Research Park’s Response to COVID-19

Category : Research Park
Posted on: March 11, 2020



We are making continuous updates to our operations in light of the current information and policies with COVID-19. This is an unprecedented situation, and we are doing our best to be responsive to our clients, employees, and students who are all impacted by this global pandemic. The Champaign Urbana Public Health Department is the best local source for this information.

We are following guidance that we are receiving from the University of Illinois and other public health sources. This is changing rapidly, so please be aware that new information is rolling out hour by hour.  The latest information is being posted to the university’s COVID-19 website.

On March 11, the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign announced its decision to eliminate in-person classes for the rest of the Spring 2020 semester. Starting March 23, all classes will be delivered online.

Governor Pritzker issued a stay-at-home order effective through April 30.  This means that employees, unless those in essential jobs should work remotely. Jobs deemed essential include: Health care workers, grocery store employees, pharmacists, hardware store workers, plumbers, electricians, day care providers, bank tellers and roles that are essential to a business’ operations such as payroll and security. Police, firefighters, paramedics and sanitation workers will not be quarantined. Residents can still go to the grocery stores, put gas in their cars, take walks outside and make pharmacy runs. 

While this may have a major impact on the University of Illinois community, we want to make sure that everyone understands what this actually means and how it will impact Research Park operations. (Of course, this information is changing hour by hour; this is what we know TODAY.)

  • University of Illinois is not closing; dorms remain open and while students are encouraged to return home, they are welcome to stay in place.
  • University employees will work remotely other than those in essential jobs defined in the order, such as police, healthcare workers, power plant operators, and housing and dining personnel.
  • EnterpriseWorks and Research Park buildings remain open. 
  • EnterpriseWorks and Research Park staff are working remotely for the remainder of the spring semester.

Research Park Response to Covid-19

  • Following the CDC’s recommendation to cancel or postpone events of 50 or more people, the Research Park is suspending in-person events through the end of April. We will be hosting some workshops online via Zoom; please refer to our calendar for more information.
  • EnterpriseWorks remains open by keycard access 24/7 to all tenants and their employees for the foreseeable future; extra cleaning supplies are available for tenant use. Please be respectful of others and return them when done.
  • Starting Monday, March 23, EnterpriseWorks will be unlocked between 9 am and 2 pm to allow for couriers and USPS deliveries. This may change as we access the situation.
  • EnterpriseWorks and Research Park staff are working remotely for the remainder of the spring semester. We will not not be signing for packages. Please email us with urgent needs; we will do our best to address remotely.
  • Consider your company’s policies on remote work.  Please communicate clearly your company’s remote work policy.
  • If you are a tenant in another Research Park building, please refer to your property manager/landlord regarding any changes in procedures during this time.
  • Consider if your work falls into order’s definition of an essential job. More information on the order can be found here.

Here are some suggestions and information as it relates to student interns and other employees in the Research Park.

  • Consider your company’s policies on remote work. Many companies have implemented remote work strategies, however it may not be apparent how that impacts students specifically. Communicate clearly your company’s remote work policy and requirements of in-person attendance.
  • Anticipate that some students may want to pick up MORE hours if they are able, since they will not have to spend time traveling back and forth to classes.
  • MANY students do not plan to leave campus. Most students, especially upperclassmen and graduate students, live in private housing. Some students will be unable to leave the community, as it may not be safe for them to travel home.
  • Given best practices for “social distancing” provided by public health professionals, consider the density of your office and evaluate if you need to limit how many employees should be in the office at one time. Here is some guidance from the World Health Organization on healthy workplaces.

Student Mindset

Please keep in mind, students may be experiencing a lot of emotions in light of COVID-19. The uncertainty surrounding the rapidly evolving policies may leave students scared, stressed, and saddened. This policy may leave students isolated in their dorms, and some may find solace in coming to the office for work or school. By moving to online classes, some students have expressed feeling robbed of their collegiate experience. This is especially true for graduating students who have seen their “last” of everything cancelled.

Considerations for Student Workers

Some students may not have the ability to travel home and many have indicated plans to stay in the Champaign-Urbana area. Anticipate that some students may want to pick up MORE hours if they are able, since they will not have to spend time traveling back and forth to classes.

It is important to keep in mind that remote work and online learning is a new environment for many students. Consider strategies to best mentor students and direct them while they adapt to the remote work environment.