With fall semester well underway, it is time to look forward to spring. Our goal for the spring semester remains the same: provide a quality education in a safe environment.
Based upon what we know about COVID-19 today, we anticipate that we will need to take all of the same precautions in the spring that we are taking now. We are advised by medical professionals that we should not count on the wide availability of an approved vaccine in time for the semester to begin.
As your chancellor, I am dedicated to seeking the input of our constituency group leaders in the decision-making process. For example, the decision regarding the spring semester schedule was considered very carefully and with input from multiple groups, including the Faculty Senate, Graduate Council, Chancellor’s Leadership Council, Undergraduate Student Government, Graduate and Professional Student Council, the Civil Service and Administrative Professional Councils, the Faculty Association and Graduate Assistants United.
Here are some updates regarding the spring semester.
We have expanded the break between semesters an additional week, so spring semester will start a week later than planned. Classes will begin Tuesday, January 19. Final exams will take place Monday, May 3, through Friday, May 7, as originally scheduled. We will not have a traditional spring break in order to minimize the risk of bringing COVID-19 back to campus due to travel. However, we recognize that this creates a long stretch for students and faculty alike, so we hope to provide some days off filled with lots of things for students to do close to campus.
Classes for the spring semester will again be offered in online, in-person and hybrid formats. Instructors are currently making decisions related to class format. Since we all learned a lot regarding course formats at the beginning of the academic year, we do not anticipate the last-minute format changes some students experienced after registration for fall semester.
Students will receive an email from their academic advisor (if they have not already) to schedule advisement appointments. All appointments will be conducted virtually.
We will continue to make on- and off-campus COVID-19 testing available to faculty, staff and students in the spring. In fact, we are working on finalizing a partnership with Southern Illinois Healthcare, SHIELD and the University of Illinois to bring more testing this spring.
As an aside, our new testing plan with Southern Illinois Healthcare has been going well, and you are now able to schedule online as well as by phone for both on-campus and off-campus tests. We remain grateful to SIH and the Jackson County Health Department for the partnership that made this possible.
The situation with COVID-19 is fluid. Plans may change based on the course of the pandemic and recommendations and directives from governmental and health agencies. We remain flexible, diligent and committed to the safety of our students, faculty and staff.