Editor’s note: The following is excerpted from a message sent June 30 to the University of Chicago community from President Robert J. Zimmer and Provost Ka Yee C. Lee. Read it in its entirety here.
In recent months, academic leaders, faculty, and staff across campus have been carefully planning for the resumption of on-campus programs and operations, guided by the distinctive qualities and values of our academic community that sustain our approach to education, research, and intellectual life at the University, while prioritizing the health of the University and local communities and visitors.
We have been planning for a range of scenarios for Autumn Quarter 2020, with flexibility to adjust as needed based on external conditions and trends in the pandemic. We are conducting this work in close collaboration 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. University policies and procedures have been developed in an effort to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and respond to infections among our community members.
We write to share with you the main plans for Autumn Quarter across a variety of facets of the University, including instruction, housing, dining, campus life, N-12 education, and more, as well as a number of health and well-being practices we are implementing to help keep our campus and community safe. Our plans and the vitality of our community during the coming period depend crucially on each of us taking actions to limit the spread of COVID-19, building a campus-wide culture incorporating a shared responsibility for public health.
Additional details are available on the University’s UChicago Forward website, and more information will be forthcoming. The College, schools, and divisions will also be communicating with their students directly about specific plans.
The health and safety requirements that we are adopting to minimize the spread of COVID-19 will necessitate a very different experience on campus than we have had in the past. But it is only through these steps and a shared commitment to maintaining public health that our return to campus this autumn is possible. The UChicago community has long demonstrated a spirit of commitment, collaboration, and resolve that allows us to continue our highest academic and research pursuits, and that same commitment and mindset will be critical to limiting the spread of COVID-19.
Each of us has had to confront new types of uncertainty and difficulty these past few months. We are impressed and grateful for how, as individuals and as a community, all have risen to the challenge, and we are confident that together we will do so again in the months ahead. We look forward to returning to campus soon, with a renewed spirit of care across our community.