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Hilltop READY

Hilltop READY messages from President Barbara A. Farley

This page will be updated regularly as new information is available.

Hilltop READY :: New COVID testing plan | sent January 14, 2021

I hope you enjoyed a rejuvenating winter break. We are less than one week away from the start of the spring semester which will kickoff with a week of virtual classes this Tuesday, January 19th. As we prepare for your return to campus, I want to share with you a little about what you can expect.  

Illinois College will continue to follow the Hilltop READY plan with some important additions. We are implementing a new COVID-19 testing program. 

All employees and students are required to be tested immediately on their return to campus after winter break. Students will take a rapid test in Bruner Fitness and Recreation Center. You should have your results back within 15-30 minutes. A negative test result is necessary before you will be permitted to enter any other campus facilities. 

All students will be tested at least once per week at least through February. Faculty and staff who are on campus will be tested at random throughout this time, with approximately 25% of employees tested each week. We will be introducing the SHIELD Illinois saliva test as one of the testing options in this new surveillance testing protocol. Additional details about testing procedures and expectations will be provided to you by email before your return to campus.

The use of surveillance testing  will not eliminate or replace the other elements of the Hilltop READY plan. This plan has been a major part of the College’s success so far this academic year and I am grateful for your efforts in following it. Please take some time to look over the plan again before returning to campus. You will be expected to continue to uphold your commitment to the Community of Care agreement by wearing masks, social distancing and following campus guidelines. 

Thank you for everything you are doing to keep our campus community safe and healthy in the new year! I look forward to seeing you all on campus soon. 

Hilltop READY :: Preparing for Spring semester | sent December 17, 2020

Congratulations on completing a challenging fall semester! You all did a wonderful job. Your dedicated effort to protect the health and safety of our community over the past several months allowed us to stay together and on campus.

When we return to campus in January for spring semester, we will continue to follow those practices that have been most effective. That means following the Community of Care Agreement by socially distancing and wearing masks. We will also maintain steps to de-densify classrooms and residential spaces, and to deliver coursework in a hybrid format. We will be following the revised academic calendar available on the website, which was announced earlier this fall. 

A new COVID-19 testing protocol will be implemented on campus beginning in January. All students, residential and commuter, will be tested upon return to campus. Surveillance testing will continue throughout the semester. These steps are being taken to further protect our campus and the Jacksonville community from the spread of COVID-19. We believe testing will keep our numbers low and allow us to have a productive and safe spring together. Watch for additional information about testing and spring move-in procedures in early January. 

More information about the spring can be found on the Hilltop READY FAQ page, which has been recently updated with new information. Please reach out to Associate Dean Jennie Hemmingway if you have any questions. I wish you all a happy, healthy and safe holiday season and look forward to seeing you in the new year!

Hilltop READY :: Finish Strong Before Break | sent November 13, 2020

In-person classes will end next Friday, November 20, and then everyone will take a deep breath and turn towards finishing the semester remotely. I want to wish you the very best as you complete your final projects and exams. To ensure a strong end of semester, please:

Contact your professors if you have any questions about their expectations for the next three weeks. 

Watch for messages from the Registrar’s Office about important dates and information about the textbook return process.

Notify a member of the Lincoln HUB Team if you need assistance as you strive to be successful in your fall classes and prepare for remote learning.

COVID-19 is currently surging around the country and in our immediate region. Our campus has also experienced a spike in cases which has led to an increase in the number of students in quarantine/isolation at home or on campus. Due to the increase in the number of cases on campus, the following precautionary measures will be put in place through November 20:

Student clubs and organizations will hold only virtual meetings.

Cummings Dining Room seating will be available, but opt for carry-out whenever possible.

Bruner’s weight room will be closed and there will not be any intercollegiate team practices, but the Zelcs Fitness Center, King Fieldhouse, and Sherman Gymnasium will be open according to the normal schedule starting on Sunday.

