Illinois State University President Larry Dietz during a 2019 interview with The Vidette.

Illinois State University President Larry Dietz announced last week that ISU students and faculty would be coming back for the fall 2020 semester with a different style of how things will work. 

The new semester will come with new safety and health guidelines in which an update was put together and sent out in a Redbirds Return progress report. 

However, logistics are still being worked out for many aspects of campus with more updates to come. According to Dietz, the university plans to spend the summer working the logistics out in a more detailed manner.

“What went out with this report simply was a progress report to let people know how much work we’ve done in the last few months [and] the things we’re wrestling with,” Dietz said. 

“It will be updated as things change, but at least it’s a point in time that we say, ‘Here are the things that we’re working on and here are some decisions that have been made here or others that will need further work.’”

As of now, the university is working to identify where face masks will be required and where to include a testing facility on campus with contact tracing available. 

Dietz said that there is a team working on determining the many aspects of what else will be incorporated on campus, including the consideration of having students and faculty get their temperatures taken before entering buildings.

“Right now, we’ve got a work group that’s working on [this] and it includes some of our faculty from our nursing program,” Dietz said.

“We want to do what at the time is considered to be best practices, but we don’t have the definition for all of that today.”

Along with the on-campus testing facility, Dietz stated that the university is working to set aside quarantine areas for both on-campus housing and off-campus housing if they contract the virus and cannot get home. 

Infected students who are able to go home will have families come get them and recover from the virus at their home. 

“I think probably the best thing that would happen if someone does get sick and they know that it’s the coronavirus [and has been] diagnosed is to go home and recuperate it at home,” Dietz said. 

One of the ways the university is planning on practicing social distancing in the residence halls is by moving approximately 1,000 of the 6,000 students out of the halls and into off-campus apartments.

The university is planning on changing the quads in the residence halls to triples to help prevent the spread of the virus as well. 

For off-campus apartments, Dietz said that the prevention of spread and the incorporation of social distancing will remain up to the landlords as students sign their leases with the leasing companies. 

Dietz also stressed that the university plans to continue working with the issues that have come with the housing changes in the next couple months.

“We just don’t want to have the same number [of students] in the same proximity on the campus,” Dietz said. 

As far as classes go, Dietz said that the university is looking at moving the combination of online, in-person and hybrid classes completely online after Thanksgiving. 

A final decision on this plan has yet to be made as the university is also looking into other options. Dietz stated that he plans to have faculty weigh in on the issue when the time comes. 

The university plans on providing resources to internet accessibility and technology accessibility to students who need it for that two-week period of time if they decide to make the transition. 

“The first thing that we’re interested in is the health and safety of faculty, staff and students. The other piece that we’re very interested in is that students are able to pursue their academic goals,” Dietz said.

KELLIE FOY is News Editor for The Vidette. She can be contacted at  Follow her on Twitter at @kellie_foy 

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