Illinois College announced last Tuesday that it will reopen campus for the Fall 2020 semester with a hybrid academic experience — incorporating face-to-face instruction with online elements. IC’s Hilltop Ready plan offers guidance for students, faculty, and staff for the challenges produced by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
IC President Dr. Barbara Farley says the college has been working closely with local officials in making a safe environment for everyone: “We have completely changed our spaces on campus, because, of course, we are following the CDC guidelines and other state and local guidelines. A classroom that might’ve had 25 students may now have 12. For example, a professor in that circumstance might meet with the group in two pods. They would meet with one pod on one day and the second on another. We have a range of opportunities for students in this hybrid learning experience model. Some courses are going to be held in unconventional spaces. It’s going to be a variety of educational experiences for our students.” Dr. Farley says that Rammelkamp Chapel will be utilized as a classroom for the first time due to its size and ability to accommodate a larger capacity of students.
Everyone on campus will be required to wear face coverings and practice social distancing, monitor their temperatures and symptoms daily, stay home if sick, avoid unnecessary travel, and keep social gatherings to fewer than 10 people. Reusable face masks will be provided to students and disinfecting wipes and hand sanitizer will be available throughout campus. Dr. Farley urges students to be vigilant about social distancing in the weeks leading up to their return to campus.
Dr. Farley says that they have a quarantine policy for teachers and students and have developed flexible plans in case someone gets sick. Instructors will be asked to perform duties remotely if they possibly get infected with COVID-19. She says on-campus students will have places to isolate if they get sick: “We have isolation and quarantine spaces on campus for students who might become ill. We have a back-up plan, and what we have said to all students, faculty and staff in our Hilltop Ready plan is if you are not feeling well, you should stay home. We’re not going to be taking attendance in the normal course that we might have in another day. Students can engage online with the material of the course and still participate without being physically present. We’ve had to develop some very flexible and nimble ways of preparing for the contingencies of someone possibly becoming sick.”
Dr. Farley says that the campus is currently working with their 3rd party cafeteria vendor on how to navigate traffic to Cummings Dining Hall during peak hours. Dr. Farley says they are working on staggering hours of operation to help maintain social distancing. She also says that the Athletic Department is also working on ways to stagger hours of recreation at the Bruner Center Fitness Complex. She says students will receive more information about both when they return to campus.
To find more details of the plan visit www.ic.edu/HIlltopREADY.