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ISU To Stick With Online-Only Classes Through End Of Spring Semester

Larry Dietz at news conference
Illinois State University
"The fast-moving circumstances of the pandemic have caused us to extend that timeline,” ISU President Larry Dietz said in an email Tuesday.";

Illinois State University students will not return to in-person classes for the rest of the spring semester, extending a shift to online learning prompted by the coronavirus, officials said Tuesday. 

The University of Illinois announced a similar change Monday.

“Though we had originally planned to do this for a period of several weeks (until at least April 12) and then reassess, the fast-moving circumstances of the pandemic have caused us to extend that timeline,” ISU President Larry Dietz said in an email Tuesday.

ISU will shift “to alternative delivery of classes” beginning Monday, March 23. This will now continue through the remainder of the spring semester and finals week. ISU is still “exploring options” for commencement ceremonies, which are scheduled for May 8-9.

The University of Illinois on Tuesday canceled commencement on all three U of I campuses and will consider alternatives such as rescheduling or doing virtual ceremonies.

Citing the CDC’s social distance guidance, Dietz said “students will need to leave their university-operated residence and return to their permanent residence for the remainder of the semester.”

Students who must remain on campus due to extenuating circumstances should contact University Housing Services. Decisions will be made on a case-by-case basis. Dietz said staff estimate there may 200 people in that category.

As of Tuesday, Dietz said ISU has recovered all but a handful of its original 114 study abroad students. Dietz said about a dozen remain in other countries, but they have indicated they will shelter in place.

ISU said it will adjust student accounts for “prorated housing and dining costs. More information on this process will be provided to students via their Illinois State email address by March 31.”

“We understand that this situation has a significant financial impact on our students and families, and we will make every effort to lessen that burden for our Redbird community,” Dietz said.

Dietz said simulations show the impact of the prorated refund will be about $15 million. 

"This is not about the money. That's a lot of money. But it's about doing the right thing and keeping people safe," said Dietz. 

He said the university will rely on reserves and may make other adjustments to fund the return of room and board fees. He also said ISU will cancel some bulk food orders.

The following Illinois State facilities will be closed until further notice: 

  • Student Fitness Center
  • Eckelmann-Taylor Speech & Hearing Clinic
  • Child Care Center
  • University Galleries, located in Uptown Normal
  • Bowling and Billiards Center

Learn more at IllinoisState.edu/Coronavirus.


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Ryan Denham is the digital content director for WGLT.
WGLT Senior Reporter Charlie Schlenker has spent more than three award-winning decades in radio. He lives in Normal with his family.