Wednesday, November 11, 2020

UIS to resume in-person instruction, while reducing non-essential activities starting Nov. 12

The following message was sent to UIS students, faculty and staff on Nov. 11, 2020.

Dear UIS Students, Faculty and Staff:

Thanks again to everyone for their flexibility as we adapt to the constantly evolving nature of the COVID-19 pandemic. While we will present our UIS health stats at our regular briefing this Thursday, as you know, we experienced the highest number of one-day positive cases from our saliva testing on Monday. We received these results Tuesday morning, and we quickly issued a two-day pause in our on-ground operations.

Testing conducted on Tuesday showed we had three positive cases from our saliva testing program and one positive from an off-campus testing site. After evaluating what was learned through contact tracing and yesterday’s lower positivity rate, the COVID-19 Rapid Response Team has recommended—and I agreed—that we will resume in-person instruction tomorrow, Nov. 12, while also reducing non-instructional activities to only essential activities. We have no indication of virus transmission within classroom and workspace environments, but it is clear that transmission is occurring off campus and through social gatherings and visiting bars/restaurants. Thank you to our students, faculty and staff for strictly adhering to our campus guidelines in these settings.

A full list of our approach to campus activities for the next two weeks is below. It is important to note that our entire region has entered a dangerous period for COVID-19 cases, and hospitalizations are rising throughout the state. We must be good community partners to help slow the spread of COVID-19 and prevent our medical systems from becoming further strained, and remember that our behaviors both on and off campus contribute to the bigger picture. I strongly encourage you to stay home as much as possible, leaving only for in-person courses, work, COVID-19 testing, getting food, individual study or recreation, or essential errands (groceries, pharmacy, etc.).

Effective tomorrow, Nov. 12, UIS will take the following approach to campus activities: 

  • In-person instruction may resume.
On-site work
  • On-site work may resume and continue as necessary, but remote work is encouraged for employees who can perform their duties remotely.
Indoor study spaces
  • The Student Union will be open until 6 p.m. daily for individuals who want to use the facility to study. No in-person group studying (two or more people) will be allowed; masks must be worn (no dining inside allowed), and individuals must study at least six feet apart.
  • Brookens Library will reopen at noon tomorrow for individual study hours and Grab-n-Go; a full schedule will be posted on the library’s website.
  • For group studying (two or more people), students should pursue virtual formats such as Zoom. 
Food Service
  • Food Service will remain grab-n-go only until 6 p.m. daily; no indoor dining will be allowed in the Student Union.
  • Individual outdoor recreation is encouraged and preferred.
  • TRAC will reduce capacity to 25 percent for individual workouts; no in-person programming will occur.
  • All non-instructional gatherings scheduled between now and Thanksgiving should be canceled or converted to a virtual format. This includes events previously approved by the CRRT through the Gathering Request Form.
  • Small-group outdoor campus tours conducted through the Office of Admission may continue. 
Our priority is to safely finish this semester as we intended, with in-person courses through Nov. 25. If our university sees additional spikes in daily positivity rates, the CRRT will quickly conduct contact tracing and weigh the need for an additional pause against the situational factors at hand. Please continue to strictly adhere to our health and safety guidelines; they DO work. 

I will host a campus Zoom briefing with members of the CRRT at 4 p.m. today to address questions. Thank you again for your patience, flexibility and resilience. We will continue to tackle this challenging time, together. 

United in Safety, 

Karen Karen M. Whitney, PhD 
Interim Chancellor University of Illinois Springfield 

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Tuesday, November 10, 2020

UIS announces two-day “pause” in on-campus classes and activities due to COVID-19

The following message was sent to UIS students, faculty and staff on Nov. 10, 2020.

Dear UIS Students, Faculty and Staff:

I share with you the unfortunate news that we had 15 individuals test positive for COVID-19 yesterday, resulting in a 3.15% daily positivity rate. Out of an abundance of caution, the COVID-19 Rapid Response Team is issuing a two-day pause in campus activity to allow the UIS Testing Team to conduct contact tracing, notify and quarantine affected individuals, and assess the full situation.

Effectively immediately through at least Wednesday, Nov. 11, the following mitigations are in effect:

  • In-person classes currently in session should adjourn as soon as reasonably practical. All classes (daytime and evening) must pivot to remote-only delivery for the remainder of the day and tomorrow (Nov. 11).
  • All in-person gatherings, meetings and athletic practices/training must be postponed or canceled.
  • Food Service will transition to grab-n-go only and close at 6 p.m. today and tomorrow. The Student Union will be open only for individuals to purchase meals in the Food Studio.
  • TRAC will be closed.
  • Brookens Library will be closed.
  • Non-essential personnel should talk to their supervisors about working from home, if possible. Employees (including student workers) should first consult with their supervisor to determine if they need to work on site. 
  • Tomorrow’s emergency notification test is postponed.
  • Masks should be worn in all indoor spaces unless you are alone; this includes residential spaces.

The CRRT is investigating the potential sources of yesterday’s test results and will make its recommendations for the full length of this “pause” as more information is known. Additional information will be shared as it is known.

Please continue to comply with our weekly testing requirement if you are working or living on campus; however, do NOT visit the testing site if you are experiencing symptoms, have a known exposure or have been directed to isolate/quarantine. The testing site will remain open during regular hours (8:30 a.m. to 8 p.m.).

This decision was not taken lightly. While we hope this pause is very temporary, we must be flexible in how we approach the coming days to allow the CRRT to make the best decisions possible to prioritize health and safety at UIS.

A decision regarding Thursday’s approach to operations will be announced by late Wednesday afternoon. A Zoom briefing will take place at 4 p.m. tomorrow (Nov. 11) to share the most current information and to address campus questions; watch for Zoom information via email with login instructions. The CRRT will provide daily updates at the end of each day to keep the campus informed.

I cannot stress enough how important it is that we continue to consistently wear masks, keep our distance from others, avoid unnecessary gatherings and practice good hand hygiene.

United in Safety,

Karen M. Whitney, Ph.D.
Interim Chancellor
University of Illinois Springfield

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Wednesday, November 04, 2020

UIS announces Spring 2021 schedule update due to COVID-19

The following update to the University of Illinois Springfield Spring Semester 2021 schedule, in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, was emailed to the UIS community on Nov. 4, 2020.

UIS Community: 

On Friday, Chancellor Whitney approved recommendations for the Spring 2021 semester from the Campus Senate Executive Committee. These recommendations include: 
  • Conducting all classes remotely during the first two weeks of the semester (January 19-29). 
  • Adapting the five days of Spring Recess to distribute them across multiple weeks of the semester, resulting in the following five non-instructional days:
    • Tuesday, March 2 and Wednesday, March 3
    • Monday, April 26
    • Thursday, May 6 and Friday, May 7 (Reading Days) 
Non-instructional days are defined as days when no classes are held either in person or remotely, and no examinations or assignments of any kind (papers, projects, quizzes, etc.) are due. This includes the two Reading Days at the end of the semester, meaning that final projects, papers or exams cannot be due on Reading Days. 

These recommendations seek to prioritize the health and safety of the campus and surrounding communities to the greatest extent possible, by limiting opportunities for off-campus travel while providing non-instructional days that correspond with peak periods of student demands for counseling and stress release. 

Thank you to the many individuals who contributed to the extensive conversations surrounding the Spring 2021 semester. 

Dennis Dennis R. Papini 
Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs and Provost 
University of Illinois at Springfield