Student walkway at North Central College

Fall Semester Plans

Dear North Central College Community,

I am pleased to announce North Central College’s plans for the upcoming fall semester. This announcement comes in anticipation of the State’s transition to Phase 4 of the Restore Illinois plan, which allows colleges and universities in Illinois to open with approved safety guidance issued earlier this week from the Illinois Board of Higher Education. The College is committed to the health and safety of our students, faculty and staff, and to the broader community in which we live, work and learn, and that commitment has and will continue to guide our decision-making process.

I want to thank and commend the more than 100 students, faculty and staff who are serving on the College’s Institutional Response Team (IRT) and various committees for the incredible amount of work that has been accomplished up to this point to position us for a successful return to campus in the fall. But the work doesn’t stop here. It’s going to take continuing efforts from each and every one of us, every day, to keep ourselves and each other safe and healthy. As part of this effort, you’ll soon learn more about the College’s #TogetherNC health campaign that underscores the collective effort it will require from all members of our campus community to ensure a safe and successful academic year.

What follows below are key details for our fall 2020 semester as it relates to navigating the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic while delivering on the College’s educational mission. Additional information will be available at covid.northcentralcollege.edu, a newly launched website that will serve as the College’s go-to resource for sharing important information about returning to campus for students, faculty, staff, vendors, and campus visitors, and will be regularly updated with the latest details as they become available.

Fall 2020

Academic Calendar

All students—undergraduate and graduate—will begin the 2020-2021 academic year as scheduled on August 24. A modified Welcome Week program for new students will take place August 19-23. Undergraduate students will not return to campus after Thanksgiving break as final exams for fall semester will take place remotely during the first week of December. Academic programs that have required in-person experiences—such as clinicals, practicums and internships—will continue in-person after Thanksgiving, unless remote options exist.

Key dates for undergraduate students:

    • Tuesday, August 18 – Wednesday, August 19: Phased move-in for new first-year and transfer students
    • Wednesday, August 19 – Sunday, August 23: Welcome Week activities
    • Friday, August 21 – Sunday, August 23: Returning student move-in
    • Monday, August 24: Classes begin
    • Monday, September 7: Labor Day will be an instructional day (College offices open as determined by each respective vice president)
    • Friday, October 9: Fall break; no classes (College offices open)
    • Tuesday, November 24: Last day of full semester classes
    • Wednesday, November 25: No classes (College offices close at noon)
    • Thursday, November 26 – Friday, November 27: Thanksgiving break; no classes (College offices closed)
    • Monday, November 30: Reading day
    • Tuesday, December 1 – Friday, December 4: Final exams (remote)

Key dates for graduate students:

    • Monday, August 24: Classes begin
    • Monday, September 7: Labor Day, no graduate classes (College offices open as determined by each respective vice president)
    • Wednesday, October 14: Last day of Graduate Session I classes
    • Thursday, October 15 – Friday, October 16: Fall break; no graduate classes (College offices open)
    • Monday, October 19: First day of Graduate Session II classes
    • Wednesday, November 25: No classes (College offices open)
    • Thursday, November 26 – Friday, November 27: Thanksgiving break; no classes (College offices closed)
    • Wednesday, December 9: Last day of Graduate Session II and full semester classes

Class Schedule

The College’s Monday/Wednesday/Friday courses will meet for 70 minutes instead of the normal 65 minutes, and Tuesday/Thursday courses will meet for 100 minutes instead of the normal 95 minutes. The daily class meeting schedule is posted at covid.northcentralcollege.edu.

Students, including student athletes, who have questions regarding how the modified academic calendar and class meeting schedule may impact practice times and schedules will receive a follow up communication with additional details.

Academic Instruction

We are embracing a “learn from anywhere” approach by expanding the range of instructional modalities and leveraging technology to create inclusive learning opportunities for all students. The College’s primary modality will continue to be in-person classes, but our faculty’s inspired instruction will now also include a wider variety of fully online and combination formats. For those who are unable to return to campus, more information about special accommodations is forthcoming.

Once the course schedule has been updated with any changes to instructional modality, all students will be notified via email so that each student can review their course schedule. Advisors will help guide students in making adjustments to ensure that their schedules fit their individual needs and that they continue to make steady progress toward their degree completion.

Classrooms and Labs

In-person instruction will require a six-foot minimum distance between all individuals and face coverings will be required in all classrooms, labs and studios. Classrooms and other instructional spaces have been evaluated for new maximum capacities based on physical distancing requirements and furniture and equipment will be arranged accordingly. Depending on class sizes and room capacities, there may be circumstances where students attend class in-person on some days and remotely on other days for synchronous (or asynchronous) instruction in order to maintain physical distancing requirements.

