Fall 2020 Reopening
Updated as of June 24, 2020
Given our present understanding of the COVID-19 pandemic, and subject to what the state and city will actually allow, Illinois Tech is planning to resume in-person instruction for the fall 2020 semester. At this time, Illinois Tech anticipates that state and city laws will subject in-person instruction to space and distancing limitations as well as other public health protocols. Further, Illinois Tech is also planning to provide online instruction delivery, which would be accessible and available to students who return to campus as well as those who, regardless of the reason, do not physically return to the campus in the fall. Online instruction may be required for all or part of certain classes, such as large introductory courses. Our residential housing and dining operations will also be operating as allowed by public health rules.
The university will continue to take steps aimed at minimizing health and safety risks to our students, faculty, and staff; however, in this pandemic, health and safety is everyone’s responsibility. We all need to take actions and modify our behaviors to protect not only ourselves but also our peers, faculty, and staff. We also need to keep in mind that this is a highly fluid situation, and new circumstances may require changes.
As outlined below, we are developing plans to make a number of changes to campus operations with the goal of minimizing the risk and spread of COVID-19 while maintaining as robust a learning environment as possible. Illinois Tech cannot eliminate the risks associated with COVID-19 or ensure that no one contracts the virus. However, working together we can minimize these risks. For example, because more than 500 students remained in on-campus housing during the spring 2020 semester, we have had experience with safety, cleaning, and distancing measures that appeared to have been effective in reducing the impact of COVID-19 to the campus community.
Understanding that this is an evolving situation, our intent is to regularly update and/or to communicate with students, faculty, staff, alumni, partners, and Bronzeville neighbors. We will communicate updates via our website, email, and/or various social media accounts used by the university. As noted above, we need everyone to work with us and to assume responsibility for promptly and diligently acting on these updates and to have their actions and behaviors comply with public health guidance.
In addition, despite the challenges we may face, we are making plans to focus on educational innovation and the prioritization of experiential learning so that our students can be engaged in fall 2020. However, at this time, we cannot definitively state what this will include. These decisions will need to be made based on the then-available public health guidance and the current state of the COVID-19 outbreak. We currently believe, based on available information and guidance, that the actions below may provide the basis to maintain our commitment to our founding academic mission in the midst of the pandemic. Please remember, although these actions reflect our current expectations, they are subject to change.
University Plan for Reopening from COVID-19 (myIIT login required)
A Message from President Alan W. Cramb
First of all, thank you to our faculty and staff who enabled our students to finish their spring semester and graduate on time. At that time we successfully took care of more than 500 students who chose to remain on campus. Currently, there are more than 200 in our housing. This experience gives us some confidence in our abilities to look after our on-campus students during this pandemic. Our priority is—and always will be—focused on the success of our students. And even though our Commencement was virtual for the first time, I think it was successful.
We are in a time like no other in our history. We are experiencing the COVID-19 pandemic, we must reopen in August, and it is not likely that any new international graduate students will join our university in the fall. In addition, we must also understand our role in addressing the systemic racism so apparent in our society. We must embrace and support the Black Lives Matter movement, and we must say clearly in one voice that Black Lives Matter.
This means we must renew our commitment to substantially increasing access for African-American students to our university, as well as increasing the number of African-American faculty and staff members and opening doors of opportunities for their advancement, as well as working to be an even better partner with our Bronzeville neighbors.
In fact, planning and efforts are underway to address these important matters, sparked by significant conversations over the last several months with African-American trustees, alumni, and current students. I have met—and will continue to meet—with our students to better understand their needs. It is clear that our university must become more welcoming, must better understand how we can support student success, and must recognize that we have not done enough to make sure our African-American students feel supported and valued. I have heard very troubling concerns from our African-American students ranging from classroom interactions to a large disconnect between expectations and reality. I have received suggestions for change from our trustees and from our student body, and I will listen even more and communicate a detailed plan that is first discussed among our faculty and staff—as it is clear that a top-down solution will not be successful. We as a community must change.
Certain facts are clear:
- We must increase the number of African-American faculty in all of our schools and colleges. Our provost will lead this initiative.
- We must increase the number of African-American students on our various campus sites and develop a culture that allows them to be successful, not only during their student years, but also once they graduate. Mike Gosz will lead the initiative to increase our African-American students, and our provost, our deans, and our Student Life professionals, led by Katie Stetz, will be focused on developing an appropriate campus culture to allow and promote retention and graduation of these students. Our goal must be that ALL students have a similar experience that is inclusive, enriching, and enables them for success.
