Planning the Resumption of Programs and Operations on Campus

Autumn Quarter FAQs

General Information

What are the University’s guiding principles in planning for Autumn Quarter?

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 Autumn Quarter plan?

The University plans to hold in-person and remote classes this Autumn Quarter, allowing us to bring back as many members of our community as possible for the new academic year, 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.

How was the University’s Autumn Quarter approach decided?

The University arrived at the Autumn Quarter 2020 approach after close coordination with public health experts and the University of Chicago Medicine. Planning also incorporates valuable insights gained from the successful transition to remote learning in the recent Spring Quarter, and the housing of a limited number of students on campus during Spring Quarter. Our approach is informed by guidance from the federal, state and city levels, including the Restore Illinois plan and the city and state’s most recent guidance for higher education.

What is the academic calendar for Autumn Quarter?

Classes for most parts of the University will begin as scheduled on September 29, with in-person instruction ending before Thanksgiving, to help reduce the risk of disease transmission related to Thanksgiving travel. The final week of instruction, as well as reading period and finals period – from November 30 through December 12 – will take place fully remotely.

The Law School, the Booth School of Business, and the Pritzker School of Medicine will start classes earlier than September 29 as originally scheduled and will communicate details directly to their students.


How will instruction take place?

Allowing input from instructors regarding their classes, we expect that a limited number of Autumn 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.

To help new students acclimate to the University, priority for in-person classes will be given to courses that serve new students.

How do I know whether my classes will be in-person or remote?

Our goal is for information about class modalities to be available at the time of registration.

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 Autumn?

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 fall. We are planning carefully for how these members of our campus community will be connected and supported. The College, schools, and divisions will provide a range of remote course options for students who are not able to return to campus in the upcoming quarter.


Will on-campus undergraduate housing be available?

We will provide undergraduate housing in University residence halls, with occupancy reduced from full capacity by approximately 40% for Autumn Quarter 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 dormitories and dormitory apartments.

Will the University help undergraduates find off-campus housing?

The University will provide contact information and other details for rental agencies to the remaining returning students who had planned to live on-campus and now need to secure alternative off-campus housing.

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

Upon arrival, everyone living in University residence halls will be tested for COVID-19 and students will undergo a quarantine period. 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 through Autumn Quarter.

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 at dining commons will be reduced by about 75% for the Autumn Quarter and most meals will be prepared for take away.


What are the Autumn 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 during Autumn Quarter, 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.


What should I do to help maintain the health of the campus community?

The success of all our planning for the coming academic year rests with each member of the campus community consistently taking steps to help keep themselves and our community safe. We will call upon every member of our on-campus community to uphold a new commitment to help prevent the spread of COVID-19. Specifically, every person on campus must adhere to these requirements – universal face coverings, social distancing, self-monitoring, COVID-19 reporting, and training and attestation.

Is COVID-19 safety training a requirement?

Yes. Everyone returning to campus must complete a short training program in advance and sign an electronic form affirming that they will comply with safety precautions. Students will receive additional information about the training and attestation they must complete. For others, links to these materials on available on the University’s UChicago Forward website.

How will the University manage testing and contact tracing?

In partnership with the University of Chicago Medicine (UCM), we will conduct periodic testing of residents in on-campus housing and will trace the close contacts of any COVID-19 cases linked to campus. Under the direction of University of Chicago Medicine Infectious Diseases, the University has established a team dedicated to timely contact tracing for reported cases of COVID-19 involving the campus community. Tests will also be available to any member of the campus community with COVID-19 symptoms.

What if I have a confirmed or suspected case of COVID-19?

If you test positive for COVID-19 and have been in a University owned or operated facility, you must contact The University’s contact tracing team will assign someone to each case, to determine transmission timelines and pathways and provide recommendations to limit further spread of the virus. The contact tracer will notify close contacts of their exposure, provide them with public health recommendations to limit the spread of the virus, and direct them to University resources for further support. 

Where should students seek COVID-related medical care?

UChicago Student Wellness—in collaboration with UChicago Medicine—is available to support students with COVID-19 testing, consultation, and follow-up care, as needed. Visit UChicago Student Wellness for more information.

How will we limit the spread of the virus if cases emerge?

People with COVID-19 and their close contacts are required to follow public health guidance from UCM and public health experts. Quarantine is used to keep someone who might have been exposed to COVID-19 away from others. Isolation is used to separate sick people from healthy people.

What is the public health protocol if I test positive for COVID-19 or have close contact with someone who has a confirmed or suspected case?

Someone who tests positive for coronavirus must remain isolated until at least 10 days have passed since the emergence of symptoms, and at least 3 days have passed since recovery. Someone who has close contact with a person with a confirmed or suspected case of COVID-19 must remain in quarantine for 14 days. See here for more details on protocols for confirmed or suspected COVID-19 exposure.

Where should students stay for quarantine or isolation if they test positive for COVID-19 or have close contact with someone who has a confirmed or suspected case?

Separate space in campus housing will be reserved specifically for students in residence halls who contract COVID-19 and must follow isolation procedures. Students who contract COVID-19 while living off-campus will be required to remain in isolation where they live.

Will facemasks be available to the University community?

 Yes. Facemasks will be available for use by the University community. More details will be forthcoming soon. 


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

Gatherings on campus will be 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. In the coming weeks the University will share plans for student activities, UChicago Arts, Athletics, and other programs in Autumn Quarter. 

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.


Will research take place on campus during the Autumn Quarter?

The University is gradually resuming research on campus through a phased approach. In the first phase of this process, which began June 15, we have been encouraged by the early implementation of health and safety measures.

Will University employees be on campus?

Starting around mid-July, we will gradually increase the functions and number of employees on campus and in other University spaces. As remote work serves as a critical element to maintaining the appropriate density of people in University spaces, many people will continue to work remotely or follow a combination of remote and in-person work. Workplaces will implement requirements for face coverings, reduced density, social distancing, and enhanced cleaning and sanitation.


What are the Laboratory Schools’ plans for Autumn Quarter?

The Laboratory Schools has prepared three potential models to maximize flexibility and serve the safety and wellbeing of the Lab community: fully remote, a combination of remote and in-person, and fully in-person. Lab will communicate further details to students and families directly.

What are the University of Chicago Charter Schools’ plans for Autumn Quarter?

The University of Chicago Charter Schools will rely on additional guidelines from the State of Illinois, the City of Chicago, and (being part of the fabric of Chicago Public Schools) Chicago Public Schools to shape planning for fall. UCCS’s priority is to have all students return to school to resume in-person educational experiences, in a safe and healthy environment. However, in order to meet evolving public health guidelines, UCCS is preparing for multiple contingencies, including fully remote and dual-modality options.