Officials of Illinois, Southern Illinois, DePaul, Northwestern and Illinois State universities announced Wednesday the suspension of in-person classes due to coronavirus concerns.
The schools joined colleges and universities nationwide that have announced a halt to face-to-face instruction for several weeks to stem the spread of coronavirus, now declared a pandemic by the World Health Organization. None of the Illinois universities are reporting cases of COVID-19 on their campuses.
For most people, the new coronavirus causes only mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia. The vast majority of people recover from the new virus.
The actions by the universities came as Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker announced the state's number of COVID-19 cases had increased to 25. Both houses of the Illinois General Assembly have canceled legislative sessions in Springfield next week because of the threat of the spread of the new coronavirus.
In an e-mail to about 90,000 students at its campuses in Chicago, Champaign and Springfield, University of Illinois officials said classes will be remote by the time students return from spring break, which runs Saturday through March 22. The campuses, including dining halls and residences, will remain open.
Illinois State President Larry Dietz extended spring break to March 23 and classes will be conducted online at least through April 12. The university is closing dormitories and other housing immediately and students have been advised to return home.
“I understand that these actions will create serious challenges for students, faculty, staff members, and the greater community that utilizes Illinois State,” Dietz wrote in a message to students and faculty. “But this pandemic has created unprecedented circumstances making these actions prudent and necessary.”
DePaul didn't cancel its winter quarter final exams, but students taking them this week and next will do so online instead of in classrooms. The school did postpone or cancel all university-sponsored events.
Northwestern’s spring break will be extended one week until April 4 and then classes will be conducted remotely for at least three weeks. University officials said they will reassess the situation by April 17 and decide then whether to continue remote teaching or to return to in-person instruction by April 27.
Southern Illinois’ Carbondale and Edwardsville campuses have extended spring break through March 22, after which classes will conducted online.