UIS Extends Spring Break, Prepares For Online Instruction Due To COVID-19 Concerns

Mar 11, 2020

Credit Sean Crawford/NPR Illinois

UPDATE 3/15: In a message to the campus community, Chancellor Susan Koch called on departments to prepare to have employees work remotely, if possible.  "I am directing all deans, directors and division heads to begin working with employees to create alternative work arrangements to allow the option to work from a remote location, if appropriate; adopt a flexible or compressed work schedule; and/or establish rotation among staff for on-site work," Koch wrote. "These measures will support continued campus operations while at the same time allow for the flexibility employees will need to ensure the well-being of themselves and their families."

The University of Illinois Springfield is extending spring break an extra week.  The move comes as alternative delivery of instruction - such as online classes -will take the place of classroom teaching for a period.

  The three University of Illinois system campuses are taking the action to slow the spread of the coronavirus disease. More details below: 

 

From Chancellor Koch, Dr. Papini and Dr. Ford:

3.12.20

Dear UIS Community —

By now we hope you have read yesterday’s communication from President Killeen and the three University of Illinois chancellors regarding the steps the UI System is taking to protect our students, faculty and staff amid the increasing COVID-19 threat to public health. Safety is our top priority, and we are taking this rapidly evolving situation seriously.

We realize our UIS community has many questions following yesterday’s announcement. We intend to communicate with you often to address these questions, and this morning we want to share with you some pertinent information.

Most importantly, after consultation with the COVID-19 Response Team, we have decided to extend Spring Break for students by one week (March 16-22) to enable faculty and staff to effectively migrate courses to alternative delivery methods. Courses will resume in their new formats beginning March 23.

Students: During this extra week of Spring Break, the campus will remain open, including residence halls and dining services. While we encourage you to stay home as much as possible to limit possible exposure, you may return to campus if you wish to do so. Please check your UIS email for communication from faculty regarding plans to complete your courses through remote teaching or other formats. Student employees have the option of returning to their on-campus jobs as scheduled, but we ask you to communicate with your supervisor if you do not intend to follow your planned work schedule. Students who need technology assistance should contact the Helpdesk at 217-206-6000 or email techsupport@uis.edu

Faculty and staff: The UIS campus remains open, and all faculty and staff are expected to work as usual. Ensuring the non-interruption of instruction is a top priority for UIS and the UI System. An Instructional Continuity Planning Subcommittee is already working to help faculty transition to successfully deliver courses using remote technology. The Teaching Remotely at UIS webpage provides resources to assist faculty with remote course delivery. Every course at UIS has a Blackboard course site. Through Blackboard, you can send emails and post announcements to your students. The Teaching Remotely at UIS webpage lists many other technologies at UIS that can be used to remotely deliver content, conduct instructional activities and interact with students. ITS will be providing workshops next week to help faculty with technology. COLRS is available to help in any way at 217-206-7317 or at colrs@uis.edu.

Travel: All university-sponsored international travel for students, faculty and staff is prohibited, along with nonessential domestic travel, until further notice. Additionally, personal international travel is strongly discouraged, especially for those with underlying health conditions. We also urge anyone considering personal domestic travel to use caution and exercise good judgment.

Events and meetings: UIS is suspending university-sponsored, in-person events and meetings with 50 people or more using campus facilities effective March 13. If appropriate, organizers should seek alternative ways of conducting events and meetings, such as livestreams or conference calls. University-sponsored events include those planned by registered student organizations. UIS also strongly recommends reconsidering the need for any in-person meetings at this time, regardless of attendance size, and if necessary, to practice appropriate social distancing and other preventative measures. For updates on Performing Arts Center events, visit uispac.com.

Moving forward…

Many people across our university have been planning for weeks to be prepared for this situation. The UIS COVID-19 Response Team and many others have worked in concert with local, state and national public health officials and taken precautionary steps, including sanitation activities across campus and contingency planning to ensure we can effectively meet the needs of students, faculty and staff.

The UIS Campus Relations team will be updating our COVID-19 website, uis.edu/covid-19, frequently. We highly encourage all faculty, staff and students to monitor this website for updates as well as your university email for announcements. An email address, covid19@uis.edu, has been established for anyone who wants to submit a question about the UIS response to COVID-19.

