I am pleased to inform you that earlier today, the State announced that all regions of Illinois have moved to Phase 3 of the 5-phase “Restore Illinois” plan developed to incrementally reopen the State. I’ve provided some important details below regarding the College’s summer operations and fall preparations given the State’s latest actions.
Institutional Response Team (IRT) Planning
The IRT recently shared a working draft of the College’s Institutional Planning Document, which outlines the challenges presented by COVID-19, provides data to inform the decisions and preparations that need to be made toward the College’s goal of reopening for the fall semester with in-person learning and instruction, and references the “Restore Illinois” plan as a source of additional planning guidance. Today’s announcement regarding the move to Phase 3 (Recovery) is a positive step toward our own reopening goal. Phase 4 of the State’s plan would allow colleges and universities statewide, including North Central, to reopen with Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) approved guidance. We will continue to carefully monitor the State’s developments.
The ongoing work of the IRT, and a variety of sub-teams, involves student, faculty, and staff representatives from across campus, and I am grateful for everyone’s efforts. You will continue to receive updates on the progress of this work throughout the summer, and you are strongly encouraged to review the College’s planning document, which will be updated periodically as circumstances warrant.
Return to Campus-Based Work
Each vice president has already identified personnel who are reporting to campus to perform essential functions, maintaining continuity of operations in a safe and healthy fashion while supporting our students and the College. In the weeks ahead, vice presidents may identify additional personnel to return to campus for work.
The IRT has established a Return to Campus-Based Work team that is charged with developing a phased return to campus for faculty and staff, and establishing policies, procedures, and guidelines for the remainder of faculty and staff to safely return to work. I will share the plan once finalized. The College will remain in a remote work model, with the exception of those employees designated above, until we begin the implementation of the Return to Campus-Based Work plan, which may include options for ongoing remote work where possible. Employees should continue working with their supervisors regarding the plans and expectations established by their respective vice president.
Faculty and staff who need to return to campus for a limited time to perform functions they consider essential to do on campus should follow the College’s existing procedures: faculty should contact their respective Dean; staff should work through their supervisors to receive approval from their respective vice president. Campus safety will not provide building entry without the approval of a Dean or a vice president. Employees coming to campus for work are expected to maintain proper hygiene and social distancing practices, and are expected to wear a face covering or mask when in a public place where a six-foot social distance cannot be maintained.
The restrictions regarding all non-essential College-related travel as summarized below remain in effect until further notice:
All College-related international travel is prohibited;
All College-related non-essential domestic air travel is prohibited (examples include conferences and off-site training sessions or workshops);
Faculty and staff should consult with their respective dean or supervisor regarding all potential College-related travel.
Students Living on Campus
Several students are currently living on our campus utilizing the College’s summer housing options and are urged to continue practicing the established hygiene, social distancing, and face covering measures. A number of people on campus are working hard in preparation for welcoming our students back to campus, and to the residence halls, this fall.
I’m pleased that we have a large number of students enrolled in more than 50 summer session courses, which are occurring in the remote learning model. The State’s shift to Phase 3 has no additional effects on our delivery of summer classes.
This fall, we will welcome approximately 800 new students to the North Central College community. While current social distancing practices make it difficult to conduct in-person orientation and registration, I am very excited to report that our orientation and advising staffs, in collaboration with offices throughout campus, have developed a series of robust remote orientation and registration activities for the new students (and their families) who have chosen North Central College. These activities are vital to the fall and will make a meaningful difference for the students who will be transitioning to our campus. I am grateful for everyone’s efforts in this regard, and you will hear more about our orientation activities in the weeks that lie ahead.
Summer and Fall
We are about to experience an unusual summer—on the heels of an unusual spring—in preparation for a different fall. I recognize the critical work that is occurring throughout campus and I truly appreciate everyone’s efforts. While we didn’t choose this set of circumstances, I have great confidence in our community’s ability to confront the pandemic challenges. This is a moment for us to support each other and to work together toward fulfilling the College’s mission. I remain hopeful—and from your messages of encouragement, I know you remain hopeful as well—that circumstances will allow us to open in-person in August. Today’s State announcement moves us closer to achieving our shared goal. I will continue to update you throughout the summer.
Troy D. Hammond, Ph.D.
Professor of Physics
North Central College