- We must increase the number of scholarships available in Bronzeville and in Chicago for students who graduate from high schools around us, and we must become a partner with these schools to enable future success. Ernie Iseminger and I, with our board, alumni, and friends, will work on this aspect of our future.
- We must increase the number of African-American faculty and staff leaders on our campus by developing a pathway program to develop such leaders. Peter Kilpatrick and Mike Horan will lead this effort.
- We must reinvigorate the development of our culture that supports ALL people, especially those who have been underrepresented on our campus, to allow for future success. Our deans and vice presidents, our Faculty Council, our Staff Council, and student leadership, under the guidance of the provost and I, will lead this effort.
Stating a desired outcome is not the same as achieving that outcome, and I am asking the above groups to meet and formulate concrete plans that we will implement going forward. This is not a short-term problem and will need long-term solutions. We will become the university where difference is important. Diversity has been baked into our community’s DNA for over a century, unlike other universities, for which this is a relatively new undertaking.
Our future as a university is changing significantly due to the pandemic but also due to the fact the national policy will make it less appealing for international students to come to the United States. In the past, we, as a strategy, decided to become a global university, and we became very successful under the guidance of Darsh Wasan; however, it is doubtful if this strategy will be successful in the future. We have been growing as an undergraduate university to mitigate decreasing international enrollment. The discussion of elimination of OPT, reduction in H1B visas, and increasing difficulty in becoming a citizen has led to a decreasing trend in student numbers over the past few years; and as numbers decrease we have seen much greater competition not only within the U.S., but also in other countries.
The pandemic has accelerated these issues, and now we are predicting no new international students in the fall semester and perhaps the spring semester. This became clear only at the end of May. At our board meeting I discussed this with our board members, and we were required to present a “worst case” financial scenario, which we shared with you on June 2, as that now seems to be realistic. Peter and Mike Horan will discuss this in detail, but we face a very tough year going forward. But it is a year we will overcome. Our strategy has been to maintain our full-time faculty and staff, and attempt to ensure that their take-home pay does not decrease and their jobs continue, thus the steps taken in the June 2 memo. The provost will discuss the steps taken to balance our income with our expenditures.
There have been questions, such as will administrators face the same cuts as faculty and staff, and the answer is of course. If there are no salary increases and benefit reductions, there are no salary increases and benefit reductions for everyone. Let me talk about bonuses. First of all, until the faculty and staff receive a salary increase and resumption of full retirement benefits, I will not receive the part of my salary that is based on board requirements negotiated each year. My salary is set up that if I make the criteria that the board requires, I receive my full salary—a salary that is comparable to the average of other university presidents. Thus, my salary is an incentive-based salary that I must achieve. It is not a conventional bonus system. If I do not achieve certain goals, my salary can decrease by up to 30 percent. Thus, this year, my salary will decrease by 25 percent compared to last year. By the way, I do not set my salary; the board does, and all increases of administrators are approved by the board, and the salary pool percentage for administrators is set at the salary average approved in our budget each year. There are, however, some people who are hired who have deferred salary, which they receive if they stay a certain amount of time. This also turns up as a bonus in IRS filings, but this is not a traditional bonus either, but a promise that the university must and will honor.
Lastly, we must reopen in the fall. Without students on our campus and in our housing, we are not financially viable—no traditional university is. Thus, we must reopen in the fall with an on-campus experience. It is also what our students want and expect. Bruce Watts will describe the reopening procedures to enable the potential for operation of our various campus sites in the fall.
I have reviewed all of the questions that were posted online before the meeting and tried to answer some of the very general comments during this time. After presentations by Peter Kilpatrick and Bruce Watts, Nick Menhart will moderate a session to answer a number of the online questions and, if there is time, he will open up for live questions. After the town hall, we will post answers to questions that could not be answered live.
Alan W. Cramb
President, Illinois Institute of Technology
Will the academic calendar for the fall be shifting?
At present there are no plans to shift the academic calendar.
Will there be a Thanksgiving break?
At present all scheduled breaks will proceed as planned.
Will classes be in-person, online, or something else this fall?
We continue to seek to develop appropriate classroom operating protocols based on guidance from the CDC, the state, and the city, which guidance is still being developed. 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.
