Coronavirus: NIU extends spring break in response to COVID-19 pandemic

From WNIJ News

DEKALB – Northern Illinois University is extending Spring Break in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

NIU president Lisa Freeman alerted the campus community Wednesday evening that Spring Break will be extended through Sunday, March 22. During that week, faculty will develop alternatives to in-person classes. Modified courses begin March 23 and run through April 4, with a goal of returning to classrooms on April 6.

Residence halls and dining halls will remain open for students who wish to stay on campus. Campus will stay open and all staff will continue their usual work schedules.

The following is the email President Lisa Freeman sent to the NIU community:

Dear Students, Faculty and Staff:

The rapid spread of coronavirus (COVID-19) requires that we each take this situation seriously and be responsible members of our NIU community. This is an unprecedented circumstance that is understandably causing concern and anxiety for each member of our community. We are here to support you.

NIU leadership has been working to determine the best path forward to provide courses and student services while also prioritizing the health and wellbeing of all. Out of an abundance of caution, and to help reduce the possibility of transmission of the virus at our university locations, NIU is taking the following immediate actions:

  • NIU will extend Spring Break through Sunday, March 22. During this additional week, NIU faculty will work to develop alternate modes of course delivery, as appropriate, to replace face-to-face instruction.  We understand that this could be especially challenging for different programs, including those at the graduate level, that require doing clinicals, student-teaching, lab work, artistry, etc. We are prepared to accommodate our students and to find effective and appropriate alternatives.

During the extended Spring Break period, NIU will identify ways that we can offer access to academic support services, and continue to provide childcare and health services.

Modified courses will begin Monday, March 23, and run for a period of two weeks through Saturday, April 4. Our goal is to return to face-to-face instruction Monday, April 6. However, if warranted by evolving conditions, we will extend beyond that date and communicate that decision in a timely manner.

  • It’s critical that everyone regularly checks their NIU email as more specific information will be sent in the coming days and weeks that will require all to pay close attention and respond. Please take this simple step to support our community.
  • Residence and dining halls will remain open to accommodate students who want to stay on campus or are not in a position to return to their permanent home. We understand that this is a disruptive time and that our students might need and/or want to continue to live on- or off-campus. Services such as housing, dining, library and recreation will be available to our students with modified hours; detailed information on those services is forthcoming along with instructions for students who plan to stay on campus and need to notify housing and dining.
  • Campus will remain open, and all faculty and staff will continue their regular work schedules. Providing continuity of services for our students, faculty, staff, community and research partners is important. We will do our very best to support our normal daily activities but ask that we show one another patience. We will continue to reinforce that you should stay home if you are not feeling well.

This type of developing situation will no doubt leave you with more questions than answers. We are in constant communication with Governor Pritzker’s office, state agencies and public health authorities. Our provost and executive vice president, vice presidents, deans and leadership are working around the clock to work out the details and provide you with communications and instructions as soon as possible. I deeply appreciate the care and resilience they are demonstrating throughout this process, and I especially appreciate your patience.

Please continue to check our NIU coronavirus (COVID-19) resource site for updates as they become available. We are a strong, smart and caring community, and a pandemic will not change that.

Thank you for your continued support.

Photo: WNIJ/Susan Stephens