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Omicron variant: Omi-what?

By: Cassidy Martenson

Co-Editor / Community Outreach Specialist 

Last week, St. Joseph County experienced a 75.3% increase in COVID-19 cases. Many of these new cases can be tracked to the new variant, Omicron. IU South Bend is doing everything to keep students safe and mitigate the spread throughout the campus community. 

According to the CDC, the Omicron variant spreads more easily than the original virus. Infected individuals can spread the virus to others, even if they are vaccinated or don’t have symptoms. The COVID-19 vaccines are expected to protect against severe illness and deaths due to the Omicron variant. 

IU South Bend is committed to stopping the spread of COVID-19 and protecting students, faculty, staff and the community. If someone is feeling ill, they should not go to campus or go to classes. They should isolate as much as possible and arrange a symptomatic test through One.IU. 

When getting tested through an IU facility, the results are automatically reported. If a non-IU testing facility was utilized, positive results need to be reported to One.IU using the Covid-19 Self Reporting Form. If a home test was used, a photo of the test results should also be submitted.

If a housing student tests positive through a non-IU testing facility, the results must be reported to the Resident Assistant or Housing Office. Housing students that test positive will be placed into isolation. 

“We do have some spaces in Campus Housing to isolate, but we highly recommend that the student returns home to isolate,”said Scott Strittmatter, Director of Housing and Student Life. 

Spaces are limited for quarantining on campus. 

Any student that quarantines or isolates at home will not be billed for housing for the days they are gone. However, students that have to isolate on campus are made as comfortable as possible.

“You have your own room, bathroom, kitchen, and living room. I didn’t feel trapped because I was able to sit in my living room and open the sliding door curtains and see out,” said Clarita Reynaga, housing student. 

Any student who is considered a close contact and is not vaccinated will need to quarantine by themselves until cleared. Students that wish to receive the vaccine or booster can call the Health and Wellness Center at 574-520-5557 to schedule an appointment. The vaccine and boosters are free of charge. 

In the future, our campus will receive “Drop Off Covid-19 Kits.” These will allow students to take a vial home with them and drop it off at a secure location on campus within 24 hours.  

“My last recommendation is just that we all need to think of others and be compassionate as we go through this,” said Strittmatter.  

Students are encouraged to monitor their physical and mental health during these trying times. The Student Counseling Center offers free and confidential mental health services to students. Their office can be reached by calling 574-520-4125.

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