The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign will open the fall semester with as much in-person instruction and residential occupancy as COVID-19 precautions and space availability allow.
In announcing the decision reached after extensive consultation with faculty members, staff, students, the Academic Senate, community members and health officials, Chancellor Robert Jones said the university is “committed to prioritizing the health and safety of our faculty, staff, students and community members.”
Jones and Provost Andreas Cangellaris considered the findings and recommendations of an academic affairs committee on the most likely scenarios for fall instruction.
“Based on these factors, and much thought and consultation, we believe our recommendations and actions will maximize the health and safety of the community while providing our students with the educational experiences they are promised,” Jones said.
The campus plan assumes the university has adequate COVID-19 testing in place and that the state has moved into Phase IV of Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s Restore Illinois plan by the start of fall instruction, scheduled for Aug. 24. “Fall 2020 will be an on-campus semester with as much in-person instruction and residential occupancy as restrictions of space, health and safety allow,” Jones said.
Safety considerations include practicing social distancing, wearing face coverings when social distancing is not possible, checking symptoms and adequate hygiene such as washing hands and using hand sanitizer. The university developed rigorous sanitation procedures and processes to sanitize all university spaces to minimize the ability of the virus to spread. Walk-in on-campus testing for COVID-19 is now available.
The plan aspires to deliver in-person instruction as much as possible, especially for courses such as labs and performance-based courses. Classes that meet in person will be in spaces that allow adequate social distancing between students and professors. As an added precaution, for the health and safety of all, face coverings will be required in all instructional spaces and classrooms.
Other precautions associated with the return to in-person instruction include online options for all students who are not able or who do not prefer to return to in-person or on-campus instruction. All undergraduate class sections of 50 or more students will be online in accordance with the Restore Illinois plan guidelines on gatherings.
The campus plan also includes guidelines for academic units and faculty members on carrying through with plan elements.
The campus response to COVID-19 is evolving as administrators keep watch on new developments with the pandemic. More information and resources for dealing with the pandemic can be found at the College of LAS COVID-19 response site and the University of Illinois COVID-19 response site. Key issues and the latest developments are being discussed in depth in the campus briefing series.