2020 in the College

Autumn 2020 in the College

Dear Students in the College:

With today’s announcement that the University of Chicago plans to invite all students back to campus on September 29, 2020, I write with additional information about Autumn planning for students in the College.

The College is delighted to reunite current undergraduates and welcome the Class of 2024 and incoming transfer students to campus in the fall. Spending the 2020 Spring Quarter apart due to COVID-19 was a profound disappointment. It is the mission of the College to cultivate and enrich minds, and we look forward to doing so back in our campus environment. The plan to resume learning on campus, and the ability to reconnect in closer proximity as a scholarly community, is a welcome one.

With that said, the Autumn Quarter will be different in many ways. The expected continuation of COVID-19 makes maintaining the health of the College community a paramount priority. It will require each of us to do our part by following new health and safety measures to be able to safely live in residence halls and off campus, interact with College faculty and staff, attend classes, enjoy campus life and time with friends, and explore the Hyde Park neighborhood and the City of Chicago.

In accordance with guidance from public and UChicago Medicine health experts, the College’s planning for the 2020 Autumn Quarter necessitates the following modifications and practices.

Housing and Dining

On-campus residence halls and dining commons will be used at a reduced capacity. As such, the College’s six-quarter live-on requirement is suspended for the Class of 2023. All incoming first-year students are expected to reside in on-campus housing, and the limited remaining bed spaces will be offered to returning students with priority given to second-year student requests. The University’s four dining commons will be open and equipped to accommodate all residents with a focus on take-away meals, with protocols for helping to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

All second-year returning students who desire on-campus housing must log into the myHousingportal and complete the Housing Intent form by 11:59 p.m. on July 6. Third- and fourth-year students who desire housing must also log into the myHousingportal to be placed on a waitlist. Please visit the Housing & Residence Life website for full details about the returning student room selection process and waitlists. Housing assignments for students who participate in the room selection process will be viewable in the myHousingportal by early August. Note: All assignments are single occupancy with a bathroom designation. Students will be able to live in multi-person apartments and will be assigned to a single occupancy bedroom within those spaces. To further help prevent the spread of COVID-19 in residence halls, all residents will be subject to COVID-19 testing prior to move-in and special in-residence health practices will be required (see Health and Safety section of this message). 

To support second-, third-, and fourth-year students who want or need to secure alternative housing, the University has worked with rental agencies to identify apartments within a one-mile radius of campus. For information about alternative housing, visit the UChicago Forward website or email offcampushousingquestions@uchicago.edu.

All students on financial aid who will be living off-campus will receive an aid package this year that includes increased funding to cover incremental off-campus rental costs and dining expenses. Additional information will be made available as housing assignments are announced.

Academic Instruction

A limited number of Autumn Quarter classes across the University are expected to be held in-person, in classroom spaces reconfigured to facilitate distancing guidelines. Many classes will include a combination of in-person and remote instruction and discussion, while others will be conducted fully remotely. To minimize the spread of COVID-19 when students arrive to campus, the first week of all College course instruction will be remote. In-person teaching will begin on October 5, the beginning of second week.

Classes will begin remotely on September 29, with in-person instruction ending before the Thanksgiving holiday. The Autumn Quarter’s final week of courses, along with reading period and final exams will be conducted remotely. To learn more about registration, visit the Registrar’s Office website. Incoming students are required to pre-register, starting July 13, and will receive a separate communication with instructions this week. Note: To help build connection and community for new students, priority for in-person classes will be given to courses that serve first-year students in the College.

Orientation for incoming students mostly will be conducted remotely, beginning on September 8 and concluding before the start of classes. To learn more, visit the Orientation website.

Move-in will be staggered in order to help maintain the health of residents, taking place over a number of days beginning the fourth week of September. It will include both incoming students and returning students.

The College will do everything in our control to support international students who face challenges related to travel or visa restrictions. To learn more, please contact the Office of International affairs at 773-702-7752, or visit their website.

Health and Safety Requirements

Every student, visiting family member, instructor, and staff member on campus will be required to adhere to mandatory health and safety practices to help keep themselves and the University community well. This will include a formal commitment, called the UChicago Health Pact, that has been instituted to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.

The UChicago Health Pact will include requirements for face coverings, social distancing, self-monitoring, and COVID-19 reporting for all members of the University community. In addition, the following requirements will apply for all College students living in University residence halls.

  • Arrival on campus by September 24, for COVID-19 testing and an in-residence quarantine period of no less than 10 days, starting on September 25. Note: Limiting access to residence halls will be necessary during move-in to allow students, their families, and staff to maintain a safe physical distance. Specifically, move-in will be staggered to reduce density, and students will need to limit their move-in assistance to two family members or friends. Details for move-in time and helper registration will be available on the Housing & Residence Life website in the next few weeks.
  • Temporary relocation of students who test positive for COVID-19 or who are experiencing symptoms or were exposed to COVID-19, to facilities the University has precautionarily reserved for quarantine. Students living off-campus who experience symptoms or who are exposed to or test positive for COVID-19 will need to quarantine in-residence.

For further explanation of the aforementioned and answers to general questions, the University will host a virtual Town Hall via Zoom for students and families in the College. An invitation will be emailed to you in the coming days, and a recording of the Town Hall will be made available for students and families who cannot participate at its scheduled time.

I recognize that Autumn Quarter will be an experience that is different than to what we are accustomed, and much depends on our community’s health commitment and the unknowns related to COVID-19 that could impact the current guidelines of the U.S. and State of Illinois. At this time, offering more of our transformative education and experience in-person is an opportunity we are eager to commence.

My colleagues and I will continue to communicate with you as we near the start of Autumn Quarter. In the meantime, please accept my very best wishes for continued health to you and your family. I look forward to greeting you on campus in September.


John W. Boyer
Dean of the College
The University of Chicago

UChicago Autumn Quarter 2020: A Return to Campus Plan for Students

For more information, please consult the Autumn 2020 FAQs.