What is the cap on course size?
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. We anticipate updated guidance form state and local officials on these limits by mid-to-late June. 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. Again, we are awaiting guidance from the state, which will allow us to complete our layouts for classroom planning and in-person course size.
Will I have the option to take a course remotely if I feel uncomfortable attending class in person?
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.
Will I have to maintain social distancing when in class?
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.
Will IPRO courses still be required?
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.
Health and Wellness
Is the university working in coordination with the Chicago Department of Public Health and the Illinois Department of Public Health?
Yes. The university is also working in conjunction with several local higher-education consortiums.
If the CDPH, IDPH, and CDC guidance contradict each other, whose guidance will Illinois Tech follow?
Illinois Tech will follow the City of Chicago’s guidance, which can be more restrictive than the state’s guidance but not less. A possible exception may be our campuses in Bedford Park and Wheaton, in which case state guidance may prevail.
What is the general social distancing guidance for fall 2020?
All members of the Illinois Tech community are expected to follow city, state, and federal guidelines for social/physical distancing. At a minimum, this currently means that people are expected to keep a 6-foot distance from others and to wear masks when social distancing is not possible.
Will the university be providing masks to students, faculty, and staff?
Yes, this is our current intention. However, everyone who already has masks will be permitted, actually encouraged, to use them in order to make our supplies go as far as possible.
Will visitors and building tenants be required to wear masks?
Yes, this is our current intention, as long as they are over 2 years of age and medically able to tolerate wearing a mask.
Will the university be providing hand sanitizer for students, faculty, and staff?
Yes, we aim to have hand sanitizers in common areas of all buildings.
How often should I wash my hands?
You can help yourself and your loved ones stay healthy by washing your hands often, especially during these key times when you are likely to get and spread germs:
- - Before, during, and after preparing food
- - Before eating food
- - Before and after caring for someone at home who is sick with vomiting or diarrhea
- - Before and after treating a cut or wound
- - After using the toilet
- - After changing diapers or cleaning up a child who has used the toilet
- - After blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing
- - After touching an animal, animal feed, or animal waste
- - After handling pet food or pet treats
- - After touching garbage
Will the university be conducting temperature monitoring?
Yes. Checking your temperature, like regularly washing your hands, is one of those actions we can all take to mitigate the spread of the virus. The university plans to follow applicable city and state mandates with regard to temperature checks. These mandates have not yet been finalized.
Will the university be conducting any mass thermal imaging on campus?
The university is piloting four devices in four different locations during the summer session. We anticipate increasing the number of locations in the fall to accommodate our students. These devices will be available for self-use so that anyone can check their temperature at any time. Unless the city and state mandates differently, no personal information will be captured by the thermal cameras.
What happens if a screening indicates that an individual has a fever?
If a student observes that they have a temperature above 100.4 degrees, they will be encouraged to have a telemedicine consultation with a professional in our Student Health and Wellness Center. The student may then be asked to come in for testing. Everyone with such a temperature should also minimize contact with others to the extent possible.
Faculty and staff will be advised to contact their healthcare provider for further guidance.
We are currently exploring options, both with government agencies and private companies, to make testing available, and our aim is that the majority of students, faculty, and staff will be tested before returning to campus.
Will students be eligible to receive COVID-19 testing on campus?
To the extent possible, COVID-19 testing will be available through the Student Health and Wellness Center for students who wish or need to be tested.
What PII will be shared with what offices?
The university will follow all applicable privacy and HIPAA laws to ensure the privacy of our community.
If a student tests positive, how will the university identify those with whom the student has been in contact?
The university will, to the best of its ability, use contact-tracing and reporting methods.
A. Once someone is confirmed as infected with the virus, contacts are identified by working with the student to help them recall everyone with whom they have had close contact (less than 6 feet away for a period of greater than 15 minutes) during the timeframe while they may have been infectious (starting 48 hours before the onset of the first symptom).
B. Illinois Tech personnel will contact Illinois Tech community members to inform them they may have had contact with a person who has tested positive for the virus. To the extent possible, Illinois Tech personnel will work directly with the affected student to assist in making contact with those who are not Illinois Tech community members. Communication to those who may have had contact with an infected person will include information based on applicable public health guidance about common symptoms, a recommended plan of care, and information on seeking medical attention.
What is the process for students who believe that they may be in a vulnerable population with respect to COVID-19?