Please do not leave campus over the next week unless it is absolutely necessary and use an abundance of caution by wearing your face coverings properly when you are around others (both inside and outside), wash your hands frequently, and maintain social distancing. The Community of Care Agreement remains in effect and must be taken seriously. Please stay  home if you are sick, use the Symptoms Tracker daily, and notify Chesley Health and Wellness Center if you have questions about symptoms.  

I am proud of everything the IC community has done together this semester to make it possible to hold in-person classes and remain active on campus. Let’s double down on being a Community of Care in support of everyone’s health and academic success.

Hilltop READY :: Spring Semester Announcement | sent October 28, 2020

Thank you again for all of your efforts to protect the health and safety of our community this semester. I am so proud of your hard work, adaptability and can-do attitude. Our entire community - students, faculty and staff - has stepped up to succeed despite the difficult circumstances this fall. 

As we look toward the spring semester, we are focused on continuing those practices that have been most effective. That means continuing to socially distance, wear masks, de-densify classrooms and residential spaces, and deliver coursework in a hybrid format. The academic calendar will be revised for the spring, with the following key changes:

The first week of classes (January 19-22) will be FULLY REMOTE.
We will not have a Spring Break week; instead there will be a mid-term holiday on Friday, March 5.
The Easter holiday (April 2) will be extended by one day to include Thursday, April 1.

The Hilltop READY FAQ page will be updated in the final weeks of this semester to reflect up-to-date information for the spring. Watch for additional communications about athletics  and the residential life move-in process. It is too soon to provide detailed information about end of year activities. At this time, events such as Commencement and Celebration of Excellence remain as originally scheduled, but that could change.  More information will be available in early 2021.

We are seeing spikes in new cases of COVID-19 around the country and Illinois has added new restrictions in several regions around the state. It is crucially important that we continue to follow the Hilltop READY plan now and when we return to campus in January to protect our campus and wider communities.

Hilltop READY :: COVID-19 Update | sent October 22, 2020

With four more weeks until the Thanksgiving Break, I am counting on you to continue making good choices on behalf of the entire campus community. We need to work together for the next four weeks in order to stay in session on campus until November 20. 

When the semester began, I asked each of you to share the responsibility of protecting each other’s health and safety. Because of the steps we have taken together, rates of COVID-19 have stayed low on the Illinois College campus. 

The pandemic is not over. Many places in the country are seeing spikes in new cases. The State of Illinois is experiencing record high new cases and new restrictions have been put in place in many regions of the state to contain community spread.  We must remain vigilant to avoid an outbreak of COVID-19 at Illinois College. 

It is important that we all continue to carefully follow the Community of Care Agreement. It is essential that you avoid unnecessary risks such as traveling home or to see friends, attending large events, and spending time indoors at bars and restaurants. You have done an amazing job wearing masks, social distancing, and practicing consistent handwashing.  We can do this!

I am proud of the efforts you have made and how well you have adapted to the new policies and procedures on campus. Please redouble your efforts to uphold that commitment to each other. Let’s finish this semester strong, the same way we started it: together. 

Hilltop READY :: Campus Update | sent September 10, 2020:

I am very proud of your efforts to keep everyone safe this fall and adhere to the Community of Care Agreement. As of this writing, we do not have any active cases of COVID-19 on campus. However, we know that this disease can spread quickly and easily, so it is critically important for all of us to continue to be careful. We cannot take anything for granted or let down our guard.

As you have probably read, there are colleges and universities around the country that have had to move exclusively to online learning and in some cases entire campuses have been placed in quarantine due to serious outbreaks of COVID-19. None of us want to see that happen on the Hilltop. While I know it can be a challenge to wear masks and maintain social distance from friends, we need to continue to take precautions and protect one another.

You can follow what is happening on campus by checking the COVID-19 Campus Dashboard that will be updated weekly on Fridays. 

IC’s Office of Residential Life will be sharing adjustments to the visitation rules for on-campus students now that we have been together for several weeks. Please continue to avoid unnecessary risks, including traveling away from campus to visit friends, going home on weekends, or spending time inside bars and restaurants. Our community continues to face serious challenges from COVID-19 and we all want to stay safe.

