Earlier last month, the IMSA Board of Trustees declared a state of emergency for the school. It was a response to the WHO’s declaration of COVID-19’s status as an officially classified pandemic and Illinois state governor J.B. Pritzker’s call for increased social distancing. I had the fortune of being able to interview Dr. Torres, who was able to explain exactly what this declaration entails.
What does a “state of emergency” mean?
When put into effect, it means that there are changes to how administrative decisions are made due to some extraneous factor or special situation that gives cause for such (in this case, it’s the coronavirus). Dr. Torres explains, “Given the COVID-19 crisis, declaring a state of emergency allows the President and the Board to take actions that allow for a quick response to unforeseen issues.” Some of these actions may include suspending Board policies or making purchases outside of normal protocols but still adhering to State procurement code.
What is the purpose of declaring a state of emergency?
Dr. Torres answers, “[It] allows the president to respond to situations without having to wait for Board action.” Under normal circumstances, the IMSA Board of Trustees regularly meets five times a year, every other month. This means that while the president normally would need Board approval to take administrative action, which might mean having to wait until the next meeting, the state of emergency can overcome this time constraint and allow for more timely responses to the current situation.
How does the state of emergency impact the students themselves?
“The declaration of the state of emergency does not impact students directly,” Dr. Torres states. Even so, the decisions he makes during this time, may. For example, SAT scores are a required part of the material submitted from students applying to IMSA. However, during this state of emergency, Dr. Torres has made the decision to waive this requirement for the students who applied to IMSA this spring following the College Board’s suspension of SAT administration.
What else is there to know?
Besides this, Dr. Torres does not know of another situation when a state of emergency has been declared at IMSA, which shows exactly how unique and unprecedented our current circumstances are. He would also like to pass on the message: “This is a difficult situation for all of us. I want our students to know that all of us at IMSA empathize with them and sorely miss them on campus.”