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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