and healthy. 

COVID Testing Changes for Students

As a result of this impressive positivity rate, this past Monday, we started testing one half of the campus each week. Students have been assigned alternating weeks based on their last names (A through K during the week of February 22, L through Z during the week of March 1, and so on). Students should visit their MyShield portal and schedule a testing time that is convenient for them each week they are to test.

Spring Term Return and Protocols

Students not currently residing on campus but who plan to live on campus for the spring term should return on Sunday, March 21. Students will receive their first COVID test upon arrival and a second one approximately five days later. Students must quarantine in their rooms until they receive notice that their first test result is negative, and may not attend in-person classes or other group activities until receiving a second negative result. Returning students must be in close communication with their spring course instructors to make arrangements to participate in course activities during their quarantine.

If you have not yet contacted Campus Life about your plans to return to campus housing for the spring term, please do so immediately by emailing campuslife@knox.edu. Additionally, if the March 21 return date is not feasible for you given your finals schedule, please notify Campus Life of this as well, and they will make arrangements to accommodate you.

Finally, on February 7 you should have received an email from NO-REPLY@UILLINOIS.EDU to create an account to participate in our SHIELD Illinois COVID saliva testing. This email gave you instructions and an activation code to help you set up your account. Once you have done this, you will be directed to schedule a COVID test appointment. Please schedule your appointment for March 21 or for the alternative date Campus Life assigned you to arrive on campus if March 21 does not work for you. Please create your account now; the activation code expires in early March. If you cannot locate your email or if your activation code expires, please call SHIELD at 217-265-6059 to get a new one. 

MWC Resuming Competition for Spring Sports

The Midwest Conference (MWC) announced last Friday that it will resume competition for the spring sports of baseball, softball, men’s tennis, women’s tennis, men’s outdoor track & field and women’s outdoor track & field. Member institutions, based upon campus and local realities of the pandemic, retain ultimate authority over the decision whether or not to participate in intercollegiate athletics this spring. At this time, Knox College is optimistic that Prairie Fire student-athletes will participate in competition this spring under the MWC umbrella.

Vaccine Update

Vaccine information changes daily as the new administration seeks to ramp up the pace of vaccination ahead of greater transmission of the new variants. This week, the Associated Press is reporting that COVID-19 vaccine makers told the U.S. Congress to expect a big jump in the delivery of doses over the coming month, assuring that they will provide enough shots for most Americans to get vaccinated by summer. 

In Illinois, vaccines continue to be distributed to county health departments, pharmacies and hospitals, and the state is currently deeming as eligible individuals who are 65+ and certain frontline workers. As of February 25, eligibility was expanded to include individuals under 65 with health conditions that put them at risk of severe COVID illness. From an education sector standpoint, the state continues to restrict eligibility to the K-12 education sector. We continue to monitor eligibility requirements and will notify our campus as soon as anything changes.

The Knox County Health Department appointment links go live at 2:00 pm every Friday on their Facebook page and their website. You can also check out the Hy-Vee Pharmacy and Walgreens sites for vaccine availability. We know that some Knox retirees and employees who are 65+ have received  vaccinations through those sites, so keep checking. 

Please continue to ask questions and send ideas and suggestions to together@knox.edu. Your feedback has been incredibly helpful in ensuring we are thorough in our planning and decision making. I continue to be so grateful and impressed by our students, faculty and staff, and their commitment to one another’s safety. And while this week brings us hopeful news, we must remain vigilant in ensuring our community of care stays as strong as it can be for the foreseeable future.

TERESA L. AMOTT
President

February 20

With a happy heart, I share with you the Midwest Conference (MWC) has opted to move forward with competition for spring sports under the MWC umbrella!

The Midwest Conference (MWC) announced today that it will resume competition for the spring sports of baseball, softball, men’s tennis, women’s tennis, men’s outdoor track & field and women’s outdoor track & field. Member institutions, based upon campus and local realities of the pandemic, retain ultimate authority over the decision as to whether or not to participate in intercollegiate athletics this spring. 

At this time, Knox College is optimistic that Prairie Fire student-athletes will be able to participate this spring under the MWC umbrella. 

“We are thrilled that we have this opportunity to get our student-athletes back into MWC competition,” said Knox College Director of Athletics Daniella Irle. “This is a great day for our Fire family. While the seasons will not be normal, I know that our spring sport student-athletes are looking forward to championship competition after losing that opportunity last spring. As always, Knox College and the Midwest Conference are moving forward with COVID-19 protocols and the health of our student-athletes and staff in mind.”

“Our student-athletes have been through so much in the last year and have had to adapt, improvise, and overcome,” said Knox College Head Baseball Coach Jami Isaacson. “This is a great day for Prairie Fire and MWC student-athletes because it means that all the work they have been putting in over the last year will come to fruition in MWC competition.”

“It will feel good to get back on the field after only playing four games in the last 22 months,” added Knox College Head Softball Coach Erin Rutledge. “The team is very excited to show what they can do on the field of play. It is critical that our student-athletes are able to compete against someone outside of our own team.”

MWC schools are allowed to engage in spring competition against non-league opponents as long as they adhere to the league’s COVID-19 return-to-play protocol and end competition against non-MWC institutions 15 days prior to the start of league play in each respective sport. MWC competition in most spring sports is expected to start between late March and mid-April and will conclude by mid-May. Conference schedules will be posted online in the coming weeks but are subject to change due to the current health circumstances.

“It’s been nearly eleven months since our student-athletes have played against each other due to COVID-19,” said Ripon College President Zach Messitte, the MWC Executive Committee Chair. “While we are excited to resume league play later this spring, the Conference will continue to adhere to best practices in order to maximize the safety and health of our students, coaches, officials and spectators.”

The MWC will closely monitor the COVID-19 environment on MWC campuses, local communities and at the regional and national levels as the ten member schools prepare for the upcoming spring season. At this time, no decision about spectators has been made so current guidance (no spectators at MWC events) remains in place and will be reviewed at a later date.

The Prairie Fire men’s and women’s golf teams compete in the St. Louis Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SLIAC). At this time, the SLIAC is committed to pursuing competition in the spring.

DANIELLA J. IRLE
Director of Athletics

February 20

Welcome back to winter term.

As we return to in-person instruction on February 22, campus buildings will return to regular opening hours with a few additional requirements. 

Please remember that classroom use follows comparatively strict Knox Together protocol during regular class times to allow for air recirculation in rooms between class meetings. Please use the Library, Science Commons, lounges, and other unscheduled spaces if you are looking for a study space during class times. Meeting spaces can be reserved through the online calendar.

Departments and program offices may set policies to manage use of spaces, such as labs and studios, in their areas. Please pay attention to locally posted occupancy limits and usage guidelines, and don’t hesitate to seek clarification from the department chairs or office managers.

CFA Music Practice Rooms are open, but students must reserve a time and room through the room reservation system (available on your my.knox portal, or by emailing Andy Crawford at acrawfor@knox.edu).

Seymour Library and the Amott Science Commons will be open initially according to the following schedule. Updates will be posted.

Seymour Library
Sunday - Thursday: noon - 10:00 pm 
Friday: noon - 6:00 pm
Saturday: noon - 5:00 pm

Amott Science Commons
Sunday: noon - 10:00 pm
Monday - Thursday: noon - 8:00 pm
Friday: noon - 6:00 pm
Saturday: noon - 5:00 pm

Help Desk and Computer Lab Hours will be open and adhering to the schedule below.

Help Desk
Monday - Thursday 7:30 am - Midnight
Friday 7:30 am - Midnight
Saturday Noon - 6:00 pm
Sunday Noon - 6:00 pm

Cat/Stellyes Lab
Monday - Thursday 8:00 am - Midnight
Friday 8:00 am - 6:00 pm
Saturday Noon - 6:00 pm
Sunday Noon - Midnight

Founders Lab
Everyday 7:30 am - 2:00 am

WAC Lab
Monday - Thursday 8:00 am - Midnight
Friday 8:00 am - 6:00 pm
Saturday Noon - 6:00 pm
Sunday Noon - Midnight

GDH (Burkhardt) Lab
Monday - Friday 8:00 am - 4:00 pm

Your commitment to the Knox Together plan during the fall term allowed us to successfully complete the term. We are optimistic that, with your help, conditions will permit us to keep these spaces open for the remainder of the academic year.

Michael A. Schneider
Provost and Dean of the College

February 18

KNOX TOGETHER Email for February 18, 2021 - Commencement Updates for Knox Classes of 2021 and 2020

Dear Knox Community,

For this week’s email update, we are sharing two emails we sent this afternoon to the Knox Classes of 2021 and 2020 regarding Commencement planning. We wanted to be sure you were aware of these emails in the event that you receive or have any questions about the status of both Commencements.

Email to the Knox Class of 2021

Email to the Knox Class of 2020 

As you can see, we are committed to providing both classes with meaningful celebrations, while balancing the need for campus and personal safety and wellbeing. We will continue to update you as our plans develop. In the meantime, if you have any questions or concerns, please email together@knox.edu

TERESA L. AMOTT
President

February 11

KNOX TOGETHER EMAIL - Week of February 8, 2021

Dear Knox Community,

It is wonderful to have our students coming back to campus this week. Their return -- even in the dead of winter -- is a glimmer of hope for the new normal. Thank you to our students and parents for following all arrival protocols, including testing and quarantine, and to our staff and faculty for ensuring our students have the support needed for a smooth transition back to campus. 

While arriving back to campus is a joyous time for all, please continue to stay vigilant and adhere to the Knox Together Pledge; the safety and wellness of our campus depends upon you. 

Commencement Decision Announcement Next Week

In a previous email, we committed to February 15 as the date we would announce our decision regarding the Class of 2021 Commencement. There will be a slight delay in timing, so look for that commencement information arriving by Thursday, February 18.

Vaccine Distribution Update

Last week I shared an update on vaccine distribution in Illinois and locally. I’m sure that you will be as pleased as I am to hear that the federal government is stepping up distribution to the states. We anticipate that there will finally be more vaccination opportunities in Illinois in the coming weeks.

Reminder - Sign up for SHIELD and HEALTHCHECK360

By now, students, faculty, and staff should have received an emailed invitation to sign up for an account to participate in saliva testing. The email is from NO-REPLY@UILLINOIS.EDU. On February 15, students will receive an email from HEALTHCHECK360. This is the same symptom tracker program that the College used during fall term. You must re-register for the program, and please be sure to choose the time that the email or text comes to you (based on your schedule). 

On-Campus Event Planning Policy 

The Campus Meeting and Event Planning Guidelines remain the same as those from fall term. Anyone who is considering hosting a meeting or event must abide by the policy and guidelines, designed to build community while keeping us as safe as possible during the pandemic. Please be sure to review these guidelines before you begin your event planning. 

Elective S/U Grading Due Date Changed 

For the remainder of the academic year, the due date for electing S/U grading for a course has been changed to match the course withdrawal date in winter, spring, and summer terms. In winter, the due date for elective S/U grading is March 5.

Students considering elective S/U grading for a course should consult their academic advisors during the upcoming advising and pre-enrollment period. All other rules and regulations for S/U grading remain unchanged. Elective S/U grading aims to encourage students to take courses outside of their major. We hope that this change for additional time to consider elective S/U grading will support students during this unusual year. 

For any questions about this change, please contact the Registrar’s Office at registrar@knox.edu

Alumni Achievement Awards

I encourage you to tune in tomorrow, February 12, at 5:00 p.m. CT when Knox honors our six alumni achievement award winners who are meeting the moment in true Knox ways. From careers in medicine to international  economics, funding for the arts, popular television drama, and life-long learning, this year’s recipients, including two young alumni recipients, truly epitomize the value of a liberal arts education. 

Looking Ahead

I am heartened by the focus on vaccine production and distribution, the downward daily trends in the number of COVID-19 cases in our country as reported by the CDC, and the corresponding downward trend in Illinois. 

However, we must continue to be mindful of the risks of spreading and contracting COVID-19, particularly with the CDC reporting on three emerging variants of the virus (with potential for more severe disease, spreading more easily, requiring different treatments, and/or a change in effectiveness of current vaccines). 

To help prevent the spread of COVID-19 and its variants, infectious disease experts are recommending double masking -- a cloth mask over a surgical mask. A recent CDC study found that double masking offers substantially improved protection against transmission of and exposure to infectious aerosols, so please layer up!

