UGA expecting return to full in-person learning for Fall semester

A memo released on Wednesday detailed the University’s plans to return to normal operations

Athens, Ga. – The following is an Archnews communication to University of Georgia Faculty, Staff, and Students from Jere W. Morehead, President; S. Jack Hu, Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs and Provost; Rahul Shrivastav, Vice President for Instruction; Victor Wilson, Vice President for Student Affairs.

Summer and Fall semesters are just a few months away, and we are working to ensure that they mirror the successes we have seen this academic year. It is hard to believe that nearly a year has passed since COVID-19 changed all of our lives so dramatically. Your perseverance has allowed us to continue to teach, conduct research, and serve others during this most difficult time. We are truly grateful for your efforts to sustain and strengthen UGA over this past year.

Even though a growing number of people will soon have access to vaccines, we must continue to follow health protocols so in-person learning remains safe for everyone. As always, our plans are designed to protect your health, and safety remains our top concern. This memo summarizes some of the key components of our instructional plans for the Summer and Fall 2021 semesters.

Summer 2021 Class Instructional Formats

Classes will continue to be offered in face-to-face, hybrid, or online formats. Hybrid and online classes may be synchronous or asynchronous. The instructional formats for all classes will be published in Athena by April 5, 2021.

With fewer classes offered in the Summer Semester, more classrooms will be available for face-to-face instruction. However, students and faculty must continue to maintain six feet or greater distance from each other in classrooms and wear appropriate face coverings in all UGA buildings. We are continuing to follow guidance from the Georgia Department of Public Health and the CDC, and we will notify the UGA community should that guidance change.

Class Attendance Policies

As we did in the Spring Semester, we will abide by class attendance policies as stated in UGA’s Academic Affairs policy. Instructors should implement an attendance policy that best suits their classes but ensures sufficient flexibility to meet the public health and safety guidelines in effect during the Summer Semester. Early and clear communication with students about class attendance requirements is essential, as it helps students and faculty organize their schedules effectively.

Student Care and Outreach will continue to notify instructors if any students in their classes report a positive test report via DawgCheck.

Student and Faculty Requests for COVID-19-Related Accommodations

Requests from students for an accommodation due to COVID-19 will continue be handled through the Disability Resource Center’s (DRC) existing accommodations process. DRC professional staff work directly with students to assess their individual needs and to develop appropriate plans for accommodations and services.

If you have questions regarding a COVID-19 accommodation, please contact the DRC at drc@uga.edu or 706-542-8719. More information can be found at https://drc.uga.edu/content_page/student-accommodation-guidelines.

All faculty, staff, and graduate assistants who received a COVID-19/ADA-related accommodation during the Spring 2021 Semester may continue to use their approved accommodations during the Summer 2021 Semester unless notified otherwise.

If you have questions regarding a COVID-19/ADA-related accommodation, please contact Human Resources at hrweb@uga.edu or 706-542-2222. More information can be found at https://hr.uga.edu/employees/workplace-concerns/disability-services-accommodations/ada-supervisory-resources/.

Fall 2021 Planning

Wider availability of vaccines over the next few months is anticipated to control the spread of COVID-19. This should allow us to resume normal operations in the Fall Semester, including a return to full in-person instruction, full capacity in our residence halls and dining facilities, and regular operations for other campus services. All research and public service operations are also expected to resume regular activities no later than Fall 2021.

However, we will continue to monitor the pandemic closely and will follow public health guidance from the University System of Georgia, the Department of Public Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. We must remain ready to pivot to social distancing—with a mix of instructional formats of in-person, hybrid and online modes of instruction—if the situation warrants such a change.

Continuing Health and Safety Protocols

In the coming weeks and months, we must continue to wear our face coverings, maintain social distancing, wash our hands frequently and use hand sanitizer, even as vaccines become more prevalent. Adherence to these health and safety protocols has served our campus community well and has helped us to have a positive outlook for Fall Semester.

We also continue to encourage all faculty, staff, and students to self-monitor for any symptoms of COVID-19 and use DawgCheck every day before coming to campus. Remember that you are required to use DawgCheck to report a positive test for COVID-19.

In addition, we strongly encourage you to take advantage of the free surveillance testing that continues to be offered at Legion Field and pop-up locations. Testing at Legion Field can be scheduled at https://clia.vetview.vet.uga.edu/. Walk-up appointments can usually be accommodated at Legion Field, and pop-up saliva testing does not require pre-registration.

Once again, we greatly appreciate your efforts in ensuring a safe teaching, learning and work environment for everyone.

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