Fall 2020 Academic Plans at UIS

Fall 2020 Academic Plan

July 9, 2020

This plan is the result of extensive planning efforts by the Academic Planning Team in collaboration with the UIS Campus Senate and Executive Committee and the leadership of UPI 4100/UIS United Faculty.  The plan is intended to provide faculty with the most up-to-date information on the fall semester to assist them in their preparations.  Although this plan reflects our current intentions for the coming semester, it is subject to change depending upon changes in the circumstances associated with the pandemic.  Should those circumstances change, there may be changes in the approach to the fall semester initiated by University leadership.  Please do not hesitate to submit follow-up questions you may have about the fall semester

The planning integrated into this report is taken from several sources, including Gov. Pritzker’s Restore Illinois, a five phase plan for addressing appropriate reactions to changes in the course of the pandemic, and the Illinois Board of Higher Education report on Safely Launching Academic Year 2020, which provides principles and guidance for resuming university operations this fall amid the COVID-19 pandemic.  The University of Illinois System Guidelines and the United in Safety: Return to the Prairie plans provide guidance for UIS as we approach the fall semester. In addition, the recommendations of the Center for Disease Control and the Illinois Department of Public Health have been incorporated into this plan.

Link to the Fall 2020 Academic Plan at UIS – Questions and Answers web page to submit questions, and to view questions and answers that have been posted.


1.0  Academics

Academics are at the heart of UIS’ mission and therefore the primary area of focus for students, faculty, and staff. UIS is committed to balancing the health and safety of the campus community with the need to provide the full range of academic opportunities that are the hallmark of the institution. The statements that follow reflect the planning efforts of the entire campus community and demonstrate the broad features of our plan for the Fall 2020 semester.

1.1.  Academic Calendar & Scheduling

1.1.1.  UIS has evaluated ways of altering our academic schedules to minimize risk of spread of COVID-19 on campus.  The Registrar will be issuing a revised Fall 2020 Academic Calendar to reflect the following changes:

  1. Courses will begin and end according to the dates posted on the existing academic calendar for Fall 2020.
  2. Fall Break will be canceled; classes will be held on Friday, Oct. 16.
  3. Tuesday, Nov. 3, has been identified as a state-wide voting holiday in Illinois; there will be no classes on that date.
  4. All classes will be offered remotely beginning on Wednesday, Nov. 25, and will continue via remote delivery through the end of the fall semester.

1.1.2  UIS is re-examining the scheduling of fall courses to ensure that instruction takes place in safe spaces, that crowding in hallways is minimized, and that an appropriate amount of in-person contact is provided through the use of blended courses or small in-person courses. A survey of faculty will be launched on July 10-17 in which faculty currently scheduled to teach on-ground will be able to indicate their preference for the mode of course delivery (on-ground, blended, remote) that best suits their assigned courses.

Definition and Description:

On-Ground: Sections meeting on-ground will meet face-to-face during scheduled class periods.

Blended – Online and Classroom: Sections making intensive use of the Internet. More than 25% of the class meetings must be held face-to-face.

Remote: Due to COVID-19, it may be necessary for some on-ground or blended sections to be taught remotely.  In those instances, students will be notified by the applicable department and will be provided with specifics regarding participation and course expectations.

Online: Sections delivered online over the Internet via the World Wide Web.  Face-to-face attendance can be required at a maximum of 25% of the class meetings (note: sections cannot be changed to/from online).

Faculty will be informed of the revised schedule and/or location changes during the month of July, 2020.

1.2  Instruction (On-Ground, Blended, & Remote)

1.2.1  Faculty will be supported in converting all material to remote access that can be taught effectively in this format. Active learning will be encouraged through the use of synchronous Zoom exercises and asynchronous online discussions. For skills that require face to face instruction, such as labs, modules will be developed to have such skills taught while maximizing safety. Faculty may request face to face sessions if that is their preferred delivery and this will be accommodated when possible based on spaces available and safety requirements. In such situations, remote access for students who cannot attend may be provided.

1.2.2  UIS will implement a process that permits faculty or staff who are at high risk due to CDC-identified risk factors to request appropriate adjustments, such as different/larger class or meeting spaces, equipment to enhance safety, adjusted teaching times, or other accommodations, such as remote teaching.

