Illinois Tech students will be able to complete spring 2021 in a variety of ways, which will include in-person, hybrid, and virtual courses. Instructors will determine the format of their courses. Communication with your instructors will be vital both before and after the start of spring semester.
We continue to seek to develop appropriate classroom operating protocols based on guidance from the CDC, the state, and the city. At present, our intention is to provide students with the opportunity for as many in-person classes as possible, should they wish this. In-person classes will operate in accordance with applicable guidance, including social distancing protocols and maximum attendance limits. Some classes will be offered online but with opportunities, to the extent possible, for direct student-to-student and student-to-faculty interaction. Many classes will be hybrid with options for both.
We are planning for courses that will be capped at smaller than typical sizes and that will also operate at lower densities than usual, to follow expected social-distancing guidelines. At this time we believe that online courses, with opportunities for direct student-to-student and student-to-faculty interaction, will not be significantly impacted by such limits.
Most courses will have a remote component, and students will be able to participate fully in those courses. In some cases, such as some (but not all) lab and experiential courses, live participation is important, and our aim is to provide these courses to the extent allowed by applicable state and city guidance, including, but not limited to, public health social-distancing protocols, but any student who does not want to participate will be provided alternative courses in fall 2020 so that they can maintain equivalent progress toward their degrees. Students should speak to their academic advisers about this.
We anticipate the state guidelines will require social distancing in class. Currently, the state’s general social distancing guideline is set at 6 feet of separation, but the state may modify this with respect to classroom social distancing.
Yes, tuition and fees will be the same regardless of the means by which instruction is delivered. (The university operates some distinct, online-only graduate programs that are only available to residents of certain foreign countries. These programs have specific tuition and/or scholarship arrangements, and these programs will remain subject to these arrangements regardless of any change in circumstances.) Most students will have the ability, if they wish, to take all or some classes in-person and/or online. The university shall have no obligation to adjust tuition and fees or to provide refunds or credits in the event circumstances arise that result in a change to the means of instruction during the semester. A course’s number of associated credit hours will be the same regardless of the means of instruction.
Additionally, Illinois Tech has invested very heavily to prepare for this semester in classroom technology, new personnel, testing, plexiglass barriers, and many other items.
It should also be noted that 98 percent of our undergraduate students receive financial aid, and the average financial aid award is in excess of $25,000.
In the event that the state or city issues a “shelter-in-place” or a stay-at-home order, the university will fully transition to online instruction.
The university will seek to monitor infections on campuses and make shutdown decisions based on the particular circumstances of the infections and consistent with state and city public-health guidelines.
Should the need arise for such a decision, we will make it in conformity with public health guidance, including Chicago Department of Public Health and Illinois Department of Public Health guidance. In making the decision, we will bear in mind that current guidance states transmission occurs most likely with close contact, defined as being within 6 feet of an infected person for a cumulative total of 15 minutes or more over a 24-hour period (individual exposures added together over a 24-hour period) starting from two days before illness onset (or, for asymptomatic patients, two days prior to test specimen collection) until the time the patient is isolated. Therefore, it may be that only those students who are in the classroom at the same time as the infected student, and within six feet of them for more than a cumulative total of 15 minutes or more over a 24-hour period, will need to quarantine, while students who have used the same classroom but not at the same time will not be required to quarantine.
Once students submit their deposit and sign up for a virtual SOAR session, they can meet with their academic advisers, who will help them select their fall courses. Students who plan to attend online classes this fall can participate in SOAR remotely and also set up remote appointments to meet with their advisers for one-on-one guidance.
Because Illinois Tech is a small, private university, our faculty have always been especially accessible to our students. Once a student submits their deposit and signs up for a virtual SOAR session, they can begin meeting with their academic advisers. Consistent with applicable public health protocols, students attending classes on campus can meet one-on-one with their other professors to receive mentorship and guidance on everything from which courses to take to class projects and other learning opportunities such as undergraduate research programs. Our Blackboard learning module enables students who are studying remotely to connect with faculty for personalized communication and one-on-one guidance. Some professors also offer additional, virtual office hour sessions.
Research will continue under public health guidelines this fall. For students who study remotely, research is still an option. For example, several computing and technology research projects have continued remotely during the past several months.
Tools within Blackboard enable collaboration and teamwork. Students can share and discuss their work as they would in an in-person setting, and work remotely outside of class times to complete team projects. Some classes that involve hands-on construction of projects can be conducted remotely. For example, in one course, a professor mailed students hardware packages so they could complete their projects remotely. Design-based courses that require students to use software to complete projects also can be conducted remotely. For more information about Blackboard and how it facilitates student and faculty engagement and remote learning, read this platform overview.