Message from the Chancellor: UIS COVID-19 Update March 12th, 2020

From Chancellor Koch, Dr. Papini and Dr. Ford:

3.12.20

Dear UIS Community —

 

By now we hope you have read yesterday’s communication from President Killeen and the three University of Illinois chancellors regarding the steps the UI System is taking to protect our students, faculty and staff amid the increasing COVID-19 threat to public health. Safety is our top priority, and we are taking this rapidly evolving situation seriously.

We realize our UIS community has many questions following yesterday’s announcement. We intend to communicate with you often to address these questions, and this morning we want to share with you some pertinent information.

Most importantly, after consultation with the COVID-19 Response Team, we have decided to extend Spring Break for students by one week (March 16-22) to enable faculty and staff to effectively migrate courses to alternative delivery methods. Courses will resume in their new formats beginning March 23.

Students: During this extra week of Spring Break, the campus will remain open, including residence halls and dining services. While we encourage you to stay home as much as possible to limit possible exposure, you may return to campus if you wish to do so. Please check your UIS email for communication from faculty regarding plans to complete your courses through remote teaching or other formats. Student employees have the option of returning to their on-campus jobs as scheduled, but we ask you to communicate with your supervisor if you do not intend to follow your planned work schedule. Students who need technology assistance should contact the Helpdesk at 217-206-6000 or email techsupport@uis.edu.

Faculty and staff: The UIS campus remains open, and all faculty and staff are expected to work as usual. Ensuring the non-interruption of instruction is a top priority for UIS and the UI System. An Instructional Continuity Planning Subcommittee is already working to help faculty transition to successfully deliver courses using remote technology. The Teaching Remotely at UIS webpage provides resources to assist faculty with remote course delivery. Every course at UIS has a Blackboard course site. Through Blackboard, you can send emails and post announcements to your students. The Teaching Remotely at UIS webpage lists many other technologies at UIS that can be used to remotely deliver content, conduct instructional activities and interact with students. ITS will be providing workshops next week to help faculty with technology. COLRS is available to help in any way at 217-206-7317 or at colrs@uis.edu.

Travel: All university-sponsored international travel for students, faculty and staff is prohibited, along with nonessential domestic travel, until further notice. Additionally, personal international travel is strongly discouraged, especially for those with underlying health conditions. We also urge anyone considering personal domestic travel to use caution and exercise good judgment.

Events and meetings: UIS is suspending university-sponsored, in-person events and meetings with 50 people or more using campus facilities effective March 13. If appropriate, organizers should seek alternative ways of conducting events and meetings, such as livestreams or conference calls. University-sponsored events include those planned by registered student organizations. UIS also strongly recommends reconsidering the need for any in-person meetings at this time, regardless of attendance size, and if necessary, to practice appropriate social distancing and other preventative measures. For updates on Performing Arts Center events, visit uispac.com.

 

Moving forward…

Many people across our university have been planning for weeks to be prepared for this situation. The UIS COVID-19 Response Team and many others have worked in concert with local, state and national public health officials and taken precautionary steps, including sanitation activities across campus and contingency planning to ensure we can effectively meet the needs of students, faculty and staff.

The UIS Campus Relations team will be updating our COVID-19 website, uis.edu/covid-19, frequently. We highly encourage all faculty, staff and students to monitor this website for updates as well as your university email for announcements. An email address, covid19@uis.edu, has been established for anyone who wants to submit a question about the UIS response to COVID-19.

There have been no reported cases of COVID-19 in Sangamon County or within the UIS community to-date, but we strongly encourage all members of the university to follow personal health practices recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, including proper handwashing and avoiding large groups.

These are challenging times, which we understand can cause stress and confusion. Please be assured that everything being done is in the interest of, first and foremost, protecting the health and safety of our university community. UIS Health Services and the Counseling Center remain available to assist students who have concerns or questions.

Thank you for your cooperation and understanding as we navigate this extraordinary situation.

 

Susan Koch, Chancellor
Dennis Papini, Provost
Clarice Ford, Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs