UPDATED 7:20 a.m. | Illinois State University is sending students home until further notice because of the coronavirus.
In a letter to the university, President Larry Dietz said spring break for students will extend another week. It was scheduled to end Sunday. Faculty and staff will work next week, Dietz said, to transition to remote learning. Distance learning will take place at least through April 12.
Students should stay home, and those living in University Housing should leave for their permanent residences. Those who have difficulty accomplishing the move will be handled on a case-by-case basis, Dietz wrote.
“I understand that these actions will create serious challenges for students, faculty, staff members, and the greater community that utilizes Illinois State. But this pandemic has created unprecedented circumstances making these actions prudent and necessary,” said Dietz.
The University Lab schools will mirror the rest of ISU, according to Dietz.
“I have often said that one of the hallmarks of Illinois State is our shared ability to adhere to the University’s core values. As we work together to persevere through this unprecedented event, I ask you to put our values into action—particularly those of individualized attention, respect, integrity, and collaboration,” said Dietz.
Dietz said Illinois State is attempting to contain or limit any spread of the coronavirus during the pandemic by recommending following the CDC's social distancing guidelines, which include not being within 6 feet of someone for longer than 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, Illinois Wesleyan University and Heartland Community College said Wednesday they are still evaluating their options for after spring break.
The University of Illinois, Southern Illinois, DePaul, and Northwestern have also decided to suspend in-person classes due to coronavirus fears. None of the universities are reporting cases of COVID-19 on their campuses.
In an e-mail to about 90,000 students at its campuses in Chicago, Champaign and Springfield, University of Illinois officials said there were no confirmed cases of coronavirus among faculty or students. However, in-person instruction was being halted to help curb its spread.
Northwestern's spring break will be extended one week until April 4 and then classes will be conducted remotely for at least three weeks.
Here is Dietz's letter to the ISU campus.
Dear Students, Faculty, and Staff,
Due to the extraordinary circumstances surrounding the worldwide Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, I am announcing a series of actions that will significantly impact the Illinois State University community.
I made these difficult decisions with all current COVID-19 information available from the World Health Organization and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), as well as state and local health officials. I further consulted with the many Illinois State staff members who have formed a steering team and have worked literally around the clock to respond to the COVID-19 outbreak.
In all cases, the safety, health, and well-being of our University community is my top priority. These actions are also intended to limit, to the greatest extent possible, disruption to academic progress and financial hardship.
The actions include:
- Illinois State University is extending its spring break for students until Monday, March 23.
- All faculty, staff members, and graduate assistants will resume their normal work schedule the week of March 15. There will be no classes in any format that week to allow faculty, staff members, and graduate assistants involved in instruction to make the adjustment to alternative instruction.
- When instructional activities resume March 23, the University will transition from face-to-face teaching to online instruction and/or other instructional modalities through at least April 12. That timeframe may be subject to change depending on evolving circumstances.
- University Laboratory schools will mirror the University’s schedule of extending spring break. Tomorrow, parents, teachers, and staff members will receive a separate communication from Superintendent Dana Kinley.
- University-operated housing is currently closed. ISU students should remain at their permanent home residences until further notice, and students now living in residence halls, Cardinal Court Apartments, or University-owned apartments should return to their permanent home residences. Accommodations for those who cannot return home will be addressed on a case-by-case basis. Students will be informed regarding procedures for retrieving needed items from their University housing rooms.
- Effective March 16, all University-sponsored, non-essential domestic travel and all international travel is suspended until further notice. All Summer 2020 study abroad programs and international internships are cancelled.
- Throughout this pandemic, Illinois State is attempting to contain or limit any spread by recommending, whenever possible, following the CDC's social distancing guidelines, which include not being within six feet of someone for longer than 10 minutes.
- Effective March 23, events at Illinois State with 50 or more anticipated attendees are postponed through at least April 12. All gatherings should practice social distancing guidelines. More information will be provided regarding the status of specific events.
I understand that these actions will create serious challenges for students, faculty, staff members, and the greater community that utilizes Illinois State. But this pandemic has created unprecedented circumstances making these actions prudent and necessary.
For more information about COVID-19 and Illinois State’s response, please visit Illinoisstate.edu/coronavirus. The site is updated regularly and contains a Frequently Asked Questions section.
This message will undoubtedly raise a myriad of questions for which answers are not yet available. In the coming hours and days, many students, faculty, and staff members who are impacted by today’s decisions will be contacted through messages that respond to more specific issues. Still, it is impossible to address every “what if” question and “but what about” scenario at this time. In that regard, you may also address questions to firstname.lastname@example.org, and someone will respond in a timely manner. We ask for your patience as we attempt to address individual concerns and circumstances.
I have often said that one of the hallmarks of Illinois State is our shared ability to adhere to the University’s core values. As we work together to persevere through this unprecedented event, I ask you to put our values into action—particularly those of Individualized Attention, Respect, Integrity, and Collaboration.
As we continue to work through a healthy second half of the Spring 2020 semester, you have my best wishes and my gratitude.
Learn more at Coronavirus.IllinoisState.edu.