NIU’s Current Status and Plans for Summer and Fall
Feb. 10, 2021
NIU is pleased and hopeful to see gains being made in COVID-19 research, vaccine development and vaccine deployment. While there are still challenges to be addressed at the federal and state levels, we do see our circumstances improving over the next several months. Outlined below are important updates regarding our future plans; your continued support of, and adherence to, our Protecting the Pack plan is both appreciated and instrumental to moving NIU forward.
NIU continues to work very closely with the DeKalb County Health Department to inform eligible employees and students as the vaccine becomes available. We strongly encourage you to receive the vaccine as soon as you are eligible and will continue to advocate to Springfield officials on behalf of our entire community to be allowed access sooner rather than later in the state’s distribution program.
Region 1 of the Restore Illinois plan, which includes DeKalb, has reported a 30-day decrease in the area’s overall positivity rate and is currently in Phase 4. In this phase, NIU is now allowing for limited-capacity dining in our retail and residence hall dining spaces. Should the downward trend for the region continue, and the university’s positivity rate remain low, we will begin in March to allow for groups of 50 or fewer to meet on campus in spaces that allow for appropriate social distancing.
Over the course of the spring semester, the university will continue to support flexible work arrangements that balance the needs of our employees and the campus. Those who want to resume working on campus may do so and must follow the COVID-19 safety protocols and guidelines outlined in the Protecting the Pack. Supervisors are asked to continue to be flexible and supportive of employees who need to remain working from home during this challenging time. Regardless of where you are working, I want to remind everyone that mask-wearing, handwashing and physical distancing continue to be as important as ever.
May Commencement and Summer Courses
Given our region’s current status in the Restore Illinois plan, it remains unrealistic that large events will be permissible or safe for spring commencement. We continue to evaluate the best options for celebrating our May graduates, whether it’s through virtual programming or limited, in-person events. Detailed information about our plans will be communicated by mid-March.
As typical, summer classes will be offered almost entirely online with the exception of a number of lab and clinical courses. NIU is also working to support summer research and artistry activities.
Fall 2021 Semester
Planning for Fall 2021 is underway to primarily (and safely) offer in-person classes and student support services, an increased capacity for housing and dining, as well as social activities, athletics and events that foster student engagement and success. While the majority of our classes will be scheduled to meet face-to-face, hybrid and online courses will still be available to support the needs of our campus community. Additionally, many of the expectations outlined in Protecting the Pack, such as surveillance testing, will continue to help support the health and well-being of all Huskies.
We are committed to providing you with monthly updates about progress and as specific information develops over time. As we have all learned throughout this experience, plans might require adjustments to reflect the most current conditions and guidelines. What remains a constant, though, is our priority to supporting the health and well-being of all Huskies in ways that uphold our values and guiding principles.
Lisa C. Freeman