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Illinois colleges gear up to remain closed this fall


(The Center Square/TRRT) – Already bleeding millions of dollars because of the COVID-19 pandemic, college and university officials across Illinois are contemplating whether students will be able to return for the fall semester.

Spring semester is nearly finished, and many students are wondering if they will be back in the dorms and in classrooms for face-to-face instruction beginning in August.

Eric Jome, director of media relations at Illinois State University, said if students do return for the fall semester, campus life will be different.

“Certainly the best-case scenario is that we can come back in the fall and we know even in that best-case scenario for being back, it still going to look different,” he said. “We are going to have to clean things more thoroughly and social distancing may still be in place.”

Jome said a majority of summer classes would primarily be online anyway, so things will be nearly the same for the next few months.

Illinois State University President Larry Dietz said decisions would be announced as guidance comes in.

“Illinois remains under a statewide stay at home directive through April 30,” Dietz said before Gov. J.B. Pritzker extended the order with some changes through May 30. “Decisions regarding on-campus and remote work by university employees in May and throughout the summer will be made based on updated information and guidance from federal, state, and local government and health officials.”

Jome said no matter what happens this fall, Illinois State University staff will be here for the students.

“Whatever form this takes in the fall, the university is there, it’s functioning, it’s educating students,” he said. “We will do our best with whatever circumstances get thrown our way.”

Kevin Bessler reports on statewide issues in Illinois for the Center Square. He has over 30 years of experience in radio news reporting throughout the Midwest.

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