Let’s continue to work together to ensure we are keeping each other safe as we move forward to when we can put these trying pandemic times behind us. Thank you for your continued support.

TERESA L. AMOTT
President

February 5

Dear Colleagues,

I know many of you are eager to receive the COVID-19 vaccinations and like many of us have found it difficult, and frustrating, to sort through the decentralized information that is out there. Here is what we know at this moment, but we also know that the information is changing daily as the new administration seeks to ramp up the pace of vaccination ahead of greater transmission of the new variants.

At present, vaccines are being distributed by the federal government to states, which determine who is eligible, where vaccines can be administered, and how many vaccine doses are distributed week by week. 

In Illinois, vaccines are currently being distributed to county health departments, pharmacies and hospitals, and the state is currently deeming as eligible individuals 65+ and certain frontline workers. We had hoped that higher education would be considered eligible frontline workers, but the state is restricting eligibility to the K-12 education sector. 

Starting February 5, these sites in Galesburg are receiving vaccines on a weekly basis: Hy-Vee Pharmacy, Walgreens, OSF, Cottage Hospital, along with the Knox County Health Department which is setting up vaccine sites. OSF is prioritizing vaccines for their patients, and they are reaching out to patients on an individual basis. The volume of available vaccines is very sparse at this point, so we all have to be patient and check the websites for the participating sites often. The good news is that we do believe that more vaccines will become available each week.

The Knox County Health Department appointment links will go live at 2 pm every Friday starting February 5th on their Facebook page and at their website. You can also check out the Hy-Vee Pharmacy and Walgreens sites for availability. We know that some Knox retirees and employees 65+ have been able to get vaccinations through those sites, so keep checking.

If any of this information changes, we will try to provide links to the new info. I have also found that checking the Register-Mail and WGIL websites has been helpful.

TERESA L. AMOTT
President

February 4

KNOX TOGETHER UPDATE - Week of February 1, 2021

Dear Knox Community,

We are all eagerly awaiting the arrival of students on campus next week.

Following the required student quarantine period, I’m looking forward to seeing all of you -- masked, physically distanced, and ready to continue your winter term studies -- bringing our campus to life. Today, I am sharing some important reminders with you as you begin your return to Knox. 

Student COVID Testing and HealthCheck 360 

All students will be tested twice upon their return to campus and will also be tested every other week for the remainder of the academic year. The test is free and is required for all students taking courses on the Knox campus. 

Please watch your email for two important items. This week, you will receive an email from NO-REPLY@UILLINOIS.EDU to create an account to participate in saliva testing. This email will give you very specific instructions and an activation code to help you set up your account. Once you have set up your account, you will be directed to schedule a COVID test appointment. Please schedule your appointment on the day you were assigned by Campus Life to arrive on campus. The only testing times available for initial testing are Monday-Thursday 2/8-2/11, 9:00 am to 6:45 pm. 

On February 15, you will receive an email from HEALTHCHECK360. This is the same symptom tracker program that the College used during fall term. You must re-register for the program, and please be sure to choose the time that the email or text comes to you (based on your schedule). 

Move-in and Quarantine Safety Protocols 

If you need assistance moving back into campus housing, you are limited to one move-in helper. Move-in helpers should enter the fieldhouse with you and will be screened for COVID symptoms. Additional guests are permitted to come to campus, but they cannot enter the residence halls. You and your guests must wear masks at all times when on campus except when in your private room or when outside and able to maintain at least six feet of physical distance. 

Upon your return to campus, it is important that you quarantine in your room until you have received a negative test result. While we anticipate getting results within 24 hours, you should anticipate that your initial quarantine could last for up to 48 hours. Initial quarantine means that you are required to remain in your assigned room, except to use the restroom and pick up meals up to three times a day from dining services. You must wear a mask and maintain at least six feet of physical distance whenever you are outside of your own room (both indoors and outdoors). 

After you receive a negative test result, you will participate in modified quarantine until Sunday, February 21. During this time, you can hang out in your own suite/house’s common area as long as you wear a mask and maintain at least six feet of physical distance. You can also get fresh air, walk around campus, engage in recreational activities, and visit with friends outdoors, while continuing to follow our safety protocols, including wearing a mask and maintaining six feet of physical distance. 

You cannot travel during initial quarantine. However, you can travel within Knox County during modified quarantine as long as you wear a mask and practice appropriate physical distancing.

All students are asked to participate in modified quarantine, even if they have been on campus for the first part of winter term. 

Winter Term Classes 

From midnight Friday, February 5 until midnight Saturday, February 13 is our “hard pause” in all courses. Academic work, including preparation for class meetings, resumes on Sunday, February 14. Class meetings resume remotely on Monday, February 15. Students will not have access to academic buildings, including the library, until the academic buildings formally reopen for in-person instruction on Monday, February 22. The only exception to this rule is a small number of cases for maintenance of labs and equipment. The Dean of the College will communicate directly with students who have received approval to access academic buildings in the first half of the winter term about access during the modified quarantine.

Until the modified quarantine is complete, no group activities will be permitted in academic buildings. 

Spring Term Advising and Pre-Enrollment Begins

Advising and pre-enrollment for spring term courses begins on Monday, February 15 and continues until Friday, February 26. All students must meet with their academic advisors during this time to select courses for next term.

Also, please contact Campus Life if your plans for living on campus for the spring term have changed. 

Dining During Move-In and Testing/Quarantine Periods

Knox Dining Services will offer modified service during the move in and testing period. All meals will be provided through the Hard Knox Café. Once the quarantine period has concluded, the Gizmo, Outpost, and Grab n’ Go will resume regular service hours.

Mealtime hours during quarantine are below. Enter Hard Knox through the doors on the side with the gallery, and exit through the Campus Card office. Dine-in seating will not be available during this time.

Monday through Sunday:

Breakfast         7:30 am – 9:30 am

Lunch               11:00 am – 2:00 pm

Dinner              4:30 pm – 7:30 pm

Menu choices will be posted in the following locations: on the dining services webpage, through an optional daily menu mail, on digital screens in the gallery, and at the service counters. To reduce wait times, two counters in Hard Knox will offer take-away food items, including two packaged hot entree choices, rice or potato, vegetables, sides, desserts, and canned or bottled beverages. A vegan meal option will also be available. 

As with last Spring and Fall terms, any dietary or spiritual food needs can be communicated directly with Chef Joe; arrangements for requested accommodations will gladly be made on an individual basis. Dining inquiries can be directed to Doug Stenfeldt, Dining Services General Manager, at djstenfeldt@knox.edu, or Joseph Peterson, Executive Chef, at jdpeterson@knox.edu.  

Postal Services During Move-In and Testing/Quarantine Periods

Knox Postal Services will modify operations during the move-in and testing periods. Hours of operation from Monday, February 8 through Saturday, February 21 are:

Monday through Friday:  10:00am to 4:00pm
Saturday:                         10:00am to 11:00am

You may pick up and drop off your packages and mail by proceeding to the service windows in the lower level of Seymour Union. Please do not access your PO box to retrieve mail. The staff at the service window will retrieve it for you. 

There will be a postal services employee stationed in the hallway to monitor and limit the number of individuals queued to the service windows. We ask that you follow the instructions of this employee before proceeding to a service window. Also, please use the stairs to proceed to the lower level if possible, so that we may preserve use of the elevator for those who are unable to use the stairs. Once you have concluded your business, exit the area promptly.

Sherrill Zaric, long time Director of Postal Services, retired from the College on January 25. Please direct any postal services queries to Russell Frakes, Interim Manager of Postal Services ( rffrakes@knox.edu).

The Knox Together Pledge

Please remember that adherence to the testing and quarantine protocols are core expectations of the Knox Together Pledge. Please take a moment to review and sign the Pledge if you have not already done so. And if you have already signed the pledge, please revisit it before returning to campus so you fully understand what we are requiring of you to support our campus safety and wellness. 

Looking forward to seeing you very soon. Safe travels.

TERESA L. AMOTT
President

January 28

KNOX TOGETHER UPDATE - Week of January 25, 2021

Dear Knox Community,

Thank you to those of you who participated in our virtual forum yesterday. We appreciate your questions and ideas; they help us ensure we are keeping our campus as healthy and safe as possible. We are so looking forward to students returning to campus for winter term starting February 8! Our faculty and staff are working tirelessly to prepare an engaging educational experience. We are also looking forward to the next few months, when we hope to carefully ramp up our in-person learning as it becomes safer to do so.

Important Health and Wellness Policies Update

As we anticipate returning to campus, I encourage everyone to spend some time reviewing the Knox Together Pledge that we committed to at the start of the academic year. If you are new to Knox and have not yet signed the Pledge, you may do so here

Additionally, I encourage you to refamiliarize yourself with Knox's COVID Health and Wellness Policies. We must take these policies seriously to keep ourselves and each other as safe as possible. The choices you make will impact not only your own health and safety, but also the health and safety of your friends, colleagues, and those who clean our suites and classrooms. 

Because it is so important that we each do our part to minimize  the spread of COVID-19, the consequences for violating our community’s health and wellness policies are serious. Students who willfully disregard campus protocols regarding wearing masks, physical distancing, participating in large gatherings, and other critical public health restrictions will lose the privilege of living on campus and taking on-campus classes. Student organizations will lose College recognition and funding opportunities. Details about potential sanctions can be found here. All members of the campus community are empowered to remind each other about and request adherence to our COVID-19 health and wellness policies, and may report alleged violations here.

I am proud that we were able to maintain low positivity rates on campus throughout the fall term and am truly optimistic that we will be able to continue that trend throughout the winter and spring. Let's all do our part to ensure a successful remainder of the academic year.

CARES 2.0 Funding Update

Knox is expected to receive $1,982,465 in federal funds from the Coronavirus Relief and Response Supplemental Appropriations Act (CRRSAA) within the next three to six weeks. The funds will again be allocated in two separate portions: One for students, and one for institutional relief. Our student portion will be the same amount as it was in the first CARES Act round of funding -- $664,035. We will again distribute the funds to students with the highest levels of demonstrated financial need. 

We continue to review the guidance provided by the Department of Education so that we understand the restrictions regarding how we can spend the two funding allocations, and we will keep you informed.

Faculty and Staff  - Phase 3 of Knox Together Plan on February 1

Last week, we sent an email to faculty and staff about moving to our Knox Together Plan Phase 3 on February 1. The guidelines for Phase 3 are: 

  • Remote work will continue to be allowed for employees who can effectively perform their job duties off campus.
  • Employees may return to campus, practicing whatever level of physical distancing is recommended by the public health authorities at the time.
  • When necessary, indoor meetings of 50 or fewer will be permitted, as long as appropriate physical distancing is observed.
  • Continue to follow physical distancing, mask wearing, and additional safety protocols. 

We realize departments may have different work arrangements and needs and will require different workplace modifications. Please work with your supervisor to address departmental and individual arrangements.

Academic Building Opening Schedule Now Through February 22

We have received a number of questions regarding access to academic buildings in the coming weeks. Most academic buildings will be open during the week of February 1-5 during regular work hours. During the “hard pause” break, students will not have any access to academic buildings, except for the few exceptional cases for maintenance of labs and equipment. 

Until the modified quarantine is complete, no group activities will be permitted in academic buildings. 

The Dean of the College will communicate directly with students who have received approval to access academic buildings in the first half of the winter term about access during the modified quarantine. Academic buildings will formally reopen at the end of the modified quarantine on Monday, February 22. 

Common Topics from Yesterday’s Forum

We have summarized our answers to some of the most common topics discussed at yesterday’s forum, below. We have also provided you with a link to the student and parent virtual forum for your reference, should you have missed the forum and want to view it.

Vaccinations: We are doing all we can to facilitate vaccine distribution. We are in touch with the local health officials, who are in charge of allocating vaccine doses to entities authorized to distribute them. Locally, Hy-Vee Pharmacy, Cottage Hospital, OSF, and Walgreen’s are vaccinating those who qualify. Right now, those who are employed by the K-12 schools and those over 65 years of age are able to get vaccinated. There will be more information in the coming months, but as of now, we must wait.

Regarding COVID-19 vaccination requirements for Knox students, as long as public health guidance continues to support that it is safe and effective, we anticipate that we will require our students to be vaccinated unless they have a medical, physical, or philosophical objection. We will follow legal and public health guidance. We do not anticipate implementing this requirement until the 2021-2022 academic year. 

