University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign ends face-to-face classes for the semester

Learning will continue at the University of Illinois.

The University of Illinois has not been shut down, said Robin Kaler, associate chancellor of public affairs at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign.

Yes, face-to-face classes have been canceled for the rest of the semester because of COVID-19. However, classes have resumed online using Zoom and email and phone calls – any and all alternatives for course delivery.

Kaler said university officials are confident that the University of Illinois will continue to provide world-class education as it strives to keep everybody in the campus community safe.

“We have asked our students who are safely able to do so to please go to their permanent homes,” Kaler said. “We have asked our faculty to move their courses online or to some other delivery method that does not require them to be face-to-face in large groups.”

The university will refund students the balance of their housing and dining fees. Students also have been assigned staggered dates to go back to their dorms to pick up their belongings.

Remote learning is not a new thing for U of I. For a number of years, the university has offered online classes. Even some students who live on campus take online classes, Kaler said.

Kaler said that moving every class online so quickly sometimes feels like “we are building the plane while we are trying to fly it.”

Remote teaching is more challenging for some courses than it is for others, she said. Hands-on classes in the School of Fine and Applied Arts are top of the list of classes that are challenging to deliver remotely, she said.

“How do you teach a dance class online?” she said.

There will be some classes where training will have to be pushed out beyond the semester, she said.

In a move that Kaler called “heartbreaking,” U of I canceled commencement ceremonies in mid-May.

“We are looking at scheduling something later when it is safe to do so,” she said. “Graduation marks a transition in your life. You remember it for the rest of your life. We can’t have students not have that experience. We’re going to figure something out.”

In the meantime, students and parents have been understanding about the changes, she said.

“We are really grateful for all the creative solutions that people are coming up with and for all the patience and kindness that people are showing each other,” she said. “It has been really heartwarming.”

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