June 24, 2020
Dear Knox Community,
As public health guidance and our “new normal” continue to evolve and Illinois moves into Phase Four of the “Restore Illinois” plan, the senior staff, along with advisory groups and faculty committees, is continuing the planning work for reopening the College this fall. Our primary goal is to safeguard the health and safety of all members of the Knox community. Achieving this goal requires input from all areas of the campus, as well as in-depth knowledge of the latest public health, state, and federal guidance.
To facilitate that necessary cross-campus participation and coordination, I have formed four Reopening Fall 2020 Advisory Groups to create detailed plans for the fall and outline the steps needed between now and then. The groups will work at an accelerated pace with the goal of announcing the main elements of our plan for the fall no later than the middle of July -- three weeks from now, with more details to follow over the summer. The four advisory groups are:
The groups, their charges and their co-leaders are listed on the attachment to this message. Their work will be overseen by a Reopening Fall 2020 Steering Committee that consists of the senior staff, representatives from the Executive Committee of the faculty, students, staff and myself. I’ll provide more information on the membership of each group by the end of the week as we reach out to various stakeholders and seek that participation. Over the summer, we will communicate the work of these groups through campus emails, virtual town halls, and the COVID-19 webpage.
As we plan for the return of students in the fall, we are also planning to reopen the business operations of the College in compliance with Phase 4 of the “Restore Illinois: Plan.” You recall that Paul Eisenmenger sent an update on May 27 stating that we would continue remote work through at least July 5, after which time we would begin a phased movement back to campus. Each area will be handled separately based on its unique needs, and we will have safeguards in place that will allow us to keep one another safe, making appropriate accommodations for individual situations, including for those at higher risk from COVID-19. Information on the space capacity and requirements of each office/department has been gathered and we are now collating that information. We will provide more information about how we intend to phase the return to work by the beginning of next week, and you can expect to hear more from your supervisors shortly thereafter.
This has been an extraordinarily stressful time since mid-March for each and every one of us. We have confronted painful decisions, worked long hours, changed the places and ways in which we do our work, all while supporting our families and our colleagues. We have had to stretch our imaginations and make rapid-fire decisions in a changing and uncertain environment. I know we are all tired and unsure about the future, but I have faith in the collective wisdom of the Knox community when we come together. While we may not be able to predict the future with certainty, I do have certainty that we will adapt to these changing conditions and emerge with a stronger and better Knox. As always, please feel free to email me with your thoughts, questions, or concerns.
TERESA L. AMOTT