Monmouth College announced its new Student Health Center in April, surprising many Monmouth students. A campus health center had been discussed in the past, though one was not put in place until this year. Staffed by OSF HealthCare medical personnel, the Student Health Center does more than treat scraped knees– on August 31st, it held a walk-in vaccination clinic, helping provide vaccinations to many students. On August 27th, Monmouth College posted its vaccine tracker update at 76%. On September 1st, that number had risen to 81% – a remarkable difference in just a few days’ time. The latest vaccine tracker update, received through the Monmouth College pipeline, lists our vaccination rate at “over 85 percent.” President Wyatt has announced that students will be getting Friday, October 15th off. Now that we are over 85% vaccinated, we have reached our vaccination goal. It is unknown what the future holds, but any students who have yet to receive a vaccination can do so by stopping by the Student Health Center, which is located in McMichael Hall on the first floor. Following the mandate from Governor Pritzker, vaccines are the easiest way to avoid weekly testing – an email from Monmouth College states that “students, faculty, and staff must either have presented [vaccine] documentation […] or begin to participate in weekly testing.” Luckily, we have easy access to the vaccine on campus.
In addition to administering the vaccine, the Student Health Center can treat a variety of health conditions, including “strep throat and the flu,” along with urine analysis. They also provide “behavioral health care” for conditions like ADHD, diabetes, and allergies, according to the April 28 email. Though the hours of operation are limited, it is a positive step for students who now have options for care. In the past, the easiest way to get immediate care was to drive to OSF Holy Family Medical Center, located on Harlem Avenue in Monmouth. The placement of a health center on campus with undoubtedly help those students who may not have a car or a way to seek care.
With the implementation of the vaccine in the Student Health Center, one may ask what changes are being made to the COVID-19 guidelines for this year. President Wyatt wrote, on August 8th, that the CDC is “calling for all individuals to wear a face mask indoors, regardless of vaccination status.” Though some students may be hopeful for a mask-free campus, the Delta variant is highly transmissible, which requires all students to follow the COVID-19 guidelines. President Wyatt added that he hopes the mask requirement will be temporary, but given the current wave of infection, that reality may be far off.
As a reminder, the COVID-19 guidelines have changed, though there are areas of confusion for some students regarding the number of guests allowed in dorms and whether parties are officially reinstated. Tailgating has been reinstated, according to the September 10 Pipeline, which states, “tailgating will return to Monmouth College for football games this season.” However, with the mask mandate indoors, it is unclear how a social gathering like a party may take place. Masks are not required in the following situations: while alone in a private workspace, while in your assigned dorm, while eating in the cafeteria or Einstein’s, while outside and social distancing, while playing a sport or instrument if applicable, or while a supervisor determines masks are not an option (according to Monmouth College’s Safety Practices page). Masks are required nearly any time students are indoors. Monmouth’s Safety Practices page lists the following places masks are required: “common workspaces, hallways, elevators, dining facilities, restrooms, breakrooms, meeting rooms, residence halls, College vehicles, and while in class indoors.”
In Monmouth College’s return to in-person activities, many more outdoor events are likely to be scheduled – a stark change from last year’s Zoom festivities. Campus seems livelier, and it is a welcome change from the online-only practices of 2020. However, it requires students to follow the guidelines in order to avoid another lockdown.
The best way to protect yourself and your peers is to get vaccinated and send your vaccination registration to firstname.lastname@example.org. With the implementation of the Student Health Center, that task is easier than ever. What are your thoughts on the Student Health Center? Let us know on Twitter.
Caroline King – Editor and Chief