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WIU Planning for In-Person Classes This Fall

Courtesy WIU

Western Illinois University is planning to return to business as usual in a few months.

In an email to the university community on Wednesday, President Guiyou Huang wrote:

“Western Illinois University plans to return to a traditional on-campus experience in Fall 2021. Employees' physical in-person work arrangements that were in place prior to March 11, 2020 will resume beginning July 1, 2021. The Temporary Alternative Work Arrangement Agreements that have been in place since March 2020 will end June 30, 2021.”

The pandemic forced WIU to finish last school year with online classes only. The school held a mix of online and in-person classes this school year.

It remains to be seen whether COVID-19 vaccines will be required for students returning to in-person classes.

“We’re going to take our cues from the state of Illinois – IBHE (Illinois Board of Higher Education) and IDPH (Illinois Department of Public Health) – and hopefully sooner than later,” Joe Roselieb, Vice President for Student Services, said during a town hall forum on Tuesday.

The administration also said the return-to-work plans are subject to change, given the ever-changing rules and guidelines associated with the pandemic.

The union representing faculty said the administration must negotiate with it to establish the working conditions for returning to in-person classes.

“Working conditions are things we get to bargain,” said Bill Thompson, President of the University Professionals of Illinois Local 4100.

“When working conditions change, then we can issue a demand to bargain [over] these new working conditions.”

The union issued that demand Wednesday afternoon.

Thompson said issues that were negotiated a year ago include, for example, giving faculty the choice of teaching remotely or in-person, ventilation systems in classrooms, and whether masks should be required in classrooms.

Tri States Public Radio produced this story.  TSPR relies on financial support from our readers and listeners in order to provide coverage of the issues that matter to west central Illinois, southeast Iowa, and northeast Missouri. As someone who values the content created by TSPR's news department please consider making a financial contribution.

Rich is TSPR's News Director.