University of Illinois to briefly go online in January as virus heats up

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URBANA, Ill. — The University of Illinois will temporarily switch to remote learning in January before opening classrooms to students.

Students and staff in Chicago and Champaign-Urbana will need to show negative COVID-19 tests, the university said Monday.

The Chicago campus will go online for two weeks, starting Jan. 10, with some exceptions. The Champaign-Urbana campus will be online Jan. 18-23.

“We anticipate the two-week period of online instruction will allow students to get booster doses, settle in and navigate any health issues without the concern of missing the beginning of the semester,” the Chicago campus letter said.

The COVID-19 vaccination rate at all campuses, including Springfield, is more than 95%.

“We don’t know how much vaccination and boosting will protect from the omicron variant but it seems like there is likely some protection from that,” said Susan Bleasdale, an assistant vice chancellor in Chicago. “Not necessarily from transmission but from severe disease.”

Northwestern University announced a similar online plan.

Meanwhile, Illinois reported about 12,330 new COVID-19 cases, the highest daily total in more than a year.

Cristian Ruiz took her three children to get tested after possible exposure at school. It could take five days for results.

“Our picture with Santa, we never got to have that,” Ruiz told the Chicago Tribune.

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