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COVID vaccines spur hope for ‘traditional’ fall semester, says ISU’s Dietz

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NORMAL (WEEK) - Illinois State University is planning for a much more traditional semester next fall with students returning to the classroom instead of taking most or all of their classes online.

ISU President Larry Dietz told the school's governing board Friday that COVID-19 vaccines will be available for all students, faculty, and staff when the new school year starts in August. Also, he said new treatment will be available soon to reduce hospitalizations and death from the coronavirus.

Dietz did not provide specifics whether students, faculty, and staff would be required to receive the vaccine, and he didn't say anymore about COVID treatments.

"My expectation is that the university will safely offer as many in-person classes as possible in the fall of 2021 as we plan for a more traditional experience with more students in the residence halls, and in-person activities, and out-of-classroom experiences," Dietz told ISU trustees.

Still, Dietz said administrators are planning to pivot back to virtual learning if conditions warrant.

"As we've learned over the last year, information changes constantly and the university needs top be ready to make changes based upon the conditions at the time," said Dietz.

Since the start of the pandemic almost a year ago, roughly 80% of ISU classes have been online.

Meantime, Dietz applauded Gov. JB Pritzker for proposing a state budget that keeps funding levels flat despite "very challenging times."

He called on state lawmakers to approve the spending plan.

"However, it remains to be seen what they will do, we are just very happy and pleased for the recommendations that have come out, and it looks like Fiscal year 2022 will be even more stable given this news," Dietz said.

Howard Packowitz

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