When students, faculty and staff will be back on campus: We all recognize that we are on a long arc that stretches incrementally in steps over the months ahead. We will slowly gain new comfort levels and learn more about the new vaccine and vaccination progress. There is no single milestone that will drive a full return to campus for all. Over time, we anticipate that the balance will shift to more and more in-person courses.  We are designing courses to be responsive to public health context and will continue to use social distancing and classroom capacities as we did in the fall. As we get into warmer weather, we will begin using our tents for classes, and will have more outdoor instruction.

Commencement: We understand that commencement is a critical milestone in the lives of our students and their families, and members of our campus community. And we know that you are eager to hear how we are planning to celebrate that milestone.

It is very difficult for us to look as far ahead as June, because we don’t know what public health conditions will be by that time. Many colleges are planning hybrid commencements and are offering a combination of live and virtual events. We are reviewing all options for both the Class of 2021 and the Class of 2020, and we will have an announcement about our preliminary plans in mid-February; we hope to have more guidance from public health authorities about travel and gathering size by that time. We currently have a team actively working on commencement planning and options, so please stay tuned.

Protocols for student return for spring term: From an academic perspective, students need to be in communication with their instructors for spring term so that they know what is expected of them. We know there are a number of students who want to finish out the winter term remotely and return to campus for the spring term. 

The return date for spring is March 24, 2021. Please contact Campus Life ( campuslife@knox.edu or 309-341-7527) to ensure that you have a housing assignment that meets your needs for the spring term.

During the forum, we answered nearly 50 questions from participants. I encourage all of you to view the recording to learn more about our plans for the remainder of winter term. This will help ensure that you are apprised of our plans to keep our community safe while offering an engaging Knox experience. 

Personally, I have appreciated the expressions of support and suggestions for improvement that I have received from you over the past months. I have been so impressed by our students, faculty and staff and their commitment to one another’s safety. I am confident that we will emerge stronger and wiser because of your commitment to our Knox community of care.

TERESA L. AMOTT
President

January 22

KNOX TOGETHER: Moving to Phase 3 on February 1

Dear Knox Faculty and Staff,

As you already know, Governor Pritzker announced on Monday, January 18 that our region (Region 2) will be moving to Tier 1 mitigation rules, further lifting restrictions because our region met the state’s COVID-19 metrics. With this development and through close consultation with public health experts, on February 1 we will move to our Knox Together Plan Phase 3. As a reminder, the guidelines for Phase 3 are:

  • Remote work will continue to be allowed for employees who can effectively perform their job duties off campus.
  • Employees may return to campus, practicing whatever level of physical distancing is recommended by the public health authorities at the time.
  • When necessary, indoor meetings of 50 or fewer will be permitted, as long as appropriate physical distancing is observed.
  • Continue to follow physical distancing, mask wearing, and additional safety protocols. 

We realize departments may have different work arrangements and needs and will require different workplace modifications. Please work with your supervisor to address departmental and individual arrangements.

As a reminder, during the week of January 4, we began implementation of our updated plan for testing faculty and staff. Everyone must be tested for COVID-19 prior to returning to campus. Please refer to the email dated December 17, 2020 for employee testing dates/times and location. 

If you have recently traveled via public transportation or participated in a gathering with individuals outside of your household, you should not return to campus until you have received a negative COVID-19 test result. The ideal testing window is five to eight days after possible exposure. Please feel free to reach out to Human Resources or Health Services with any questions about testing options. 

Please be assured that we will continue to keep you informed as we work together to navigate the continued uncertainties of this time, and will also closely monitor guidance from public health authorities, as we have done since the start of the pandemic. We appreciate your support as our plans to ensure our campus community remains healthy and safe continue to evolve with the pandemic. If you have any questions, send them to together@knox.edu.

TERESA L. AMOTT
President

January 21

KNOX TOGETHER UPDATE - Week of January 18, 2021

Dear Knox Community,

As you may have already heard, Governor Pritzker announced over the weekend that our region in Illinois (Region 2) has moved to Tier 1 mitigation rules, further lifting restrictions because our region met the state’s C OVID-19 metrics. While this is promising news, we need to continue to abide by our Knox Together Pledge to ensure our campus remains safe until the pandemic is under control.

CARES 2.0 Funding Confirmed

Last week, Knox received notification from the US Department of Education that we would be receiving a total of $1,982,465 from the Coronavirus Relief and Response Supplemental Appropriations Act (CRRSAA). This funding is a supplement to the CARES Act funding that we received last year. At this point, we know that the funds will again be allocated in two separate portions: one for students and one for institutional relief. Our student portion will be the same amount as it was in the first CARES Act round of funding -- $664,035. 

We do not yet know when we can draw down the funding, but we anticipate that this will occur sometime in the next three to six weeks. We are continuing to review the guidance provided by the Department of Education so that we understand the restrictions regarding how we can spend the two funding allocations, and we will keep you informed.

Answering Your Questions

Following our announcement last week about students returning to campus starting on February 8, we received a few questions. A few of the most common ones are posted below, and we hope that our answers are helpful to you. Should you have further questions, please email together@knox.edu.

Also, please remember that we are holding two virtual forums to answer any questions you may have about the return to campus, testing and safety protocols, and other issues related to our Knox Together plan. They will both be held on Wednesday, January 27. A faculty and staff forum will take place at 12:00 PM Central Time, and a forum for family and students will be held at 7:00 PM Central Time.  An email will be sent early next week with further details and links to the virtual forums.

  • What is the schedule for students’ COVID testing? Is it required for students returning to campus?

All students will again be tested twice upon their return to campus, and  all students will be tested every other week for the remainder of the academic year. The test administered will be the Shield Illinois Saliva Test, a PCR test created and used by the University of Illinois system, and also used by many other educational institutions in Illinois and other states. The test is free, and it is required for all students who are taking courses on the Knox campus. 

  • Will Knox get the COVID vaccine for students?

Knox College Health Services is in constant communication with local officials to determine when the vaccine will be available for the Knox College community, and we will continue to share updates with you.

At the present time, vaccine allotments are being distributed to county health departments. Each county in Illinois is prioritizing available vaccines according to the guidance of local health experts. At this time we don’t have any additional information, but we will keep you informed. 

  • Are student organizations going to be able to meet in person at all during the Winter or Spring terms? What restrictions can students expect if the organizations do meet?

Yes, organizations will be allowed to meet. We understand that these meetings and events play a key role in creating a welcoming, vibrant campus community. All meetings and events must follow our COVID protocols for masks and physical distancing as detailed in the updated guidelines on the Knox Together site.

All in-person and remote student organization events, with the exception of regular meetings, must be registered with the Campus Life Office. In addition, all in-person event registrations must include a formal safety plan that outlines how the event organizers will ensure compliance with the College’s COVID protocols. 

  • What safety protocols will the College have in place to ensure the safety of students for in-person classes? What steps can students take to keep their classmates safe during these meetings (i.e. sanitizer)?

We are requiring the same protocols as fall term. We are continuing the rigorous cleaning and sanitation processes for all classrooms and other academic spaces, residence halls and meeting spaces.

All participants attending in-person classes must wear masks or face coverings at all times. Physical distancing will require that classes meet in smaller subgroups, interactions with faculty and peers will occur both in virtual and in-person settings. Classroom meeting schedules are set to support student engagement while ensuring classrooms have adequate time for air recirculation between meetings. Classroom occupancies are clearly marked. Courses that rely heavily on classroom, lab and studio spaces have been reenvisioned so that physical distancing and cleaning protocols can be observed. 

Most courses will operate in hybrid modes, with a combination of in-person and remote components to serve students who are on campus as well as those learning from home. We will slowly and intentionally add more in-person components consistent with our data from testing and in response to the availability of vaccinations for our community. In the interests of health and wellness of the entire community, we will follow a careful and deliberate process. 

  • I have decided to stay at home and learn remotely for the entire winter term and return in the spring. Whom do I need to notify at Knox of my decision? 

If you were planning to live in the dorm, please contact campuslife@knox.edu, or 309-341-7527. Please also notify Tim Foster, Associate Dean of the College: tfoster@knox.edu or 309-341-7214. Share this information with your instructors and academic advisor. Some courses have significant on-campus components in the second half of the term, which you should clarify with your instructors.

    • I would like to change the day that I’m scheduled to come to campus in February for the start of the Winter term. How do I request this change? 

    Contact the Campus Life office at campuslife@knox.edu / 309-341-7527. 

    I hope that like me, you are seeing progress and hope on the horizon. While we continue to manage through these uncertain times, we are doing all we can to provide certainty to our Knox College community. Faculty and staff are working very hard to deliver the quality education our students want and deserve, and as we update any processes or protocols, we will let you know as soon as possible. 

    Thank you for your questions; keep them coming. I’m looking forward to seeing you soon.

    Take care,

    TERESA L. AMOTT
    President

    January 14

    KNOX TOGETHER UPDATE - Week of January 11, 2021

    Dear Knox Community,

    Following a significant amount of research and consultation with public health authorities, we have determined that students can begin returning to campus starting Monday, February 8. Students received a  communication from the Campus Life Office in November with their assigned return to campus/testing date and time. Campus Life will also resend this email for your convenience by the end of next week. If you have any questions about your return to campus, please contact campuslife@knox.edu.

    Why we made this decision

    Governor Pritzker announced that Friday, our region (Region 2) will be moving to Tier 2 mitigation rules, relaxing restrictions from Tier 3. The governor indicated in a statement that Illinois did not experience the post-Thanksgiving uptick in COVID cases that plagued most of the rest of the country. While closely watching the post-holiday positivity rates, his administration is cautiously optimistic. 

    We are ever mindful of the consequences of the pandemic for our educational mission. Numerous studies and news articles -- and our own experiences and internal data -- have shown that prolonged isolation is stressful for all of us. This impact is especially profound for our students, who have selected a residential college experience as the best place for their learning. The remote instructional environment has allowed us to keep moving forward while protecting the health of the community during this stage of the pandemic. At the same time, we know that a return to campus is necessary to provide the full range of human-powered, engaging experiences that our students have come to expect from Knox College.

    We also learned a great deal about mitigating the virus on our campus during the fall term and have developed an even stronger plan to keep our campus healthy. Our plan includes a new more comprehensive and less-invasive testing regimen combined with an updated quarantine strategy. Many colleges in our peer group are implementing similar plans, and when we look at ours in comparison to others, we are confident that our enhanced Knox Together plan is the right one for our community. 

    Virtual forums to answer your questions

    We will host two virtual forums to answer any questions you may have about the return to campus, testing and safety protocols, and other questions related to our Knox Together plan. They will both be held on Wednesday, January 27. A faculty and staff forum will take place at 12:00 PM Central Time, and a forum for family and students will be held at 7:00 PM Central Time. 

    Stay tuned for further details and links to the virtual forums.

    Vaccine rollout and information

    There is hope on the horizon for a faster vaccine rollout. This week, the CDC communicated new vaccine priorities for people 65 years of age and older and those with preexisting conditions that enhance their vulnerability to severe COVID-19 disease. More pharmacies and community centers around the country are being authorized to administer vaccines. Governor Pritzker is also expected to soon announce a timeline for the next phase of the vaccine rollout. 

    Knox College Health Services is in constant communication with local officials to determine when vaccines will be available for the Knox College community, and we will continue to share any updates or changes with you. Each county in Illinois is going to prioritize available vaccines to residents, according to the guidance of local health experts.

    Important improvements to testing protocols 

    We tested all students for COVID-19 twice upon arrival to campus in the fall term, with ongoing surveillance testing throughout the term. While this was successful, we are implementing a much more comprehensive testing program with a less-invasive and equally accurate test for winter and spring terms -- one that delivers results faster and only requires saliva from those being tested. All students will again be tested twice upon their return to campus. Additionally, all students will be tested every other week during both terms. 

    The test administered will be the Shield Illinois Saliva Test, created and used by the University of Illinois system, and also used by many other educational institutions in Illinois and other states. 

    The Shield Illinois Saliva Test will also be available to faculty and staff, who may test for symptoms or concern of exposure.

    An employee or student who develops symptoms or has a concerning exposure will be asked to test as soon as possible. Faster testing and quarantine will help us preserve the health and well-being of our campus community.

    Stay tuned for emails with further details regarding the upcoming terms’ testing days and times.  

