Coronavirus Update
from the IMSA President
APRIL 2, 2020
Dear IMSA Community,

I am grateful for you - students, parents, staff, faculty, alumni, and friends. Your resilience in the face of adversity inspires me. You have responded by remaining focused on the educational mission of IMSA and adapting to remote learning strategies that we may develop into learning models likely to spark the innovations that will define tomorrow. We are diving into the new normal with passion and curiosity. Throughout this spring semester, we have found ourselves in uncharted territory. And, may I suggest that rather than keeping our social distance, we keep our physical distance from others, and seek to be socially close to others. Rather than beginning our interactions with each other with, “Are you keeping up with your work?” let’s start by asking, “How are you? How is your family? What do you need?”

As always, we have been transparent about current realities—including what we don’t know. Additionally, we strive to keep you informed of the decisions we are making to limit the spread of COVID-19 within our IMSA community, the state of Illinois, and the world.

Residential Hall Move-Out
In recent days, some local media outlets in the Aurora region reported that IMSA residential halls might be used as temporary housing amid the coronavirus outbreak. This reporting is incorrect. We communicated to city officials on March 17, 2020, that IMSA has no capacity for occupancy because our students’ belongings remain in the halls, and our residence counselors live in them.
In light of Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker’s announcement this week extending the stay-at-home order through April 30, 2020, we have decided to delay move-out plans.

Based on the governor’s order and similar efforts around the world, IMSA is committed to the health and safety of our community, including students, families, and IMSA employees. We want to illustrate and amplify the photo shared by doctors in Greece, “The one who stayed away saved all the rest.” We resolve to stem the spread of the coronavirus, promote physical distancing, and prohibit traveling to and from the IMSA campus.  
We understand that students may be anxious to retrieve their belongings and are committed to contacting parents and students once the situation changes. At the right time, we will provide clear guidance and directions for returning to campus and moving out. 

Minor exceptions are being made on a case-by-case basis for extraordinary circumstances. Contact the Student Life Office at 630-907-5009 or email Ms. Katie Berger, Chief Student Affairs Officer at kberger@imsa.edu .

Commencement
Every year, one of my most cherished moments is the honor of presiding over Commencement for our graduating seniors. IMSA’s graduation with its “pomp and circumstance” is a fitting ceremony symbolizing our seniors’ completion meeting graduation requirements at IMSA. But as we have all seen, the rapid spread of COVID-19 has changed nearly everything. Incidentally, the formal name for the virus is SARS-CoV-2, (severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2). 

Because of the continuing public health threat posed by COVID-19, we have decided to cancel the in-person commencement ceremonies scheduled for May 30, 2020, at the NIU Convocation Center. Instead, we are planning on a live-stream IMSA commencement to include our traditional speeches by students, commencement speaker, previously announced, and written program. We will provide additional information closer to the date.
We are also hoping that we can have a face to face celebration. We have been working with the Senior Class Club (and consulted with the Student Council) on ideas and alternative ways to celebrate. They have indicated a preference for bringing the seniors together over the summer for bonding time, a senior weekend with some of the favorite senior traditions, a dance, a Six Flags Great America trip, a bagel party, watching the sunrise, or a trip to the Main Event.

I invite your input into how and when we mark this milestone. Please share with us your thoughts on alternative and innovative ways to recognize this occasion, vibrantly and safely, by e-mailing me at jtorres@imsa.edu . Please know that we will honor the success of our senior class every way we can and keep us safe.

Update on Student Fee Refunds and Student Emergency Relief Fund
In my March 26, 2020, IMSA President Coronavirus Update, I shared with you that we will be prorating student fees to reflect the reduced extracurricular offerings as a result of our campus closure. All credits have been applied to MySchoolBucks accounts for those families who enrolled in payment plans. Refund checks for fees that were paid in full will be issued on or before May 31, 2020. For questions about the status of your student fees, please contact Ann Donohue at 630-907-5585.

I have received e-mails from parents concerning their desire to redirect their refund to the Student Emergency Relief Fund . This fund is designed to lend a helping hand to our student families who are struggling to pay for essential expenses as well as access to technology for remote learning. If you wish to donate your refund to the IMSA Student Emergency Relief Fund, please complete the donation consent form by April 17. All donations are tax-deductible to the full extent of the law. You will receive an acknowledgment letter for your records. 

For families who wish to apply for emergency funds from this effort, please complete the grant application .

Resident Counselor Remote Student Engagement 
In these uncertain and challenging times for our students, our Resident Counselors have been working creatively to stay connected and support our amazing students while they are at home adapting to their “new normal.” Some are having discussions through YouTube live chat; others are hosting small group chats via Facebook Messenger and Facebook Live. A few examples of the fun activities RCs are sharing with their students include making an Affirmation Board (Positive reminders to raise self-esteem and promote self-care), live streaming video games for group play, painting, bingo, workout videos, yoga, learning how to play the ukulele, and even belly dancing!

QuaranTeam
I asked each of my Cabinet members to take a “work from home selfie” to share with the IMSA community to lift spirits and keep the IMSA community culture intact. Along with the selfie, each Cabinet member also shared their tips for staying positive and productive as our community transitions to remote working as the new normal. Enjoy my QuaranTeam!  We want to offer this opportunity to our entire community. Please take a selfie and share your tips for staying positive with us. Send your selfie to tglas@imsa.edu.

IMSA Donates PPE to Mercy Hospital
While much of the IMSA campus is quiet, members of our facilities team have been busy collecting and sorting hundreds of excess, unopened Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) from across campus. We expect to deliver our PPE donations, including goggles, vinyl and nitrile gloves, isopropyl and ethyl alcohol tomorrow to Mercy Hospital in Aurora.

Let's be the ones who stay away to save the rest.


Respectfully,

José M. Torres, Ph.D.
President
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ILLINOIS MATHEMATICS AND SCIENCE ACADEMY
1500 Sullivan Rd., Aurora, IL 60506-1000 |  630.907.5000 |   imsa.edu