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COVID-19/ Coronavirus Community Update

Special Notice as of today, February 9, 2023:

We are abiding by the Chicago Department of Public Health Emergency Travel Order and associated quarantine requirments for anyone traveling from high incidence states. You can find the latest travel quarantine rules below as well as Chicago's COVID-19 webpage.


It is important that you know the steps that ICO takes in the event that we are notified of an individual testing positive for COVID-19 or indicating that they have been exposed to the virus. 

What guidelines and best practices do we follow? 

ICO follows the CDC guidelines for Return to Work Criteria for Healthcare Personnel. Since ICO operates a public serving clinic, we are considered healthcare personnel (HCP) for the purposes of COVID.

If an employee or student is confirmed positive through a test and has recently been on-campus: 

ICO uses the CDC Symptom-based strategy for determining when the individual can return to campus.  Per CDC guidance: 

HCP with mild to moderate illness who are not severely immunocompromised: 

• At least 10 days have passed since symptoms first appeared and 

• At least 24 hours have passed since last fever without the use of fever-reducing medications and 

• Symptoms (e.g., cough, shortness of breath) have improved 


If an employee or student may have been exposed at ICO by a colleague, student, patient or visitor: 

ICO follows CDC guidelines for potential exposures. We begin by fact-finding to gauge the kind of potential exposure the individual experienced (what were they doing, where, duration of contact, proximity to others, were the individuals wearing masks, etc.) 

If there has been a potential exposure, the individual will be asked to consider which of the two options given by the CDC guidelines they prefer.  Based on the circumstances of the exposure, ICO may mandate one option over the other, or opt for the full 14-day quarantine should the person begin to show symptoms. 

ICO Contact Tracing 

As part of our process, ICO utilizes contact tracing to ensure that anyone who may have been potentially exposed to a confirmed by test case or potential symptomatic COVID case. The individual is asked to inform us of when they first came symptomatic or tested positive. Guidance indicates that the 48 hours immediately preceding are the most critical. Anyone with sustained contact with the individual are then assessed for their own potential exposure. If an individual has been identified as potentially exposed, ICO will notify them of the exposure. Based on the level of exposure, instructions will be given about the next steps that they should take and if quarantine is appropriate. This is done on a case by case basis, using the information made available to us, and our response will err on the side of being overly cautious. 


How do we evaluate potential exposures? 


What is quarantine vs isolation? 

The CDC defines the terms in this way: “Isolation separates sick people with a contagious disease from people who are not sick. Quarantine separates and restricts the movement of people who were exposed to a contagious disease to see if they become sick.” 

Persons in quarantine are confined to a particular location.  If the individual is in the RC, they are to remain in their room. Any food or needed supplies will be brought to the room.  The individual may only leave if medical attention is required.  If the individual resides off-campus, they should remain at home and avoid going out unless absolutely essential to their health. 


Will ICO identify the names of individuals: 

In compliance with the Americans With Disability Act, ICO will not publicly release the names of any individuals who have contracted or been potentially exposed.  Only those who have a need to know (direct supervisors for employees or appropriate members of the Academic program) will be provided with names so that they can keep proper records, be aware of the need for an absence and assist with any contact tracing.   ICO, and all members of our community, are expected to uphold the privacy laws governing an individual’s health record in the same way we want our own privacy maintained. 



What is considered proper wearing of masks? 

Everyone entering ICO facilities is required to wear a cloth face covering.  The mask needs to fully cover the wearer’s nose and mouth, at all times, to be effective. 

Students and employees who are engaging in patient care or clinical activities are required to wear the PPE issued to them by the clinic.  Clinical activity requires medical grade PPE due to the nature of the encounters. 

As a reminder, vented masks and bandanas are not permitted to be used as appropriate face coverings on campus as they have shown to not be effective in reducing viral transmission. 

What can I do? 

As the pandemic continues to unfold, it is critical that every member of our community do their part in keeping our community safe.  Anytime we are out in a public setting, or with another person, there is always the risk of coming in contact with the virus.  While ICO will do everything possible to limit risk on campus, each of us needs to ensure that we take personal responsibility for our own actions and choices.  Every person in our community plays a critical role in keeping our campus safe. 

  • Wear a mask anytime you are away from home. 

  • Maintain social distancing guidelines of at least six feet. 

  • Practice good hand hygiene by frequent hand washing and using hand sanitizer. 

  • Ensure that you wear your mask properly, always fully cover your nose and mouth. 

  • Remember that your mask helps to protect others, their mask helps to protect you. 

  • Remember that what you do outside of ICO matters as well. 

  • Avoid gatherings, especially indoors.  The more people gathered, the greater the risk. 

  • Limit your social circle to those who are also following safety guidelines. 

  • Think about how your decisions impact others. 


If you have tested positive, have symptoms of COVID-19 or have been informed you have been exposed to someone who has tested positive, please contact: 

Michael R Butz, MBA 
Senior Director of Compliance, Risk Management and Quality Improvement 

Compliance Officer 
Privacy Officer 
Illinois College of Optometry and Illinois Eye Institute

A report of the Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund can be found here.

It is our priority to keep you safe during this time. Please help us by taking the following precautions:
Please stay home if the following applies to you:
  • Traveled outside the country in the past 3 weeks.

  • Fever

  • Cough

  • Shortness of breath

  • Sore throat

Help prevent the spread of viruses like COVID-19/Coronavirus:
  • Cover your nose and mouth when you cough or sneeze with a tissue, and then dispose of the tissue.

  • Wash your hands frequently and use a paper towel to dry.

  • Avoid touching eyes, nose and mouth.

  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.

  • Stay home when you are sick.

  • Seek medical advice from your primary care physician if you develop symptoms, and or have been in contact with a person known to have COVID-19 or if you live in or have recently been in an area with ongoing spread of COVID-19.

What we are doing:
  • Closely monitoring the advice and guidance from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the World Health Organization (WHO).

  • Educating our employees and students on preventative measures provided by the CDC.

  • Increasing the frequency and extent of our cleaning practices, such as additional wipe downs of all hard surfaces including the front desk, exam rooms, offices and our lunch rooms. 

  • Providing additional resources to patients, students and employees including additional resources for proper hand washing.

  • Implementing heightened sanitation and hand-washing procedures for all employees.

For the most up-to-date information on COVID-19's FAQs,

please visit the following health organizations:

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