Fall semester updates for students (7/29/20)
As the beginning of the fall semester nears, the following updates are provided as of July 29, 2020, to assist you and your families with what to expect this fall while keeping the health, safety, and well-being of the campus community at the forefront of decision-making.
As Illinois State University faculty and staff continue to study the many impacts of the coronavirus pandemic, additional updates will be provided periodically throughout the fall term. Although the fall term is just around the corner, planning continues and we are working diligently to implement the Redbirds Return plan. As stated by President Dietz in a July 9 email, “It will take all of us – students, faculty, staff and visitors – sharing in the responsibility of following all health and safety guidance such as wearing face coverings, practicing physical distancing, avoiding large gatherings, practicing frequent handwashing and staying at home when sick to minimize the impacts of COVID-19 for the entire campus and larger community.”
Beginning this week, a series of videos will be shared on social media that provide a sneak peek of what campus life will be like this fall. The videos cover topics such as classrooms, housing, mental health, social gatherings, dining, the Student Fitness Center, etc.
Face Coverings and Physical Distancing
You play an essential role in keeping our community healthy by properly wearing a face covering in all common indoor spaces including classrooms, maintaining 6 feet of physical distancing, and regularly using healthy hygiene habits. It is important to remember that although you may not be in a high-risk category for contracting COVID-19, wearing a face covering is not only about protecting yourself. This simple act is one very important way you can do your part to protect those around you who may be more vulnerable to the virus. We expect you to do your part to protect yourself, protect those around you and encourage your friends to do the same. Remember, your friend’s face covering protects you and yours protects them.
- The University will provide you with a washable, cloth face covering. You should bring additional face coverings with you to campus. Face coverings should not be used more than one day at a time before being washed or replaced. Face coverings will be distributed from 12-3 p.m., August 8 – 16 at the Schroeder Plaza. You can learn more by visiting the Redbird Life portal.
- Learn more about the University’s Face Coverings and Physical Distancing Requirements Procedure.
You have an opportunity to publicly demonstrate your commitment to upholding a healthy, safe campus community by taking the Redbird Pledge. This voluntary pledge for students, faculty, and staff emphasizes a shared commitment in helping to maintain a safe and healthy campus. Share your pledge commitment on social media using #RedbirdsTogether.
Testing, Close Contacts, and Symptom Checking
All students are strongly encouraged, but not required, to be tested for COVID-19 before arriving on campus. It is recommended that you share your test results with Student Health Services by uploading them to the secure health portal. Please keep in mind that most testing centers can take 5-7 days to provide test results. If you test positive, do not return to campus until you have completed the recommended isolation period and have been without a fever and feeling well (without fever-reducing medication) for at least 24 hours.
- If you are deemed a close contact of someone who has tested positive, you should not come to campus. You should seek a COVID-19 test and self-quarantine as instructed by the public health department or a medical professional.
- You are strongly encouraged to avoid large gatherings and limit travel prior to returning to campus.
- Student Health Services will have the ability to test symptomatic students on-campus with same-day results. Expanded on-campus testing is being arranged and more information will be provided as soon as it is available. In addition, Student Health Services has the capability to do antibody testing. Antibodies most commonly become detectable 1-3 weeks after symptom onset, at which time evidence suggests that infectiousness likely is greatly decreased and that some degree of immunity from future infection has developed.
- The University is finalizing plans for symptom checking but will expect students to record symptoms and take necessary precautions if they are symptomatic of COVID-19, including not attending class, etc. Students should bring a thermometer with them to campus in order to complete symptom checks.
- Student Health Services can be contacted on the nurse consult line at (309) 438-7676 and/or on the appointment line at (309) 438-2778.
Quarantine, Isolation and Student Absence
If you are required to quarantine or isolate, you will need to do so at your permanent residence for up to 14 days or a period of time determined by the public health department. There are a limited number of quarantine and isolation spaces for students living in on-campus university housing who cannot return to their permanent residence.
- You should not return to in-person classes, events or activities until you have met the isolation or quarantine requirements from the health department and have been without a fever and feeling well (without fever-reducing medication) for at least 24 hours. COVID-19 symptoms currently include but are not limited to: respiratory illness, a fever of 100.4ºF or higher, or new or worsening symptoms including but not limited to: fever or chills, cough, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, fatigue, muscle or body aches, headache, new loss of taste or smell, sore throat.
- If you are required to quarantine or isolate, you should notify your instructor(s) that you will not be attending class. You are responsible for beginning the conversation with your instructor(s) concerning missed work and assignment adjustments. You should also reach out to a classmate to obtain the notes from the class(es) you miss. The Dean of Students Office will assist students with absence notification and academic success resources for those who become ill and must be away from campus for an extended period of time. In addition, the University recently approved the Excused Student Absences Due to Communicable Disease policy.
Mental Health Resources
Mental health awareness is extremely important as we enter the fall term knowing that many uncertainties exist regarding COVID-19 and that many in our Redbird family have been disproportionally affected by coronavirus. The University is researching options for expanded mental health resources for students. Student Counseling Services will provide both individual and group telemental health services and will continue to provide emergency services 24 hours per day. For more information, contact Student Counseling Services.
- Visit the Redbirds Keep Thriving webpage for more information about various health and wellness resources and tools that are available to you now and throughout the upcoming year.
The vast majority of course formats have been finalized. Although some changes could still happen between now and the beginning of the semester, we do not anticipate significant changes to be made in how courses are taught. Academic advisors have been working diligently to work with students’ course format preferences but cannot always create a schedule that meets everyone’s needs. If you do not wish to take a course in the format it will be taught, you have until Friday, August 28, to drop a course and have no charges or grade assigned.
