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Spring semester online start reminders and contact tracing updates

Spring semester online start reminders and contact tracing updates Heading link

By now, you should have received the campus message outlining the decision to start the first two weeks of the spring semester online. I would like to remind you of what this means for the start of the semester as well as offer more guidance regarding contact tracing when we are back on campus. 

To reiterate: 

  • Classes will be online for the first two weeks, Monday, Jan. 10 through Sunday, Jan. 23. Exceptions will be made for the health sciences colleges, labs, clinics, internships and other classes that cannot be offered virtually, including those that start before Jan. 10. These will be handled on a case-by-case basis by the colleges and the academic departments and units in the coming weeks. 
  • In-person classes are expected to resume Monday, Jan. 24. Social distancing in the classroom will not be necessary because face masks, which will remain required indoors on campus, and vaccines (96% of the UIC community is vaccinated) continue to be the best forms of defense against COVID-19 transmission.  
  • All students, faculty and staff are expected to take a PCR test within 72 hours of returning to campus. If you have the ability to test in your local community, please do so. If you are on or near campus prior to Jan. 24 you may take advantage of free on-campus saliva testing for campus re-entry. Please plan accordingly because on-campus testing sites may be busy the week of Jan. 24 when the majority of students are expected to return. Also, enhanced COVID-19 saliva testing will be implemented to quickly identify and closely monitor the prevalence of infection in our community. Please refer to the campus announcement for full details. 
  • Students, faculty and staff, are urged to obtain a booster, if eligible, prior to returning to campus. Vaccines are available on campus or at a location near you. 

Return to campus and contact tracing
When in-person instruction resumes, a classroom interactivity tool will be used to simplify the process of recording attendance for on-campus and hybrid courses.  

Acadly, currently used by some on campus, has been upgraded to allow instructors to take attendance in any size class within seconds using a smartphone app. It also captures the additional detail of proximity between students, which, together with attendance data, can be made available immediately to the UIC contact tracing team. Instructors who use Acadly will no longer need to manually maintain seating charts in their classes for the purpose of contact tracing.  

Offering more than taking attendance, Acadly brings an improved classroom experience for students and instructors by making it possible to use quizzes, polls, discussions, word cloud questions, videos, files, and more — all in one application.  

Visit to learn more about Acadly and to begin integrating it into your plans for next semester. The Center for the Advancement of Teaching Excellence will also provide support for faculty and students to troubleshoot the platform, as well as answer questions.

Seeking input for spring semester
I have asked the department heads and executive officers to provide creative ideas to recognize the amazing efforts of our faculty and staff and provide more bandwidth and additional resources to support the rapid pace and flexibility needed for teaching and learning as COVID-19 dynamics remain in flux.

Some ideas have already been shared, including raising awareness of mental health resources for all university employees; engaging our students with our success centers and support services early on to prevent a lag at the start of the spring semester; and working to lessen the burden of transactions and processes in grant management and human resources, for example, that are taking a great deal of time. You can submit ideas to and your ideas will continue to be gathered and shared. 

Because of the resolve of our campus community, we stand ready to start the spring semester with protocols and best practices in place to allow us to keep our campus community safe. We are monitoring the evolving COVID-19 environment, and we will continue to be flexible should updated public health recommendations emerge in the coming weeks. We will keep you informed and communicate immediately if there are any further changes to academic operations for the spring semester. 

Thank you again for your guidance, support and energy. Please enjoy your winter break with family and friends in preparation for an exciting year ahead.

My best wishes to you and your loved ones for a prosperous 2022. 

Javier Reyes
Provost and Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs