Working Together to Protect our Community and Advance our Academic Mission

Campus-Wide FAQs

The following are frequently asked questions about the University’s planning for in-person instruction, research and activities in the 2020-21 academic year. For COVID-19 health-related questions, please visit the Health FAQ page.

General Information

What are the University’s guiding principles in planning for Winter and Spring Quarters?

The University’s goal is to prioritize the health of the University and local communities and visitors while sustaining our approach to education, research, and intellectual life at the University.

What is the University’s plan for Winter and Spring Quarters?

The University plans to continue holding in-person and remote classes this winter and spring while adhering to public health guidance around social distancing and other COVID-19 health measures. Our approach gives us the flexibility to adjust as needed based on evolving external conditions and trends in the pandemic.

What guidance has informed the University’s plans for the 2020-21 academic year?

The University arrived at its approach for the academic year after close coordination with public health experts and the University of Chicago Medicine. Planning also has incorporated valuable insights gained from Autumn Quarter. Our approach is informed by guidance from the federal, state and city levels, including the Restore Illinois plan, Reopening Chicago, and the city and state’s most recent guidance for higher education.

What is the academic calendar for Winter Quarter?

Winter Quarter for most schools, divisions and the College will begin on January 11, 2021, instead of January 4 as originally planned. The Law School, the Pritzker School of Medicine, and some Graham School courses will start classes earlier, as originally scheduled.

  • Winter Quarter Calendar
    • January 11, 2021: Winter Quarter classes begin
    • January 11 to 15: All College courses will be conducted remotely
    • January 19: In-person instruction begins for applicable classes
    • March 13 to 15: Reading period
    • March 16 to 19: Final exams
    • March 20: Winter Quarter ends
What is the academic calendar for Spring Quarter?

For the College and most academic units, the first week of classes in Spring Quarter, from March 29 through April 2, will be held remotely, similar to the start of Winter Quarter. In-person classes will begin April 5 where applicable.

Further details can be found on the calendar for the 2020-2021 Academic Year.

Winter and Spring Courses

How will instruction take place?

Allowing input from instructors regarding their classes, we expect that a limited number of Winter and Spring Quarter classes across the University will be held in-person, in classroom spaces reconfigured to facilitate distancing guidelines. Academic areas will determine the delivery mode for their courses, to meet curricular and pedagogical needs given the parameters driven by the pandemic.

Many classes will include a combination of in-person and remote instruction and discussion. Others will be conducted fully remotely. Each instructor has the option to teach remotely.

How will in-person classes be configured?

The offices of the Provost and Facilities Services have worked closely with colleagues across campus to develop spatial configuration guidelines to maintain distancing in classrooms and other spaces across campus, and we will implement cleaning and ventilation protocols as well. Examples of the configurations can be found here.

What if I am unable to come to campus this quarter?

We recognize that travel restrictions, particularly for our international students, and health risks mean a portion of our community may not be able to return to campus this quarter. The College, schools, and divisions will provide a range of remote course options for students who are not able to return to campus.


Will on-campus undergraduate housing be available?

The University has provided undergraduate housing in University residence halls, with occupancy reduced from full capacity by approximately 40% to 50% to help maintain health and safety guidelines. These residence halls with reduced capacity will accommodate all first-year students and a subset of returning College students. All room assignments will be single occupancy, in both standard residence hall rooms and residence hall apartments.

Isolation housing is available for students who test positive for COVID-19. You can find more information on the UChicago Forward website.

What health protocols will help protect students, faculty, and staff living in University housing?

At the start of Spring Quarter, all students who live in campus residential housing are expected to stay at home for most purposes for seven days, to help continue our success in limiting the spread of COVID-19 in residence halls. Campus Dining will provide only takeout meals during the first week of Spring Quarter.

Anyone living off campus in Chicago, including students, academics, and staff, must follow the City of Chicago’s Emergency Travel Order when traveling.

Separate space in campus housing will be reserved specifically for students in residence halls who contract COVID-19 and must follow isolation procedures. Student health and wellness resources, including mental health services, will remain available to students both on-campus and virtually.

What are the on-campus dining options?

On-campus dining will be adapted to facilitate social distancing and other safety measures, with a focus on take-away meals. In-person dining will be offered at a limited number of locations, with the elimination of self-service options and extended hours to help reduce density at any given time. Seating capacity in all dining commons will be reduced significantly in accordance with public health guidance and most meals will be prepared for take away.

Will on-campus housing and dining be open during the week of March 21 – 28?

On-campus housing and dining facilities will remain open during the week of March 21-28. The College and Office of Campus and Student Life will be in touch with details about suggested activities for students in campus housing, keeping public health precautions in mind.


What are the Winter Quarter and Spring Quarter tuition rates?

2020-21 tuition rates are published on the Bursar’s website.

The University remains deeply committed to ensuring that students from every background, regardless of financial need, are welcome here. Need-based financial aid and numerous scholarship programs are available for students in the College and across schools and divisions. We encourage students to work directly with their school or division’s financial aid office or dean of students to help access the wide-ranging support the University has established to assist students during this challenging time.

The University recognizes the challenges that COVID-19 has brought about for many of our students and their families; additional assistance is available for those who encounter unexpected expenses.

