A message to AHS faculty and staff from Dean Fernhall re. the stay-at-home order

As I am sure you know by now, yesterday Governor Pritzker announced a stay-at-home order for Illinois. This order is an important part of the strategy to impede the spread of Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) and “flatten the curve.”  I urge all of you to take this directive very seriously and stay at home. Of course, there are several exemptions to the order, including seeking medical help, going to the grocery store, etc. Please make sure you maintain social distancing of at least six feet when you do leave your home. We are all responsible for doing our very best to help stem this pandemic. A helpful tool for estimating your risk of being infected with COVID-19 is available at C19check.com/start.

Several of the exemptions to the stay-at-home order could potentially apply to our faculty and staff, as performing essential functions for the university, including distance education, are exempt. However, I urge you to do your very best to perform these functions from home, if at all possible. Your department heads will continue to assign duties you can perform at home. If you need to come to campus in order to teach or perform other critical functions, please make sure you maintain proper social distancing and coordinate with your department head to ensure there are minimal personnel in our buildings. Also remember that buildings will be locked, and you will need your swipe card to enter.

Another exemption to the stay-at-home order is performing critical research. Critical research is defined as research critical for patient health such as drug or device trials where cessation of the research would create potential harm to patients. Also, research on potential treatments/prevention of COVID-19 is considered critical. Unless your research qualifies under one of these two categories, it is expected you stay at home and not come to campus.

As the Governor described, this order is not going to be enforced by law enforcement organizations. Many have asked whether there is a need for documentation supporting the exemptions, and we do not believe that any special documentation is required. We would, however, suggest that you have your university ID with you when you are traveling to and from work.

These are very difficult times for all of us. I know all of you will do your very best to ensure that our essential functions will be maintained at the highest level possible. None of these functions are more important than ensuring our students continue to receive the very best world class education we can provide. When we resume instruction March 30, our students will expect nothing less. I want to thank you for your herculean efforts in transitioning all of our instruction to online formats. I can’t even begin to express how grateful I am that we have the very best faculty and staff.

Please be patient and do heed the stay-at-home order, maintain social distancing when you are not at home, and stay safe. Together we will weather this very difficult time. Finally, I urge you to take this opportunity to stay physically active. Go for walks, run, jog, cycle, dance or any other activity you enjoy – while maintaining social distancing!  Physical activity is not only good your body, but also for your brain!

I encourage you to continue to monitor updates on Inside AHS, the UIC Today website and the University of Illinois System website.

Thank you all!

Bo Fernhall
Dean and Professor