Education Guidance

 

The University is pleased ​to welcome our community to campus for the 2021–22 academic year. A full resumption of on-campus activities is expected during the 2021–2022 academic year if the state of the pandemic and the health of our community allow. This includes having our full population of students in residence halls, classrooms, and other University spaces for the 2021 Autumn Quarter.

The University’s pandemic response is grounded in science and expert medical guidance, and we are confident that the layered precautions of our campus-wide vaccination requirements, masking requirements, COVID-19 testing, and updated health protocols and attestation, among other measures, will promote a safe return for our academic community.

This page contains important information related to the 2021–2022 academic experience.


Academic Calendar 2021-22

Autumn Quarter 2021 marks the beginning of several previously announced changes to the regular academic calendar. These changes were announced by Provost Lee in February 2020, and are the result of a comprehensive review of the academic calendar by a committee composed of faculty, academic staff, and undergraduate and graduate students, who worked at the charge of Dean John W. Boyer with support from the Office of the Provost. The full report by the committee and their recommendations can be found here.

The calendar for the 2021–2022 academic year is available on the Registrar’s website. Instructors should adjust their syllabi accordingly, and if teaching a College course, please remember to be mindful of the College Reading Period (December 4–6, 2021).

Returning to Campus

The University is planning a full resumption of activities on campus, and all students are expected to return to campus to participate in in-person instruction.

  • If you are an international student concerned about arriving in time for the start of classes, please contact your area dean of students to check in with your program.
  • If you are a student with concerns about returning to in-person instruction, please reach out to your advisor, area dean of students, or the appropriate administrator in your program or unit to discuss your concerns.
  • The City of Chicago has recently issued a new Travel Advisory. Please take a moment to review the updated guidance and see how it may impact your return to campus.

If you are a student with a disability or medical condition that may require specific accommodations in regard to classes, you can reach out to Student Disability Services at 773.702.6000 or disabilities@uchicago.edu.

Frequently Asked Questions

Autumn Quarter 2021 resumption of in-person teaching (last updated September 17, 2021)

The University of Chicago remains committed to fully resuming on-campus activities and in-person instruction in Autumn Quarter 2021. Our decision to return to campus is informed by national, state, and city public health guidelines, as well as ongoing evaluation from UChicago Medicine epidemiologists. The University’s pandemic response is grounded in science and expert medical guidance, and we are confident that the layered precautions of our campus-wide vaccination requirements, masking requirements, COVID-19 testing, and updated health protocols and attestation, among other measures, will promote a safe return for our academic community.

 

1. What are the University’s vaccination requirements?

Beginning in Autumn Quarter 2021, the University has implemented COVID-19 vaccination requirements for employees and students. Further information is available below and additional details can be found in the corresponding announcements for students and for University employees, and in the University’s Vaccination FAQs.

For additional questions related to COVID-19 vaccination requirements at UChicago, vaccine safety and efficacy, and the vaccines that satisfy the University’s COVID-19 vaccine requirement, visit the Vaccination FAQs.

2. Are masks required in class?

Generally, masks must remain on indoors for all individuals, including in classrooms. A fully vaccinated instructor or presenter may choose to lower their mask temporarily while actively speaking, if they must do so to be heard or understood. When masks are temporarily lowered, the instructor or presenter should maintain at least a six-foot distance from others. Masks should be worn as much as possible and should always be worn when an individual is not actively speaking, with only one mask off in the classroom at a given time if there are multiple presenters. Unvaccinated instructors or presenters may not remove their masks.

This requirement may be revisited as the year progresses.

3. Can I continue to wear a mask even if the masking requirement is lifted?

If the University modifies the masking requirement at a later point during the academic year, any instructor or student may choose to continue wearing a mask in the classroom. No assumption should be made regarding vaccination status of an individual who chooses to wear a mask.

4. Can instructors require masks even if the University doesn’t?

An instructor can set expectations around masking that are more stringent than the University guidelines at present. These expectations should be made clear on the syllabus and in the first class meeting, if possible. According to the assessment of UChicago Medicine epidemiologists and Facilities Services, the risk of the virus spreading in classroom spaces is extremely low due to the current masking requirements, enhanced cleaning protocols, and functionality of our HVAC systems. This low-risk assessment applies even if there were to be a high number of positive individuals in a small space. The University’s policies are based on guidance from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC).

5. What happens if a student or instructor tests positive for COVID-19?

Any instructor or student who is unable to attend class during the Autumn Quarter is expected to adhere to the usual health protocols, including abiding by the University’s COVID-19 Health Requirements and Protocols for Addressing Confirmed or Suspected COVID-19 Exposures, which include guidelines for self-monitoring for symptoms.

Any member of the University community who tests positive for COVID-19 should inform the University contact tracing team at C19HealthReport@uchicago.edu.

6. In what situations is remote teaching permitted?

All instruction is intended to be in person. If an instructor cannot teach in person (due to a COVID-related quarantine or isolation period, other illness or symptoms, or short-term caregiving duties), short-term remote teaching is allowed. Instructors who shift to remote teaching for a week or less under these conditions should simply notify their Department Chair, Course Director, Core Chair, or Dean, as appropriate. If remote teaching is needed for more than a week, the instructor should secure approval from their Department Chair, Course Director, Core Chair, or Dean, as appropriate.

The Zoom to Canvas integration remains available for each course in Canvas. Once the instructor (or TA) schedules Zoom meetings for the course through Canvas, all registered students can access the Zoom meeting links via Canvas. The instructor should then inform students that class will be held remotely for the relevant period of time. In this case, students may attend class remotely, either from the usual classroom on campus (in which case masking will be required) or from another location. Instructors can ask students to attend class in person if components such as labs, group work, or TA-facilitated activities require physical presence.

