Knox College has made “the difficult but unavoidable decision” to hold classes remotely during the entire spring term because of the novel coronavirus pandemic, President Teresa Amott announced on Wednesday.
Earlier this month, the College had said that the beginning of spring term would be pushed back a week, to April 1, and that classes would be taught online for at least the first half of the term. Under that scenario, face-to-face instruction would have resumed in May.
But the evolving public health situation, including stay-at-home orders in at least 25 states, and the desire to protect the health of members of the Knox community led to the decision to hold classes online for the whole term.
“This is not the news you wanted to hear, and it is absolutely not the choice we wanted to make, but safeguarding your health and well-being is of paramount importance—which means keeping students off campus through at least the end of May,” President Amott said. “Nearly all faculty and staff are also working remotely as well.”
Students who already have received permission to stay on campus will be able to remain for the duration of spring term. Knox will continue to provide those students with access to campus dining, health and counseling services, and maintenance and security support as needed.
In addition, the College is working through details on how students can retrieve, store, or ship personal belongings they left behind at Knox. “Because of the State of Illinois’s ongoing stay-at-home order and to protect the safety and health of those students who remain on campus, we ask you not to come to campus to collect your belongings at the present time,” said President Amott.
It remains uncertain whether the Knox campus will be able to host Commencement exercises as scheduled on June 7.
“We understand how hard you have worked and the many sacrifices your families have made so that you could celebrate Commencement together,” President Amott said in an email to seniors. “We know that the College will find some way to celebrate your achievements on that day, even if it is not possible to bring you, your families, and friends together on campus to celebrate until later in the summer.”
Even though Knox community members will be physically apart during spring term, students will continue to have interactions with faculty members, and they will have access to other campus resources and activities. Examples include career and networking events through the Bastian Family Center for Career Success, academic support through the Center for Teaching and Learning, and opportunities to pursue independent research and creative work or plan future off-campus study.
The College also is exploring ways to enable students to continue to produce publications like the student-run newspaper The Knox Student and literary magazine Catch.
“The power of a Knox education has always been rooted in the strength of our community—in the intellectual partnerships you have developed with faculty members and in the energy and ideas you inspire in each other,” President Amott said in an email to Knox first-year, sophomore, and junior students. “I believe that what we learn from each other over these next weeks, in class and beyond, will become some of the most meaningful experiences of your time at Knox.”
“I know I speak for all the faculty and staff when I say that we miss you,” President Amott added. “I am so proud of the way that you and the rest of the Knox community continues to look out for each other and to make the best of challenging circumstances.”
Read what President Amott wrote to students.