Robert J. Zimmer and Ka Yee C. Lee: Transitioning to Remote Learning for Spring Quarter

March 12, 2020

To: Members of the University Community
From: Robert J. Zimmer, President, and Ka Yee C. Lee, Provost
Subject: Transitioning to Remote Learning for Spring Quarter
Date: March 12, 2020

The University of Chicago is defined, as it has been throughout our history, by a collective commitment to the highest aspirations and standards in research and education and all that this entails.  We have a profound sense that our work instantiates the fundamental values and the intellectual life that define a great university.  As a community, we now face a significant challenge with the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

Over the past month the University and the Medical Center have been closely monitoring and responding to the evolving situation with the coronavirus disease.  Our goals have been to protect the health and safety of our students, faculty and staff, to remain committed to our distinctive environment for education, research, and impact, and to be responsible participants in the collective global public health challenge.

Today, we are announcing new steps in service of these goals that the current extraordinary circumstances require.   We will be acting collectively to prevent and slow the spread of the virus.  We are committed to maintaining University research and daily operations, and ensuring that all students can realize their academic objectives, but we understand that doing so will present new challenges. We extend our appreciation in advance to our faculty, students, staff, and the University community for their collective efforts to fulfil the distinctive mission of the University in today’s deeply challenging environment.

  • The University of Chicago is moving to remote learning for undergraduate and graduate classes for the entire Spring Quarter of 2020, beginning on Monday, March 30, the first day of the Spring Quarter. Extensive preparations are in process under the Provost’s leadership, and we will provide detailed guidance over the next week about remote teaching.

The University is fully committed to supporting the education of all students throughout the Spring Quarter. The College, schools, divisions, and departments will work closely with all undergraduate and graduate students to ensure that they continue to receive a transformative education.

  • University residence halls will continue normal operations until the end of Winter Quarter. Students who can return home at that point should do so. The University will continue to provide housing, dining, health, and other resources to students for whom travel restrictions or other circumstances require them to remain on campus for Spring quarter. Other students should plan on vacating their on-campus housing by 5 p.m. on Sunday, March 22. Students who requested and have been granted spring break housing will still be able to stay through spring break.
  • Students will continue to receive financial aid and stipends.
  • The University and the University of Chicago Medical Center remain open and we will continue taking extensive steps to ensure the safety of the University community. We will provide additional updates on University operations in the coming days, including advice to staff regarding alternative work options.
  • The University of Chicago Laboratory Schools will also be moving to remote learning on March 30. The Director of the Laboratory Schools will be in contact soon with more information, including about the duration of the remote learning period.

We do not take these important temporary measures lightly. The University has a profound responsibility for the health and well-being of our campus community as well as that of our broader community on Chicago’s South Side. We have an obligation to our colleagues, our neighbors, and our city to take all reasonable steps to prevent the spread of the disease. Additional information will be posted to the University’s COVID-19 website, which will be updated regularly.

We recognize the disruption that this pandemic is causing. By bringing our intellect and resources together, we will continue to honor the enduring values that define the University of Chicago.

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