    What students need to do upon returning to campus

    Upon your return to campus, please remember that you can transmit the disease to others even if you are exhibiting no symptoms, so for the health of our community, it is important that you quarantine in your room until you have received a negative test result. While we anticipate getting results within 24 hours, you should anticipate that your initial quarantine could last for up to 48 hours. Initial quarantine means that you are required to remain in your assigned room, except to use the restroom and pick up meals three times a day from dining services. You must wear a mask and maintain at least six feet of physical distance whenever you are outside of your own room (both indoors and outdoors). 

    After you receive a negative test result, you will participate in modified quarantine until Sunday, February 21. Modified quarantine means that you can hang out in your own suite/house’s common area as long as you wear a mask and maintain at least six feet of physical distance. You can also get fresh air, walk around campus, engage in recreational activities, and visit with friends outdoors, while continuing to follow our safety protocols, including wearing a mask and maintaining six feet of physical distance. All students are asked to participate in modified quarantine, even if they have been on campus for the first part of winter term. 

    Questions and Answers

    Here are answers to some questions we expect you might have right away; please also remember to visit the Knox Together website for answers to other questions. You can also email together@knox.edu and attend one of the virtual forums we are holding on Wednesday, January 27 if you have additional questions.

    How does this impact quarantine protocols for those arriving from abroad?

    Students arriving from abroad will follow the same quarantine plan as those arriving from within the United States. If a student shows any COVID-related symptoms, their quarantine period may be extended.

    Does this quarantine plan apply to students who stayed on campus during winter break?

    Students who lived on campus during winter break will have a COVID-19 test but do not need to quarantine in their rooms while awaiting test results. However, they must participate in modified quarantine until February 21.

    When will staff be returning to campus?

    Essential employees providing direct services to students, such as dining services, will need to be on campus when students return. Those not providing direct services will continue to work remotely until a vaccine becomes widely available to members of our community.

    What if my roommate and I have different arrival dates, so our initial quarantines end on different days?

    If Roommate A’s initial quarantine ends before Roommate B’s, Roommate A may move into the modified quarantine phase, moving about campus while adhering to mask and physical distance policies. However, no in-person classes or student activities will be allowed until all students have received their first test results.

    What types of meals will be available during quarantine?

    Knox Dining Services will offer modified service during the move in and testing period. All meals will be provided through the Hard Knox Café.  Once the testing and quarantine period has concluded, The Gizmo, The Outpost, and Grab n’ Go will resume regular service hours.

    Mealtime hours during the move in and testing period are below. Enter Hard Knox through the doors on the side with the gallery, and exit through the Campus Card office. Dine-in seating will not be available during this time.

    Monday through Sunday:

    Breakfast         7:30 – 9:30

    Lunch               11:00 – 2:00

    Dinner              4:30 – 7:30

    Menu choices will be posted in the following locations: On the dining services webpage, through an optional daily menu mail, on digital screens in the gallery, and at the service counters. To reduce wait times, two counters in Hard Knox will offer take away food items, including two packaged hot entrée choices, rice or potato, vegetables, sides, desserts, and canned or bottled beverages, as well as a vegan meal option. 

    As with last Spring and Fall terms, any dietary or spiritual food needs can be communicated directly with Chef Joe, and we will make arrangements for accommodations on an individual basis.

    Dining inquiries can be directed to Doug Stenfeldt, Dining Services General Manager, at djstenfeldt@knox.edu, or Joseph Peterson, Executive Chef, at jdpeterson@knox.edu.  

    How will I get my mail/packages/textbooks during quarantine?

    We are working on the details of how this will happen, but we will make sure you can access essential textbooks and mail when you return to campus.

    Can I work in my on-campus job during quarantine?

    You can work in your on-campus job during initial quarantine if you can do so remotely. Exceptions may be made for students who lived on campus during the first part of winter term.

    Can I go off campus during quarantine?

    Not during initial quarantine. You can travel within Knox County during modified quarantine, as long as you wear a mask and practice appropriate physical distancing.

    We know this is asking a lot of you, and we encourage you and your family to regard this as a short-term sacrifice—a collective community effort that will give us the very best chance at continuing in-person instruction for the duration of the term.  

    Please remember that adherence to the quarantine protocol is a core expectation of the Knox Together Pledge. I hope you will take a moment to review and sign the Pledge if you have not already done so. You will need to be logged in to your Google account with your Knox email address and password to access the Pledge.

    Fifth Year Guarantee reminder

    We also want to remind you of our “Fifth Year for Free Guarantee.” If you are enrolled at Knox full-time for the entire 2020-21 academic year, you can return to campus for up to one additional year of study, tuition-free—and take part in more of the opportunities you’ve been looking forward to. If you’re interested in pursuing this option, please work with your academic advisor to determine appropriate course selections. Student-athletes will need to consult with the athletics department about eligibility requirements.

    Hope on the horizon

    The health and wellness of our campus community continues to be our top priority. Faculty and staff are working very hard to deliver the quality education our students want and deserve. There continue to be many aspects of our environment that we cannot control, but we have learned from the fall term, and there is hope on the horizon for the warmer weather months. In the meantime, we need to remain as flexible, nimble, and resourceful as ever, as our country continues its efforts to mitigate the pandemic. 

    Looking forward to seeing you next month!

    TERESA L. AMOTT
    President

    January 7

    KNOX TOGETHER UPDATE - Week of January 4, 2021

    Dear Knox Community,

    Happy New Year! I hope you all had a peaceful, restful and safe holiday season. I also want to extend a warm welcome back to our faculty, staff, and students as we start our winter term virtually. 

    The rollout of the vaccines in Illinois has begun with frontline health workers. We are in touch with the public health authorities and are awaiting information on the sequence of vaccinations. At present, we do not know where higher education will fall in the priorities, but we will share any information we receive as soon as possible.

    We will continue our safety protocols for the foreseeable future, however, as it may take more time than expected for us all to receive the vaccines. Illinois Governor Pritzker’s mitigation plans for our health region (we’re currently at Tier 3) remain in effect, as well.

    Parents and Students - What to do now

    Students will need to complete an online check-in by this Friday, January 8 by logging in to my.knox.edu. Online check-in is very important to the Registrar, Student Financial Services, and other offices needing to know who is enrolled this term. Students will not be able to access any Knox apps or student schedules until the Online Check-in process is completed.

    Our current plan is still to have students return to campus the week of February 8. We have identified next Friday, January 15 as the date by which we will advise you of any necessary modifications to this timeline. If we need to consider alternative options, we will look to guidance from national, state and local public health authorities.

    Faculty and Staff - What to do now

    Please continue to plan for students returning to campus starting February 8. Dean Schneider’s separate report to faculty on December 11 addresses details of the calendar and contingency plans for winter term.

    This week, we began implementation of our updated plan for testing faculty and staff. As you know, everyone must be tested for COVID-19 prior to returning to campus, just as we did in the fall. Please refer to the email from Health Services about return to work testing processes. If you have questions about testing, please contact Health Services.

    If you traveled via public transportation or participated in a gathering with individuals outside of your household during the holiday break, you should not return to campus until you have quarantined at home for 14 days or received a negative COVID-19 test result. You can access testing beyond what Health Services is offering by contacting the Knox County Health Department at (309) 344-2225, or by contacting your primary care provider. The ideal testing window is five to eight days after possible exposure. Please feel free to reach out to Human Resources or Health Services with any questions about testing options. 

    Similarly, students engaging in on-campus work or research activities in your areas must contact Health Services to arrange for a COVID-19 test immediately following any travel or holiday gatherings, and quarantine until they receive a negative test result. 

    Coronavirus Response and Relief, Supplemental Appropriations Act 

    Recently, we were gratified to learn that institutions of higher education will receive some funding from the new Supplemental Appropriations Act recently signed by President Trump. At this time, we do not know how much we will receive, whether there will be restrictions on the use of the funds, or how soon we will receive funds. We will communicate any updates to you when we receive additional information.

    We encourage you to visit the Knox Together website, and follow our social media channels for campus updates. Thank you for your support and care for our campus community as we navigate these uncharted waters together.

    TERESA L. AMOTT
    President

    December 17

    KNOX TOGETHER UPDATE - Week of December 14

    Dear Knox Community,

    I know we are all happy to see some hope on the horizon with the first deliveries of a highly effective COVID-19 vaccine this week. We will still need to practice our safety protocols for the foreseeable future, however, as it will be some time before we can all receive the vaccines. 

    You will likely find some of the content in this email to be similar to the content in last week’s communication, but it is important information that will keep our community updated and safe; that is why we are sending it yet again this week.

    Return to Work Testing for Faculty and Staff

    We have updated our plan for testing faculty and staff starting on Monday, January 4.  Everyone will need to be tested for COVID-19 prior to returning to campus after the holidays, just as we did in the fall. You recently received an email from Health Services about return to work testing processes. If you have any questions about testing, please contact Health Services.

    Travel Guidance

    Additionally, we ask that you be especially vigilant about your safety and health over the coming holidays. If your holiday break plans include traveling via public transportation or participating in a gathering with individuals outside of your household, you should not return to campus until you have quarantined at home for 14 days or received a negative COVID-19 test result. You can access testing by contacting the Knox County Health Department at (309) 344-2225 or by contacting your primary care provider. The ideal testing window is five to eight days after possible exposure. Please feel free to reach out to Human Resources or Health Services with any questions about testing options. 

    Similarly, students engaging in on-campus work or research activities in your areas must contact Health Services to arrange for a COVID-19 test immediately following any travel or holiday gatherings, and quarantine until they receive a negative test result. 

    Plan for Students Return to Campus

    Our current plan is still to have students return to campus the week of February 8. We have identified Friday, January 15 as the date by which we will advise you of any necessary modifications to this timeline. If we need to consider modification options, we will look to guidance from national, state and local public health authorities.

    Stay in the Know About Knox Together 

    Visit the Knox Together website, and follow our social media channels for campus updates and news about Knox students and our extended Knox community. Check your email for these Knox Together Updates.

    Parents and Students - What to do now

    Students will need to prepare for the remote start of the winter term on Monday, January 4, continue to plan for a return to campus the week of February 8, and remember that we will make and communicate a firm decision on January 15 about any plan modifications.

    Faculty and Staff - What to do now

    Please continue to plan for students returning to campus starting February 8. Dean Schneider’s separate report to faculty on December 11 addresses details of the calendar and contingency plans for winter term.

    We also ask that you follow Illinois Governor Pritzker’s mitigation plans for our health region (we’re currently at Tier 3). Watch for the email on January 15 announcing any change in plans for the winter term.  

    We wish you all a happy holiday season and ask that you also stay safe and practice appropriate safety protocols. The safety of our campus community depends on how each one of us celebrates the holidays. Thank you for your support and care for our campus community as we continue to adjust to the unpredictable nature of the pandemic.

    TERESA L. AMOTT
    President

    December 17

    Dear Knox Community:

    As we look ahead to returning safely after the break, we are asking that each faculty and staff member be tested for COVID prior to resuming work on campus. Health Services will be administering COVID-19 testing to all faculty and staff. There is no cost to you for this testing. 

    Testing will be offered at the T. Fleming Fieldhouse on the following dates and times:

    • Monday January 4 9 am-1 pm
    • Wednesday January 6 9 am-1 pm
    • Wednesday January 13 9 am-1 pm
    • Wednesday January 20 9 am-1 pm
    • Wednesday January 27 9 am-1 pm
    • Wednesday February 3 9am-1 pm

    You may choose the date and time of your testing. Please select the date closest to when you plan to return to work on campus, keeping in mind that test results take 2-4 days. In order to assist Health Services to plan staffing and supplies, please indicate your preferred test date by clicking here. Test results will be sent to you via email from Health Services. 

    We realize that some of you are essential workers on campus and, therefore, will be returning on or before January 4 (or maybe you never stopped working). In this case, you should plan to test on January 4 or as soon as your schedule allows. There is no quarantine required of employees during the time that they are awaiting test results. We do ask that you follow all usual hand hygiene, physical distancing, and masking protocols. In addition, stay home if you are sick. 

    We look forward to seeing you in January. Best wishes from Health Services!

    Abby A. Putnam MS, NP-C
    Knox College Health Services

    December 10

    KNOX TOGETHER UPDATE - Week of December 7

    Dear Knox Community,

    As we get closer to the holidays, we want to remind you of a few items from last week’s email.