President Farley

Hilltop READY :: Keep up the good work! | sent September 4, 2020:

After a summer spent anticipating your return, I am so happy to have welcomed you all back to in-person classes this week. I hope your semester is off to a great start. It is clear that you are working hard to make sure we remain Hilltop READY. Thank you! 

As we head into the weekend, I ask that you continue to follow the Hilltop READY plan. Keep up the good work this weekend:

  • Avoid unnecessary risks as outlined in the Community of Care, including traveling away from campus to visit friends or going home for the weekend, spending time inside bars and restaurants or going to parties. 
  • Stay active by getting outside and enjoying the beautiful weather. Spend time with your friends on campus using the tents and outdoor spaces. 
  • Connect with others in a safe way. This weekend’s events will include an outdoor movie, paint & chill, food trucks and freebies. Make sure to follow the CSI on social media and check your email to find out about other campus activities. 

I am counting on each of you to keep our campus healthy and to maintain our Community of Care. The decisions you make in support of each other will impact the semester ahead. I believe in the Hilltop READY plan and I believe in you. 

All the best,
President Farley

Hilltop READY :: A Message from President Farley | sent August 28, 2020:

The fall semester is off to a great start. The excitement on campus this week has been palpable as everyone settles into a new routine. I want to wish you great success in your courses this fall. The Illinois College community has spent all summer preparing for your arrival, and we are confident that you will make us proud with what you achieve this year.  

The sudden loss of access to education and activities last spring made many of us appreciate things we had previously taken for granted. Your actions now and in the coming weeks are absolutely critical for Illinois College to be able to offer you this valuable campus experience. Every single one of us must remain vigilant in order to stay together. That means following the Community of Care Agreement, not attending or hosting gatherings/parties and not spending time indoors at bars and restaurants. Spend time with your friends in small groups but opt for safer choices when socializing: wear your mask on and off campus when you are around others, stay outdoors when possible and keep six feet of distance from other people.

Many colleges around the country have had to close abruptly because their students gathered in large groups on or off campus rapidly resulting in clusters of COVID-19. We must learn from their mistakes so that we can keep our campus open. We only get one chance to get this right.

As I stated in my email message to students last Friday, out of respect for each other and our common commitment to each other’s well-being, there will be serious consequences for students who demonstrate willful disregard for the Community of Care Agreement or engage in behavior that represents a substantial risk to the IC community. Students unable or unwilling to be part of a community that looks after one another may be suspended. 

Thank you for your commitment to making this a successful semester. Be kind to yourself and each other as you adjust to new expectations on campus and resume your IC education.

President Farley

Hilltop READY :: Campus Life | sent August 26, 2020:

Having students begin returning to campus has been wonderful — you have brought great energy to campus. It is clear you all really want to be here, to learn and to be part of the IC community. I look forward to welcoming everyone back soon. 

While this year will be different, I am confident you will find a meaningful campus experience at Illinois College. Here are some highlights of what you can expect:

  • Reimagined student organizations and events: There will be many opportunities to get involved. Student organizations and campus events will be held virtually or in person with limited numbers of students. Some events will be held in Rammelkamp Chapel, Sibert Theatre or outdoors on Green Athletic Field to allow social distancing. We will be announcing more campus activities after the first two weeks of the semester.
  • Access to facilities: Most campus facilities are completely open. A limited number of students will be permitted in high-traffic areas at once, like the library or the HUB. Outdoor athletic spaces are now available for use with plans to open more areas to students, such as the fitness center, in the coming weeks. I encourage you to use the resources on campus to connect with others and stay active. 
  • Expanded dining areas: Like other common areas, you will be expected to social distance while dining. We need to avoid long lines. Please limit your time in the Caf, spread out and eat outdoors when possible. Several tents are set up and more grab-and-go options are offered this year. Mondo’s will be available for online ordering only — text BOOST to 99299 to download the app.
  • New directions for getting around campus: IC’s small campus means everything you need is close by but you may have to walk around a building to use a specific door. Each campus building will have designated entrances and exits, along with one-way movement in high-traffic areas. Don’t worry — the expectations are clearly marked with new signage. 

