Editorial: NIU isn’t as prepared for monkeypox

NIU announced the first case of a student testing positive for monkeypox on Aug. 25. Yet, NIU isn’t taking student health as seriously as they should.

The university should have a set plan for monkeypox, as they did with COVID-19.

NIU has not made any official announcements about how they will combat the spread of monkeypox on campus, other than saying that those who test positive will have to isolate; but these requirements to self-isolate are through self-reporting.

Some students might remember that before being allowed to attend in-person classes in the fall of 2021, NIU required proof of vaccinations. Students were even given a $100 grant for uploading this proof before Aug. 20 of the Fall 2021 semester. When Illinois universities were required to conduct surveillance testing for coronavirus, NIU had stepped up and required vaccinated students and staff to test for coronavirus once every three weeks while unvaccinated students were required to test every week.

There were so many COVID-19 safety nets that the university implemented that it felt like the health and safety of peers and faculty mattered to NIU. Now, students are left with self-reporting illnesses while professors are left to mandate mask requirements on a class-per-class basis. 

Tracking coronavirus cases among the campus population could be difficult due to the closing of NIU’s COVID-19 Dashboard. Instead, this surveillance is recorded through wastewater and county reports. This is all the coronavirus surveillance data that NIU students have access to.

Without surveillance information, it could be harder for faculty to negotiate moving in-person classes online for health and safety. This exact scenario happened in August last year. Faculty members and NIU negotiated that if the coronavirus positivity rates on campus were higher than 8%, then the university would move to remote learning.

Coronavirus levels in DeKalb are now “low to moderate,” as reported by NIU’s Wastewater Dashboard.

Students and faculty need to know that NIU has a set plan for monkeypox, as they did for COVID-19, rather than solely relying on self-reporting.