    Plan for Returning to Campus to be Finalized by January 15

    Our current plan is still to have students return to campus the week of February 8. 

    However, with the potential for increased transmission during the holidays, a vaccine rollout plan that may shift frequently, and changing guidance from health officials about the safety of travel, we have identified Friday, January 15 as the date by which we will advise you of any necessary modifications to this timeline. As we consider modification options, we will look to guidance from national, state and local public health authorities.

    For Students and Parents: What to do now

    Please enjoy your holiday season and stay safe, wearing your masks, practicing physical distancing, and quarantining after travel or gatherings that may put you at risk for exposure. Avoid indoor venues that may attract crowds, and if you celebrate with others, try to do it in groups of 10 or fewer. 

    Visit the Knox Together website, and follow our social media channels for campus updates and news about Knox students and our extended Knox community. Check your email for these Knox Together Updates.

    Prepare for the remote start of the winter term on Monday, January 4, continue to plan for a return to campus the week of February 8, and remember that we will make and communicate a firm decision on January 15 about any plan modifications.

    For Faculty and Staff - What to do now

    We wish you a happy holiday season and ask that you also stay safe and practice appropriate safety protocols. The safety of our campus community depends on how each one of us celebrates the holidays.

    Faculty, please continue to plan for students returning to campus starting February 8. Dean Schneider will share a separate communication regarding winter term preparations.

    Staff, please continue to follow Governor Pritzker’s mitigation plans for our health region (we’re currently at Tier 3). Watch for the email on January 15 announcing any change in plans for the winter term.  

    We thank you for your continued resilience and flexibility as we adjust to the unpredictable nature of the pandemic. The coming winter term will likely require that we continue to observe our COVID-19 practices, and yet, there is certainly hope ahead for all of us in 2021. May your holidays be safe, peaceful, and enjoyable.

    TERESA L. AMOTT
    President

    December 3

    KNOX TOGETHER UPDATE - Week of November 30

    Dear Knox Community,

    As we enter winter break and begin preparing for the remainder of the academic year, we want to share recent news from The Midwest Conference, provide information about a decision date for any potential modifications to the current plan for students to return to campus the week of February 8, and update you on our Knox together communications.

    The Midwest Conference Announces Plan for Fall and Winter Sports

    The Midwest Conference (MWC) Presidents Council announced today that it would not sponsor league competition, including championships, for fall and winter sports during the 2020-2021 academic year. The decision was unanimous and covers men’s and women’s basketball, men’s and women’s cross country, football, men’s and women’s soccer, men’s and women’s swimming & diving, men’s and women’s indoor track & field, and volleyball. The recent surge in positive COVID-19 cases, both regionally and nationally, the resulting impact on academic calendars, and the continued uncertainty surrounding the pandemic were all factors in the decision not to play a winter athletic schedule. 

    We know that this is a very disappointing day for our fall and winter sport student-athletes, but they should not be without hope. As we did in the fall, we will keep moving forward to reimagine athletics seasons to ensure our student-athletes have the most robust experience possible this year. The Prairie Fire Athletics Department will provide athletics-centric training to fall and winter student-athletes when they return to campus. Our Prairie Fire student-athletes and coaches will continue to adapt and adjust as we navigate the COVID-19 landscape together, keeping in mind that the health and well-being of our student-athletes is our number one priority. Fall and winter student-athletes will receive more detailed information from the Director of Athletics and head coaches in the weeks ahead.

    Decision Date for Returning to Campus (or not)

    As you know, there is much uncertainty surrounding the pandemic, including the potential for increased transmission during the holidays, a vaccine rollout that is still in the early planning stages, and guidance from federal, state and local health officials about the safety of travel. Our current plan is still to have students return to campus the week of February 8. Nonetheless, given all of the unknowns, we have identified Friday, January 15 as the date by which we will advise all of you of any necessary modifications to this timeline, including the possibility of completing the entire winter term remotely. As we consider modifications, we will look to guidance from national, state and local public health authorities.

    Regular Communications

    With this email, we will begin a regular weekly cadence of communication to you, every Thursday with the exception of Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve. 

    We will also send special, singular emails as needed to communicate important and urgent news. 

    Prior to returning to campus, students and their parents will also receive emails regarding health protocols to follow once students are back at Knox.  

    For Students and Parents: What to do now

    Please enjoy your holiday season and stay safe, wearing your masks, practicing physical distancing, and quarantining after travel or gathering that may put you at risk for exposure. Avoid indoor venues that may attract crowds, and if you celebrate with others, try to do it in groups of 10 or less. 

    Check the Knox Together website, and be sure to follow our social media channels for updates on what’s happening on campus, and other news about Knox students and our extended Knox community. Check your email regularly for these Knox Together Updates.

    Be prepared for the remote start of the winter term on Monday, January 4, continue to plan for a return to campus the week of February 8, and remember that we will make a firm decision by January 15 about any changes to the current plan.

    For Faculty and Staff - What to do now

    We wish you a happy holiday season and ask that you also stay safe and practice appropriate safety protocols. 

    For Faculty, please continue to plan for the students’ returning to campus starting February 8. You will also want to develop a contingency plan, should the decision on January 15 be that winter term remains remote

    Staff, please continue to follow Governor Pritzker’s mitigation plans for our health region (we’re currently at Tier 3). Watch for the email on January 15 announcing any change in plans for the winter term.  

    Thank you for your continued support and patience as we navigate the rough waters of these unprecedented times.

    TERESA L. AMOTT
    President

    December 3

    Midwest Conference Announces Plans for Fall and Winter Sports in 2020–2021

    November 12

    Dear Colleagues:

    Many of you have asked about the status of our campus after our fall term ends on November 30. As you may recall, in response to rising COVID-19 numbers in our Health Region, Governor Pritzker recently imposed enhanced mitigation measures across the state. Public health officials nationwide are also expressing great concern about the potential for virus transmission during winter indoor gatherings, especially around the holiday season.

    To ensure the health and safety of our campus community during an especially vulnerable time, we will return to Phase 1 of our three-phase plan for reopening the campus on Monday, November 30. Phase 1 encourages remote work for most employees and allows up to 25% of employees to work on campus, following physical distancing, mask wearing, and additional safety protocols. Please speak with your supervisor about any needs to de-densify your work area to ensure compliance with Phase 1 guidelines.

    If your holiday break plans include traveling via public transportation or participating in a gathering with individuals outside of your household, you should not return to campus until you have quarantined at home for 14 days or received a negative COVID-19 test result. You can access testing by contacting the Knox County Health Department at (309) 344-2225 or by contacting your primary care provider. The ideal testing window is five to eight days after possible exposure. Please feel free to reach out to Human Resources or Health Services with any questions about testing options. 

    Similarly, students engaging in on-campus work or research activities in your areas must contact Health Services to arrange for a COVID-19 test immediately following any travel or holiday gatherings, and quarantine until they receive a negative test result. Students who have applied for on-campus housing should have been notified of their approval to engage in on-campus activities. Any students not living on campus but wishing to engage in on-campus academic activities during the winter break or during the remote portion of winter term must apply to the Dean of the College through this form

    For safety purposes, we are also implementing a modified lock-down of campus buildings. The following buildings will remain open to campus community members only during the break, and will follow our normal business hours of 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.:

    • Seymour Library
    • SMC
    • Seymour Union
    • Alumni Hall

    The E&L Andrew Fitness Center and outdoor athletics facilities will be available for current on-campus students, faculty, and staff, and will require following physical distance and mask protocols. The outdoor soccer, basketball, track, and tennis facilities will be open. The Memorial Gym, T. Fleming Fieldhouse, and Frank M. Lay Pool will be closed. The Fitness Center hours (as of November 23) will be Monday through Friday 1:00 to 3:00 p.m. and 4:00 to 6:00 p.m., and Saturday 9:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. The Center will be closed on Sundays. 

    We appreciate your support as our plans to ensure our campus community remains healthy and safe continue to evolve with the pandemic. If you have any questions, feel free to send them to together@knox.edu. Thanks to you all for your patience as we stand Together at Knox, and please accept my best wishes for a safe, relaxing, and enjoyable holiday season.

    TERESA L. AMOTT
    President

    November 4

    Dear Knox Community,

    On Sunday, November 1, Illinois Governor Pritzker announced enhanced COVID-19 mitigations for our part of the state because our region, one of 11 healthcare regions established in Illinois, has had a COVID positivity rate of more than 8 percent for three consecutive days. 

    The enhanced mitigations, effective today, include limiting social gatherings to no more than 25 people. Although the mandate states that the mitigations do not apply to schools, Knox College will voluntarily adhere to this limit, both indoors and outdoors. Supervised meetings of classes, athletic teams, etc. will continue to be governed by existing protocols. Please remember that our health and wellness policies apply both on and off campus.

    It has been several months since the pandemic became an unwelcome part of our lives. A colleague recently mentioned his desire to see COVID-19 “in the rearview mirror,” and I certainly share that desire. I want to thank each and every one of you for observing our health protocols—wearing masks, remaining physically distant, washing hands frequently, and, above all, having respect for one another as we work to protect the health of our community. As a result of your efforts, our campus positivity rate remains very low. As the pandemic evolves, we will continue to follow state and local guidance to keep our campus community safe.

    TERESA L. AMOTT
    President

    October 28

    With only a few weeks left in Fall Term, I want to celebrate all of your efforts to adhere to the health and wellness policies regarding masks, physical distancing, and other public health measures. It has not been easy, but we are all learning and adapting together.  Your individual efforts have made a difference in our community. Thank you!

    Some of you have asked for clarification about hosting and attending gatherings off campus at Knox student apartments/houses. I want to remind everyone that health and wellness policies apply both on and off campus. Here are a few specific reminders about life off campus:

    • As stated in the Knox Together Pledge, we are all expected to follow the College’s public health guidelines, including when we are off campus. This means you must wear a mask at all times unless you are in your private home or outside and able to maintain at least six feet of physical distance. This applies to restaurants, stores, other people’s homes, and just walking around Galesburg. 
       
    • You are also expected to maintain six feet of physical distance between yourself and others whenever possible. Please keep this in mind when you are deciding how many people to invite into your off campus home at once, or when you are deciding whether or not to visit someone off campus. Indoor gatherings that do not allow for six feet of distance are in violation of our health and wellness policies. 
       
    • Consider gathering outside. Remember, though, that even when we are outside we need to either wear masks or make sure we are maintaining six feet of physical distance at all times. To be as safe as possible, I highly encourage you to do both: wear a mask AND maintain physical distance. 
       
    • Finally, remember that large gatherings are simply not a good idea right now. I know you all have the best intentions, but significant amounts of people are difficult to control and can quickly get out of hand. If you do find yourself in a situation where you need help de-escalating, do not hesitate to call Campus Safety at (309) 341-7979. Campus Safety can connect you with appropriate assistance. We are all here to help. 

    There are serious consequences which are outlined in the accountability rubric  for violations of these policies. Specifically, attending an unauthorized party or gathering on or off campus may result in loss of privilege to live/learn on campus, and hosting an unauthorized party or gathering on or off campus either as an individual or as part of a student organization may result in suspension. 

    I share this information because I know you want to make good choices both on and off campus to help protect the students, faculty and staff you come into contact with.

    Deb Southern
    Assistant Vice President and Dean of Students

    October 2

    Dear Knox Community:

    I write to share with you information on our plans for the remainder of the academic year. As you know, we launched our fall term on September 14 and made the transition to in-person and hybrid instruction on September 21. This was made possible by enormous care and discipline by our entire Knox community—students, faculty and staff—to sustain our educational mission at Knox under highly unusual circumstances. We applaud these efforts to embrace the new ways of working and living together on campus while staying connected with the members of our community learning and working remotely.

    Because of the community response, we remain optimistic that we can complete the current academic term in ways that safeguard health while supporting rich in-person and hybrid educational opportunities. At the same time, we have all been hearing strong words of caution from leading public health experts regarding the future course of the pandemic as we approach the colder months and the typical flu season that accompanies our move indoors. To help to safeguard our community, and especially our most vulnerable members, we believe it is essential that we adapt our academic schedule in response to this guidance. Below we describe the various measures we will take to navigate this complex health landscape with ensuring the delivery of the Knox educational program.

    Schedule for Winter and Spring Terms

    Winter and spring terms will unfold largely according to our traditional academic calendar. winter term courses will begin on January 4, 2021, and Commencement is still slated for June 6, 2021. However, within those bookends, we will make changes to the dates students arrive back on campus after the long winter break.

