On Wednesday, Illinois State University deans, directors, and department heads received a Redbird Return to Work Toolkit, a detailed 12-page document from Facilities Management designed to assist the summer 2020 return to campus for most Illinois State employees. 

Return to Work covers a variety of topics, including social distancing, the wearing of face coverings, enhanced cleaning, hygiene, and many other safety-related aspects.  Not only is Return to Work an excellent practical guide, it demonstrates the highlevel of University effort and support in combating this pandemic.  

Soon, the entire Illinois State community will receive another document—Redbirds Return, an overview of our phased approach that acts as a university companion to Governor Pritzker’s Restore Illinois initiative, a program that has been federally lauded as the only one in the country meeting all federal government criteria for safely reopening business.  

Though facing unprecedented illness and sadness, Illinois has coped with this pandemic as successfully as possible by following science and the most competent and up-to-date advice from worldwide and national health organizations. Moving forward, Illinois State will also successfully follow the science and our nation’s best practices for maintaining a healthy university environment.   

As the University gradually enters the Summer Recovery phase, Revitalization phase, and Illinois Restored phase, all our current and future documentation will place health, safety, security, and well-being as the University’s top priority.   

For faculty and staff members, that may include greater social distancing between faculty and students, smaller class sizes in larger classrooms, a hybrid learning environment, including online and in-person learning options, and some exclusively online courses. Also under consideration is moving to online only instruction after Thanksgiving whenever possible. Further measures will include face coverings, new and enhanced cleaning techniques, COVID-19 testing, and even closer relationships with local health care providers and authorities. 

Meanwhile, as ISU delivers its traditional top-quality academic and cocurricular programs, student health, safety, and well-being will remain at the forefront of the experience.   

In that regard, basic University age metrics greatly improve our health position.  Science—not inattentiontells us that the majority of students who contract coronavirus suffer few if any symptoms, are less vulnerable to the virus, recover more quickly, and experience fewer serious health impacts.  

Our students also will practice greater social distancing in residence halls, dining centers, and libraries, and on-campus social gatherings will be strictly limited in size and scope.  

We have been told by many, many students, faculty, and staff members that they look forward to returning to campus for the summer and the 2020 fall semester.  While the very last thing we want is for anyone to experience illness, or the illness of a colleague, friend, or loved onewe also want to offer the ISU experience to the greatest and healthiest extent possible for this academic year. 

We urge all of you to read as much as you can about the University’s return to work and fall plans, and frequently access Illinois State’s COVID-19 webpage located at the top right corner of the University’s homepage. 

Please accept my best wishes for a wonderful summer 2020.