Many Southern Illinois University employees who have been working remotely because of the pandemic this past year returned to their offices Monday, as the campus transitions back to in-person staffing and classes.
Kim Rendfeld, spokesperson for SIU, said Monday about 600 of the University’s 3,400 administrative professional and civil service employees had signed agreements to work remotely.
Those agreements have expired and many of those employees returned to campus Monday.
Renfeld stressed SIU would be following university-developed safety protocols as well as those outlined in the Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s Restore Illinois COVID-19 response plan, which includes a 50% limit on building occupancies.
Renfeld said the “return to campus” request does not apply to faculty and graduate students because members of those groups did not sign remote working agreements.
“This has come about through discussions between employees and supervisors,” she said. “The reason we are asking people to come back is that we anticipate having students back this fall and that requires some advance work.
Other benefits including improved collaboration and better access to students come with having employees on campus, she said.
“This is a step to a new normal,” Renfeld said. “We are still on track for the in-person classes in the fall that our students have asked for.”
SIU has not had routine, in-person classes since March last year when classes were switched to remote online models because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
This past fall, the university allowed a hybrid of in-person and online classes as the coronavirus pandemic continued to upend daily life. Lane said the number of in-person offerings this fall and spring were about half of what the university normally offers — 45% in-person as opposed to a typical 80%, university leaders have said.