As with any illness, if the instructor does not feel well enough to teach at any time, they should inform their Department or Program Chair, or Dean, as appropriate, and follow their policies for missed instruction.

7. Will there be any accommodations for faculty and other academic appointees who have a high risk of COVID-19 infection?

Yes. Faculty and other academic appointees who believe they are at high risk for severe COVID-19 infection due to an underlying medical condition may feel that, even with the health and safety measures the University has in place, they need additional accommodations for their on-campus activities. These instructors should complete and submit a reasonable accommodation request form for academics to the Office for Access and Equity. A summary of the reasonable accommodation process is available from the Office for Access and Equity.

8. Will there be any accommodations for students who have a high risk of COVID-19 infection?

Yes. Students seeking reasonable accommodations for a disability or who have concerns regarding accessibility should contact Student Disability Services. This includes graduate students in teaching roles.

9. Can an instructor choose to teach remotely if they don’t meet the conditions for teaching remotely, and have not received an accommodation?

No. Instructors who do not meet the conditions for teaching remotely and who have not been approved for a workplace accommodation may not teach remotely. While some programs have received approval from the Office of the Provost to offer a limited number of courses remotely, the University is returning to in-person instruction, and remote instruction is allowed only under the conditions listed above.

10. What is the guidance for students who have to miss class because of COVID-19 or related issues?

Instructors are encouraged to be flexible, within pedagogical and practical limits, with students who are required to miss class because they are in isolation after testing positive for COVID-19, are experiencing symptoms prior to obtaining a COVID-19 test, or are quarantining. If a student cannot attend class for these reasons, they should contact their instructors directly to make alternate arrangements to attend the class remotely, request a recording of the class, or make up the work later. Instructors should not ask students to provide proof of a positive COVID test or any other private health information.

Support for instructors is available through the Chicago Center for Teaching and IT Services, and includes training on how to use classroom video conferencing equipment, teaching tools such as Canvas and Panopto, as well as consultations with instructional designers about how to teach with technology.

A student who is unable to attend class for more than two weeks will need to use their Dean of Students’ regular process to make arrangements.

11. Will classrooms be equipped with the appropriate video conferencing equipment to provide a remote experience?

Yes, 100+ classrooms around campus are outfitted with video conferencing technology. Please note that ITS trainings for remote and hybrid teaching are still available, and if you have not completed remote training or would like a refresher, instructors are highly encouraged to review current training offerings available through Teaching Remotely.

For classrooms not equipped with video conferencing technology, video conferencing kits are available. To learn more about these kits and how to use them, you can visit Academic Technology Solutions’ page on Classroom A/V Training Options, or contact AV Services at avs@uchicago.edu.

If you require additional support, Academic Technology Solutions (ATS) hosts weekly virtual office hours. Drop by for help with using technology for teaching and learning. The Zoom link and the most up-to-date schedule is available on ATS’ Virtual Office Hours page.

12. Will I be informed if one of my students tests positive for COVID-19?

The University contact tracing protocols have been designed to protect the privacy of individuals while protecting the safety of the University community. A student who tests positive for COVID-19 should immediately inform the University contact tracing team at C19HealthReport@uchicago.edu. The contact tracing team will then determine whether individuals in the course will be contacted. If they determine that the instructor was a close contact and should be advised of that, the instructor will be contacted; if they determine that the instructor was not a close contact, the instructor will not be contacted.

13. Can instructors record lectures?

Yes. If a course session is recorded, it falls under the University’s recording policy. Instructors are free to pre-record lectures for use in a flipped class model, either using Panopto or other software, but these are materials for the course, not a substitute for in-person class meetings. Instructors may also record themselves giving in-person lectures, provided the recordings follow the University’s recording policy. (If instructors set up to livestream their lecture through Zoom, they may choose to record the Zoom session, and the recording will be automatically available to students through Canvas.)

14. What should instructors do if a student or someone else won’t comply with the University’s health requirements?

Please see the UCAIR Reporting and Non-Compliance Process for guidance on how to report or respond to individuals who do not comply with the University’s COVID-19 health requirements.

15. What is the guidance for office hours and other meetings with students?

Regular office hours may be held either in person or remotely. If instructors choose to meet with students in person and indoors, masks should always be worn. Also, all students on campus are required to comply with the University’s vaccination policy, and instructors should not ask a student their vaccination status. A course policy may state that unvaccinated students in particular are encouraged to sign up for remote office hours, but if in-person appointments are offered, they must be available to all students regardless of vaccination status.

16. Can instructors invite guest lecturers to their courses?

As of Autumn 2021, the University will allow guests to lecture on campus if they adhere to our COVID-19 policies regarding vaccinations and masking. Please see the information on our policies regarding campus visitors.

17. Is the classroom capacity returning to normal?

All classrooms assigned by the Registrar have been cleared for use at their normal capacities. Social distancing is no longer required. Classrooms that did not meet the health and safety standards have not been assigned for instruction.

18. Can students participate in-person in externships and field experiences?

Students may participate in in-person externships and field experiences if their organizations or companies allow in-person work.

19. Are any additional COVID-19 classroom protocols in effect for Autumn Quarter 2021?

In addition to the information shared earlier in this FAQ:

  • Social distancing restrictions have been lifted for indoor spaces at the University’s Hyde Park campus and other Chicago-area facilities.

  • Food and drink are not allowed in classrooms during class periods.

20. How should instructors report health protocol violations or concerns?