June 16, 2021 Email Update

All Campus Email From Katie Callow-Wright, Executive Vice President of the University and Chief of Staff in the Office of the President (June 16, 2021)

This text has been corrected to note that each unit should fully implement its plans to resume in-person activities by Tuesday, September 7.

To: Members of the University Community
From: Katie Callow-Wright, Executive Vice President of the University and Chief of Staff in the Office of the President
Subject: University Guidance for Phase 5 Transition
Date: June 16, 2021 

In recent weeks we have seen an encouraging decrease in COVID-19 rates in Chicago and nationwide, as Chicago and Illinois moved to Phase 5 and full reopening on June 11. Transmission of COVID-19 in Chicago has fallen dramatically thanks in part to widespread vaccination, and transmission on our own campus has fallen to near zero.

In recognition of the changing circumstances, this message will summarize changes to public health requirements on our campus, along with general guidance for the University’s schools, divisions, laboratories, and offices to resume more activities on campus. Most units will need time to consider how this new guidance applies to their areas, and have specific questions answered, and therefore changes may not take effect across all units immediately.

As we announced previously, the University is planning for a full resumption of activities on campus by the start of the new academic year in September. A group of University of Chicago leaders has been developing revised public health guidance for our campus in consultation with experts from UChicago Medicine. Other planning groups are working to support units in their resumption of campus activities. We will continue to revisit aspects of our campus plans as the pandemic situation evolves, with the potential for further changes this summer, in alignment with federal and local public health guidance.


The city’s successful reopening depends on continued vaccination efforts. About 46% of the city’s residents have been fully vaccinated so far. Our recent campus survey, completed by more than 15,000 students, faculty, and staff, found that more than 90 percent of respondents have been vaccinated. We anticipate that continued vaccination will contribute to these positive trends.

The University recently provided students with information on how to confirm that they have satisfied the COVID-19 vaccination requirement that commences with the 2021 Autumn Quarter. The University is continuing to evaluate whether the COVID-19 vaccine will be required for all academic appointees, postdoctoral researchers, and staff. We strongly encourage members of the University community who have not been vaccinated to do so. To make a vaccination appointment, students can email studentwellness@uchospitals.edu and employees can call UCM at 773.834.8221. Please email coronavirusinfo@uchicago.edu if you need assistance with obtaining a vaccine or visit the City of Chicago’s website for options near you.

Please keep in mind that there are significant privacy concerns about asking individuals for their vaccination status on an ad hoc basis. Individual University offices and programs should not set up their own processes or ask individuals about their vaccination status. The University has announced it will be centrally enforcing the student vaccine requirement. Individual offices and programs should not use vaccination status to exclude individuals from participating in University activities.

City of Chicago Phase 5

In Phase 5 for the City of Chicago, many mandatory COVID-19 regulations, including capacity limits, social distancing requirements and mask mandates for fully vaccinated individuals, have been lifted at most businesses. Venues can require measures and some general precautions will remain in place in certain settings such as public transit, schools, and hospitals.

Social Distance

In alignment with the City of Chicago’s guidance, the University is revising our social distance guidance.

•     Outdoors – Social distancing restrictions, including capacity and density restrictions, are no longer in effect for outdoor spaces.

•     Indoors – Social distancing restrictions are being lifted for indoor spaces as well in the University’s Hyde Park campus and other Chicago area facilities.

•     Dining – Unvaccinated individuals should maintain at least 6 feet distance while eating or drinking indoors; distancing restrictions are no longer in effect for vaccinated individuals while eating or drinking indoors.

•     Moving and Gathering – Members of the University community are encouraged to move with purpose in common and congregate areas with large groups of people.

Masking Requirements

•     Outdoors – As announced in May, the University has eliminated the masking requirement for people who are outdoors on campus grounds, though face coverings may still be required at certain outdoor events and programming.

•     Indoors – Everyone is expected to continue wear a face covering over the nose and the mouth at all times while in University buildings, with narrow exceptions.

•     Private spaces – An Individual can remove their face coverings if they are in a private room/office alone with the door shut, or while eating or drinking.

The University is considering easing masking restrictions for fully vaccinated individuals later in the summer. Please note the masking requirements apply at the University’s Hyde Park campus and other Chicago area facilities.

We expect many members of our community will choose to maintain distance and use face coverings for various reasons, and we request everyone to act with consideration and understanding regarding these choices.

Updated Work, Research, and Instruction Guidance

In support of the University’s plan for a full resumption of activities on campus, units should plan for an increase of in-person activities and work with staff to make such arrangements – each unit should fully implement its plans to resume in-person activities by Tuesday, September 7. Each unit leader is responsible to prepare and plan for ramping up for fall quarter between now and Labor Day. Most unit leaders have identified a point-of-contact for the transition of in-person work resumption plan reviews from a centralized process to a unit-specific one. Hybrid work and other long-term remote work arrangements may be piloted throughout this year; please refer to related plan development processes set forth in April and provided with HR Policy U220. Questions regarding this separate process and review structure can be directed to remote@uchicago.edu.

Research divisional implementation plans should be updated to reflect the revised social distance guidance. More information will be shared in the coming weeks, including an update on new phases for research in light of the changing guidance.

In-person instruction remains as planned through the Summer Quarter except for the elimination of social distancing restrictions.

In the coming weeks, the University will share more about related implications and updates for training/attestationbuilding access, and visitor and vendor access. For the time being there are no changes to these current processes. Additional guidance and information will be shared in the coming days and weeks, including opportunities for consultation with people who have relevant knowledge to help with the transition and planning.

University-Sponsored Domestic and International Travel

The University has revised its COVID-19 travel policy, effective June 15, 2021, to allow for greater responsibility in units to assess requests for University-sponsored travel by faculty, other academic appointees, postdoctoral researchers, staff, students, and visitors to campus (e.g., for recruitment). These changes take into account the improved COVID-19 conditions in many parts of the United States and internationally. Deans, officers, head of administrative units, or their designees are responsible for assessing travel requests from people in their area and ensuring that the requirements for approval are met and documented. People who will approve University-sponsored travel are required to go through orientation with the Pandemic Travel Risk Committee (PTRC), a committee the Provost charged with reviewing such requests, before local approvals can begin. Approval from the PTRC is no longer required for domestic University-sponsored travel. For foreign travel, advance approval from the PTRC is still required for any travel to countries with U.S. State Department Level 3 or Level 4 travel advisories, and for all University-related foreign travel by students in the College. 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. For more information, see the revised travel policy on the UChicago Forward site.

The University will be working to update the UChicago Forward site and signage around campus to reflect these changes. If you have any questions please visit the UChicago Forward site or email coronavirusinfo@uchicago.edu.