1.2.3  Class attendance is limited to avoid students convening in large groups for class (< 50 students, and in accordance with local guidance).

1.2.4  Appropriate facial coverings (covering both the nose and the mouth) are required in all classrooms. Each building in which classes are held will have a designated office where a disposable mask can be obtained.

Student Non-Compliance: Non-compliance with the required facial covering will result in the student being asked by the instructor to obtain a disposable mask from the designated office and then return to class.  In the extreme or unlikely event that someone refuses to leave the class immediately when instructed to do so, the entire class will be dismissed using appropriate physical distancing guidelines. The UIS Dean of Students will be informed and student disciplinary action will follow.

Faculty Non-Compliance: In the rare event that a faculty member refuses to comply with the required facial covering, the dean of the college will notify Labor Relations Specialist in Human Resources for disciplinary action.

Staff Non-Compliance:  In the unusual event that a staff member refuses to comply with the required facial covering, the direct supervisor will notify Human Relations for disciplinary action.

1.2.5  Enrichment programs (ECCE Speaker Series, Study Away, Model UN, etc.) hosted or co-hosted by the school may be postponed, cancelled, or restructured if necessary. Should enrichment programs continue, physical distancing, facial coverings, and adherence to other health and safety protocols must be followed by participants.

1.2.6  For support converting materials to meet accessibility requirements, faculty should contact Vance Martin (Campus Accessibility Specialist); for support regarding teaching and learning strategies faculty should contact Vickie Cook in COLRS or Layne Morsch in the Faculty Development Resource Office.  Nancy Barrett, Program Coordinator for Institutional Assessment & Accreditation, is the contact person if faculty wish to ensure that all courses achieve course learning outcomes, regardless of modality.

1.2.7  Courses such as labs and studios require additional considerations (see sections 1.5 and 1.6) and modifications for students will be made at the instructor or department level. In courses where remote teaching is not possible to maintain the student learning outcomes or required skill development, in-person class experiences will follow safety guidelines.

1.2.8  Faculty who teach labs and studio courses, working with ITS (Kara McElwrath) and COLRS (Vickie Cook), have assessed the technology resources that can enable high-quality teaching and learning. This should result in a standard suite of high-quality tools made available for classrooms, labs, studios, and practicum areas.

1.2.9  Faculty should assess what program adjustments should be made to ensure equitable student experiences. This may include the development of specialized spaces that allow faculty to teach in-person and online simultaneously and or special equipment to enable faculty to teach remotely.

1.2.10  UIS will appropriately orient students to all online services and resources during the fall semester regardless of online, remote, in-person, or blended education plans for the fall.  Modules to orient students to expected safety practices and to learning in a remote environment will be available.

1.2.11  UIS will continue to provide academic support services with remote access to academic advisors, faculty office hours, and tutoring to minimize face-to-face contact.

1.2.12  UIS has worked with accrediting, licensing, and certifying agencies when possible to obtain approval to deliver courses remotely and adheres to accreditation standards for online learning.

1.3  Grading & Assessment

1.3.1  UIS has implemented a consistent grading policy that aligns grading across online, remote, blended, and in-person instruction.

1.3.2  UIS has adopted assessment of student work practices for remote courses that are consistent with the institution’s approach toward in-person coursework.

1.3.3  UIS recognizes that students and faculty may be required to quarantine (having been exposed to someone who tests positive for COVID-19) or to remain in isolation (the individual has tested positive for COVID-19).  Faculty in quarantine should continue to teach using remote teaching options, those who become ill and must take sick time or leave should contact their Chair and/or Dean’s office, and Human Resources.  Replacements for faculty who become ill will be identified by departments.

1.3.4  UIS has a course evaluation process that gives students the opportunity to provide feedback on the course whether the course is offered in-person, remotely, on-line, or in a blended format.  For the fall semester, course evaluations will be administered on-line.

1.3.5  UIS provides access to policies, procedures, and software programs that minimize cheating and adheres to the UIS Academic Integrity policy regardless of delivery modality.

