Friday, June 19, 2020

Fall semester at UIS will be mixture of in-person, online classes

On-campus educational activities will resume this fall at the University of Illinois system’s three universities in Urbana, Chicago and Springfield with a hybrid mixture of in-person and online classes.

The announcement was made in a letter Thursday from system president Tim Killeen. It was also signed by Barb Wilson, executive vice president and vice president for academic affairs, and the system’s chancellors.

Plans to restore in-person instruction were developed through weeks of exhaustive review that brought together literally hundreds of key stakeholders and considered every available option, from a full return to traditional instruction to remaining fully online, Killeen noted.

The decision assumes that Illinois stays on track to meet Phase 4 requirements established by Gov. JB Pritzker’s Restore Illinois plan that allow reopening of classrooms.

Currently, UIS starts classes Aug. 24.

“UIS is still going to be providing details of our unique campus-based plan within the next couple of weeks, including starting dates and calendars for the fall semester,” said Derek Schnapp, a spokesman for UIS.

The plan, Killeen said in the letter, is “a thoughtful, science-based approach that will bring our universities back to life, with a campus experience that will look somewhat different.”

In-person courses and classroom schedules will be adjusted appropriately to ensure physical distancing and safer traffic flow.

There will be accommodations made “where possible” for students and faculty in vulnerable and at-risk groups, and for students who cannot come to campus due to travel restrictions or other considerations.

Campus classrooms will be cleaned and disinfected daily. High-touch surfaces, including door handles and elevator buttons, will be disinfected multiple times daily.

All students will be provided reusable, washable masks which will be required in all classrooms. Hand sanitizer will be widely available in all buildings.

Outside visitors to the campus will be asked to follow physical distancing and wear masks in public places. The size of gatherings on campus will be based on standards under the state reopening guidelines in force.

Schnapp said there a “very limited” number of workers on campus. Remote work, he added, “remains appropriate for employees who can complete the essential functions of their job or effectively perform their job duties while working remotely to the satisfaction of their supervisors.”

A system-wide coordination committee assisted steering committees and planning teams at each of the three universities.

This story appeared in The State Journal-Register on June 18, 2020.