The City of Chicago has issued updated travel guidance for colleges and universities effective November 20, 2020.
Updated as of November 13, 2020
Although Governor J. B. Pritzker has not issued a new Executive Order imposing requirements on employers to date, in light of the increasing number of daily cases of COVID-19, the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) made a recommendation on November 11 that employers consider allowing their employees, to the extent possible, to work from home for the next three weeks. IDPH stated that the aim of this de-densification recommendation “is to reduce transmission as we head into the holidays so businesses and schools can remain open.”
Throughout this pandemic, the university has sought to comply with not only the mandates but also the guidance and recommendations from state and local public health officials. We believe our efforts as a university to do so are a primary contributor to the relatively low number of COVID-19 cases that we have seen on our campus, as reflected in our bi-weekly surveillance testing. Accordingly, we will continue to act in accordance with public health mandates, guidance, and recommendations.
We wish to be clear that we are not canceling classes or closing the residence halls. The university will continue to function as it has been, and it will continue to do so in accordance with public health mandates, guidance, and recommendations. We ask all members of our community to again review these mandates, guidance, and recommendations, which are at https://www.chicago.gov/city/en/sites/covid-19/home.html. We also urge everyone, especially our students, to follow the rules on social gatherings, which are currently limited to generally no more than six people.
In light of the latest IDPH recommendation, all vice presidents and deans are, consistent with the guidelines below, to develop plans to allow their faculty and staff to work from home for the next three weeks unless it is necessary for them to be in the workplace. As noted, the goals of de-densification are to reduce the likelihood of transmission and to allow businesses and schools to remain open. The guidelines below seek to accomplish these dual goals, especially as we are four weeks away from the conclusion of the semester.
Specifically, no later than Monday, November 16, and continuing through Friday, December 4, the vice presidents and deans should allow employees to work from home, unless:
- The employees were designated as essential back in the spring, in which case they should continue to report to work as they have been.
- The employees were deemed, in August, to be critical to providing support directly to students or faculty members in connection with academic and student life activities. Supervisors were responsible for making this designation in August, and they remain responsible for making any needed changes thereto. Supervisors should make these decisions and communicate them as soon as practicable; they should also promptly communicate these decisions to Human Resources by email to email@example.com.
- With respect to instruction, the university is not prohibiting in-person classes. Rather, faculty members should use their judgment to determine what their students need at this time. It may well be that some class instruction can be best delivered online; however, when it comes to labs, studios, and IPROs, faculty members may conclude that student learning outcomes will be best met by continuing in-person learning. With respect to any in-person learning over the next three weeks, we reiterate the need for adherence to the wearing of face coverings, maintaining maximum social distance, and the utilization of hygiene protocols. To the extent the instruction is moved online, faculty members should strive to provide as much synchronous one-on-one time to their students as possible by expanding office hours or through the use of Zoom, Google Meets, or other video conferencing services.
- For the time period noted above, supervisors should not permit individuals who volunteer to return to work on campus, and as a reminder, the university has generally prohibited non-members of our community from coming to campus. This remains the case. Anyone who is not a part of our community—guests, contractors, salespersons, colleagues from other institutions, and the like—should not be permitted on the campus unless their visit has been deemed necessary by a vice president or dean to advance an important university business interest.
With respect to employees who will continue to come to campuses, vice presidents and deans should, to the extent feasible, continue the practice of establishing consistent groupings of staff members working together that follow the same schedule wherever practical (i.e. workplace “bubbles”). Vice presidents and deans should communicate all established “bubbles” to Human Resources by email to firstname.lastname@example.org. If a team member were to be diagnosed with COVID-19, these workplace “bubbles” would help contain the number of exposed individuals within the broader campus community and make contact tracing easier. Vice presidents and deans also should review and reemphasize the need for their team members to follow all applicable university COVID-19 protocols, including, but not limited to, wearing face coverings, maintaining social distancing, practicing good hygiene, self-monitoring their health, not coming to campus if they are sick, and following signage.
We are extremely proud of how well all the members of our community—students, faculty, and staff—have responded to this pandemic. As a community, we have taken the pandemic seriously and have followed the guidelines and protocols. As a result, our numbers to date suggest that we have been able to navigate this semester. If we continue to work together and follow the guidelines and protocols, we will hopefully be able to manage the remaining four weeks of the semester.
Alan W. Cramb
President, Illinois Institute of Technology
Provost, Illinois Institute of Technology