University Aims for Full Return to Campus by Autumn Quarter

University administrators are optimistic about fully resuming in-person activities this fall as vaccination rates rise and cases in the community decline.


By Yiwen Lu, Managing Editor

President Robert Zimmer and Provost Ka Yee Lee announced that the University is planning to hold the 2021–22 academic year entirely on campus, according to an email sent to the University community this afternoon.

“We intend to invite our full population of students to be in residence, classrooms and labs for the 2021 autumn quarter, if the state of the pandemic and the health of our community allow,” they wrote. All University employees will also return to campus.

A follow-up email from Dean John Boyer to students in the College said the reopening will entail a return to full operating capacity for University housing and dining, in-person instruction in “the great majority” of classes and labs, the resumption of study abroad programs in line with international travel guidelines, and a combination of in-person and virtual career advising to ensure flexibility.

Zimmer and Lee wrote that their confidence arises from the UChicago community’s continual adherence to national, state, local, and school-specific COVID-19 safety guidelines as well as the rapid rate of vaccination across the country.

Despite Zimmer and Lee’s optimism, the email also noted that any in-person reopening is contingent on several conditions, including a high rate of vaccination within the University community, continued adherence to precautionary measures in line with government guidelines, and low rates of infection in Chicago. The overall positivity rate in Chicago has been under five percent since February. The potential rapid spread of new COVID-19 variants could also affect plans to reopen, the email said.

An on-campus vaccine clinic for University employees and students with preexisting conditions opened today, March 29. Eligible University affiliates will receive email invitations for vaccination appointments. Students without preexisting conditions will be eligible for vaccination in Phase 2 of Chicago’s vaccine rollout, which is scheduled to begin in May.

There were 35 new COVID-19 cases among University members last week, according to an email UChicago Forward sent on Friday. Approximately 25 of these cases involved a cluster of students from the Booth School of Business. As of March 24, there were 182 positive cases in the current school year for an overall positivity rate of 0.17 percent.

University administrators wrote that further guidance on autumn quarter plans will be forthcoming.

This article has been updated with additional information provided by the University.