UChicago to RHs: Spring Classes Will Be “Distance Learning”; Students Must Vacate Housing in 11 Days

The University of Chicago told residents heads it will cancel in-person classes and ask students to leave campus housing in under two weeks.


By Lee Harris and Elaine Chen

The University of Chicago will transition to “distance learning” for the entirety of spring quarter, and students must leave on-campus housing by 5 p.m. on March 22—the last Sunday of winter quarter—resident heads were told by email on Wednesday evening.

The University is expected to email students and parents later tonight, said the email to resident heads, obtained by The Maroon.

The email to resident heads comes one day after the University told students in-person classes would “continue as scheduled,” but cancelled all spring-quarter study abroad programs and suspended nonessential travel and large-scale University-sponsored events.

“Students who cannot travel to their permanent addresses due to travel restrictions (all CDC level 3 countries) must register with Housing & Residence Life to receive permission to remain in Housing for the Spring Quarter,” the email to resident heads said. “Students who have exigent circumstances (other than being from a CDC level 3 country) should also be encouraged to fill out the registration form, and a decision for those students will be made on a case by case basis.”

Students will need to have completed housing applications by Wednesday, March 18—one week from Wednesday, the email to resident heads said. Students approved to stay will be housed in Max Pavlevsky dorm, after the dorm has been cleaned.

The number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Illinois as of Wednesday was 25, up six from Tuesday and up 14 from Monday.

As the number of confirmed coronavirus cases has risen across the country, more than 100 colleges and universities have cancelled in-person classes and transitioned to a “distance learning” model. 

Northwestern University, the University of Illinois, and Illinois State University announced on Wednesday they would be moving courses online. Northwestern University said it would extend spring break by a week and hold the first three weeks of classes after spring break remotely. Residence halls and dining services will remain open for students who remain on campus, Northwestern’s announcement said. 

After announcing on Tuesday that all classes will be moved online, Harvard University instructed undergraduates to move out of the dormitories by March 15. The announcement drew some backlash, with some saying the short move-out time hit low-income students especially hard. 

The email to resident heads did not say whether the switch to online coursework will come with any changes in tuition or academic fees. 

This is not the first time UChicago has relied on virtual teaching methods. The College has used video streaming for lecture courses with large enrollments, and has experimented with a “flipped classroom” teaching model, in which students are instructed through pre-recorded videos on online education platforms.

Those courses drew criticism from some students, who said they preferred direct instruction. “If all I had access to during lecture was the streamed video, I would no longer come to class,” second-year Sarika Temme-Bapat told The Maroon last year.