COVID-19 steering committee addresses public questions

By Connor Ciecko

On Tuesday, the academic steering committee tasked with developing a reopening plan for campus held a virtual meeting in which they addressed questions from the public. Among these were things such as why the university wants to bring the students back on campus, what steps will be taken if a faculty member tests positive for the virus, and fears around international students. Over the next week, we will be breaking some of the most important questions down and exploring their answers. The full meeting can be found here.

Is the university worried that students may not return to UIUC if instruction is entirely online?

Andreas Cangellaris, Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs and Provost, discussed this. “Our students and their families know that we, as we must, are putting safety first as we consider our decision for the fall,” Cangellaris said.

He stressed that the decision is not being made lightly, as considerations must be made to ensure the safety of every person in the university community. If something unexpected happens and the university is required to go entirely online, he understands the students who may make the choice to not return as he feels as the decision comes from a place of concern and safety.

“I’m certain our students and their families will stay with us, because the value of an education from the University of Illinois has proven itself over and over again for generation after generation. And those who come to us come to us for that reason.”

There is concern that attendance and enrollment numbers will drop if the university is entirely online for the fall, as many students feel the quality of instruction is decreased. Illinois State University in Bloomington-Normal has already seen their enrollment numbers for the fall “[slip] a little bit”, according to a report by the Chicago Sun Times.

On social media platforms such as Twitter, current college students are telling incoming freshmen to defer their first semester at a university and to instead attend community college if in-person instruction has not resumed. This would impose a large financial hit on university systems. Some returning college students have made similar claims, saying that it is not worth their time or money to pay university tuition to remote learn.

The UI is yet to announce its official decision on classes for the fall.

Photo by Liam Dwyer