The University of Illinois is canceling commencement ceremonies at all campuses this spring due to concerns over COVID-19 pandemic.
In a message to the university community, President Timothy Killeen and other university leaders announced the graduation program won’t occur as scheduled in May. However, diplomas will be mailed and there remains the possibility of rescheduling commencement and/or virtual events to honor the Class of 2020.
“Commencements reflect the very core of our mission and provide a richly deserved celebration for both our graduates and the proud parents, family, friends, faculty and staff who supported them along the way. Every year, ceremonies across the U of I System draw anywhere from a few hundred people at school- and college-based commencements to more than 20,000 at Urbana’s university-wide event,” the message said.
“Even small turnouts, however, would far exceed the guidance issued last weekend by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to slow the spread of the virus. The new guidelines call for cancelling or postponing all large gatherings for at least the next eight weeks – a timeline that brings us within days of our May commencements.”
“We are proud of your sacrifice and your success, Class of 2020, and we promise we will find ways to honor your achievements.”
Meanwhile, the University of Illinois Springfield, along with other system campuses, is asking all students still in residence halls to move out by Friday March 20, although exceptions will be made for those with no other options. Those students must fill out an online request form. Students moving out will be given a partial credit on both their housing payment as well their meal plan.
The campuses are gearing up for online instruction starting next week in place of having students in the classroom. The university system said that will be the norm for the remainder of the semester.
The latest statement from UIS:
· Face-to-face instruction will NOT resume this semester. All coursework will be delivered through alternative delivery methods, such as online or remote learning. Faculty and staff are working very hard and making great progress toward migrating to remote alternatives. Instruction—using online and alternative delivery methods—resumes Monday, March 23. The staff in COLRS and ITS are working to support both faculty and students who need additional tools or resources to complete the semester remotely.
· In the best interests of the health of students, we are taking action to strictly limit occupancy of on-campus housing for the remainder of the Spring 2020 semester and are requiring all students who can safely do so to return to their permanent home address to complete their Spring 2020 classes remotely. Residential students are being asked to check out of their space at scheduled times throughout this week. Students received instructions this morning from the Department of Residence Life about checkout procedures. Housing and meal credits will be provided based on each student’s individual situation. We are allowing limited exceptions for students with extenuating circumstances to remain in on-campus housing, which will require permission from the Department of Residence Life.
· Dining Services will remain open to serve remaining residential students as well as faculty and staff who need to be on campus. All food options are being provided as “grab-n-go” to align with social distancing recommendations. Please check the Dining Services website for hours of operation. Dining Services is accepting i-card only in compliance with Gov. Pritzker’s policy regarding campus dining halls not being open to the public at large. Residential students who are moving out of on-campus housing and students who do not live in on-campus housing but have a UIS meal plan will receive communication about their meal plans.
· The Brookens Library will be temporarily closed to physical traffic effective today, March 17. Library staff will continue to be available via email/phone, and library resources remain accessible via the library website. The library will be waiving all overdue and lost item fees until it is able to reopen. For questions about your library account or materials please email firstname.lastname@example.org .
· Mail delivery will continue on campus. Please contact Jeff Richards (email@example.com) with questions or to set up arrangements to drop off mail packages at the Mail Center in the Business Services Building.
· Information on self-quarantine protocols for students, faculty and staff who have recently traveled or who think they may have been exposed to the COVID-19 virus will be shared soon via email and posted on the UIS COVID-19 website.
· While we continue to limit opportunities for in-person interaction on campus, the university is not closing or ceasing essential operations. However, anyone remaining on campus should practice appropriate social distancing. Meetings should be held via phone or email if possible, and interactions in public spaces should be limited.