- Refer to your schedule in My.IllinoisState.edu to see if your courses will be face-to-face, hybrid, or online.
- Face-to-Face classes may be supplemented with some online instruction.
- Hybrid classes will vary considerably in how they are taught. In some hybrid courses, a portion of the class may attend a face-to-face class session one day a week while the other portion attends another day. In other courses, the entire class might attend one week and the next several weeks of instruction will be delivered online. In other classes, the instructor might meet with small groups of students to supplement online instruction. In yet other classes, the instructor might meet with students at the beginning of the semester, most instruction may occur online, and exams will be taken in-person. Refer to the section note in Course Finder to see how your hybrid course will be delivered.
- Online classes will be either synchronous (a set day and time) or asynchronous (no specified meeting time). If your schedule in IllinoisState.edu says “arranged” next to the online designation, the course will be asynchronous.
- Continue to check IllinoisState.edu, ReggieNet, and your Illinois State email regularly to learn more about your fall courses. Your instructors will be providing you with more up-to-date information regarding what they expect of you and what you can expect about the frequency with which your courses will be meeting in-person.
- In the event that a stay-at-home order from the Governor or other circumstances dictate the necessity to learn and work remotely, the format of face-to-face and hybrid classes may have to change to online.
As a reminder, if you are required to live on campus, you received an email on July 2 from University Housing Services providing you with an opportunity to cancel your housing and meal plan contract for the 2020-21 academic year with no penalty. If you are concerned about living in university housing due to risks associated with COVID-19 or if most of your classes are scheduled to be online, you may cancel your contract by visiting the Housing and Dining portal by July 31.
Classroom and Building Directional Signage
Directional signage will guide you through buildings, including signs in larger classrooms that indicate which doors to enter and exit. Within classrooms and labs, it will be clearly indicated where to sit to safely maintain a distance of 6 feet from your classmates.
- All 570 classrooms have been measured to determine the number of students that can be safely accommodated in each space. It is important for you to maintain this distance. Otherwise, if someone is within 6 feet of you for more than 15 minutes and contracts COVID-19, the Health Department will deem you a close contact and you will be required to quarantine even if you never get sick yourself. As mentioned previously, if you are in quarantine or isolation you are not allowed to attend in-person classes or participate in other co-curricular activities.
Technology Training: Whether you are a new or returning student, you are encouraged to take the updated, Fall 2020 Introduction to Technology Class. Among other things, this class will position you for successful learning in hybrid formats: edu/Quickstart.
- Assistance with Technology Needs:
- You can contact the Technology Support Center for any technology questions or concerns at 309-438-HELP (4357) or IllinoisState.edu. Online chat and help articles are also available.
- Walk-up support and computer repair (including hardware warranty work) are available from TechZone, located on the first floor of the Bone Student Center as well as IllinoisState.edu.
- During Move-In, watch for outside pop-up tech tents near the residence halls and other locations where staff will be available to help you get your devices connected and provide technology assistance.
- Software: Two major software packages are available at no additional charge to you—Microsoft Office 365 and Adobe Creative Cloud. You can download these packages for installation on your personal computers. Go to IllinoisState.edu and search “Download” for instructions.
- TechZone: Do you need a new computer or other technology gear? TechZone, located in its brand-new location on the first floor of the Bone Student Center, can assist with recommendations and academic pricing. Major vendors such as Apple and Dell have special deals for students and the store has been expanded with the latest tech. Visit in person or at https://techzone.illinoisstate.edu/.
- Virtual Computer Lab Experience: The campus is working together to provide a consistent experience for remotely accessing specialized software found in computer labs. Because computer lab seats have been reduced to adhere to physical distancing guidelines, you are encouraged to use the virtual version of ISU computer labs to meet your software needs. Instead of having to access computer lab software in person, the Virtual Computer Lab Experience will allow you to access computer lab software over the Internet from anywhere. More details on how to access the Virtual Computer Lab will follow shortly.
The Julia N. Visor Academic Center will continue offering services to students online through Zoom. These services include tutoring, academic and study skills workshops, supplemental instruction, writing assistance, and academic coaching. Remember, these peer-led services are free to all ISU students. You will be able to sign up for any of these services online once the fall semester begins. Visit the Visor Center’s website for additional information.
- The Visor Center also has a collection of helpful online academic resources and tools to assist students.
Follow social media accounts for those departments with which you frequently interact. Programming updates, building hours, and changes to day-to-day operations will be communicated via social media as well as posted to departmental websites.
- The University will continue to post the most up-to-date information on the Coronavirus website.
- Emails will be sent when appropriate to the campus community. Please check your Illinois State University email frequently so that you are aware of the latest information regarding COVID-19 on the Illinois State campus and in Bloomington-Normal.
As the University implements plans for the fall term, we also continue to monitor the impacts and risks of COVID-19. Illinois State University cannot guarantee a risk-free environment. If the number of COVID-19 cases significantly increases in our area, the Governor enacts a stay-at-home order, and/or our university community experiences multiple cases of COVID-19, faculty will be prepared to move face-to-face and hybrid courses to online formats for the health and safety of our Redbird family. When you are on-campus and off, please do your part to keep our community safe by following the health and safety precautions that have been put in place to reduce the risk of COVID-19 infection for all members of the Redbird family and the Bloomington-Normal community.