1.4  Instructional Spaces

1.4.1  UIS has assessed each instructional space in accordance with physical distancing recommendations and has set occupancy limits for each instructional space.  This includes traditionally non-instructional space that may be used for instruction during fall semester.

1.4.2  The institution has assessed instructional space ingress and egress in accordance with physical distancing recommendations to determine impact on the time needed for student movement between classrooms and buildings. At this time, no changes in class times are recommended.

1.4.3  Faculty should be aware of, adhere to, and instruct others to adhere to physical distancing requirements while entering, leaving, and teaching in the classroom.

1.4.4  UIS has assessed and is compliant with transit spaces in academic and other buildings and implemented physical distancing measures where needed.

1.4.5  UIS has explored methods for supplementing physical distancing within classrooms and instructional environments by using masks, hygiene, and clear barriers.

1.4.6  Signage and video training modules have been developed and will be implemented to inform faculty, staff, and students on physical distancing and use of masks in classroom settings.

1.4.7  Depending upon the weather and environmental conditions within the building, Facilities and Services will adjust air ventilation to maximize fresh intake and air exchanges throughout all facilities.  Facilities and Services will continue to maintain and change HVAC system air filters on a routine basis.

1.4.8  UIS has created a protocol that is posted in each classroom for disinfecting each instructional space.

1.4.9  Students, faculty, and staff will have access to disinfecting products in each classroom along with signage promoting adherence to a health and safety protocol.

1.5  Specialized Spaces (Labs, Studios, Performance Spaces)

1.5.1  UIS has adopted methods to transition specialty coursework, enrichment programs and other highly-interactive experiences for virtual experiences whenever possible while preserving the quality of learning.

1.5.2  UIS has set occupancy limits in each specialized instructional space based on physical distancing measures as outlined through the Restore Illinois plan.

1.5.3  UIS has made available appropriate PPE in specialized spaces.

1.5.4  UIS has created a protocol to disinfect specialized spaces after use.

1.6  Field Based Learning (Internships, Practicums, etc)

1.6.1  UIS has adopted methods for specialty field based coursework, enrichment programs and other highly-interactive experiences to virtual experiences while preserving the quality of learning where possible.

1.6.2  Programs that require field based experiences for degree completion, licensing, or certification are following health and safety guidelines of accrediting bodies and hosting agencies.

1.7  Research

Research activities play a vital role in an academic’s career and research laboratories can be complex systems that represent a significant financial investment.  Institutions should balance the feasibility of safe research activities with the impact of health safety concerns associated with the pandemic.

1.7.1 UIS requires physical distancing, masks, and cleaning regimens for laboratories, studios, and other facilities in which scholarly activities are performed.

1.7.2 UIS has established a set of critical maintenance procedures  necessary to maintain safety or long-term viability of laboratories during a full or partial campus shutdown (e.g. care of animals, plants, cultures, bacteria, and other living organism; preservation of materials that require special storage such as radioactive elements; and maintenance of critical equipment that requires regular monitoring such as deep freezers, electron microscopes, or incubators) and has identified the staff needed to maintain these levels of operations.

1.7.3  The UIS Research Board will establish research resumption phases that detail criteria for what research can resume under Restore Illinois (Phase 4 or Phase 5).

1.7.4  The UIS Research Board will develop policies on conducting human-subject research and determine under what conditions it can resume under Restore Illinois (Phase 4 or Phase 5).

1.7.5  The UIS Research Board has developed a review process on research-related travel (e.g. fieldwork) and determined under what phase of Restore Illinois it may resume.

1.8  Library Services

Under normal circumstances, the Library acts as a hub on campus where a cross- section of faculty, students, and staff come together to share physical resources (computers, books, lendable equipment, etc.) and to work and learn together in close proximity. The health and safety protocols and occupancy requirements for each phase of Restore Illinois will affect what services may be offered onsite. UIS will establish and communicate clear goals and priorities for each phase (Phase 4 and Phase 5) that will guide the Library in which onsite services to prioritize.

1.8.1  The Library has established staff teams on rotating schedules to allow for better distancing and has developed service scenarios for various stages of building occupancy (e.g., limited staff only; limited staff and by-appointment patrons; moderate staff and limited patrons, etc.)