Students who have a health request for accommodations should contact the Center of Disability Resources, which will engage and interact with students regarding their circumstances and possible options. Other health and safety concerns can be directed to the Office of Student Affairs at email@example.com.
Those who believe they fall under this category may have the option to work and/or to take classes remotely, if possible, or other possible accommodations to minimize their contacts with other.
To reduce transmission among the Illinois Tech community, the university will, subject to space restrictions, the commercial availability of supplies, and other relevant circumstances, be guided by the following:
1. Sick students/employees should stay home and not come to campus.
2. Students who live on campus and are ill may be eligible for a temporary living space to self-isolate.
3. Routine cleaning and disinfection of frequently touched objects and surfaces, such as workstations, keyboards, telephones, handrails, and doorknobs will be increased.
4. We will notify individuals of the expectation that they practice social distancing protocols to the extent possible.
What additional resources are the university making available to students to help transition back to in-person courses?
Counseling and psychiatry services that can be accessed online will be available through the Student Health and Wellness Center. Services are provided via a HIPAA-compliant video conferencing platform to ensure privacy.
How will social distancing work in common spaces?
Individuals will be expected to maintain a 6-foot (or such other distance established by public health protocols) separation as much as possible. However, given that the number of people and degree of movement in these spaces will make constant social distancing difficult, masks will be required in common areas such as lobbies, restrooms, corridors, and elevators for all who can medically wear basic masks.
What will be the best way to enter and exit buildings on campus?
Individuals should rely on opening push doors with wrists or forearms, and pull doors with a paper towel or cloth, and should always practice hand washing and use of hand sanitizers to reduce their risk of spreading the virus. (Note: recent CDC guidance indicates that surface transmission is not a primary means of spread).
How many people will be allowed in an elevator at the same time?
We are developing this policy and are awaiting guidance from the state and city on this subject.
How will the university ensure that no more than the allotted number of people use the same elevator?
There will be floor stickers on each elevator car showing standing spots and signs on or near each elevator showing the maximum occupancy. Lobby managers in IIT Tower and Conviser Law Center will assist during periods of high traffic. However, we all will need to take responsibility for complying with the maximum elevator capacity. Any issues can be reported to public safety or your building manager.
Will elevator occupants be required to wear masks?
Yes. Under current public health guidance, masks will be required on elevators until we enter Restore Illinois Phase 5 (Normalcy).
Will the custodial schedule change to allow for increased cleaning of commonly touched surfaces, including doorknobs, faucet handles, light switches, etc.?
Yes. We are increasing cleaning of these items. We will follow CDC, state, and city guidance on cleaning frequency.
Will the custodial staff be cleaning with different chemicals shown to kill COVID-19?
The university has been using these chemicals for the past number of months and intends to continue to do so.
Will there be added custodial staff?
The current custodial staffing levels planned for the fall 2020 semester are expected to be sufficient to meet the needs of the campus, however, we will monitor workload as the academic year proceeds and decide on additional staffing, if needed.
Will each office be provided cleaning products to clean work surfaces on a regular basis throughout the day?
Yes, it is our current intention to make a reasonable amount of cleaning products available.
Will the number of people assigned to a room change? (For example, only single rooms will be available for fall 2020; no double rooms will be allowed.)
First- and second-year students are required to live on campus. Therefore, we plan to make spaces available to this population first. Students will have the ability to choose a single-room accommodation in addition to double and triple rooms. Students will also be able to request a roommate(s). There will be no additional cost for a single room accommodation for the fall 2020. The decision to room with someone will be at the discretion of the students seeking to do so, and both must be willing to assume the responsibilities and risks of having a roommate. Accordingly, students are encouraged to consider carefully whether they prefer to have a roommate.
When can I expect my room assignment?
We currently anticipate room assignments to be complete and communicated by July 1, 2020. Students will receive an email with details and can also check their MyRoom account in the myIIT portal for details.
Can I move in early?
We will do our best to accommodate students who need to move in prior to August 17, 2020, but we cannot guarantee the ability to do so. There will be no extra fee for early move-in requests this fall.
If I am assigned a designated room and I am uncomfortable with the living situation, can I request a change?
All students can request a change in room accommodation, but the university cannot guarantee that it will be able to grant the requests. Decisions regarding changes will be made based on individual circumstance and availability of space.
Is there a penalty if I cancel my housing contract for the fall?