I believe in the Hilltop READY plan and our ability to follow it. I am counting on you now — the decisions you make  in support of each other will impact our time together this fall.

President Farley

Hilltop READY :: Masking Up | sent August 14, 2020:

Many of my communications for the fall have centered around the simple ways we can all help protect our campus from the spread of COVID-19. One of the most important actions we are counting on you to take this fall is to wear your mask. 

The Community of Care Agreement calls students, faculty and staff to commit to wearing face coverings inside and outside when you are around others. When everyone on campus wears their mask consistently and properly, we are all doing our part to keep one another safe and healthy. Here are a few guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that will ensure your mask is most effective: 

  • Wash your hands before putting on your mask.
  • Put it over your nose and mouth and secure it under your chin.
  • Try to fit it snugly against the sides of your face.
  • Don't touch the mask, and, if you do, wash your hands or use hand sanitizer to disinfect.
  • Handle only by the ear loops or ties when removing.

You should be wearing your mask now when you are in public or around people who do not live in your home. Learn more about how to safely wear your mask here. You will be provided two reusable cloth masks when you arrive on campus. Plan to bring additional masks with you as these must be washed after each daily use. 

It is especially important that you minimize time in stores, restaurants and bars. Just because bars and restaurants are open does not mean they are safe. Being indoor at a bar or restaurant between now and the start of classes puts your classmates, faculty and staff at risk as well as yourself. 

The pandemic continues to create uncertainties and challenges for which there are no easy or perfect answers. I am counting on you to rise to this occasion in support of each other.

President Farley

Hilltop READY :: IC's Community of Care | sent August 7, 2020:

We are just weeks away from the start of the fall semester at Illinois College. As we finish preparing the campus to welcome you, I want to continue to prepare you with information about what to expect this fall. 

With the announcement of the Hilltop READY plan last month, you were introduced to IC’s Community of Care Agreement. By committing to this agreement, you acknowledge that we share a responsibility to protect each other’s health and safety. It is very important that everyone who plans to be on campus this fall starts following the expectations outlined in this agreement now. If you wait to engage these expectations until classes begin you put your classmates, faculty and staff at risk as well as yourself. 

There are some simple steps you can immediately take that will prepare you for campus. These include:

  • Wear a mask around others. 
  • Social distance and avoid gatherings of more than 10 people. 
  • Practice good hand hygiene 
  • Avoid high risk locations like restaurants and bars. 

The pandemic continues to create uncertainties and challenges for which there are no easy or perfect answers. Keep checking your IC email regularly as I will provide up-to-date information and important reminders over the next few weeks. I am counting on you to rise to this occasion in support of each other. If you have any questions that are not addressed at, email them to

President Farley

Hilltop READY :: Campus Update | sent July 31, 2020:

After spending time at a Jacksonville bar on July 18, an Illinois College student tested positive today for COVID-19. At the onset of symptoms, we implemented the campus protocols outlined in the Hilltop READY plan. Per the protocols, the student has been isolated, the roommates are quarantined and monitoring their health, and we are working with the Morgan County Health Department. This is the first positive case of COVID-19 identified at IC and is linked to a reported outbreak at the West Morgan Depot. 

This exposure could have been avoided. We share a responsibility to protect each other’s health and safety. I am asking you to remain vigilant in the weeks leading up to the start of the semester, which means that you must begin adhering to the Community of Care Agreement now. Wear a mask. Practice good hand hygiene. Avoid being with more than ten people, especially indoors at restaurants and bars. Stay at least six feet from others. If you wait to engage these expectations until classes begin you put your classmates, faculty, and staff at risk as well as yourself.

The COVID-19 virus is offering us many lessons, one of which is the responsibility we have as members of our community. I am counting on you to rise to this occasion in support of each other.

President Farley

Hilltop READY :: Important message about IC athletics | sent July 27, 2020:

I am sharing the difficult news that the Midwest Conference (MWC) announced today that it will suspend league competition through December 31. The presidents of the ten member institutions made the decision in coordination with representative athletic directors in order to protect the health and safety of student-athletes, coaches, staff and administration, their families, and broader campus and local communities. 

