ui covid

Marcus Jackson of Campus Rec checks his sample before turning it in at the UI COVID-19 testing tent at Alice Campbell Hall in Urbana on the first day of testing in July.

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URBANA — After Thanksgiving break, all University of Illinois classes will move online, Chancellor Robert Jones announced Monday in a mass email.

Nov. 20 will be the last day of in-person instruction for the fall semester, so the last week of classes and exams will be held online or through “alternative delivery methods,” Jones said.

A COVID-19 committee earlier had recommended the move to reduce travel to and from campus.

“The idea is that so everybody doesn’t go home, and then come back,” committee Chairman Mike DeLorenzo said Monday on WDWS’ “A Penny for Your Thoughts.” “We realize students are coming and going, but the mass of students … when they leave at Thanksgiving, they’re gone.”

The UI’s reopening plan is dependent on East Central Illinois not reverting back to Phase 3 of the state’s reopening guidelines.

“Ultimately, if we did go back and they closed higher education, we would do like we did in the spring and everybody would go home,” DeLorenzo said.

As of July 31, the east central region’s test-positivity rate was 3.1 percent, the lowest in the state and below 8 percent, one of the benchmarks for reverting back to Phase 3.

Testing will be mandatory for employees on campus beginning Aug. 10, and for students Aug. 16, when they start to move in. People already on campus are encouraged to start testing now.

“We’re basically saying if you need to come to campus, if you want to be a part of campus activities, you’re going to need to test,” DeLorenzo said.

UI researchers developed a saliva-based test and are aiming to process 10,000 of them a day. There are already 12 testing stations around campus with more on the way.

“By the time all the students get back, we’re going to have 20 sites up,” DeLorenzo said. “It’s very convenient. … I got my test results back in about four hours.”

While the test has received certification for testing the UI community, the test isn’t yet FDA-approved, so community members can’t take it yet, DeLorenzo said.

“We wish we could test everybody, but we’re not at that point right now,” he said.