Effective immediately, the CS Department will adopt the following practices. We will provide updates as necessary, but until further notice, these should be followed for the rest of the Spring 2020 semester.
- Siebel Center for CS. The outside doors to the Siebel Center for Computer Science will be locked and 24/7 i-card access will be enabled. The intention is to restrict access to Siebel to the members of the CS community (students, faculty, staff). Signs at the external doors will provide instructions as to how others can reach staff inside during business hours.
- Courses: Classes will transition to online instruction by Monday March 23. There will be no in person meetings for instruction or labs, even if students are still on campus. Student access to instructional labs in Siebel will be removed.
- Events: We will cancel all in-person events, including interviews, seminars, etc. We will evaluate each activity to see if an appropriate virtual option can be provided. For example, we will continue to hold faculty candidate interviews as previously scheduled, but the candidate will not travel to campus and everyone will participate virtually.
- Meetings: All meetings should be held as virtual meetings, even if people are on campus and even if they are small 2 person meetings. This includes ALL meetings - CS departmental meetings, course staff meetings, research group meetings, etc. If people are involved in in-person meetings, then appropriate social distancing (6 feet separation) must be practiced.
- Travel: Until further notice, no business-related travel, international or domestic, is allowed unless approved in advance by the department head. (Personal travel continues to be strongly discouraged.)
- Summer Events and Programs: For now, planning for summer programming can proceed as normal. We will continue to review this and will revise our recommendation as necessary
Moving to Remote Operations - Instruction, Research, Services
We know the only way to prevent transmission of the virus is to reduce the movement of and contact between people and to maintain social distancing of at least 6 feet when people must interact.
Listed below are some of the actions that CS is taking to move as many functions as possible to remote operations while still delivering on our education and research mission. As of Sunday March 15, 2020, we learned that there is now a confirmed case in Champaign County. Hence, it is imperative that we implement these actions as soon as possible.
- Courses: All courses will be delivered online for the remainder of the semester. This includes both classes and labs, and the lab rooms will not be accessible to students. The course staff and faculty should also do as much of their work remotely as possible, including remote meetings. If in-person meetings must occur, social distancing of at most 6 feet must be practiced. The CS COVID-19 Wiki pages will provide resources for instructors, course staff and students.
- Advising and Student Services: We know these are very stressful times and students will be more in need of advising than ever and we are committed to being there for you. Hence, we will be moving to 100% online advising for all students, undergraduate and graduate, effective immediately. The CS COVID-19 Wiki pages will provide information for students on how to take advantage of these resources.
- Research: For CS students, faculty and staff working on research, you should do your work remotely unless it is not possible to do so. And, if you do work in the office, social distancing of at least 6 feet must be practiced. Additionally, all meetings, including research group meetings, should be held as virtual meetings and if any in-person meeting must occur, social distancing of at least 6 feet must be practiced.
- Department Operations: Yesterday evening, the campus requested that we move as many staff as possible to remote work by Wednesday March 25. For CS staff, we had already begun preparing for remote work and our goal is to move to maximal remote work by Friday, March 20. We are working with the staff supervisors and they will be communicating with their staff in the next few days. The CS COVID-19 Wiki will provide information as to how CS services will be provided.
Suddenly, the remaining semester looked very different for everyone. On-campus courses converted to online delivery, events were cancelled, and many students were asked to stay home following spring break.
Then, as portions of the U.S. started issuing stay-at-home orders, including Illinois, the University made additional adjustments, including canceling Commencement, allowing students to switch to credit/no-credit grading, encouraging most faculty and staff to work from home, and closing or greatly limiting access to many buildings across campus.
“These are uncertain times, and they are tough for everyone,” said Illinois Computer Science Department Head Nancy M. Amato. “We are doing our best to enable everyone to continue with their studies and work in these very unusual and stressful circumstances. We are a great community and we will come through this together.”