Health and Safety Practices

With the health and safety of our campus community in mind, the College has adopted a number of proactive health and safety measures in accordance with guidance from local, state and federal health officials. These measures include:

    • The requirement that all faculty, staff and students wear face coverings in classrooms, communal spaces within campus buildings, and when social distancing is not possible;
    • The provision of cleaning supplies near classrooms and offices enabling students, faculty and staff to wipe down work surfaces;
    • Reconfigured furniture and equipment to decrease room and building density;
    • The installation of hand sanitizer stations throughout campus;
    • Limiting the number of people in elevators;
    • Establishing single-direction stairways and building entrances and exits (when possible);
    • Posting informational signage throughout campus reinforcing various health practices, including handwashing, social distancing and mask wearing.

These measures are built upon the expectation that each and every one of us, individually and collectively, will take responsibility for our own health and the health of others to limit the spread of COVID-19 on our campus and within our community. I invite you to learn more about the College’s #TogetherNC campaign at covid.northcentralcollege.edu.

Testing and Contact Tracing

COVID-19 testing and contact tracing will be part of our multi-pronged approach to maintaining the health and safety of the campus community, and we will continue to refine these plans as the fall semester approaches. Additional information will be shared as fall approaches.

Residence Life
The Residence Life staff is looking forward to welcoming students back to campus housing in August. In addition to the health and safety measures mentioned above, which will apply to residence halls, where applicable, the Residence Life team has organized a carefully scheduled housing move-in process, which will be communicated to resident students by July 27. Students will be provided with an opportunity to indicate their preferred move-in time and times will be scheduled to allow for maximum physical distancing. For students who are unable to return home, in the event that they are required to isolate or quarantine due to a confirmed case or exposure to COVID-19, separate residence hall rooms have been set aside for this purpose.

New and returning resident students will soon receive communication from the Residence Life staff with additional residence hall information and protocols, including housing and roommate assignments.

Dining Services
Campus dining services, in partnership with Chartwells, has implemented a number of changes to best serve the campus community while following relevant health guidelines. These changes include:

    • Wellness checks for dining service employees prior to the start of each shift and the wearing of appropriate personal protective equipment, including masks;
    • Enhanced cleaning, sanitizing and disinfecting protocols;
    • Buffet-style self-servicing will be discontinued until further notice; all meals will be served by Chartwells associates;
    • Pre-packaged meals will be available as to-go options;
    • Layout and space modifications and hours of operation modifications will be made in order to adhere to social distancing guidelines and capacity restrictions within dining locations;
    • Kaufman Dining Hall will have expanded hours; The Cage, Moe’s and the Boiler House will be open with adjusted hours; Au Bon Pain and Freshens will remain closed until further notice.

Athletics

It is the College’s intention to participate in intercollegiate athletics this fall. The athletics department and our athletic training staff—in consultation with a variety of groups including the CCIW, the NCAA and the NCAA Healthcare Administration, the National Athletic Trainer Association and others—are finalizing all protocols for the fall season. The athletics department will share additional information and protocols with coaches and student athletes throughout the summer.

Campus Events

While Phase 4 of the Restore Illinois Plan allows colleges and universities to open, there are still restrictions on meetings and events larger than 50 people. Therefore, the College will continue to monitor the latest State guidance and will share additional information about fall campus events later this summer. It remains our plan to host an in-person Commencement ceremony for the Class of 2020 when conditions and State guidance will allow.

Return to Campus-based Work

Some employees have continued to perform essential functions on campus since early spring when the College transitioned to our remote work model. Other employees have begun returning to campus as we prepare to welcome students back in the fall. Those employees, as well as others who have continued working in a remote fashion since the spring, should consult with their supervisor and await specific instructions from their department’s vice president before returning to campus-based work. We have developed a set of guidelines and procedures for faculty and staff to return to campus-based work in a safe and productive manner, as determined by each respective vice president. The complete document is available at covid.northcentralcollege.edu.

The College recognizes that some employees, whether due to personal circumstances or those of family members, may not be able to return to campus-based work at this time. Those individuals should continue to work with their supervisor, department vice president, or contact Human Resources regarding accommodations.

I am looking forward to a new academic year, even one that will be vastly different from previous years. Maintaining the health and safety of our campus community is a shared responsibility among all of us and there will be challenges—challenges I know we’re capable of rising to meet as we work together to continue the College’s mission.

We will continue to communicate with you throughout the summer, so please keep a close eye on your email for more information and continue to visit covid.northcentralcollege.edu as a source for the most up-to-date information and resources.

#TogetherNC,

Troy D. Hammond
President
Professor of Physics
North Central College