    We will begin all winter term classes in a remote environment for the first half of the term, and students will not begin returning to campus until the week of February 8, 2021. We will pause instruction during a one-week midterm break (February 8-12) to allow students to transition back to campus and undergo initial COVID testing. This transition will unfold much like the fall term, with one week of remote instruction starting February 15 as students complete their testing and quarantine protocols. We will move fully back to in-person and hybrid instruction beginning February 22 and complete winter term as we are the fall term. Room and board charges will be adjusted accordingly.

    Student-athletes will arrive according to their team schedules. Additional details will be forthcoming on those schedules. In addition, the Midwest Conference is scheduled to make a decision on winter sports competition no later than mid-November, so please stay tuned.

    Students will still have the option of learning remotely for the entirety of winter and/or spring terms if they so choose. Please note that students must remain enrolled continuously in order to take advantage of the "Fifth Year for Free" Guarantee. Additionally, students will be able to petition to remain on campus for winter break and the beginning of winter term if returning home presents significant challenges. More information regarding this process will be forthcoming.

    One of the most significant changes to our academic schedule is that spring break will be quite short and intentionally so. Having completed the work of transitioning students back to campus once, we wish to avoid typical spring break travel and instead move directly into a fully in-person spring term in order to safeguard our campus against any potential outbreaks. Spring term instruction will mostly follow our conventional schedule. We know that this modified schedule will ask more of every member of the community, so we will make some adjustments to the schedule to provide students, faculty, and staff breathing space during the term. We believe this approach offers the best prospects for students to pursue their educational goals, for seniors to complete their work and graduate on time, and for the academic program to be disrupted as little as possible.

    Teaching & Learning

    Many of the changes and adaptations to our new teaching and learning environment will carry over from the fall. All winter term courses will begin in a remote delivery mode and then transition to a combination of in-person and hybrid components. Classroom, studio, lab, and other academic space use will follow the physical distancing and cleaning protocols currently in use on campus. Winter and spring courses, however, will benefit from the full range of technology improvements, classroom modifications, and experimentation, adaptation, and innovation at the core of faculty work since last spring. Faculty have begun the work of making minor modifications to winter and spring course schedules in response to these new guidelines and Winter term pre-enrollment will begin in late October.

    Return to Campus

    In order to facilitate safe and efficient COVID testing, students returning to campus for the second part of winter term will be assigned an arrival date between February 8-11. Students may arrive between 9:00 a.m.–Noon or 2:00p.m.–7:00 p.m. on their assigned date. Campus Life will communicate students’ assigned arrival dates via email in early November.

    As in fall term, all students will receive a COVID test immediately upon their arrival on campus, and then again approximately seven days later. Students will initially quarantine in their room until they have a negative test result. Once a student receives a negative test result, they will participate in modified quarantine until February 22, at which point in-person classes and activities will resume.

    Health and Wellness Policies

    Given current public health guidance, we anticipate that current campus health and wellness policies regarding masks, physical distancing, and other public health measures will continue into the winter and spring terms. We will continue to monitor the Knox community’s wellness, watching state and local infection rates, and make adjustments to policies as appropriate. Our hope is that improvements in infection rates, therapies, and the possibility of a vaccine will allow us to relax these policies in the terms to come.

    In closing, I would like to recognize the many achievements of faculty, staff, students, and their families in bringing us to this point in the academic year. Back in July, as I presented our plans for the fall, I knew we would succeed by rising together to face the challenge of this extraordinary moment. We still have much to accomplish this term, but surveying our return to campus and the start of fall classes, I see the results of these efforts, our collective sense of responsibility for the well-being of others, and our shared commitment to Knox’s educational mission. This experience fills me with confidence in our capacity to meet the challenges ahead.

    Take care,

    TERESA L. AMOTT
    President

    September 23

    Effective immediately, students living in on-campus housing are permitted to have overnight guests/visitors (one at a time), as long as those guests/visitors are students currently taking classes on campus. (This is a change to the policy that previously indicated that guests/visitors needed to leave by midnight.)

    Overnight guests/visitors are limited to students taking on campus classes because those people are participating in our campus testing protocol and symptom monitoring program. 

    Non-Knox family members/significant others are permitted to visit with prior approval from Campus Life, but may not spend the night. 

    If you have any questions, please let me or Campus Life know. 

    Anne Ehrlich, Ed.D.
    Vice President for Student Development

    September 20

    Monday, September 21 marks the end of our campus-wide initial and modified quarantine period. We know this was an extraordinarily challenging start to the school year, and deeply appreciate everyone’s cooperation in the interest of community health. Your commitment to the Knox Together Pledge has saved lives. 

    As we move into the next phase of our lives as a Knox community we have carefully considered how best to help safeguard everyone on campus. Here is what you need to know about living and learning on campus moving forward. (We realize this is long, so suggest you save it for future reference. It will also be posted on the Knox Together website.)

    Masks

    Masks are required everywhere except: 

    • In your own residence hall room (masks are required in common areas), or
    • When you are outside and certain that you can stay at least 6 feet away from others. (The exception to this is classes--masks are required during all classes, even those held outside.)

    Classrooms (including classes held in tents/outdoors)

    Masks and 6 feet of physical distancing are required during all classes, both indoors and outdoors. In other words, if you’re in class, even outside, you must wear a mask and you must keep 6 feet between yourself and others to help protect your classmates and your professor..


    Tent use other than formal class time

    Tents can be reserved for classes and co-curricular activities. If a tent is not in use, you can feel free to use it for group work or just to hang out. If you are outside, not in a class, and at least 6 feet away from others, you do not need to wear a mask.


    Libraries

    Seymour Library Hours

    Monday through Friday: Noon until 10 p.m.
    Saturday: Closed
    Sunday: 1 - 7 p.m. 

    Amott Science Commons Hours

    Monday through Thursday:10 a.m. until 10 p.m.
    Friday: 10 a.m. - 8 p.m.
    Saturday: Closed
    Sunday: 1 - 7 p.m.  

    • The main entrance to Seymour Library will be entrance only. We ask that you exit (but not enter) through the ADA door by the circulation desk. All traffic in and out of the Amott Science Commons will use the double doors in the SMC atrium. 
    • To ensure physical distancing in Seymour Library, half of the seating has been removed, and the basement and third floor of the library are closed. We no longer have tables for group study, though some tables will accommodate two students at a distance. The number of seats in the Amott Science Commons has also been reduced by half. 
    • We are asking everyone to request books that they want to borrow from our library through our new catalog, Knox Primo. We will retrieve them from the stacks and have them waiting for you at the circulation desk. If you haven't used Knox Primo yet, learn more about it here
    • Librarians will be available in Seymour Library in the afternoon and via our chat service in the evening to provide research and reference services, but our reference desk is no longer staffed. 


    Athletic Facilities

    Fitness Center

    The indoor fitness center will open to students taking on-campus classes, faculty, and staff at limited capacity to comply with physical distancing requirements:

    Monday through Friday

    7:00 a.m. to 10:00 a.m.; 11:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.; 3:00 p.m. to 8 :00 p.m.

    Saturday and Sunday

    11:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.; 3:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.

    Entry to the Fitness Center will be through the main glass entrance on the Fitness Level. A check-in, screening, and temperature check will be required. Masking and physical distancing are required at all times. Additional protocols are posted throughout the facility.

    Memorial Gym, Fieldhouse, and Pool

    These spaces will remain closed until further notice. 

    Outdoor Athletic Facilities

    The outdoor soccer, basketball, track, and tennis facilities are available for use by students taking on-campus classes, faculty, and staff. 

    • No guests are allowed
    • You must wear a mask unless you are certain you will be at least 6 feet away from others at all times.
    • "Contact play" or "competitive play" (one-on-one, five-on-five, pick up games) is not allowed. For example, you can kick a soccer ball back and forth, but you cannot play a soccer game that results in you being in close proximity to others. 

    Dining

    Gizmo Full-Service Hours

    Open Daily: 10:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m.

    Gizmo Grab n Go Hours

    Monday through Friday 7:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m.

    Hard Knox Cafe Hours

    Monday through Saturday

    Breakfast: 7:30 a.m. to 9:30 a.m.; Lunch: 11:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.; Dinner: 4:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.

    Sunday

    Brunch: 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.; Dinner: 4:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.

    The Outpost

    Monday – Friday 8:30a.m. to 11:00p.m.

    Saturday – Sunday 12:00p.m. to 10:00p.m.

    Please note the grab and go meals will not be available from the Outpost until further notice. Grocery items, ice cream, snacks, beverages, and personal care items are available.

    Mailroom

    The mailroom will begin the transition back to its usual location next week. Please continue to collect your mail and packages in Taylor Lounge until Thursday, September 24.  

    Monday - Friday 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.

    Saturday 10:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m.

    All other academic and administrative buildings

    • Academic and administrative buildings are open to students who are taking on-campus classes, faculty, and staff. Please keep in mind: 
    • Some offices may have modified hours or different ways of accessing resources (e.g., appointment only vs. walk-in). Please contact each office directly if you have specific questions. 
    • Please remember to wear your mask at all times and to maintain physical distance.
    • Please pay special attention to additional signage about how to move within buildings. For example, Old Main and GDH each have one up and one down staircase. 
    • Music practice rooms and other special-use facilities have their own reservation procedures. Please contact the appropriate department for further information. 

    Housing

    Access to on-campus housing is limited to residents of those buildings and one guest/visitor per resident at a time. 

    Questions regarding campus facilities can be directed to knoxtogether@knox.edu


    Stay well, 

    Anne Ehrlich, Ed.D.
    Vice President for Student Development

    September 9

    Dear Students, Faculty and Staff, 

    Please find updated guidelines for planning meetings and events in our current environment. 

    Many thanks to the group of students, faculty and staff that spent a significant amount of time thoughtfully developing these guidelines. 

    A note to student organizations: Campus Life is currently updating the event registration form. They will let you know when it is ready early next week. 

    Also, please remember that, until September 21, students are in quarantine and cannot participate in in-person events unless an exception has been made by a senior staff member. 

    As always, stay well.

    Anne, on behalf of the Health and Wellness Advisory Committee

    Anne Ehrlich, Ed.D.
    Vice President for Student Development

    September 6

    Dear Campus Community,

    As you know, we are committed to a thorough COVID-19 testing protocol in order to ensure early identification, notification, and isolation of students who test positive. We have received initial test results for 330 students so far, with two students who were asymptomatic but who tested positive for COVID-19 immediately upon arrival to campus. Those students are being isolated and their close contacts quarantined per our protocols. This early identification is essential to limit the spread of illness as we return to campus.

    Aggregate test results will continue to be updated on the Knox Together webpage.

    We appreciate the many precautions that you are taking to keep yourselves and others healthy. Thanks for your commitment to good health practices.

    Anne Ehrlich, Ed.D.
    Vice President for Student Development

    September 3

    There will be a significant time change for our usual Opening Convocation on September 14. This event will be virtual, but it will occur at  7:00 PM, not the usual 11:00 AM.

    Therefore, all class meetings on  Monday, September 14 will follow the  regular class meeting schedule. We will  not use the shortened convocation class schedule this year.

    Michael A. Schneider
    Provost and Dean of the College

    September 1

    If you are a student or family member who missed our recent Q&A session, you can view an archived broadcast. As always, if you have questions that weren't covered in these sessions, please email  together@knox.edu.

    August 27

    Dear Students,

    At the beginning of every academic year, I send a message with a link to the  Knox College Student Handbook, which includes information about important campus resources and policies.

    The policies within the Student Handbook are based on Knox’s values—integrity, respect, and a commitment to community. As we begin a year like no other, we look to these values to help guide us through uncertainty. They will serve as the foundation for our individual behavior and for our interactions with others.

    This year’s Handbook includes a set of  health and wellness policies outlined in the Knox Together Pledge. Taking these policies seriously is imperative to keeping ourselves and each other as safe as possible. The choices you make will impact not only your own health and safety, but also the health and safety of your friends, of your professors, of the custodians that clean your suites and classrooms. Please remember this.