If I am not on campus, will I pay the Student Services fee?

The Student Services Fee is waived for students who live and study more than 50 miles from campus. For more information, go here.


How will student activities and on-campus gatherings be affected?

Gatherings on campus are limited based on parameters from the City of Chicago and State of Illinois, and University-specific factors such as overall density of the campus at a given time. We are committed to facilitating meetings, performance, exhibits, social activities, and other events in our adapted environment with strict maintenance of our health and safety requirements.

How will I know the capacity limits for campus spaces?

Signage and markers throughout campus will indicate capacity limits, distancing requirements,  and other safe use of space, based on the spatial configuration guidelines.

What restrictions apply to on- and off-campus social gatherings?

To maintain social distancing requirements, all members of our community must follow city and state restrictions on gatherings, including parties. The City of Chicago has prohibited gatherings and parties in private residences with more than 6 people who do not live in the household. Members of our campus community who attend any gathering are expected to wear a face covering and maintain at least six feet of social distancing. The face covering should fully cover the nose and mouth and have ear loops to securely hold it in place. It is not sufficient to wear masks that are loose-fitting, such as neck gaiters, bandanas, or scarves.

Are there visitor or gathering restrictions for those living on campus?

Students living on campus must continue to follow the rules set forth by Housing & Residence Life at the beginning of the year, which prohibit visitors in our residence halls. The rules for residence halls include having no parties or gatherings of any kind; students may have one guest in their room at a time, who must live in the same residence hall and wear a face covering. The face covering should fully cover the nose and mouth and have ear loops to securely hold it in place. It is not sufficient to wear masks that are loose-fitting, such as neck gaiters, bandanas, or scarves.

What are the rules for Recognized Student Organizations (RSOs) and other student groups?

For recognized student organizations (RSOs), most events should be held remotely. Only events with a demonstrated programmatic need for in-person gathering will be approved by Student Centers and the Center for Leadership and Involvement staff, with clear limits on the number of attendees depending on the size of the venue. Student Centers will identify spaces where social distancing can be maintained. You can find the RSO policies and protocols online. 

Other student groups should abide by these regulations and adhere to any additional guidance provided by your school, division or national organization.

Are there consequences if students violate the health requirements attestation?

Ignoring the public health risks associated with gatherings, as well as serious violations of other requirements, will have consequences for individual students and their groups – whether they are part of an RSO or other type of group (including off-campus Greek organizations).

Violating the requirements in the attestation could result in severe disciplinary action, including but not limited to suspension of access to campus. Students who engage in such behavior should expect to  be subject to disciplinary procedures as described in the Student Manual.

How can members of the University community report public health concerns?

UCAIR is the main reporting method if you believe that a required COVID-19 safety policy or practice is not being followed. Reports can be submitted anonymously. Please provide as much detail as possible.


Will research take place on campus during the Winter and Spring Quarters?

Leaders across campus have implemented protocols to resume research while adhering to necessary safety precautions and governmental orders. In mid-June, the University began the gradual, phased resumption of on-campus lab-based and non-lab-based research. This will continue in Winter Quarter. Visit this website for more information.

Will University employees be on campus?

For the most part, current remote work arrangements will continue at least through Spring Quarter, for people whose responsibilities do not require them to be on campus or in another University facility.

Travel and Quarantine Procedures

What procedures should members of the University community follow at the beginning of Spring Quarter and when traveling?

At the start of Spring Quarter, all students who live in campus residential housing are expected to stay at home for most purposes for seven days, to help continue our success in limiting the spread of COVID-19 in residence halls. Under the directive, on-campus students must remain in their residence halls as much as possible for a seven-day period, unless going out for essential needs such as groceries and food, medical care and supplies, and outdoor exercise. The seven-day directive applies to students living in residence halls to help limit the risk of spreading the virus in large communal living settings on campus.

Anyone living off campus in Chicago, including students, academics, and staff, must follow the City of Chicago’s Emergency Travel Order when traveling.

The University is continuing the suspension of University-sponsored international and domestic travel until further notice due to COVID-19. In addition, non-essential personal travel is strongly discouraged. Any member of the University community who chooses to travel must follow local guidelines for quarantining and other COVID-19 measures at the destination and upon their return to Chicago.

What additional considerations should international travelers be aware of?

On January 12, 2021, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced an Orderrequiring all air passengers arriving to the US from a foreign country to get tested no more than 3 days before their flight departs and to present the negative result or documentation of having recovered from COVID-19 to the airline before boarding the flight. Visit the CDC website for more information.

Several presidential proclamations restrict foreign nationals who have been in certain countries during the past 14 days from entering the United States. (A number of exceptions apply). For a list of these countries, as well as travel health notices for countries around the world, please visit the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) website.

Are there resources available for students who are quarantining or staying home?

For students who will be quarantining or staying at home per the Q&A items above, the following home delivery resources may assist you in making life easier.

Should I travel mid-quarter?

The University strongly discourages travel once students are in Chicago for the quarter. Students returning to Chicago at any time during the quarter will need to abide by the city’s quarantine order if they visit an affected state, or re-do the University’s 10-day “stay at home” order if they are living on campus.

If you have been exposed to or test positive for COVID-19, promptly report to, even if you have not been on campus.