Possible Fall 2020 options outlined

By Angelle Cortes

In a massmail sent out Wednesday morning by the Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs and Provost Andreas Cangellaris, he informed the student body of an instruction report draft for the Fall 2020 semester. 

As the head of the COVID-19 Academic Affairs Team, Cangellaris instructed the Contingency Planning Task Force Team to outline instructional options amidst the COVID-19 health and safety conditions that may be present this coming fall semester.

If the university were to run under the modified on-campus instructional plan they would have to meet and follow several guidelines to make it successful.

The university will have to meet all the requirements necessary to proceed into Phase IV of Governor J.B. Pritzker’s Restore Illinois plan. The campus and community will need adequate testing, tracing and exposure notification; quarantine capabilities and procedures in place; cleaning protocols and guidelines; and procedures for safe campus operations. Students, faculty and staff will be required to use face coverings, social distance, and participate in other safe public health practices both on and off campus. Physical space and time necessary to carry out instruction have priority over non-academic or co-curricular activities.

If Illinois and the university were to not enter into Phase IV then remote-only instruction will be implemented, similar to how the Spring 2020 semester was held.

The task force also identified several objectives for any on-campus instructional activities.

New and current students that choose to not return to campus must have access to their courses remotely in order to progress in their degree. Instructional faculty who are unable to return to campus for COVID-19 related reasons should still have the opportunity to teach and engage students remotely.

While the university will rely on remote course delivery for modified instruction, there will still be a strive to maximize face-to-face instruction. The university is considering utilizing face-to-face instruction where it has the most impact on student experience such as in performance courses, studio experiences, laboratories and peer-interaction-critical situations.

For classes with over 50 students, lectures will be delivered online. As for classes that have a big lecture and small discussions, the lectures will be online while the discussions will be held in-person. To achieve social distancing guidelines, lecture halls that normally seat 100 will be used to seat the small discussion sections.

One issue for the fall semester is fall break. Returning to campus from fall break can cause an increased risk of exposure to COVID-19 due to student travel during the break, however the report mentions a way to eliminate fall break entirely. If the semester were to start two weeks earlier than usual, August 10, then the semester can finish by the time of fall break.  

Students can offer feedback of the draft until June 10 at 5 P.M. The university is expected to make an announcement on official fall semester plans mid-June.