There have been no reported cases of COVID-19 in Sangamon County or within the UIS community to-date, but we strongly encourage all members of the university to follow personal health practices recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, including proper handwashing and avoiding large groups.

These are challenging times, which we understand can cause stress and confusion. Please be assured that everything being done is in the interest of, first and foremost, protecting the health and safety of our university community. UIS Health Services and the Counseling Center remain available to assist students who have concerns or questions.

Thank you for your cooperation and understanding as we navigate this extraordinary situation.

Susan Koch, Chancellor

Dennis Papini, Provost

Clarice Ford, Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs

 

 

The following message was sent on Wednesday March 11:

We write today to share new policies for the University of Illinois System and its universities in Urbana-Champaign, Chicago and Springfield, all designed to protect the health and welfare of our students, faculty and staff amid the global COVID-19 pandemic.

The proactive policies are focused squarely on doing our part to help curb the virus. Fortunately, there have been no confirmed cases among our faculty, staff and students. But such cases have been increasing in Illinois and our experts say early intervention is the best option to limit the spread.

Our policies will adopt best practices endorsed by state and national health officials by minimizing face-to-face exposure in classrooms and other types of large gatherings, and by limiting international and domestic travel. They were developed with guidance from the leading-edge healthcare experts across our universities, who have been consulting daily with a leadership team composed of the president, the chancellors and the provosts from all three universities. We will continue to monitor the outbreak and stay in constant contact with the Governor’s Office, the Illinois Department of Public Health, local health departments, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and other universities around the state and the nation.

The new policies were carefully crafted to safeguard our students, faculty and staff without compromising the world-class education and the groundbreaking research discovery that are synonymous with the U of I System. They are:

Instruction

  • Courses at each of our three universities will immediately begin migrating to online or alternative delivery mechanisms to provide the social distancing that helps limit transmission of the virus, with a goal of completion by March 23. Classes will be held at their currently scheduled times.
  • Online and other alternative learning methods will continue until further notice, but our expectation is that it will be temporary and students will be updated regularly via email and updates on system and university websites.
  • Students have the option of studying remotely from home or from their campus residence after spring break.
  • Our campuses will remain open and ready to serve students, including residence and dining halls.
  • Each university will provide specific guidance for their students regarding both academic and housing arrangements.
  • Faculty and staff will continue their work on campus, including research, and human resources offices will provide guidance for work conditions that foster safety and for employees who suspect exposure or infection and must self-quarantine.

Events

  • Events with more than 50 attendees that are university-sponsored or hosted by registered student organizations will be suspended indefinitely, effective Friday, March 13.
  • Events may occur via livestream or other telecommunications, or be postponed to a future date.
  • Please check with each university for specific guidance.

Travel 

  • All university-sponsored international travel is prohibited, along with non-essential domestic travel until further notice.
  • Personal international travel is strongly discouraged, and we urge caution and the exercise of good judgment for personal domestic travel.

Leaders of our three universities will share further information for how these policies will be implemented to address the specific educational and safety needs of their campus communities. UI Hospital and clinics will provide additional protocols to address the unique needs in providing care for their patients.

We recognize the many challenges this will create for our students, faculty and staff. We pledge to do everything in our power to support you during this temporary move to safeguard your health and the health of people in the communities we call home.

Our policies are rooted in our expert scientific knowledge base and exhibit an abundance of caution to take care of each other until the COVID-19 outbreak eases. We are all in this together, and appreciate your support and understanding.

Sincerely,

Tim Killeen, President, University of Illinois System
Barbara J. Wilson, Executive Vice President and Vice President for Academic Affairs, University of Illinois System
Robert J. Jones, Chancellor, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Michael D. Amiridis, Chancellor, University of Illinois at Chicago
Susan J. Koch, Chancellor, University of Illinois at Springfield

Many colleges and universities are now moving to online teaching – at least for a few weeks – due to concerns over the spread of COVID-19. 

No cases have been reported at UIS.  

Gov. J.B. Pritzker has declared a state of emergency in Illinois.  The World Health Organization says the disease is now officially a pandemic.