Fall 2020 FAQ

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The academic calendar will stay the same, with classes starting Monday, August 17, and final examinations ending Friday, Dec. 11. After Thanksgiving break, the remaining two weeks of the semester will be completed remotely. Exceptions may be made for programs in which face-to-face instruction is essential. This approach minimizes risks associated with the return of students and others from Thanksgiving travel.

The day and time of courses that are already scheduled will remain the same in order to minimize disruption to students who have already registered.

The overarching goal for fall courses is to implement instructional strategies that meet student and curricular needs while protecting the health and safety of the campus community to the greatest extent possible.

To achieve that goal, we will be offering courses in several formats.

  • Traditional face-to-face courses
  • Hybrid courses, in which some instruction is face-to-face but parts of the course may be provided online or in alternative formats
  • Courses fully online or in another alternative format

Each academic program developed an instructional plan, including the delivery method for each course. Decisions on how each course is being delivered are based on the size of the class, nature of the course content, learning objectives, instructor preference and other factors.

Many students have told us that they expect or prefer face-to-face courses, so we will offer as many as possible. Courses that require peer-to-peer interactions or hands-on activities such as labs or performances are among those that will have face-to-face components.

All student services and facilities will be available, including computer labs, Career Services, Student Health Services, Morris Library, academic advising, tutoring programs, the Student Center and the Student Recreation Center. However, services may be modified to accommodate social distancing and other safety requirements. For example, the Student Recreation Center will deactivate every other machine, enhance cleaning protocols and enforce new capacity guidelines. Details are included in Saluki Safety.

See Saluki Safety  for a comprehensive look at safety measures across campus, including classrooms, residence halls and more.

Employees and students will be provided reusable face coverings. For the protection of students, faculty, staff and visitors, face masks are REQUIRED in certain circumstances as directed by the university and in compliance with an order from the governor. 

Masks are required in indoor public spaces regardless of the ability to maintain social distance. Indoor public places include spaces anyone can access, such as reception areas with walk-in access and the lobbies of buildings. Masks are also required in offices and laboratories when multiple people are present and social distancing is variable or not possible. Masks are also required outdoors when social distancing is not possible and when multiple people share a university vehicle.

We expect students to comply with the requirement to wear a mask for their own safety and the safety of others. Students will be notified of the requirement in syllabi and signage, and instructors will be provided with disposable masks for students who forget them. Additional guidance will be provided in a classroom safety guide that will be available by August 1. Students who refuse to wear masks may be referred to the Office of Student Rights and Responsibilities.

The university will have a testing plan in place when classes begin in the fall. It will be based on the latest information available from state, regional and national health agencies. SIU works closely with the Jackson County Health Department, which is responsible for directing the isolation and quarantine of individuals suspected or confirmed to be infected with COVID-19.

The health department also directs the tracing of individuals who may have been exposed. Our partnerships with the health department and Southern Illinois Healthcare, as well as work with our own School of Medicine, will guide us in the testing and tracing of COVID-19. Additional details regarding our testing plan will be available prior to fall semester.

We are reviewing options as part of our testing plan. Decisions will take the recommendations of health experts into consideration.

University-sponsored gatherings of up to 50 people will be allowed with appropriate approval beginning August 1, in compliance with the state's Restore Illinois Plan. Event sponsors will be expected to have an approved plan that incorporates social distancing and other safety protocols.

Approval is required for all on-campus and off-campus events sponsored by the university. To request approval, submit the approval form to the appropriate vice chancellor at least two weeks before the event. Plans will be reviewed by an internal safety team before approval is final. Events may not be promoted until they are approved, so early submission is encouraged.

In order to protect the health and safety of the university community, external groups may not rent or use university facilities at this time.

The university works closely with the Jackson County Health Department, which is responsible for managing the county’s COVID-19 response. The health department notifies us when cases have been identified and directs decisions related to isolation or quarantining individuals who have been infected or exposed. We assist the department as needed to trace individuals who may have been exposed. If the health department directs isolation or quarantine, employees and students who live off campus would isolate and quarantine at their residences. We have established a location for students who live on campus; the students are provided food and support. All students have access to Student Health Services.

If there is a spike in cases, we will consult with and follow the directives and recommendations of state and local health officials. Decisions may relate to the location and severity of the spike. Given advances in what we know about COVID-19, the directions and steps we take may differ from the approach taken in March.

The current plan for spring is anticipated to be similar to fall, adapted as needed based on evolving guidelines from state and health officials. Additional details will be announced during the fall semester.


Masks for residential students will be furnished upon move-in to their residence hall rooms.  Off-campus students can pick up a mask at the Student Center ID Office, the Student Services Building main desk, the check-in desk at the Student Health Center, the equipment desk at the Student Recreation Center, the Dean of Students Office on the fourth floor of the Student Services Building and at the circulation desk of Morris Library.  Students will need to show their student IDs to claim their masks.  A limited number of masks will be available in the academic deans’ offices. Students may also bring and use their own masks and will need to have one to enter the buildings listed above. Contact the Office of the Dean of Students at 618-453-2461, dos@siu.edu, with questions.

Registered students will receive an email from their academic advisors about how they can check their course formats. You can also review Fall 2020 Class Delivery Methods.

This will depend upon the classes you need for your degree, the nature of your program, and other factors. You will be able to assess what is possible when course information is updated on or before August 1. At that time, you will be able to change the courses you have registered for based upon availability. Please be sure to talk with your academic advisor before changing your schedule.

