ILLINOIS (IRN) — As COVID-19 cases continue to increase around the state, some Illinois colleges will move to remote learning to begin the spring semester.
The decision was made, in part, by a new variant of COVID-19 which is taking a foothold across the country.
The University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana will start remotely for at least the first week, while Illinois State University in Normal will stay out of the classroom for two weeks.
Monmouth College will also go remote for two weeks. Duane Bonifer, associate vice president of communications said for students and school officials, it feels like we’ve been down this road before.
“In some ways, we feel like it is already Groundhog Day on college campuses in terms of having to do again what we had to do last year,” Bonifer said.
Bonifer added that no one on any Illinois campus is happy about the situation, including the president of Monmouth College.
“As I said, this is not how I wanted to start the 2022 spring semester. I disliked writing this email to you probably as much as you have disliked reading its contents. But as I have been reminded throughout this pandemic, the virus is ultimately in charge of what we are allowed to do while maintaining a safe campus for everyone,” President Clarence Wyatt said in an announcement to go remote.
Southern Illinois University had planned to offer in-person instruction, but has changed course. In a letter Thursday to students and faculty, SIU Chancellor Austin Lane said the recent rise in COVID cases led to the university’s decision to begin many classes virtually.
Lane added the classes will be virtual for just the first week of the semester to ensure all students and employees have been tested and receive results in a timely manner.
At this point, Eastern and Northern Illinois Universities will be in the classroom next week.
At ISU, although there will be remote learning, the dorms and facilities will open as scheduled next week, but Eric Jome, director of media relations, said there will be a change to the testing policy.
“All students, faculty and staff, regardless of vaccination status, will be required to submit a negative COVID test before returning to campus,” he said.
Bonifer said he the brief break from the classroom will calm things down.
“We had a lot of conversations with public health officials and they said the best thing to do is let them come back to campus but have remote classes for the first couple weeks and that should get you through the wave,” Bonifer said.