To: All Faculty, Other Academic Appointees, and graduate students who are instructors of record
From: Ka Yee C. Lee, Provost, and Jason Merchant, Vice Provost
Subject: Additional guidance on in-person teaching for Autumn Quarter
Date: September 17, 2021
As we approach the start of the Autumn Quarter and a return to the in-person interactions that help foster the University of Chicago’s unique intellectual environment, we write to share additional guidance on in-person teaching.
As a reminder, the University has taken a number of steps to promote the health and safety of the campus community in preparation for its return to campus, including vaccination requirements for all University students and employees and masking requirements for all indoor campus activities. All members of the campus community are required to complete the new COVID-19 health requirements attestation. The University will also continue its COVID-19 testing programs. For the latest information on the University’s COVID-19 polices and safety measures, please visit the UChicago Forward website.
We have also developed the following instruction-specific policies and resources for the Autumn Quarter.
Masking during class
In keeping with the University’s indoor masking requirements, students and instructors must wear masks 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 six feet of distance from others. Unvaccinated instructors or presenters may not remove their masks. Students who are not presenting are not permitted to remove their masks in the classroom.
Conditions for teaching remotely
The University is returning to in-person instruction. If it is not possible for an instructor to 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 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.
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.
When students are required to miss class
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 alternative arrangements to attend the class remotely, request a recording of the class, or make up the work later.
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.
Holding office hours or other meetings with students
Instructors may decide to hold regular office hours either in person or remotely. If instructors choose to meet with students in person and indoors, both students and instructors should always wear masks. Instructors are free to encourage unvaccinated students in particular 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.
Instructors at high risk for COVID-19
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, which can provide a summary of the reasonable accommodation process.
Graduate students in teaching roles who seek reasonable accommodations related to COVID-19 or who have concerns regarding accessibility should complete and submit the Student Disability Services request form.
Classroom use
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.
Additional questions are addressed in an FAQ on resumption of in-person teaching. We encourage you to review and bookmark the UChicago Forward Education page, as the University will continue updating it as additional questions arise throughout the quarter. Instructors who oversee Teaching Assistants or others in ancillary instructional roles should share this information with those individuals as appropriate. All provisions for instructors hold for TAs and others in ancillary instructional roles as well. All students on campus are required to comply with the University’s vaccination policy, and instructors should not ask a student their vaccination status.
As of September 2021, Teaching Remotely will no longer serve as a hub for COVID-related instructor information. It will continue as a resource for remote and hybrid instruction, and relevant information regarding academic policies and instructor guidance will be available on the UChicago Forward website.
We are excited to welcome our vibrant academic community back to campus. Thank you for your continued dedication to creating an outstanding educational experience for students and for taking the necessary precautions to protect our University and South Side communities. We are profoundly grateful for all that you do.