PSD COVID and Resumption Updates

The health and well-being of our community is our top priority. This page contains the latest information and resources specific to the PSD community regarding the response to the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) and the resumption of activities leading up to the Autumn Quarter.

The PSD has begun planning for the gradual resumption of on-campus activities, including non-laboratory research, staff functions, graduate student orientation, and Autumn courses.

Autumn Quarter Teaching Resources

Research Resources

Remote Learning Resources

Remote Work Resources

Health and Wellness Resources

PSD Contacts

PSD Key Communications

To: PSD Faculty and OAAs
From: Bahareh Lampert, Dean of Students
Subject: Autumn Quarter Calendar Information
Date: September 17, 2020

Dear PSD faculty, 

In an effort to minimize the spread of COVID-19 when students arrive on campus, the first week of courses (September 29 – October 2) will be conducted entirely remotely. Classes will begin remotely on September 29, with in-person instruction ending before the Thanksgiving holiday. 

In-person instruction will commence in the second week of the quarter, beginning on October 5 and continue through the Friday before Thanksgiving (November 20). Please note that this year’s academic calendar differs from past years. The entire week of Thanksgiving (November 23 – November 27) is a holiday. No more than an ordinary weekend’s worth of work should be assigned over Thanksgiving Break. Because the entire week of Thanksgiving is a holiday this year, the Friday prior to that week (November 20) will be a regular, in-term day. Classes resume the Monday after Thanksgiving (November 28). Beginning November 28, all remaining class sessions and all final exams must be conducted entirely remotely. 

Autumn Quarter’s final week of courses, along with reading period and final exams, will be conducted entirely remotely as well. 

Autumn Quarter Instruction

  • September 29 – October 2: Classes conducted entirely remotely
  • October 5 – November 20: Classes conducted remotely, in-person, or in dual modality 
  • November 23 – November 27: Thanksgiving Break/Study Week
  • November 28 – December 12: Classes/Exams conducted entirely remotely

Please do let me know if you have any questions about this, and best of luck with start of Autumn quarter.

All best,


To: Incoming PSD Students
From: Bahareh Lampert, Dean of Students
Subject: PSD DOS Welcome Letter
Date: September 15, 2020

Dear Students, 

I hope you’ve all had a restful and productive summer. We begin this academic year with a continued focus on navigating changes brought about by COVID-19. Although we will maintain dedensification and physical distancing efforts to protect our campus environment, we do look forward to welcoming both new and returning students and creating a socially connected student community.

The remainder of this letter will provide an overview of updates and information to keep in mind during Autumn Quarter and beyond. Additionally, we have provided links to resources for students. As always, if you have any questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to reach out to me directly at I am happy to hear from you. 

COVID-19 Safety Training and Attestation 

All students, faculty, and staff must complete the COVID-19 Safety Training and Attestation prior to returning to campus. Please be sure to carefully review these materials as they contain critical public health guidance. All members of the campus community should plan to complete the Attestation on a quarterly basis going forward. 

University of Chicago Health Pact and Public Health Protocols

We share a communal responsibility to keep one another safe. In addition to completing COVID-19 safety training and completing the Health Attestation, the University is asking all students, faculty, and staff to review and uphold the University of Chicago Health Pact

Our habits and behaviors both on and off-campus will be vitally important this upcoming Autumn Quarter. To maximize compliance and safe behavior from all community members, please review the Expectations for Autumn Quarter

In particular, all members of our community must follow city and state restrictions on gatherings, including parties. The City is currently in Phase IV of its reopening plan. In Phase IV, the City of Chicago has prohibited gatherings and parties in private residences with more than 6 people who do not live in the household. In addition to observing the limitations on the number of people gathering, members of our campus community who attend any gathering are expected to wear a face covering and maintain at least 6 feet of social distancing.

Please report any concerns you have about public health protocol violations to UCAIR

Academic Standing and Probation Policy

The Division has formalized its policy on academic standing and probation. In practice, this policy was used during the 2019-2020 academic year; the formalization is an effort to provide transparency and clear information to students and faculty. You can review the policy on the Dean of Students Current Student Policies website

Training for Teaching Remotely 

Many of you may have teaching responsibilities in Autumn Quarter or beyond. Given the dual modality of course offerings this Autumn, we encourage anyone who will serve in a TA role to sign up for trainings through the Chicago Center for Teaching


We encourage all eligible students to vote in the upcoming election. You can find information about how to register to vote, request mail-in ballots, and voting deadlines for your state by visiting UChiVotes


The Dean of Students Office has created several web pages where students can find access to resources. If you have questions about resources, please do not hesitate to reach out to the Dean of Students Office. We are happy to help. You can email or email me directly ( 

The Dean of Students Office plans to facilitate social events for graduate students in Autumn 2020. Please keep an eye out for invitations. 

I wish you all the best for this upcoming academic year. 

All best, 


To: PSD Faculty, Staff, OAAs, Postdocs
From: Angela Olinto, Dean
Subject: PSD Welcome and Autumn Quarter Resources
Date: September 14, 2020

Dear PSD community,

I am delighted to welcome you to the '20-21 academic year! For those of you who are new to the PSD, welcome to the University of Chicago. We are so pleased to have you as part of our community. 

