Some Illinois professors disagree with school reopening plans

Illinois’ college and university professors are pushing back against their school’s proposals for reopening schools amid the pandemic, prompting officials to adopt new norms to accommodate faculty recommendations.

Faculty concerns are becoming more urgent after reports say that students returning to college towns are spreading the coronavirus, the Chicago Tribune reported. But despite the risks, some students want to return to campus and get their money’s worth since most schools are not discounting tuition.

Illinois State University’s “Redbirds Return” plan that was rolled out in June received immediate push back from faculty members. A proposal, signed by more than 500 employees, students, parents and community members, called for more precautions when students return in the fall.

“Since releasing the plan, we’ve received a great deal of feedback,” ISU President Larry Dietz said earlier this month. “Many faculty and staff members have also made it clear they would like a greater voice formulating plans.”

Dietz announced that there will be increased flexibility to work from home through December and to teach remotely if the class allows.

The university plans to offer classes fully online, some in person and some with a combination of both.

After more than 200 Loyola University faculty members and students signed a petition calling on administrators to make online teaching the default option for everyone, officials announced this month that they would limit face-to-face classes. They previously had plans to offer on-campus and virtual instruction.

“As COVID-19 infection rates and deaths continue to increase across numerous states, we share the concerns of our faculty, staff, and broader community,” Loyola said in a message to students.

Alyson Paige Warren, an adjunct instructor, applauded the school’s shift in approach. But she added that some issues remain unresolved.

Most schools have shifted gears to address faculty and student concerns. But Columbia College Chicago is not one of them. Officials still intend to operate on a hybrid schedule in the fall despite faculty opposition.

College spokesperson Lambrini Lukidis said more than half of their courses will be online. But some will be hybrid and others completely in person. She said this mix “is designed to give students and their families options best suited to their needs and goals, and to address specific pedagogical needs.”