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Dear LAS Faculty and Staff,

This message includes information that the campus asked the college to transmit. 

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 both deliver on the imperative to prioritize the health and safety of all members of our community and provide 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. And with the announcement of this decision, the rest of our summer must be focused on navigating the operational details of this approach at the college level. 

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

The campus has provided some more details related to the announcement, and we include them in the points below. There is also an initial list of FAQs for additional information here that will be updated throughout the summer. This separate massmail message about Fall 2020 instruction will be sent to all students later today.

Finally, LAS has created a set of four implementation teams to coordinate and focus the work of preparing our classes and units for the fall semester. These four teams will focus on advising and student support; instructional delivery; communication; and research and professional development. The teams will serve as connection points between the college, the academic units, and other campus entities. The teams will also work on implementing the recommendations for our college that were articulated in the LAS Fall 2020 Planning Group Report.

Fall 2020 Instruction Key Decisions

  • Fall 2020 will be an on-campus semester with as much in-person instruction and residential occupancy as restrictions regarding space, health, and safety allow.
  • Instructional faculty and graduate instructors who are unable to teach face-to-face for reasons related to the COVID-19 pandemic will have opportunities to teach and engage students in an online setting. Decisions about course mode of delivery will be determined by departments in consultation with campus schedulers, on the basis of classroom space constraints, faculty availability, and curricular priorities.
  • The plan will take place under the assumptions that we have adequate COVID-19 testing in place and we have moved into Phase IV of Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s Restore Illinois plan.
  • Health and safety will continue to be our top priority, and we will rely on every member of our campus community to behave in a way that protects the safety of the entire community.
  • A resurgence of COVID-19 at any time may cause a change to any of these plans.

Health and Safety

  • In order for this return to in-person instruction to succeed, everyone in our 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 practicing adequate hygiene such as frequent handwashing and using hand sanitizer.
  • The university is developing 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 from campus.
  • The campus is committed to cleaning and sanitizing all university spaces to minimize the ability of the virus to spread. The campus Facilities & Services team has developed rigorous sanitation procedures and processes.
  • The campus will continue to closely monitor conditions locally and regionally. We will adapt our plans as needed.

Class Delivery

  • We will prioritize in-person classes for courses that require hands-on, active, and/or peer-to-peer interactions, such as labs and performance-based courses. At the same time, we will accommodate any instructors who are unable to teach in-person due to COVID-19. In some cases, face-to-face instruction will be supplemented by online instruction.
  • Classes that meet in-person will be in spaces that allow adequate social distancing. As an added precaution, for the health and safety of all, face coverings will be required in all campus spaces, including classrooms.
  • Because of social distancing requirements, some classes that might otherwise be desirable to offer face-to-face will still need to move to an online setting, largely as a result of these space constraints.
  • Most large classes will be online or incorporate online components, in accordance with the Restore Illinois plan guidelines on gatherings.
  • We will have online course options available for students who are not able or who prefer not to participate in face-to-face or on-campus instruction.   

Logistics and Implementation

  • Departments and programs will continue to work with the Registrar’s Office to consider space restrictions and possibilities for instruction.
  • Departments and programs will determine, in consultation with the Provost, which classes will be online and which will be in-person. We encourage units 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 use for additional instructional capacity if possible.
  • Departments and programs 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 Registrar’s Office will provide guidance about those communications.
  • We encourage instructors to participate in the Online Teaching Academy, which will be next offered in July and again in August, to learn more about preparing to deliver their courses in alternative modalities.

We know this email does not include answers to every question. We will keep you updated as the campus and college finalize more details. The campus will continue to update us all throughout the summer.

Thank you for your patience. We wish to affirm that the safety of our faculty, staff, and students will always be our most important consideration. We will be in touch with more details in the coming days and weeks.

Feng Sheng Hu, Harry E. Preble Dean
Gene E. Robinson, Interim Dean Designate (effective July 1)