While we believe it is beneficial for all students to begin their academic careers living on campus, we understand that some students and families might want to make a different financial decision during these challenging times. Students who cancel housing contracts prior to the start of classes will not be charged the $500 cancellation fee. Please contact University Housing to begin the process. The contracts office can be reached at 618.453.2301 or via the web at housing@siu.edu. Please remember that housing office will be happy to work with students who would like to live on campus in Spring 2021.

No. You may not need to make changes to your schedule. You should refer to your schedule carefully once we notify you that course formats have been posted so you know what to expect or change your course schedule based on availability and preferences. Be sure to check with your academic advisor before changing your schedule.

Students with disabilities and students who request course accommodations because they are at high risk for serious complications from COVID-19 should contact Disability Support Services at disabilityservices@siu.edu or 618-453-5738. Disability Support Services staff will work directly with instructors on necessary accommodations.

No. We temporarily changed grading policies in the spring semester due to the rapid transition to remote learning. We do not anticipate making similar changes for the fall.

Students who will be living on campus will move into their rooms over multiple days. New students will arrive on Wednesday and Thursday, August 12 and 13, and returning students will arrive Friday through Sunday, August 14-16. To minimize contact and support social distancing, students will be assigned time periods for moving in based upon a number of factors, including location of room. Students will be able to reschedule if the assigned block of time does not work for their travel schedules. No more than 50 percent of students on a floor will arrive on the same day, and no more than two family members may help each student move in. Masks will be required outside of personal vehicles and student rooms, and carts, elevators, doors, etc., will be cleaned and sanitized regularly. Move-in times and other details will be sent directly to residence hall students prior to August 1.

Students will be expected to follow safety protocols in order to protect themselves and those around them. Each student will have an individual room and share a bathroom with one other student. Refillable spray bottles with disinfectant will be provided in each bathroom. Masks will be required outside of individual rooms. Guests will not be allowed in the residence halls. This includes day visitors and overnight visitors.

Yes. Housing and dining bills will be reduced since students will not be returning to campus after Thanksgiving.

Dining halls will be open to students with meal plans but not to guests. Dining hall operations are subject to change based on new guidance and how well students adapt, but current plans follow.

  • Students can swipe their own i.d.s any time during operating hours; the system will be touchless.
  • Staff will prepare and plate meals to order; there will be no self-service, but all food options will be available
  • Tables and seating will be placed to support social distancing, and individual seating will be available.
  • Masks will be required except when students seated to eat meals.

We will encourage students to limit travel and stay in Carbondale, especially if they are traveling to and from hot spots. We all need to do everything we can to reduce the possibility of getting or spreading the virus, and that means minimizing exposure through travel or poor social distancing practices.

Students will have opportunities to apply for employment on campus.  Visit the student employment website to learn more.

Student organizations will continue to provide extracurricular opportunities in support of academic growth and engagement. All groups will be required to follow social distancing and other safety protocols.

Students will be able to submit a petition to stay on campus for an additional charge, since bills will already have been adjusted.

The costs for on-campus and online courses are the same, and students will earn the number of credit hours they signed up for, so tuition will not be adjusted.

All students who take any in-person courses will be charged on-campus fees, since they will have the same access to the services covered by the fees regardless of how many on-campus courses they take.

Unfortunately, we will not be able to hold in-person commencement in December based on what we know today about the likelihood that the size of gatherings will still be limited under the Restore Illinois plan. We will hold a virtual commencement ceremony and plan to offer an opportunity to participate in a face-to-face commencement in the future.


Yes. Packaged, reusable face coverings with individual employee names have been delivered to campus units. Employees may also use their own masks. Email hrbenefits@siu.edu if you did not get a mask or need masks for student employees.

Faculty will determine whether their courses fit the guidelines for face-to-face, hybrid or online courses. Factors will include the requirements and instructional goals of the course. Based on a survey of faculty, we know that preferences for format vary. While the majority of students have told us that that they expect and prefer some aspect of face-to-face instruction in their courses, a smaller group has indicated a preference for online instruction. Faculty preferences also vary. We will do everything possible to provide students with options based on course requirements and to honor instructor preferences.

We will make every effort to honor instructor preferences while balancing student expectations and course requirements. Instructors who are at high risk for serious complications from COVID-19 may elect to request a reasonable accommodation under the Americans with Disabilities Act. Requests will be handled through the existing interactive process for determining accommodations.  

Some staff may continue to work remotely either full time or part time in order to continue social distancing. Offices will be expected to be physically open and able to provide expected services. Decisions will be made on a case-by-case basis by directors, deans or their designees based on the nature of the position and the requirements of the office.

The university will provide updated guidelines for August no later than Wednesday, July 22. The updated guidelines are likely to be similar to those currently in place but allow units to increase unit office capacity to no more 50 percent of employees at any time. University-sponsored gatherings of up to 50 people with appropriate social distancing may be allowed with appropriate approvals. The guidelines will comply with the state's Restore Illinois plan and be informed by recommendations from state officials and health agencies. The August 1 guidelines are likely to remain in effect until the Thanksgiving break as long as the region remains in Phase 4 of the state plan. Given the evolving outlook for COVID-19, all plans are subject to change based on directives and guidance from state governmental and health agencies.

Buildings and offices will remain physically open after the Thanksgiving holiday through December 23. Operations and services will be maintained as usual. However, remote work will be allowed and encouraged whenever possible during this period. Deans, directors or their designees will determine essential on-campus staffing levels. Employees who are not required to work on campus and who are able to work effectively from a remote location will be allowed to do so with appropriate vice chancellor approval.