University of Illinois System announces Fall reopening plan

By Connor Ciecko

Update: the letter in its entirety can be found here. Original text of this story is below.

In a letter from University President Tim Killeen and campus Chancellors to UI faculty, the University of Illinois System today announced its plan to reopen campus in the fall after weeks of discussion and coordination.

“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,” the letter said.

The basic facets of the fall plan for instruction include:

  • Classes mixing in-person and remote instruction to facilitate physical distancing
  • Making schedule adjustments to reduce traffic on campus
  • Implementing classroom cleaning policies

Students and faculty returning to campus will also be issued washable masks that will be required to be worn in all classrooms.  In addition, all students and employees on campus are still expected to follow social distancing and general safety practices, and the university is currently planning on making hand sanitizer and disposable wipes available.

Residence hall life will also be modified in order to ensure the safety of all students staying in university housing.  Occupancy will be limited to two students per room and outside visitors will not be allowed in dorms.  Dining halls will offer prepackaged meals for students to carry out and eat elsewhere.

Provided that Illinois remains on track to reach stage 4 of Governor Pritzker’s “Restore Illinois” plan by the fall, guidelines for on-campus gatherings and student life will be determined by the state’s reopening standards and will be heavily enforced.  Social distancing and masks will still be required in public places, especially for outside visitors, and student facilities such as the recreation centers will have limited capacity.

On-campus research will continue to resume progress and will “continue to support treatments, vaccines and other measures related to COVID-19,” and remote working guidelines will be developed for faculty and staff members who may not be able to return to campus due to safety concerns.

The university is also planning on working to test every student on return to campus and throughout the semester, and collaborations with local health authorities are planned to notify individuals who may be at risk.

“The pandemic is still evolving, so our plans will be flexible and nimble. We will monitor campus safety and the latest guidance on the virus, and will adjust plans as needed to protect the well-being of our students, faculty, staff and the communities we call home,” the letter read, indicating that the plan has the potential to change based on the current situation of the COVID-19 virus.

The full text of the letter is expected to be released publicly later this afternoon.