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Timeline of COVID-19 communications at Bradley

Screenshot by Sam Mwakasisi.

As the pandemic progressed with evolving information from around the world, Bradley had to adapt, sometimes shifting its messages a few times in the same week. The university continued to keep students and faculty informed of campus operations and provided information and additional sources about COVID-19 guidelines, symptoms and vaccines.

Feb. 28, 2020

“Coronavirus update:” This was the first email communication about COVID-19 where Bradley explained what the virus was, what symptoms were and how to prevent infection. On this day, there were no cases in central Illinois. The World Health Organization had declared the outbreak a public health emergency.

March 9, 2020

“Spring break and COVID-19:” At this time, spring break was still scheduled, but the university shared information on international travel advisories. Masks, limiting group events or canceling classes were not recommended. There were still no recorded cases in central Illinois or on Bradley’s campus.

March 11, 2020

“UPDATE spring break and COVID-19:” Bradley was making a contingency plan for after spring break due to the rapidly evolving situation. There were no recorded cases on-campus or in Peoria at the time, and the university did not plan on canceling classes or moving online; however, they recognized that could change at any moment.

March 12, 2020

“Bradley University transitions to on-line courses:” Bradley announced spring break would be extended by one week and online classes would start on March 30 and go to April 12. Faculty and staff were told to report to campus as if under regular conditions. University-sponsored travel was canceled and students were encouraged to return to their permanent residence for spring break. Events with more than 25 attendees were canceled.

March 14, 2020

“1st positive case of COVID-19 in central Illinois:” A forwarded press release announced that Woodford County had the first confirmed case of COVID-19 in central Illinois. The university’s virus preparedness team was monitoring new information.

March 16, 2020

“Residence hall information – Bradley University, COVID-19:” Students were encouraged to return to their permanent residence, and had to complete a survey if they were unable to, so accommodations could be made. Dining Services were going to begin limited operations.

March 18, 2020

“COVID-19 update from President Roberts:” It was at 2:15 p.m. on this day that Bradley announced it would move classes online for the remainder of the spring 2020 semester. May commencement was officially canceled and most operations were shifted to alternate workplaces

March 20, 2020

COVID-19 update – Illinois ‘stay at home order:’” Gov. J.B. Pritzker had announced a stay-at-home order for the state starting March 21 through April 7. Moving out of residence halls was suspended, and non-essential personnel were asked to work remotely. Many operations were limited but still continuing including Health Services, Dining Services, housing, online counseling services and IT services.

March 27, 2020

Recent development relating to COVID-19:” A Bradley student who participated in the Study Abroad program tested positive for COVID-19 and had reported improving symptoms after being in self-isolation since returning from abroad.

March 31, 2020

“COVID-19 update – commencement, billing, refunds and more:” Gov. JB Pritzker extended the stay-at-home order to continue until April 30. The university was planning to move forward with an in-person commencement ceremony but did not have a date established. Students who lived in the residence halls and the Student Apartment Complex, but were not currently residing there, were issued a 44 percent refund for housing and meal plans from the spring semester. Deadlines for academic advising, early registration and the last day to drop classes were pushed. Bradley also shared resources about teaching and learning online, “Zoombombing” and the Academic Success Center.

April 3, 2020

“Update from Bradley president(s):” The university released a video discussing the transition of the presidency from Gary Roberts to Stephen Standifird.

April 7, 2020

“COVID-19 student updates 4/7/20:” These updates were sent to students after Roberts sent an email about initiatives. This email included the announcement of a pass/fail option, summer classes moving online, summer study abroad programs being canceled, student employees continued to be paid through the end of the spring semester, rent forgiveness for St. James residents and a tentative plan to return to face-to-face classes in the fall. 

April 15, 2020

“Pass/Fail, Reimbursements and more COVID-19 updates:” More information was provided regarding the pass/fail option for students, academic advising, refunds for on-campus students, planning for move-out in May and how to stay connected and informed.

April 22, 2020

“Student COVID-19 update:” Bradley applied for the CARES Act’s Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund, and the email explained Pritzker’s announcement for payment relief on some student loans. University-funded scholarships for 2020-21 were going to have more flexible GPA requirements. 

May 1, 2020

“Bradley student COVID-19 update:” Through the CARES Act, the university planned on distributing a one-time $400 grant to Title IV eligible students. Student move-out was set to begin on May 1 for those in the residence halls, SAC and St. James. May commencement was moved online with a couple of videos and a “digital toolkit” for students. There was a plan to hold an in-person ceremony on Dec. 19 for May and August graduates. The fall 2020 semester was set to begin on-campus on Aug. 26, and Bradley received national attention for the commitment.