    Because it is so important that we take minimizing the spread of COVID-19 seriously, the consequences for violating our community’s health and wellness policies are serious. Students who willfully disregard community standards regarding masks, physical distancing, gatherings, and other critical public health efforts will lose the privilege of living on campus and taking on-campus classes. Student organizations will lose College recognition and funding opportunities. Details about potential sanctions can be found  here. All members of the campus community are empowered to remind each other about and request adherence to our COVID-19 health and wellness policies, and may report alleged violations  here.

    As you have likely heard, several colleges and universities across the country were forced to cancel in-person classes and move to remote-only delivery within just days or weeks of starting their terms. This happened because of surges of COVID-19 cases that were traced back to crowded gatherings where attendees did not wear masks and did not physically distance. I am sure the decision to abandon a residential term and send students home was a heartbreaking decision for all involved, and truly one that we want to avoid at all costs here at Knox. But we must all do our part to ensure a successful year.

    As we look forward to the start of the 2020-21 year, I encourage you to spend some time reviewing the Handbook’s contents. Information in the Handbook may be updated throughout the year. You are responsible for monitoring updates and familiarizing yourself with our resources and policies. Questions regarding the Student Handbook and its contents should be directed to the Dean of Students. I am happy to provide whatever information I can and to speak with you to learn your thoughts.

    Sincerely,

    Deb Southern
    Dean of Students

    August 20

    Dear Knox parents and families,

    Yesterday, I walked across the quiet campus and imagined your return, masked, physically distanced, but starting a school year together, at Knox. I can’t wait for that day to come. I am writing today to share with you additional important announcements for students enrolled at Knox this fall.

    Modification to Quarantine Plan

    Due to a growing demand for testing across the country, the lab with which we have contracted recently informed us that the turnaround time for COVID-19 test results has extended from two days to, on average, four days. Testing delays are happening across the country, so we anticipate that time may continue to extend as demand increases over time.

    You can transmit the disease to others even if you are exhibiting no symptoms, so for the health of our community it is important that you quarantine in your room until you have received a negative test result. While we hope it will take less time, you should anticipate that your  initial quarantine could last for at least four days. Initial quarantine means that you are required to remain in your assigned room, except to use the restroom and pick up meals three times a day from a designated outdoor location. You must wear a mask and maintain at least six feet of physical distance whenever you are outside of your own room (both indoors and outdoors).

    We will begin in-person classes and group activities once all students have received their first test results and we know that the risk of community transmission has been lowered. To ensure we have test results for all students, classes and activities will be held remotely through September 20. In-person classes and activities will begin on Monday, September 21.  This does not change your scheduled arrival date, nor does it change the term’s academic calendar. You will participate remotely from your on- or off-campus residence until September 21.

    If you receive a negative test result prior to September 21, you will participate in  modified quarantine until September 21. Modified quarantine means that you can hang out in your own suite/house’s common area as long as you wear a mask and maintain at least six feet of physical distance. You can also get fresh air, walk around campus, engage in recreational activities, and visit with friends outdoors. Until September 21 we ask that you both wear a mask and maintain six feet of physical distance even when gathering outside.

    Here are answers to some questions we expect you might have:

    How does this impact the previously announced 14-day quarantine for those arriving from abroad?
    Students arriving from abroad do not need to quarantine for 14 days, but instead will follow the same quarantine plan as those arriving from within the US. If a student shows any COVID-related symptoms, their quarantine period may be extended.

    Does this quarantine plan apply to students who have lived on campus all summer? 
    Students who lived on campus this summer will have a COVID-19 test, but do not need to quarantine in their rooms while awaiting test results. However, they must participate in modified quarantine until September 21.

    When can I access on-campus storage?
    Campus Life is working on a plan for students to access storage shortly after their arrival to campus. They will share more details in the next few days.

    What if my roommate and I have different arrival dates, so our initial quarantines end on different days?
    If Roommate A’s initial quarantine ends before Roommate B’s, Roommate A may move into the modified quarantine phase, moving about campus while adhering to mask and physical distance policies. However, no in-person classes or student activities will be allowed until all students have received their first test results.

    What kind of meals will be available during quarantine?
    During both initial and modified quarantine, students will pick up their meals three times a day from a designated outdoor location. Vegan and meat-based options will be available.

    How will I get my mail/packages/textbooks during quarantine?
    We are working on the details of how this will happen, but will make sure you can access essential textbooks and mail during the quarantine period.

    Can I work in my on-campus job during quarantine?
    You can work in your on-campus job during initial quarantine if you can do so remotely. You can work during modified quarantine if you can do so remotely or outdoors while masked and maintaining physical distance. Exceptions may be made for students who lived on campus during the summer.

    Can I go off campus during quarantine?
    Not during initial quarantine. You can travel within Knox County during modified quarantine, as long as you wear a mask and practice appropriate physical distancing.

    We know this is asking a lot of you, and encourage you and your family to regard this as a short-term sacrifice—a collective community effort that will give us the very best chance at continuing in-person instruction for the duration of the term.  We will be hosting a virtual Q&A session about the quarantine process and any other questions you may have on Wednesday, August 26 at 7:00 p.m. (CDT). Please see email for login information. 

    Please remember that adherence to the quarantine protocol is a core expectation of the Knox Together Pledge. I hope you will take a moment to review and sign the Pledge if you have not already done so. You will need to be logged in to your Google account with your Knox email address and password to access the Pledge.

    Your Plans for Fall Term

    We recognize that some of you may decide not to return to campus in the fall and will be learning from an off-campus location. You recently had the opportunity to meet with your faculty advisor to finalize your plans for fall, choosing courses that will be provided on campus and/or remotely. Based on those decisions, we now need to know your plans so that we make appropriate preparations and any necessary adjustments to your charges and financial aid. We remain committed to making Knox as affordable as possible for every student and will review financial aid awards on an individual basis if family financial circumstances have changed significantly due to COVID-19. Please  confirm your plans for fall term by Monday, August 24. (Even if you’ve talked with someone at Knox about your plans already, we ask that you complete this form).

    Fifth Year for Free Guarantee

    As students prepare to resume classes in person as well as online, our goal is to preserve what is special about living and learning together and to find new ways to continue the close collaboration between faculty and students that is a hallmark of a Knox education even in this unprecedented time. We want to make sure that all students have the chance to fully experience a human-powered Knox education.

    We understand there are aspects of your Knox experience right now—athletics, student leadership opportunities, and theatre, dance, and musical performances, among others—that may be affected by the current pandemic. So, as you consider your plans for the fall, we want to let you know about our new “Fifth Year for Free Guarantee.” If you are enrolled at Knox full-time for the entire 2020-21 academic year, you can return to campus for up to one additional year of study, tuition-free—and take part in more of the opportunities you’ve been looking forward to. If you’re interested in pursuing this option, you’ll need to work with your academic advisor to determine appropriate course selections. Student-athletes should also consult with the athletics department about eligibility requirements.

    The health and wellness of our campus community continues to be our top priority. Faculty and staff are working hard to prepare to deliver the quality education you both want and deserve. They do so while acknowledging that there are many aspects of our environment that we cannot control, so we need to be flexible, nimble, and resourceful while reacting to changes in the behavior of the virus. Our goal is what it has always been: to provide a transformative educational experience that is truly and uniquely Knox. I so look forward to your return!

    Take care,

    Teresa L. Amott
    President

    August 10

    The Student and Employee Wellness Advisory Group has updated its policies concerning campus visitors during the fall 2020 term. Only essential visitors—including vendors, contractors, and essential partners; Admission visitors (including Athletics); and family members and/or significant others of students living on campus—will be allowed on campus at this time. All essential visitors must check in upon arrival and follow Knox's health and wellness protocols, including wearing a mask, maintain physical distance from others, and washing their hands frequently. Read the full policy on campus visitors.

    August 6

    Today, Knox introduced the Knox Together Pledge, outlining our individual responsibilities to each other as we prepare to come together on campus this fall. All students, faculty, and staff should review the Pledge and acknowledge they have read its contents by August 24. 

    August 3

    If you are a student or family member who missed our recent Q&A sessions with Knox administrators, you can view an archived broadcast. As always, if you have questions that weren't covered in these sessions, please email  together@knox.edu.

    July 30

    Dear Knox Community,

    By now we are all keenly aware that this fall term will look very different from any other time in our history. Still, we are grateful that we will be able to come together in a way that preserves educational opportunities while maintaining the health of the Knox community to the greatest extent possible.

    The most significant adjustment for all of us will be in the daily public health regimens that we must commit to following. It will be the biggest change, and yet it will also be our biggest opportunity to care for ourselves and one another. We write today to share more details about the policies and protocols we have put in place in support of the health of our community. We have developed these in the context of federal, state, and local guidance, and following extensive consultation with medical experts, county health officials, and peer institutions. We ask you to remember that as guidelines and conditions change, so must our own internal plans, and we appreciate your adaptability and understanding as we continue to respond to this global pandemic. 

    Masks and other personal protective equipment
    We know that wearing face coverings, in combination with physical distancing and frequent handwashing, is an effective way to help prevent the spread of COVID-19. All members of our campus community, including visitors, must wear masks at all times except: (1) in their individual residence hall rooms, (2) in their private offices, or (3) when out of doors and able to maintain at least six feet of physical distance. Students who are unable to wear a mask or face covering due to a documented health issue should contact  Disability Support Services for guidance. Employees who are unable to wear a mask due to a documented health issue should complete a  Face Covering Accommodation Form (PDF). 

    We will provide each student and employee two reusable Knox masks, one plastic face shield, and one small reusable bottle of hand sanitizer. 

    Testing
    All students will undergo a series of two tests for COVID-19—the first upon their initial arrival to campus, and the second approximately eight days later. This includes students living off campus who will be taking courses on campus. Faculty and staff will also be tested prior to the beginning of the term. These are nasal swab PCR molecular tests that will be conducted by trained clinical personnel and processed at specialized laboratories at no cost to the student or employee. 

    Additionally, any student who is experiencing one or more of the  symptoms of COVID-19 or has been determined to have had close contact with a COVID-19 positive individual will be tested again in our health services clinic. Employees who are experiencing symptoms are asked to contact their health care provider or reach out to Human Resources for assistance. 

    Quarantine upon arrival
    All students will quarantine in their rooms upon arrival to campus. During this time, students must stay in their own rooms except to use the restroom and to pick up meals from a designated outdoor location. 

    Per current CDC guidance, students arriving in the U.S. from abroad will quarantine for 14 days. Students arriving from within the U.S. will quarantine for approximately 48 hours (until their COVID test results come back negative). After that, students will be permitted to move about campus, following all physical distancing and safety protocols in place at the time. 

    We are closely monitoring federal, state and local guidance, and will put in place extended quarantine for students arriving from certain locations within the U.S. if necessary. This will not change students’ assigned arrival date. 

    Isolation, contact tracing, and quarantine throughout the term
    Students who test positive for COVID-19 will be temporarily relocated to isolation housing that has been set aside for this purpose. Health Services staff are undergoing contact tracing certification, and will be prepared to evaluate anyone who has had close contact with a member of our community who tests positive. Individuals who have had close contact with someone who has tested positive will need to quarantine for a period of time. Students needing to quarantine will be temporarily relocated to separate quarantine housing. 

    Students in isolation or quarantine will have a designated staff member to support them, will receive meals in their residence, take their classes online, and have their health and well-being actively monitored by a member of our professional Health Services staff. Employees will be asked to isolate or quarantine at home. 

    Symptom monitoring
    Being aware of how we are feeling each day is an important part of caring for ourselves and others. We have partnered with  HealthCheck360 to implement an online symptom monitoring program. Prior to leaving their residence hall rooms or homes each day, all students, faculty, and staff will be asked to self-report their temperature and any potential COVID-19 symptoms. If anything you report is concerning, you will automatically be prompted to remain at home and wait for Health Services (for students) or Human Resources (for employees) to reach out to you. 

    We will be hosting online demonstrations and opportunities to ask questions about our symptom monitoring program on the following days/times:

    • For students and families: Tuesday, August 18 at 3:00 p.m. CDT
    • For employees: Thursday, August 20 at 12:00 p.m. CDT

    Login info will be sent closer to the event dates. These demos will be recorded for those who can’t attend. 

    In the meantime, faculty and staff concerned about potential COVID-19 symptoms or potential exposure to a COVID-positive individual should contact their healthcare provider and notify Human Resources. Students currently on campus should contact Health Services. 

