coronavirus illinois

Illinois, Indiana Colleges Face Difficult Decisions as Fall School Year Begins

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While some college campuses begin reopening during the coronavirus pandemic, others are reversing course as cases of the virus increase at several schools.

Already, Northwestern University moved freshman and sophomore students to remote learning, a decision that was made just nine days before the fall school year was set to begin.

The announcement made for mixed reaction from students, with the university's president apologizing in an online presentation but saying the call was necessary to ease the burden on the school, the Chicago Tribune reports. Tuition is reportedly being lowered in response to concerns from students and families.

Northwestern students in their third and fourth years or in graduate and professional programs will be allowed on campus and can take classes remotely, in person or a mix of both.

The date for those students living in on-campus housing to move in is delayed until Sept. 12.

Meanwhile, in Indiana, cases surrounding state colleges have seen a sharp increase, particularly for Notre Dame and Ball State, leading health officials in Illinois to warn of travel to such locations.

"You'll see up north there in Indiana, where South Bend is, that's where Notre Dame is and adding hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of cases in a single week has really turned that county to a high-risk county," Chicago Department of Public Health Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady said.

Still, Notre Dame is set to begin in-person classes in stages, beginning Wednesday.

In the past week, outbreaks were reported at the University of Iowa and Illinois State University which both have had more than 500 positive test results since their fall semesters started in August. 

Northern Illinois University is set to begin surveillance testing, which will test about 125 students each day out of a pool of 3,000, according to the Daily Chronicle.

Universities around the country have struggled with plans for the fall semester as the coronavirus continues to spread.

Over the weekend, Dr. Deborah Birx, the White House coronavirus task force coordinator, advised college students not to return home if they test positive for the coronavirus.

“Please isolate at your college,” Birx said at a news conference. “Do not return home if you’re positive and spread the virus to your family, your aunts, your uncles, your grandparents.”

NBC Chicago/Associated Press
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