Modified On-Campus Instruction for Fall 2020 Semester

Jun 18, 2020

Dear Colleagues,

Chancellor Jones and Provost Cangellaris have announced that our Fall 2020 semester will be delivered through a blend of in-person and remote instruction. This approach allows the university to deliver on both its obligation to prioritize the health and safety of all members of our community with the enhanced educational opportunities that come from face-to-face engagement. 

Much of the design and delivery of these blended offerings will be determined at the college and department levels. Following the announcement of this decision, the rest of our summer must be focused on navigating the operational details of this approach. 

We know there are many questions. And just as it has been since the pandemic reached us, answers may not come as quickly as we would like.

The campus administration has provided more details related to the announcement in the points below. There is also an initial list of FAQs for additional information here that will be updated throughout the summer.

Fall 2020 Instruction Key Decisions

  • Fall 2020 will be an on-campus semester with as much in-person instruction and residential occupancy as restrictions of space, health, and safety allow.
  • The plan will take place under the assumptions that the Urbana campus has adequate COVID-19 testing in place, and the region has moved into Phase IV of Governor JB Pritzker’s Restore Illinois plan.
  • Health and safety will continue to be the top priority, and the university will rely on every member of our campus community to behave in a way that protects the safety of the entire community.
  • Faculty and graduate students who are unable to return to campus for reasons related to the COVID-19 pandemic will still have opportunities to teach and engage students remotely.
  • A resurgence of COVID-19 at any time may cause a change to any of these plans.

Health and Safety

  • For this return to in-person instruction to succeed, everyone in the university community will be required to follow guidelines by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Champaign-Urbana Public Health District (CUPHD). This includes practicing social distancing, wearing face coverings (for those who are able) when you cannot practice social distancing, checking symptoms, and adequate hygiene, such as frequent handwashing and using hand sanitizer.
  • The university is developing the capacity to provide all students, faculty, and staff free, regular testing administered by the university. You will receive more details on this in a separate message.
  • The university is committed to cleaning and sanitizing all university spaces to minimize the ability of the virus to spread through rigorous sanitation procedures and processes.
  • Campus leadership will continue to closely monitor conditions locally and regionally and will adapt plans as needed.

Class Delivery

  • In-person classes will be maximized as much as possible, especially for courses that require hands-on, active, and peer-to-peer interactions such as labs, performance-based courses, and discussions. Face-to-face instruction will be supplemented by online instruction.
  • Classes that meet in-person will be in spaces that allow adequate social distancing between students and faculty. As an added precaution, face coverings will be required in all campus spaces, including classrooms, for the health and safety of all.
  • Most large classes are likely to be online or incorporate online components, in accordance with the Restore Illinois plan guidelines on gatherings.
  • Online options for students will be available for those who are not able or who prefer not to participate in face-to-face or on-campus instruction.

Logistics and Implementation

  • Units and programs will continue to work with the Office of the Registrar to consider space restrictions and possibilities for instruction.
  • Units will determine, in consultation with the Office of the Provost, which classes will be online and which will be in-person. Colleges are encouraged to be creative with space, time, and modality to create opportunities for students to have in-person class time.
  • All university space (including that not typically used for academics) should be prioritized for additional instructional capacity if possible.
  • Colleges should plan to communicate with students about modifications to their fall courses and schedules through their academic advisors and already established student support networks. The Office of the Provost and the Office of the Registrar will provide guidance about those communications.
  • Instructors should consider the Online Teaching Academy, which will be offered in July and again in August, to learn more about preparing to deliver their courses in alternative modalities.

This information does not answer every question. I promise to keep you updated as more details are finalized. Please see this list of FAQs for additional information.

Thank you for your patience and for doing your part to keep everyone in our university community safe.

Dr. Mohamed Attalla, MBA, P.Eng.
Executive Director, Facilities & Services