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U-Illinois to briefly go online in January as virus heats up

URBANA, Ill. (AP) — The University of Illinois will temporarily switch to remote learning in January before opening classrooms to stu- dents.

Students and staff in Chi- cago and Champaign-Urbana will need to show negative COVID-19 tests, the univer- sity 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 in- struction 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, includ- ing 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 protec- tion from that,” said Susan Bleasdale, an assistant vice chancellor in Chicago. “Not necessarily from transmis- sion but from severe dis- ease.”

Northwestern University announced a similar online plan.

Meanwhile, Illinois re- ported 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 Tri- bune.

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