Based on this decision, Illinois College athletic competition has been suspended through the remainder of 2020. Today’s decision will also delay the start of competitive seasons for basketball, swimming, and indoor track and field to January. No decision has been made about golf at IC, which competes in the St. Louis Intercollegiate Athletic Conference and was not impacted by the MWC suspension. 

Following guidelines from the NCAA Sports Medicine Institute, a team headed by IC’s athletic department leaders has devoted the summer to establishing a plan for our student-athletes to be able to compete this fall in a healthy, safe manner. Unfortunately, the announcement made today by the Midwest Conference makes it clear that the competition we had hoped for will not be possible.

The Midwest Conference will be evaluating the possibility of moving the fall competitive season to spring for these sports: football, men’s and women’s soccer, volleyball, women’s and men’s cross country, and women’s tennis. 

Illinois College is focused on developing meaningful team experiences for our student-athletes. While we don’t entirely know what specific form this will take in the fall, we are exploring opportunities for practice, small-group training, skill development, and/or strength & conditioning and non-conference competition within the parameters of federal, state, institutional, conference and NCAA guidance.   

I understand the valuable role that athletics plays on the Illinois College campus and the disappointment this announcement brings. Athletics at Illinois College offer important opportunities for growth, community and a sense of school pride. 

Additional information is available on the FAQ page of IC’s Hilltop READY plan for the fall. Athletic Director Mike Snyder and coaches will continue to provide updates to those student-athletes directly affected by this decision.

President Farley

Hilltop READY :: Your guide to fall 2020 | sent July 21, 2020:

Illinois College is dedicated to our mission, giving you the best possible opportunities to develop your mind, enrich your spirit, and nurture your unique gifts and talents. 

This summer IC has faced challenges never before experienced in higher education. We have been called to reimagine our classrooms and prepare for many possible scenarios this fall due to the pandemic. These adjustments are intended to preserve the in-person, student-centered IC education that we know to be so effective while protecting the health and wellbeing of our community. We know it has been difficult for you and your families to face uncertainty about the upcoming semester, but I appreciate your patience as our faculty and staff have been monitoring the situation and working tirelessly to develop a comprehensive plan for the fall. 

Illinois College will reopen campus for the fall 2020 semester with a hybrid academic experience designed to inspire your achievement and ensure you Graduate READY. Our entire community is looking forward to your return to campus and we are ready to move forward together. Today I am sharing the Hilltop READY plan to help protect the Illinois College campus and the surrounding Jacksonville community from the spread of COVID-19. 

I ask that you carefully read through the plan and reflect on the important role that each of you will play in keeping our campus Hilltop READY. I have highlighted a few key points of the plan below. We share a responsibility to protect each other’s health and safety, and together we can strengthen our tight-knit community. To that end, I ask you to remain vigilant in the weeks leading up to your return to campus. To be a member of a Community of Care means that you begin adhering to the agreement now. If you wait to engage these expectations until you step foot on campus you put yourself, your classmates, faculty and staff at risk.

You will find our Hilltop READY plan HERE, along with resources we have developed to help you navigate campus this fall:

  • Hilltop READY overview 
  • FAQ for students
  • IC's Community of Care Agreement
  • CARES Act information

This plan has been developed with input from students, faculty and staff. We have worked closely with the Morgan County Department of Health and Emergency Management agencies and sought guidance from public health officials, and local, state and federal recommendations for the operation of higher education institutions. 

While we must reconfigure some of the ways we teach, learn and live on campus, you will continue to find the personalized education and valuable learning experiences that will prepare you exceptionally well for the future. Where you go to college matters and these transformative opportunities can only happen at a place like Illinois College. 

This work is ongoing and I will continue to share updates in the following weeks as more guidance is available and decisions are finalized. I will also plan to speak more about the Hilltop READY plan and answer your questions during virtual meetings for students scheduled on Thursday, July 23. 

I look forward to welcoming you back to campus in August. 

Best wishes,
President Farley