In a newsletter to the Knox community, President Teresa Amott announced that spring break will be extended by one week and at least the first half of spring term classes will be taught online. As of Thursday, March 12, Amott said there are no known cases of COVID-19 in the Galesburg area, but that Knox must do its part to limit the spread of the virus.
“I can’t imagine how hard this will be for many of you, and most especially for the Class of 2020,” Amott said in the email. “I promise that all of us at Knox will be working hard to bring you back to campus as soon as it is safe to resume our face-to-face interactions.”
Spring break now begins Monday, March 16 and runs through March 31. Spring term courses will begin online starting April 1. Whether Knox will resume face-to-face instruction halfway through spring term remains undecided, Amott said, but if it is deemed safe for students to return to campus then classes will resume in person on Monday, May 4. Spring term final exams will take place May 31-June 2. Spring term will be one week shorter.
The day and times of spring term class meetings will remain as scheduled. Amott said the spring break extension serves to give faculty time to “redesign and reconceptualize” courses for “online delivery” and real-time virtual classrooms.
Amott said students must plan to leave campus by March 19 at 4 p.m. Students unable to return home could petition to remain on campus by March 15 and if approved, must confirm they are remaining by March 17. Exterior locks on doors for campus housing will be changed on the morning of Friday, March 20. In an email to students remaining on campus, Director of Campus Life Eleanor Kahn said remaining students must exchange exterior keys, avoid groups of 6 or more people and notify campus Health Services if they develop a cough or fever.
“The fewer people we have on campus, the less likely we are to come into contact with an infected person. We are fortunate to have two hospitals in Galesburg, but, in the event of a rapid outbreak, local health facilities could become overwhelmed,” Amott said. “We have been guided by advice from the Illinois Department of Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in making the decisions we shared above, and will continue to do so as we move forward, sharing additional details in the coming days and seeking ways to answer any questions as they arise. ”
In the newsletter, Amott said the decision to extend spring break and go online was made in consultation with members of the Knox community, Knox Board of Trustees and faculty leadership. Amott said ensuring Knox seniors can graduate in June is a “top priority” and the Dean of the College will communicate with department, program chairs to determine whether spring courses “need to be cancelled and replaced with alternatives more suitable to an online environment.”
Amott said faculty and staff are expected to keep normal hours, but that some offices may experience schedule adjustments and all non-essential Knox work-related travel is cancelled until further notice. Off-campus programs, study abroad trips and the spring athletic season are suspended until further notice.
“We’re trying to understand the Knox environment and what our situation is but certainly, taking as much guidance as we can from professionals or from what other schools are doing, trying to approach it with an abundance of caution for the safety of the community,” said Knox Vice President of Finance Paul Eisenmenger.