JOLIET, IL — The University of St. Francis will reopen to students for in-person classes beginning in August but will operate on an adjusted schedule and with limits on the size of gatherings, the school’s president has announced.
In a letter to members of the university community this week, Arvid C. Johnson announced campus buildings will reopen on Aug. 3, but that the school will restrict the size of classes and will limit the size of team meetings and other gatherings in large spaces to less than 50 people. Additionally, the school will shift to remote learning after Thanksgiving as school officials attempt to keep students and faculty safe as the coronavirus pandemic continues.
The announcement came after Gov. J.B. Pritzker said this week that the state will move ahead to Phase 4 of Pritzker’s Restore Illinois Plan later on Friday. Like other universities across the country, USF was forced to close its campus and adjust its learning model after the pandemic set in in late March. Under Phase 4, restaurants, businesses and other public places are allowed to reopen, but with limitations in place of how many people can gather at once.
“This summer, University staff members have gone from building-to-building and room-to-room, counted socially-distant seats, and planned where access and exit points will be located,” Johnson wrote in the letter. “Classrooms and labs are being changed to allow students to work at a safe distance from others, while preserving the welcoming and active learning environment that makes USF a great university.”
In addition to announcing the campus reopening, Johnson said that the fall break – originally scheduled from Oct. 19-23 – will be held on Oct. 6-7 and added that classes in all forms will end a week earlier than planned on Dec. 11.
A fully-online class format will begin after Thanksgiving break, which will begin on Nov. 26 and that residents will be asked to move out prior the final two weeks of classes. Johnson said that athletes who participate in fall and winter sports will be allowed to remain on campus and participate in games as necessary.
Commencement will be held on Dec. 12 following the shortened semester. Johnson said in the letter that further details about the upcoming academic year will be released in coming weeks.
“Please know that we are working to create a vibrant campus and to provide high-quality learning experiences for all students, while adhering to the “Restore Illinois” guidelines presented by Governor Pritzker, as well as the “best practices” guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention,” Johnson concluded. “We continue to adapt, plan, clean, and make our campus buildings into a safe environment for students to live and learn with us.”
This article originally appeared on the Joliet Patch