1.8.2  The Library has determined which services may be successfully provided online and remotely (course reserves, reference services, research consultations, instructional sessions) and has equipped and trained staff in the necessary tools and technologies.

1.8.3  The Library has worked with publishers to provide electronic versions of resources where possible, taking advantage of emergency provisions being made available by some publishers.

1.8.4  UIS has analyzed the cost of purchasing online versions of materials needed for teaching and research or the cost of shipping materials directly to remote faculty and students.

1.8.5  While buildings are closed or have limited access, logistics and safety procedures are established to enable remote ordering of materials and materials return. Grab-and-go service has been established to allow patrons to pick up materials without staff contact.

1.8.6  Safety procedures are established for returned materials such as quarantining materials and/or cleaning procedures.

1.8.7  As progressive phases of Restore Illinois allow a limited number of patrons to return to the Library, scenarios will be developed for allowing access through reservations for research consultations as well as computer station use, and also by setting capacity limits for building usage.

1.8.8  Traffic flows, physical distancing, and materials handling/cleaning/quarantining protocols are written and communicated to staff and patrons.

1.8.9  Service points have been evaluated for safety, and solutions such as sneeze guards have been implemented.  Self-checkout stations and open hold shelf services are being evaluated for implementation to limit patron and staff interactions for basic functions.

2.0  Faculty & Shared Governance

2.1  Protection of Faculty

2.1.1  UIS will implement a process that permits faculty or staff who are at higher risk due to age, health status, etc. to request that they be permitted to work/teach remotely during Fall 2020.  Higher risk may include sharing a residential living space or having caregiving duties for at-risk family members.

2.1.2  The academic schedule takes into account instructional space ingress and egress to maintain physical distancing for faculty.

2.1.3  Campus meetings should be scheduled to be conducted remotely.

2.1.4  UIS will encourage the use of virtual office hours for faculty to minimize face-to-face contact with students.

2.1.5  UIS has made adjustments to facilities to allow faculty to hold 1:1 meetings with students in outside areas or in common spaces, empty classrooms, or conference rooms to allow for adequate physical distancing.

2.1.6  Faculty and staff offices and work areas are designed to allow safe physical distancing. If office/workspace density does not have safe social distancing, the department will identify an alternative meeting space that can be reserved for meetings with students.

2.1.7  The institution has implemented isolation/quarantine policies for faculty. Quarantine (14 days) is required when an individual is exposed to someone who has tested positive for COVID-19.  Isolation (variable duration, but no less than 2 weeks) is required for any member of the community who tests positive for COVID-19.

2.2  Faculty Professional Development

2.2.1  UIS has provided ongoing professional development for remote instruction to faculty through COLRS with the support of summer stipends.

2.2.2  UIS will provide faculty training for online office hours.

2.3  Promotion & Tenure

2.3.1  UIS has developed and implemented the opportunity for faculty affected by the pandemic to choose whether they wish to extend their promotion and tenure clocks.

2.3.2  UIS has collaborated with UPI 4100/UIS United Faculty and the Senate Executive Committee to conduct all personnel evaluations remotely for the 2020-2021 academic year.

2.3.3  UIS has collaborated with UPI 4100/UIS United Faculty and the Senate Executive Committee to develop procedures for assisting faculty with upload of their tenure, reappointment, and promotion portfolios.

2.3.4  UIS has described how faculty should indicate professional activities that were canceled or postponed in their list of accomplishments for annual, merit, and progress toward promotion evaluations.

2.4  Faculty Governance

2.4.1  UIS has included faculty and shared governance bodies in Fall 2020 Academic planning.

2.4.2  UIS Campus Senate will continue to meet remotely for the Fall 2020 semester.

2.4.3  UIS has taken additional measures to gather and monitor faculty feedback regarding health and safety, online training and instruction, and student success.

2.4.4  UIS has adapted the Quality Matters rubric as a quality assurance method for improving online and remote education course delivery, including technology, faculty support, student outcomes, and student needs.

2.4.5  UIS will collaborate with shared faculty governance bodies to implement and conduct an active review, as well as a post-term review, of what worked well and did not work well through the Fall 2020 semester.