Spring Break Update
Written by Maritza Navar-Lopez on October 8, 2020
Photo courtesy to ISU Facebook page
NORMAL, Ill. – Illinois State University has decided not to cancel Spring break for the Spring 2020 semester.
In an email update sent out by the University, the decision was based on the findings of the spring break survey sent students, faculty and staff. The start of the spring semester will remain on Jan. 11.
The University stated the survey received multiple responses advocating to maintain mental health.
“While acknowledging mental health as a significant concern, the University also recognizes apprehension within the campus and larger community associated with spring break travel. Increased testing will be implemented after spring break for students who are on-campus for face-to-face and hybrid courses, working on campus, and living in on-campus housing,” as the email stated.
During the spring term, the majority of faculty and staff will continue to work and teach remotely, on-campus housing will remain at nearly 60% capacity, and the majority of courses will be taught in virtual environments. In addition, the University is working toward implementation of the University of Illinois Shield Illinois saliva-based COVID-19 test, which is currently pending FDA approval. This testing protocol will provide the ability to conduct high numbers of tests with quick results.
“As the University implements plans for the spring term, we also continue to monitor the impacts and risks of COVID-19. Changes to the spring academic calendar may be unavoidable at a later date if there are significant changes to public health guidance, spikes in COVID-19 cases on campus or the local community, or changes to the status of Region 2 as indicated in Restore Illinois that result in additional restrictions,” stated the email.
What about the staff and faculty on campus?
The University will continue its commitment to employee flexibility throughout the spring term. “As I have said previously, I continue to support as many faculty and staff as possible to teach and work remotely if their position allows,” said President Larry Dietz. “As we continue to face the impacts of the coronavirus pandemic, the health and safety of our students, faculty, and staff remain our top priority.”
Temporary work from home agreements should be submitted to Human Resources and can be extended through June 30, 2021. Detailed information will be provided to departments by Human Resources in the next week.
As far as winter commencement, the University will honor and recognize the accomplishments of winter graduates with an online ceremony featuring graduate slide shows and remarks by Dietz and other Illinois State officials.
These recorded ceremonies will be available for viewing on the commencement website beginning on Dec. 12. Students who applied to graduate in Dec. 2020 were emailed detailed information on Oct. 7.
The University is continuing to explore ways to host an in-person celebratory experience for all spring, summer, and winter 2020 graduates in spring 2021.
It was announced that the University was moving forward with Proctortrack, an automated exam proctoring tool. This software is a resource for instructors, but its use across campus is not mandatory for faculty. Proctoring software is just one way to maintain the academic integrity of the examination process.
“After three months of consultations with faculty and students, Proctortrack was chosen as the least intrusive approach to online proctoring,” said Associate Vice President for Technology Solutions and Chief Information Officer Charles Edamala. “While proctoring software has been used at ISU for many years, this is the first time that it has been standardized and made more easily available to those instructors who need to use it.”
As far as testing on campus, asymptomatic COVID-19 testing for students will continue at the temporary building in the parking lot between Watterson Towers and Stevenson Hall and the fire station.