One of the hottest topics of the last month has been how schools will adapt due to the Coronavirus pandemic. From elementary school to college, every grade of students will face a new type of learning. With the most popular adaption being e-learning, older students will be staying home more than ever. Here’s how U of I is making it safe for students and staff to learn and teach.
Starting with the basics, U of I is cracking down on COVID safety guidelines. Every student and staff member is required to take 2 COVID tests a week to ensure the spreading of the disease is minimal, including students whose classes are fully online.
Since most students will be on campus as little as possible, U of I says it’s committed to their students’ education, and that “long before the disruptions of COVID-19, Illinois was a pioneer in the field of online education. […] We are committed to ensuring that every student, in every mode of delivery, has the transformational educational experience that we promise here at Illinois. The Fall 2020 semester will see many students taking some or all of their classes online. Even portions of in-person courses may contain online components. Therefore, all students should familiarize themselves with the remote components and services used in their courses. “
Students will also be checked for proper face coverings before in-person classes as well as enforce social distancing guidelines within classrooms. U of I also suggests that you download the Safer Illinois App which provides “Personalized on-campus testing reminder, personalized & private on-campus testing results and on-campus testing site locations & hours”.
Students will also not be permitted back on campus after Fall break, leaving instructors to change their courses to accommodate a shorter schedule than a typical year.
Whether you are staying on campus or living in an apartment this year, the rules of how to live in these spaces have also been greatly affected by COVID. Firstly, all students are required to wear a face-covering at all times when they step out of their room, except for while in the shower, and eating in cafeterias.
Another big change is that guests are no longer allowed in the dorms on campus. Students can freely visit other floors of their building but cannot travel from dorm to dorm. Signs will also be posted in common areas, warning students of limitations of the number of people allowed within a space.
You can also be asked to leave or to quarantine according to the university rules “At any time, the university may request or require a resident to leave University Housing when that resident’s continued presence in the housing community poses a health or safety risk to community members.” The halls and dining areas will also be cleaned often to stop the spread. At MHM Properties resident’s safety is our highest priority, click here to view or updated safety protocols, or to schedule a tour or virtual tour of a property.
Each course will be modified accordingly, depending on its requirements and subject. All students had the decision to remain off-campus if they so choose, but for those who will be returning to campus, their normal classroom rules will have changed. Instructors will now be enforcing face coverings and prohibiting eating and drinking in the classroom. U of I is also recommending that “Because instructors will not know the reason for an absence, […] all verified absences be excused.”
Instructors are not required to offer an online version of their class and can rely completely on online classes, but most will be offering either entirely online or a hybrid class with both online and in-person course work. The options for course set up are as follows:
They will also be working with their classrooms to decide if they can meet less often, more online, or possibly outside depending on the day and weather.
The University is also recommending that classrooms no longer utilize guest speakers because “bringing in guests poses a risk of additional exposure to the guests and the students. If it is absolutely necessary to bring in a guest, you will need to work with your unit to receive permission.”
Students and Instructors are both urged to wipe down their are upon entering the classroom, as well as the rooms being cleaned thoroughly each night.
For remote instructors, the University is providing information on the best Zoom practices, time coordination, and what access international students might have here.
Last but not least, the very concerned parents. There is a lot of information to process for your students, especially living off-campus. If you’re a concerned parent, you can sign up for parent and family communications to receive texts and emails about the current state of the University and its rules.
Unfortunately for parents who are frequent visitors, the university is suggesting that all parents and friends from out of town refrain from visiting for at least the first semester. The University also encourages parents to follow the Chancellors weekly update, and if you want to see an archive of the previous ones you can find them here.
U of I is committed to the ultimate safety of students and staff and will be taking this year in stride and making adjustments as needed to guide everyone in the right direction of a successful year. No one is expecting it to go perfectly smoothly, but students and staff alike are eager to continue learning and teaching. For more information please visit https://covid19.illinois.edu/.
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