In-person instruction will take place in the fall at the University of Illinois, with COVID-19 safety precautions in place to protect students if the state has moved into Phase IV of its reopening schedule, officials said Thursday.
Students who don’t or can’t return to the central Illinois campus can take classes online, according to the university. Those who have signed up to live in university housing or freshmen required to live on campus will have to submit special documentation and receive approval to learn from a distance.
In announcing the plans, Chancellor Robert Jones said there will be as much in-person instruction and residential occupancy as restrictions of space, health and safety allows. Classes will be in spaces that allow adequate social distancing between students and professors. As an added precaution, face coverings will be required in all instructional spaces and classrooms.
In an online message, Jones and the university’s vice chancellor said resuming in-person instruction is also predicated upon the university's ability to provide adequate COVID-19 testing for faculty, staff and students, "coupled with a comprehensive plan that looks after the vulnerable and aims at mitigating and containing any outbreaks.”
Similar plans are being put into place for Illinois’ campuses in Chicago and Springfield, according to university officials.
Unlike some colleges and universities that are starting the fall semester early to get ahead of a possible resurgence of COVID-19 infections, classes at the universities will begin Aug. 24.
The Illinois Department of Public Health on Thursday announced 593 new known cases of COVID-19 and 55 additional deaths, bringing the total number of known cases to 134,778 and the Illinois death toll to 6,537.