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ISU’s Board of Trustees approves agreement with UofI for COVID-19 testing


NORMAL (WEEK) -- Illinois State University is moving ahead with its plan to establish a campus lab for COVID-19 saliva tests and to use local hotels to quarantine students in the instance of a surge in cases.

The university's Board of Trustees approved the resolutions Friday at its quarterly meeting.

The seven-month contract, costing up to $5.5 million, is a partnership with the University of Illinois to use its saliva testing method known as "Shield."

It will take about four to six weeks to establish the lab, according to university officials.

The tests will cost $20 each, compared to the $100 cost of the current Reditus contract.

"Through weekly testing of students and obtaining more timely results, students who test positive can be moved immediately into isolation, thus reducing the spread of the virus," the resolution approved by the board read.

The contract will cover up to 275,000 tests from Nov. 1 through may 14, 2021.

The board also approved a resolution to enter into an agreement with two Bloomington-Normal hotels that will provide space for students who are needed to be quarantined.

According to the resolution, ISU secured capacity up to 94 students per night for 14 days each. The cost will not exceed $1.6 million.

ISU budgets

The board also approved the fiscal year 2021 budget and the proposed FY 2022 budget to be sent to the Illinois Board of Higher Education.

For 2021, operations total $487.3 million. Unrestricted funds, according to university documents, are budgeted to increase 2.8% due to a decrease in tuition with 1% less in enrollment and funds needed to cover increased spending for COVID-19 expenditures.

The budget documents also show the remaining $4 million in CARES Act funding that was not listed in FY2020 will be reflected in 2021 to reimburse ISU for COVID-19 related lost bond revenues in housing and dining contracts.

The FY2022 proposed budget was approved by the board to be sent to the Illinois Board of Higher Education.

In its request, nearly half a billion dollars in capital expenditures is being sought

The top priority in ISU's capital request $101.5 million for a new engineering building. Also on that wish list is a new building for the Mennonite School of Nursing, and replacements for University High School and the Thomas Metcalf Laboratory School.

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