Knox College continues to plan on being open to students in the fall, with social distancing measures and the option for students to study virtually. President Teresa Amott emailed campus on Wednesday with the latest information on the school’s plans.
Knox’s current assessment of the COVID-19 situation in Knox County and Illinois is that it will be possible to open responsibly, following the recommendations of public health agents. Students will be free to decide if they would like to study on campus or remotely, with the school hoping to accommodate both sets of students with in person and remote components.
Knox does not plan any changes to its academic calendar – with classes beginning on September 14 as previously announced and concluding before Thanksgiving.
Knox has noted in its communication the advantages of this calendar — as that the late start will allow the school to see how other openings go, and it already features the pre Thanksgiving close that other schools plan to adopt.
Knox says all students will be tested twice for COVID-19 upon their arrival on campus, with more testing and contact tracing during the term as required.
Employees will also have the option to be tested on campus. The school states Tempus Laboratories and OSF St. Mary Medical Center will provide testing, at no cost to students and employees.
Knox has made plans for the eventuality of positive tests, with affected students to be isolated in a campus residence designated for quarantined students.
“Students in quarantine or isolation will have a designated staff member to support them, will receive meals in their residence, take their classes online, and have their health and wellbeing actively monitored by a member of our professional Health Services staff,” the statement said.
Affected staff members are also to follow quarantine procedures at home.
The statement from Amott listed distancing measures such as classes meeting in smaller groups and interactions with faculty occurring both virtually and in person.
The Student and Employee Wellness Advisory Group is working to put together a “social contract” that Knox community members will sign to affirm their intention of following health guidelines.
It is expected this contract will include policies such as mandatory wearing of masks in classes and other public spaces, limits on attendance at events, and all community members being expected to monitor themselves for potential symptoms.
Knox plans to have students and employees record potential symptoms through a private online platform, which more information about will be disclosed in the following weeks.
Students are not required under current guidelines to be roomed in singles, but Knox says it is attempting to accommodate as many students as possible who request a single room. Updated housing arrangements are planned to be confirmed by the end of July.
More details on what student athletes can expect are said to be coming in following weeks. The school states it wants to ensure athletes can still compete, but is willing to cancel competitions as necessary.
It has already been confirmed that alumni will not be returning to campus for Homecoming, with the annual event being moved online this year.
Knox plans to later this week launch a web page that will collect all current updates on Knox’s fall plans, with the address email@example.com also available for questions. The full text of Knox’s email on Wednesday — which includes move in dates for athletes, other students arriving early, freshman and returning students — is available here.