May 15, 2020

“Bradley University COVID-19 update:” This email reiterated a lot of the information announced in previous updates. Return to Campus teams were established to determine safe operations, and subcommittees were considering how to modify classrooms, common areas and incorporating physical distancing. Hybrid learning and smaller class sizes were also being considered for the fall. Phase two of the Business and Engineering Convergence Center construction was suspended. 

May 29, 2020

“COVID-19 update:” The university announced a number of scheduling decisions for the upcoming fall semester. Fall break was canceled and students would not return after Thanksgiving. A decision was not made about whether classes would resume online after Thanksgiving break or if the academic calendar would be accelerated and include Saturday classes. Masks would be required while on-campus and a Bradley-branded mask would be provided to students and staff. Antigen testing and contact tracing were being considered for the fall and a 6-foot distance was being implemented in classrooms. At this time, there were more than 845 students set to attend one of 19 single-day orientation sessions.

June 26, 2020

Campus update:” Illinois entered Phase 4 of the Restore Illinois Plan and the Illinois Board of Higher Education released a guide for “Safely Launching Academic Year 2020.” Classes would be held during the Monday and Tuesday of the canceled fall break, but classes would not be held on the Monday and Tuesday before Thanksgiving break. Classes would resume online after Thanksgiving, and final exams would remain on the same schedule. Undergraduates were given the opportunity to request a leave of absence. Instructors had to be prepared to hold classes in a hybrid style. The university planned to practice antigen surveillance testing and testing for those with symptoms through Health Services. Students were also allowed to request a single room in the residence halls. Personal travel was not recommended.

July 24, 2020

“Positive COVID cases at Bradley:” There were eight confirmed cases of COVID-19 in relation to the university’s orientation program. This email also informed recipients of the difference between a close contact and a contact.

“UPDATE: Positive COVID Cases at Bradley:” Ten cases were now confirmed through contact tracing. The four orientation sessions scheduled for July 27-31 would be conducted virtually.

July 29, 2020

“Testing, tracing and considerations regarding 100% move to virtual learning:” Bradley would conduct ongoing COVID-19 surveillance testing with the goal of randomly testing 250-300 individuals per week. Information was outlined regarding a threshold for moving to online operations at any point during the semester.

Aug. 28, 2020

“COVID-19 data dashboard:” Bradley implemented a COVID-19 dashboard to display the number of tests performed, positive cases, positivity rate and the number of students in isolation and quarantine.

Sept. 8, 2020

“Bradley University enacts two-week, all student quarantine and moves to temporary remote learning:” After nearly 50 confirmed cases on-campus and 500 students in isolation and quarantine, the university decided to enact a quarantine on-campus from Sept. 8 to Sept. 23. Students were asked to stay at their residence and could leave for essential errands, spend time outside with masks, pick up groceries, attend work and visit Health Services. Grab-and-go meals were offered throughout the quarantine.

Sept. 11, 2020

“Updates for all-student quarantine:” The Cullom-Davis Library and the lower level of the Michel Student Center would remain open during the quarantine period as study spaces. Students were also able to report concerning activity through the non-compliance form.

Sept. 21, 2020

Bradley to lift all-student quarantine – significant restrictions will remain:” Instructing styles would return to pre-quarantine styles. Quarantine protocols were changed to target specific individuals instead of entire floors. Students could request to move to remote learning at any time during the semester and had to be approved to move out of their residence hall. Students were unable to host any guests in their residence or dine-in at off-campus restaurants.

Oct. 15, 2020

“December commencement announcement:” There would be two virtual ceremonies held on Dec. 19, 2020 to recognize May, August and December graduates.

Nov. 3, 2020

“Spring 2021, remote learning, registration, housing and more:” Delivery options for classes were displayed as students registered, so they knew if it would be in-person, hybrid or completely online. Students had to verify if they would be remote or on-campus learners for the spring and had until Jan. 15 to change their learning preference. Spring 2021 was planned to begin in a similar fashion to the fall. 

Jan. 12, 2021

“We are ready for the spring semester:” Surveillance testing would continue with the goal of testing 250 to 400 individuals per week. The semester would start with an initial two-week all-student quarantine where in-person classes would meet face-to-face. Restrictions would loosen on Feb. 8 if the campus and community COVID-19 numbers were supportive.

Jan. 22, 2021

“Spring COVID-19 testing strategy:” During the first two weeks, the testing goal was set at 500 people. In addition to random asymptomatic testing, symptomatic students could also schedule an appointment with Health Services to take a COVID-19 test. 

Feb. 8, 2021

“Campus restrictions to loosen Tuesday:” After a successful quarantine, the university implemented new guidelines for the rest of the spring. These included required masking on campus, the allowance of dining in at off-campus establishments, organizations could be approved to host in-person outdoor or indoor events and a limited number of guests were allowed in residences.

April 9, 2021

“#BradleyUnite – Get vaccinated on campus:” Vaccination clinics were held on April 12 and 13 for eligible students. There were 500 vaccines available each day. 

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