WIU extends spring break due to coronavirus

MACOMB, Ill. (NEWS3) — Western Illinois University officials announced the school will be extending its spring break due to the coronavirus outbreak. 

Currently the campus community is on spring break until Friday, March 13. Officials said they will be extending break until Monday, March 23. After that, the university will transition from face-to-face to alternative format until at least April 3. NEWS3 asked university officials what “alternative format” is. Officials said for now, that means no in-person classes. The university said they will release more information in the near future detailing the format. 

WIU Interim President Martin Abraham said in a press release, even though classes are canceled next week, the university will remain open for regular business. All faculty and staff will resume their normal work schedule the week of March 15. Martin said student employees and graduate assistants should consult with their supervisors. 

Abraham said employees and students who feel ill should stay home and contact their doctor. 

Events at the university with more than 50 participants scheduled between now and April 3 are canceled, unless deemed essential for WIU. The university has implemented a mandatory event registration form for the remaining of the semester. 

Abraham said in a press release, dorm rooms and university housing will reopen as planned Sunday, March 15, following spring break. Students may choose to remain in their permanent residences until further notice. Dining services will be available for students who return to campus starting Sunday. 

This announcement comes two days after WIU administration cancelled all summer study abroad trips and restricted international business travel for faculty, staff and students until Aug. 1. All university-affiliated domestic air travel is also restricted until further notice unless granted a waiver by WIU administration.

Officials said there are no confirmed cases of the coronavirus at WIU, but they want to take steps to ensure the safety of the community. 

“We are not taking this situation lightly and are working as quickly as possible to make informed decisions to keep our University community safe, while providing a quality academic experience for our students,” Abraham said.

WIU said students are currently in multiple areas worldwide, including Ecuador, Brazil, Galapagos, Denver and Florida.

Officials encourage students, faculty and staff not to visit areas with high numbers of reported cases within the U.S. Anyone who returns from high-risk areas in the U.S. or abroad could be required to self-isolate for 14 days. 

WIU sent an email to students, faculty and staff Wednesday from the Office of Risk Management and the Beau Health Center with a link to their new coronavirus website. The website lists up-to-date information about COVID-19, including tips on how to avoid transmitting illnesses.