The University of Illinois Springfield could return to a more normal atmosphere in the fall if the pandemic trends continue in the right direction. The university system has announced it plans to offer more in-person classes starting in August, citing the rising number of people getting vaccinated as a main reason.
UIS has been following COVID-19 testing and United in Safety protocols that have kept its seven-day rolling positivity rate below 1 percent for most of the fall and spring semesters, well below national and regional averages, according to a university news release.
“UIS has worked incredibly hard during the COVID-19 pandemic to prioritize health and safety,” said interim Chancellor Karen Whitney. “Our university community’s compliance with our testing requirement and rapid contact tracing program have been paramount, as well as our focus on frequent, transparent communication with faculty, staff and students to keep everyone well-informed.”
“UIS was able to quickly adapt course delivery to remote methods and provide robust support to both faculty and students because of our expertise within the nationally recognized Center for Online Learning, Research and Service. This has better positioned ourselves as we prepare for fall courses," Whitney said.
UIS surveyed both students and faculty this semester to help guide planning for the fall semester. The school said both groups indicated that increasing the number of on-campus courses is a top preference.
“The faculty at UIS have been instructional innovators in teaching and learning before and during the pandemic,” said Dennis Papini, UIS vice chancellor for academic affairs and provost. “The recent survey of faculty reveals a desire to return to the classroom coupled with a continuing commitment to explore and experiment with delivering high-quality academic activities at the university and online.”
“I would very much like to be safely back in the classroom with students. It is very encouraging to see increased access to vaccines,” said Lynn Fisher, associate professor and chair of the campus senate. “As students make plans for fall, I encourage them to talk to faculty and advisors about the wide variety of in-person, hybrid and online options at UIS.”
Registration for Fall Semester 2021 classes begins April 5 for current students and April 12 for new students. Fall 2021 classes will start Aug. 20.