Preparing for Spring Semester 2021
Dear Students, Faculty and Staff,
From the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, the members of our community have continuously demonstrated through their actions and support for each other that we are all in this together. As we approach the end of the semester and we bid farewell to 2020, we want to thank all of you for everything you have done during the last 10 months and congratulate you for your perseverance and strength.
The prevention measures we have taken — wearing masks, maintaining social distancing, hand washing/sanitizing frequently, implementing health checks, extensive testing and contact tracing– have been successful in stopping the spread of COVID-19 on campus. Whether you will still be on campus or not, we urge you to continue to follow these guidelines during the upcoming break to protect not only our community, but also yourselves, your loved ones, and our health care systems.
We anticipate the U.S. Food and Drug Administration will soon approve two COVID-19 vaccines – one of which was tested here at UIC. These vaccines will protect individuals by stimulating the body’s natural defenses to develop immunity. Initially, the COVID-19 vaccine will be available in limited supply to health care workers, residents and staff of nursing homes, and emergency workers. Even after the vaccines become available, it will take months to vaccinate the general public and it will be imperative that we continue to take all precautions into the new year.
We will begin the spring semester on January 11 with online instruction only, with limited exceptions for clinical activities in the health sciences. This means that all undergraduate and graduate classes that are not specifically excluded must be taught online beginning on January 11. Whenever city and state guidelines allow, we will implement the original plan for Spring 2021 semester, which includes undergraduate and graduate sections on campus. Additional information will be provided as soon as the conditions allow us to proceed with this plan.
Supervisors are encouraged to continue to reduce density on campus and allow employees to work remotely based on unit operational needs. Anyone who feels ill or believes they were exposed to the coronavirus or the flu should stay at home and not come to campus.
Although the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) continue to recommend 14 days of quarantine after exposure to someone with COVID-19 infection, they have recently announced that reducing the length of physical quarantine may be considered based on local public health disease risk. We are evaluating these recommendations and will provide updated quarantine guidance for the campus very soon.
Beginning on January 4, we will have significantly increased saliva testing capacity for UIC students and employees. We strongly encourage all UIC students and employees who do not have COVID-19 symptoms nor have been exposed to someone with COVID-19 over a two-week period, to take advantage of the free on-campus saliva testing by scheduling appointments online in advance. In January, we will continue to have mandatory saliva-based testing only for designated groups of students and employees, but we expect that we will expand mandatory testing significantly as we bring more students, faculty and staff back to campus.
We are very hopeful that the tremendous contributions of the scientific community over the last year will soon lead to the end of the pandemic and bring us together again in the next year. Until then, we wish you all the best for the holidays and good health and happiness in the new year.
Michael D. Amiridis
Provost and Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs
Vice Chancellor for Health Affairs