We would like to express our thanks and appreciation to faculty, staff, and students for your hard work and flexibility in fulfilling the University’s mission of teaching, research, and service during these challenging times. The ongoing pandemic continues to create challenges. This has necessitated reimagining our approaches to teaching, research, and service delivery in ways that prioritize health and safety for all. We have been seeking feedback from faculty and are working to assess and refine our approaches to ensure that UGA provides a high-quality teaching and learning environment. We need to ensure that our students have the necessary access to education and the resources to succeed, while also maintaining extensive support for our faculty and staff. These goals need to be accomplished with increasingly challenging budgetary realities in mind, significant disruptions in supply chains, and rapidly evolving scientific and technical knowledge about COVID-19 diagnosis, prevention approaches, and treatments. 

In keeping with these goals, this memo serves to provide initial guidance for the upcoming Spring Semester:

  • Classes offered in Spring 2021 will continue to follow in-person instruction with social distancing. Classes will be offered in a mix of in-person, hybrid, and online formats. Faculty interactions with students are essential in all our instructional formats and should remain a priority. However, the trajectory of the pandemic remains unpredictable, and we must be prepared to adopt a different approach on short notice. 
  • All on-campus classes and activities will continue to require social distancing measures that are currently in place unless guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Georgia Department of Public Health (DPH) changes. Per USG guidance, all individuals must wear a face covering in campus buildings, unless granted an accommodation. Details about social distancing and face coverings that were announced in August 2020 will continue to be in effect. 
  • All faculty, staff, and graduate assistants who received a COVID-19/ADA-related accommodation during the Fall 2020 Semester may continue to use their approved accommodations during the Spring 2021 Semester unless notified otherwise. This includes approved accommodations to teach fully online. The Deans and Vice Presidents of each unit will be provided a list of approved accommodations and will be asked to confirm all accommodations to ensure continued need and structure of the accommodation for Spring Semester. Please look for additional communication from the Dean/VP of your unit about these accommodations. Deans/VPs are asked to submit their confirmations to the Office of Instruction by October 10, 2020.
  • Faculty, staff, and graduate assistants may seek a new or different COVID-19 related accommodation for the 2021 Spring Semester if they fall within one of the categories for increased risk of severe illness from COVID-19, as defined by the CDC. ADA accommodation is for the employee and does not extend to members of the employee’s household who fall into categories of increased risk of severe illness from COVID-19. We strongly encourage submitting requests to Human Resources no later than October 10, 2020 to allow adequate time for review and planning for the upcoming Spring Semester. Faculty, staff, and graduate teaching assistants must submit the necessary and appropriate medical documentation supporting a new or different request to commence the review process. Requests for accommodations should be submitted to Human Resources through the University’s existing Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) accommodations process.
  • When planning teaching accommodations, an in-person component should be maintained whenever possible to ensure that all students have the opportunity for learning effectively and for deep engagement with faculty and their peers. A shift to fully online teaching will be approved only if other accommodations for in-person instruction are not possible. While an accommodation request may be submitted at any time as the need arises or as circumstances change, requests may be more difficult to accommodate after students begin registering for classes. At this time, registration for Spring and Summer classes is expected to begin on November 5, 2020. Change of instructional formats after registration or after class starts will likely cause confusion among students.
  • All First-Year Odyssey Seminars (FYOS) will need to be taught in-person, as a high level of engagement between faculty and first-year students is an essential element of this program. As all FYOS classes have low enrollment, faculty who have approved accommodations to teach other classes online may choose to teach FYOS in-person. 

We continue to have extensive conversations with faculty, staff, students, and administrators across campus about the challenges that the pandemic has created and the lessons learned. This feedback will help us improve our processes and decisions. Additional details about the format of classes, student support services, and other details will be forthcoming. Again, we greatly appreciate all your hard work during these challenging times.