SIU and other state universities are taking unprecedented action in an effort to curb the spread of the coronavirus, extending spring break by a week and moving all subsequent coursework online until further notice.
In a message to the campus community Wednesday evening, SIUC Chancellor John Dunn said that even though no cases of the spreading COVID-19 virus have been reported in southern Illinois, the university hopes these steps will help to stanch the spread of the virus.
"While no cases of COVID-19 have been identified on our campus, our primary concern is the health and safety of our community," Dunn said. "We are joining other Illinois public institutions in taking precautionary measures."
SIU's spring break, which is going on this week, now has been extended until March 22. Beginning Monday, March 23, coursework will be provided "online or other alternative formats until further notice," Dunn added.
Similar actions have been taken by the University of Illinois, Illinois State University, Northwestern University and DePaul University. Concerns about the virus, now classified as a pandemic by the World Health Organization, also have shaken other institutions across the state and rattled the economy locally and nationwide.
Dunn also offered these details:
• Teaching and research will continue, and the university will remain ope.
• Students will have options for returning to campus either to study or retrieve materials.
• The extension of spring break is intended to give faculty time to convert courses for delivery in alternative formats. "There will be challenges for some students with accessing online or alternative platforms," Dunn said. "[W]e are currently reviewing various options that may work for instructors and students. Our goal is to ensure that students have the tools they need to continue their coursework."
• The university will evaluate on- and off-campus events on a case-by-case basis based on the risk they present for the spread of the virus.
• International business travel is restricted. Domestic business travel will require approval of the appropriate vice chancellor.
"There are many unknowns related to the virus and its spread," Dunn concluded. "We will continue to monitor recommendations from state and national health agencies and adjust course as needed. We appreciate your patience and collaboration as we work through these challenges together."
More information on the university's response can be found at shc.siu.edu/coronavirus.