Cancellations fees will be waived during the fall semester to allow students the most flexibility with their health and safety.
Will custodial staff be cleaning in the residential hall rooms or just the common spaces?
General public health guidance states that staff access to student rooms should be limited. Cleaning supplies will be made available to students upon request and will be in common areas.
Will there be rooms reserved in case people need to self-isolate?
The university has designated rooms for students who may need to self-isolate or be quarantined. These spaces include private bathrooms and kitchens. Students who self-isolate will be given disposable thermometers, masks, and gloves. A health care provider will also communicate with students in quarantine daily during the allotted time.
How will people in self-isolation get food?
Dining Services will prepare food for students in quarantine/self-isolation. The residence hall staff will manage delivery to each student as needed.
How will people in self-isolation be prevented from spreading the virus to other members of the residence halls?
Students in self-isolation/quarantine will be given the CDC guidelines to assist them with staying safe and keeping the community safe. Quarantine/self-isolation spaces will be designed to have one person per unit with a private kitchen and bathroom. A health care provider will also monitor each student in quarantine/self-isolation daily by phone health screenings and temperature checks. It is incumbent upon anyone in self-isolation/quarantine to adhere to the guidance for the benefit of the entire campus community.
For the summer months dining hours have been adjusted, and food service is provided only in Center Court. Hours of operation are 11 a.m.–7 p.m. and Monday to Friday only.
Fall hours may be adjusted to ensure that all safety guidelines are in line with CDC guidance and state/federal mandates.
Our Dining Services team takes social distancing seriously. Floor decals, coughing etiquette, and directional signage are posted throughout the dining facilities in use to inform and educate everyone in the spaces. Staff members are also present during meal hours to assist students.
For the summer months, grab-and-go is the only option. At this time, indoor dining is not allowed. Students, faculty, and staff who want to sit with others, consistent with applicable public health guidance, may have limited options throughout the campus, but tables and chairs must be set 6 feet apart. Sandwiches, salads, and hot food from our partners, Asiana and Saffron, along with our grill station, are available daily.
During the fall semester, grab-and-go service will continue. In addition, we intend to provide mobile ordering and pick-up options.
Our Dining Services team requires pre-shift health screenings including temperature checks in a designated area. There is also a schedule for vendors to arrive for socially distanced drop-offs. Vendors are not allowed to drop off products without the screening and without a set time.
Yes. During Restore Illinois Phase 3, the cap on event attendance is currently 10 people. During Phase 4, the cap is expected to be 50 people. We anticipate being in Phase 3 for most of the summer, and it is our hope that we will be in Phase 4 for at least a good portion of the fall semester.
Prior to August 1, staff will be provided with guidance around social distancing specific to their immediate and broader workspaces. Guidance will also be provided relative to the use of kitchenettes, coffee machines, restrooms, schedules, and parking.
Center Court in the MTCC will be open during the summer. It is anticipated that the Commons Dining Hall, 10 West, and Center Court will be open beginning August 17, 2020. Hours will be posted at each venue as appropriate and also be listed online at https://www.dineoncampus.com/iit.
Conviser Law Center/Moffett/Rice Campus Operations
Yes. These three campuses are all engaged in university-wide plans for reopening and are developing tailored plans within the overall university plan.
The Conviser Law Center intends to reopen the bookstore and cafeteria (the “Spakateria”) consistent with applicable guidance, when the building reopens in August.
Mies Campus and Conviser Law Center will follow the stricter of State of Illinois or City of Chicago guidance. A determination is being made whether the Moffett and Rice campuses will follow state guidance or the same protocols as the Mies Campus and Conviser Law Center.
Research and Lab Facilities
Research labs have all developed a socially distant operations protocol. Students engaged in undergraduate research should contact their lab supervisors to discuss whether and how they will be incorporated into these plans.
For specific guidance regarding research operations on campus, please view the guidelines posted on the Office of Research website.
Yes. Please visit https://www.iit.edu/COVID-19 for up-to-date information.
- Current students: Office of Student Affairs at firstname.lastname@example.org
- Current parents: Office of Student Affairs at email@example.com
- Prospective students/parents: Office of Undergraduate Admission at firstname.lastname@example.org
- Staff: Office of Human Resources at HR@iit.edu
- Faculty: University Faculty Council at email@example.com
- Alumni: Office of Advancement at firstname.lastname@example.org