NIU President Lisa Freeman joined several other Illinois public universities in announcing that classes would be conducted remotely for the remainder of the semester to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
She says there are possible exceptions for a small number of labs, internships, clinical and practicum programs. But there is no official word as yet on what those courses may be.
Jacob Chan is an NIU student. He says he’s not sure how his classes will translate to the new online format.
“No, I’m an actor," said Chan. "There’s been some contact, but it’s not clear because everyone’s still trying to figure it out.”
NIU students will be allowed to continue living on-campus.
The university announced it's also delaying its spring commencement ceremony.
The University of Illinois canceled the spring commencement ceremony for all three of their campuses. Other schools across the state, including North Central College in Naperville, have done the same.
In a letter to the university, Freeman outlined how this will affect individuals:
Dear Students, Faculty and Staff,
NIU leadership begins each day of this rapidly evolving situation with the question, “What is best for our students, faculty and staff?” We’ve been making decisions necessary to protect your health and support student success by using the most currently available information from public health experts, our collective expertise and the NIU values we all embrace. As the situation in Illinois has evolved, we’ve seen a need to adjust our plans to ensure the continuity of teaching and learning.
Therefore, it is with heavy hearts that we have decided today to discontinue all face-to-face classes for the remainder of the semester and replace them with virtual instruction. While it is possible that exceptions might be considered at a later date for a very few internship, clinical, practicum and laboratory programs, for the time being, all courses will be taught using NIU’s remote learning platforms – tools that faculty are already working to implement. And, as we’ve previously shared, all faculty will be communicating directly with their students in the coming days about their classes. Students with specific questions about program exceptions will receive updates from the program leadership at the appropriate time.
I know this decision will have profound effects on each of you. The constantly changing state, national and global situation is stressful for all of us. This is not how everyone pictured their spring semester, especially our graduating seniors. The very heart of a college experience is connectivity – with your fellow students, professors, advisors, counselors, your program and our broad NIU community. While that connectivity will look different this semester, the care and passion we pour into our students each day will not waver. Knowing the NIU community as I do, I anticipate that these challenges will strengthen us in ways we couldn’t have imagined just a few weeks ago.
Please be clear that as a university we remain open, and our plan is to continue to do so barring any additional measures we must put in place to safeguard our community’s health. We ask for everyone’s patience as the university works through the many next steps that will be put in place to ensure course and degree completion, housing for those who wish to continue to stay and adjustments to charges for those wishing to move out of the residence halls and return to their permanent residence. Please note the following:
- NIU will continue to provide housing for those who wish or need to stay on campus. Given the need for social distancing, students will likely have to relocate to different rooms or residence halls. Residential students will receive emails in the next several days that will provide further details.
- Each student living on campus will need to confirm their plans to stay or leave housing. For those able to make quick decisions, we ask that you confirm your decision by Monday, March 23. All students will need to confirm a final decision by Thursday, March 26. To accommodate our students and their families, move out will be available, by appointment, March 20 -29. This timing provides students with several days of experience with remote instruction to determine if they prefer to remain in the residence halls or instead continue their studies at home.
- Specific instructions will be sent to residential students later this week. Details and procedures regarding any adjustments to appropriate housing and dining charges will be announced by early next week.
- For students with meal plans, Dining Services will be open on a modified schedule with only to-go options to ensure students who remain on campus have access to meals. Dietary restrictions will be accommodated as always.
- The university has not yet made a final determination about commencement and will announce plans by Thursday. All other NIU events for this semester, including those sponsored by student organizations, are canceled.
Faculty and Staff
- Faculty and staff are doing an incredible job adjusting and adapting to the numerous changes coming at them professionally and personally. We can’t accurately predict at this point when we’ll be able to resume our regular working schedules and on-campus presence at this time. Please plan accordingly to continue with what you are doing this week for the foreseeable future using the many options available we have provided. We are committed to continuing to update you about the changing circumstances. Please know how proud I am to work with all of you, and I look forward to the day when we can be together again.
There are no truer words at NIU today than HUSKIES NEVER QUIT. More details will be forthcoming and also updated on NIU’s COVID-19 site. Please continue to take proper care of yourself and let the university know how we can be supportive of you.
Lisa C. Freeman