    Physical distancing
    Life in and out of the classroom will look different in the fall, but we are committed to finding ways to come together. Many classes will be hybrid, with elements of both in-person and remote learning. Classroom spaces will be configured so that students are spaced apart by at least six feet. Similarly, we look forward to working with Union Board, Student Senate, and many other important student organizations to develop small group, outdoor, and virtual programs. A group of students, faculty, and staff will be working to update event and meeting guidelines for current times. You can expect to hear more about that in a few weeks. 

    Flu vaccine
    All students, faculty, and staff are highly encouraged to get the flu vaccine for the 2020-21 flu season. This should be done prior to arriving on campus if possible. Health Services will also be offering free flu vaccines to all members of the campus community during the fall term. 

    Travel and visitors
    We are fortunate to have a low presence of COVID-19 in the local area at this time. For this reason, students taking on-campus classes are asked to limit their travel to within Knox County. Essential travel outside of the area should be planned in advance in consultation with Health Services staff. Similarly, visitors to campus are being significantly limited for the time being. For students living on campus, only family members/significant others are permitted in the residence halls, and we ask that those visits be pre-approved by Campus Life. Visitors will be asked to check in upon arrival to campus, at which time they will complete a brief symptom and temperature check.

    The Knox Together Pledge
    A successful fall opening and a healthy campus will depend on the shared commitment of our entire community. As a sign of that commitment, all community members will be asked to sign the Knox Together Pledge—a document developed by a group of students, faculty, and staff that outlines how we will each say yes to this new way of living and learning together. You will receive more information about the Knox Together Pledge next week. 

    Thank you for taking on this shared responsibility, and for taking seriously the policies and protocols outlined here. Please continue to refer to the Knox Together website for updated information and direct questions to  together@knox.edu

    Stay well,

    Anne Ehrlich, Vice President for Student Development
    Abby Putnam, Director of Health Services
    Co-chairs, Student and Employee Wellness Advisory Group

    July 29

    The Department of Athletics has announced revised move-in dates for fall student-athletes following the suspension of Midwest Conference competition earlier this week. Members of the mens' soccer and cross-country teams are asked to arrive on August 25. Women's soccer and volleyball players should arrive on September 1. Members of the football team should arrive on September 3.

    July 28

    Knox will host a virtual Q&A for returning students and their families on Thursday, July 30, at 7 p.m. Central Daylight Time. Check your inbox for information about how to participate, and submit any questions you have to together@knox.edu. If you are unable to attend, an archive of the webcast will be posted online after the event.

    July 27

    MWC Suspends Conference Competition in Athletics through Dec. 31, 2020

    July 24

    Dear Knox Community:

    With the first students arriving back on campus in just a few weeks, I know that you have a lot of questions about our plans to protect the Knox community against COVID-19. 

    Today, Knox has launched a new website,  Knox Together, to provide a single location for detailed and updated information on our public health and wellness practices; changes to residence halls and dining facilities; our approach to delivering the educational program this fall; and what we are asking students, faculty, and staff to do to protect themselves and the people around them.

    As we have all learned in the last five months, it is almost impossible to predict the course of the pandemic. We are focusing our efforts on resuming in-person instruction in September. However, our fall term advisory groups, made up of faculty, staff, and students, have developed a range of alternate plans that are ready to implement should more aggressive safeguards be needed. Please continue to monitor  Knox Together and check your inbox daily for the latest updates.

    In the meantime, I want to express my appreciation again for the tireless efforts of our faculty and staff, the generosity of our alumni and friends, and especially for the patience of our students and their families as we have worked to create a responsible and effective environment for teaching and learning. 

    While this will be a fall term unlike any other at Knox, I am confident it will be just as transformative a learning experience as you’ve come to expect—for our students and for the College.

    Thank you and take care,

    Teresa L. Amott
    President, Knox College

    P.S. If you have additional questions that aren't addressed on the website, email together@knox.edu and we'll do our best to provide the answers. 

    July 15

    Dear Knox Community,

    We write to share with you additional information on our plans to bring students back to Knox in the fall. While the news accounts show rising COVID-19 infections in many states, our local situation here in Knox County and throughout Illinois does meet the conditions set forth by public health agencies for starting the school year together on campus in a responsible manner. Those conditions require that we learn some very new ways of being Knox: new ways of teaching and learning, new schedules for arrival on campus, new protocols to help address health risks, and new rules for how we live together, participate in intercollegiate athletics and student activities, and take on the shared responsibility of protecting every member of our community. We especially recognize that some of us are at higher risk of severe illness from COVID-19 and embrace the opportunity to help safeguard them. 

    Teaching & Learning

    Preparations for the return to in-person instruction in the fall are well underway. All students who wish to return to campus for in-person learning may do so, though students may also continue their Knox education remotely. Our fall academic calendar will remain the same, but we will see changes and adaptation to the challenges of our new environment. In pursuit of our health priorities, classroom use will be constrained. Courses that rely heavily on classroom, lab, and studio spaces will need to be reinvisioned so that physical distancing and cleaning protocols can be observed. These and other courses will likely operate in hybrid modes, with a combination of in-person and remote components to serve students both on campus and those working from home. Physical distancing will require that classes meet in smaller subgroups, interactions with faculty and peers occur both in virtual and in-person settings, and daily and weekly schedules be flexible to support engagement of all students. Our updated fall course schedule will be shared by the end of July. New students will meet with their academic advisors and we will reopen the course registration process for continuing students in early August.

    To assist us with our course planning, and recognizing that some of you may choose to remain at home and learn remotely, we need to hear from all students, both new and returning, about your current thoughts about your plans for fall no later than Wednesday July 22. Please communicate with us via the form that was sent to your email on July 15. What you share on this form is not a commitment in any way, as we realize your plans may change.

    Shared Responsibility for Public Health

    Knox’s culture of shared responsibility and care for our community will be more important than ever this fall. We have an obligation to protect one another to the very best of our ability, and we must take that responsibility seriously. For that reason, the Student and Employee Wellness Advisory Group is working with constituents to translate public health guidance into a “social contract” that we will all sign to affirm our commitment to keeping our community safe. Adhering to public health guidance and the college’s heightened safety standards is the most important individual action we can take to help prevent the spread of COVID-19. Policies expected to be outlined in the contract include, but are not limited to, the following:

    • All members of our campus community must wear masks in classrooms, in public shared indoor spaces, or when at least six feet of physical distancing cannot be maintained. The number of people permitted at events or social gatherings will be restricted to comply with public health guidelines. 
    • We all must practice good hygiene, including handwashing and the use of hand sanitizer.
    • We all must take care to monitor whether we are exhibiting symptoms of the virus. All students and employees will be asked to record any potential symptoms via a private online platform. More details about this process will be shared in the coming weeks. 

    Additional measures to mitigate health risks will include:

    Testing: Our current plans call for all students to undergo a series of two tests for COVID-19 upon their initial return to campus, which together will minimize false negative results. Testing will continue throughout the term as symptoms and contact tracing require. Employees will be provided with information regarding how to obtain a test locally and will also have the option of being tested on campus. We have contracted with both Tempus Laboratories and OSF St. Mary Medical Center to facilitate testing, which will be conducted at no cost to the student or employee. These are PCR molecular tests that will be conducted by trained clinical personnel and processed at specialized laboratories. 

    Quarantine, isolation, and contact tracing: Even with the best public health practices, we know we cannot completely stop the spread of COVID-19, so we must plan for the eventuality that the virus will appear on campus. We are prepared for this to happen. In the event that a member of our campus community tests positive for COVID-19, we have arranged for Knox Health Services staff to be certified to carry out tracing for close contacts both on and off campus. Affected students will follow quarantine and isolation protocols within campus residences that have been reserved for this purpose. Students in quarantine or isolation will have a designated staff member to support them, will receive meals in their residence, take their classes online, and have their health and wellbeing actively monitored by a member of our professional Health Services staff. Affected faculty and staff will follow quarantine and isolation protocols at home.

    Cleaning and Sanitation Protocols: Enhanced cleaning and sanitizing practices are already in place at Knox and will be expanded as students, faculty, and staff return to campus. Common spaces in academic, administrative and residential buildings will continue to be thoroughly cleaned and disinfected at least once per day. Additionally, classroom use will be scheduled in such a way that will avoid student overlaps in hallways and entryways, and outdoor or other alternative learning spaces will be used where possible. Campus offices will be supplied with proper supplies and instruction on how to keep shared office spaces clean and disinfected. Additional attention has been focused on dining services and enhanced measures have been developed by the Bon Appetit Coronavirus Response Team. 

    Returning to Campus

    To provide the safest process possible, move-in dates have been adjusted for some student populations. These dates will allow physically distanced move-ins, testing upon arrival, and quarantine if necessary. 

    Fall athletes
    Fall athletes will be assigned an arrival date of Tuesday, August 11, Wednesday, August 12, Tuesday, August 18 or Monday, August 24, based on your sport. Fall athletes should expect communication from the athletic department by the end of this week. 

    International students and other students coming from abroad
    New international students and other new students coming from abroad should plan to arrive on campus on Tuesday, August 25. This date allows for a 14-day on-campus quarantine prior to international student orientation should public health guidance require it. Returning international students and other returning students coming from abroad should plan to arrive on campus on Saturday, August 29. 

    Students participating in SPARK or TRIO Bridge
    Students participating in the SPARK program should plan on arriving on Tuesday, September 1. Students participating in the TRIO Bridge program should arrive on Saturday, September 5.

    Remaining first-year students
    All remaining first-year and transfer students will be assigned an arrival date of either Wednesday, September 9 or Thursday, September 10. Your date will be communicated to you, along with your housing assignment, by the end of July. 

    Student leaders
    Student leaders such as resident assistants, orientation leaders, peer mentors and others will arrive on campus in time to begin their work that is critical to a successful start to the fall term. Student leaders should expect to hear directly from their supervisors by the end of this week. 

    Remaining returning students
    Returning students will be assigned an arrival date of Friday, September 11, Saturday, September 12, or Sunday, September 13. Your date will be communicated to you via your Knox email by the end of July. 

    More details regarding move-in protocols will also be shared at the end of July.  

    Living on Campus

    As a residential college, we want all students who wish to live on campus to be able to do so. Current public health guidance for higher education does not require students to be assigned to single rooms. Nonetheless, we recognize that some students may prefer single accommodations. We will accommodate as many students in single rooms as possible. This means that housing assignments may need to be adjusted slightly. Campus Life is working diligently to manage this important process, and will be communicating new student room assignments and any necessary changes to returning student assignments by the end of July. 

    Athletics

    The Midwest Conference and the NCAA have developed strict protocols for fall sports, including frequent testing and mask wearing for all participants who are not actively on the field of play, and will update those protocols as new information becomes available. The schools in the Conference have committed to observing these protocols. In addition, the Conference will play divisionally, minimizing the number of overnight trips except in championships. We are fully prepared to cancel competitions if circumstances warrant but are hoping to have robust opportunities for student athletes to train for their personal bests, compete for and win conference championships, and enjoy the student athlete team experience. Fall student athletes will be hearing more about their season in the coming days and weeks.

    Contingency Plans 

    None of us can predict the future, but over the past few months, a number of standardized public health metrics have been developed that we will utilize to determine when a change in course is necessary. We will be monitoring the Knox community’s wellness day by day, watching state and local infection rates, symptoms, signs of mental health distress and other metrics. Each of the four Reopening Advisory Groups is working on backup plans that can be activated to help support the wellness of our community. Fortunately, we do have greater insights now than we did last March, and we believe that any needed adjustments will be smoother and less disruptive.

    Additional Information

    A website with current information on Knox’s plans is under development and will be published later this week. At that time I will send a message with the web address. In addition, if you have questions, please send them to  reopen@knox.edu and we will respond to you as soon as possible.

    Closing / Final Thoughts

    In my welcoming remarks at admission events, I tell prospective students and their families that a Knox education is designed to prepare our graduates for a life of leadership and purpose in a time of enormous changes produced by technology, climate change, globalization, demographic shifts, and cultural conflict. Up until now, I never mentioned a pandemic, but I truly believe that our mission is even more important today. We are committed to giving our students powerful experiences, hands-on opportunities to practice what they learn, and we provide mentors, guides and companions along the way. That’s why we call it a human powered education. And together, we will rise to the challenge posed by this pandemic and graduate generations of students even better prepared to make a better world.

    TERESA L. AMOTT
    President

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    Printed on Sunday, August 7, 2022