As we face the year ahead, I am heartened by how much research and academic progress has been accomplished over the past several months in spite of significant obstacles. We are grateful to all those who have paved the way forward by consistently taking steps to keep themselves and their colleagues safe on campus. As we learned in Spring Quarter, flexibility will be key to our continued success; instructors of hybrid courses may need to prepare to teach online, labs may be required to reduce occupancy, and workplaces may change over the course of the next few months. Thank you in advance for your adaptability and dedication to our ground-breaking research and educating the next generation of physical and mathematical sciences.

Below, we have provided a round-up of University and PSD resources that you may find useful as you prepare for Autumn Quarter. These resources are also available on the PSD website. 



Remote Work

Health and Wellbeing

We will continue to update the PSD website with resources as processes and procedures evolve. 

All the best,


To: PSD Faculty, Staff, OAAs
From: Angela Olinto, Dean
Subject: Phase 3 Update
Date: August 11, 2020

Dear Colleagues,

Thank you so much for your hard work throughout the past several months as we faced one of the biggest global challenges together. During Phase 2 of the University’s resumption of activities, PSD brought back 80 labs, facilities, and technical groups involving more than 500 members of our community. Because of their diligence and commitment to the tenets of the University Health Pact while in Phase 2, we are now in Phase 3. 

Phase 3 allows for 50% occupancy of spaces, with two important caveats: 

  1. Any work that can be done remotely should continue remotely; 
  2. 50% occupancy does not necessarily mean that half the usual number of people can be accommodated in any given space. The overriding consideration with respect to density remains social distancing: at least 6 feet (~2 m) for most activities and at least 8 feet (~2.5 m) for meals. 

Accordingly, we updated the PSD implementation plan (both the guidance and form), and the personnel list template for Phase 3 of the resumption of on-campus activities on our research resumption webpagePlease review the updated guidance and use the updated forms when submitting new implementation plans or modifications of existing plans to your departments and institutes.

A few other key things to keep in mind for Phase 3:

  • Experienced undergraduates will now be allowed in research buildings to a limited extent with an emphasis on research purposes. See page 5 of the implementation plan guidance for the criteria and process for including undergraduates in your plans.
  • The University follows state and city travel restrictions. Please see the City of Chicago travel order for weekly updates.
  • Given trends across our country and rising infection rates in Chicago, we must prepare for the University to move back a phase or more. Ensure that you plan for this possibility and remain as flexible as possible.
  • We are still accommodating one-time access requests into PSD buildings. Individuals needing one-time access into PSD buildings should follow the updated procedure here. Please allow five business days for such requests to be processed and scheduled. 
  • If you experience building access issues, contact with pictures of the front and back of your UChicago ID. Restoring building access can take 2-3 business days.

If you have additional questions or concerns, please see the contact list below:

All the best,


To: PSD Students and Faculty
From: Bahareh Lampert, Dean of Students
Subject: F-1 visa policy guidance regarding Autumn quarter
Date: July 7, 2020

Dear Students,

I write to let you know that we are aware of the administration’s recent announcement regarding F-1 visas and remote learning.

Our Division thrives because of the diversity of perspectives and experiences of its students, faculty, and staff.  Here in the PSD, we recognize that a vibrant intellectual and scientific community is dependent upon bringing together the brightest minds from around the world and from all backgrounds.  

We are committed to our students’ educational plans and will do everything we can to support you as you make progress towards degree.  

The University is working with other professional associations and institutions across the country to provide further clarification.  The Division is also in close contact with the Office of International Affairs as they will be offering analysis and support in the coming days.  As we receive updates and guidance on this important issue, we will be sure to keep you apprised.

As always, please do reach out if you have any questions or concerns.

All best,


To: PSD Chairs and Directors
From: Michael Foote, Deputy Dean
Subject: Planning for non-lab research resumption
Date: July 6, 2020

Dear Chairs and Directors,

PSD will start considering plans for resumption of non-lab research and other scholarly activities, with an initial emphasis on single-user spaces and work that cannot be conducted remotely. We will follow the general protocol for the Lab Research Resumption Implementation Plan that was sent to you on June 4th along with the University’s guidance about the Research and Scholarship Resumption Roles and Responsibilities. Please refer to and direct your faculty and OAAs to this site. Please note that PSD and the University are currently using the same forms for lab-based and non-lab resumption.

Brief visits to retrieve materials from offices do not require a resumption plan. They do, however, require the University attestation and safety training; please see

The process for reviewing plans is described below:

1.     Plans should be submitted to your departmental review committee. Please provide your faculty and OAAs with an appropriate contact. 

2.     Committees should feel free to ask for revisions to plans to ensure that we minimize risk and promote the health and safety of our community. 

3.     Once the departmental review committee recommends a plan for approval, it should go to you for review and identification of any needs for coordination between proximal labs and offices.

4.     You should then send the form to Christine Taylo ( for PSD review, including identification of multi-unit coordination points.

5.     Once the plan is approved, the Dean’s Office will inform scholars that they can upload their plan to the University’s website. Anyone submitting a plan should wait for approval by the PSD Dean’s Office before uploading it, because the University’s website does not readily allow for revision.

6.     We ask that scholars post their plans on their workspace and office doors to aid in coordination between researchers. Each PSD unit should also keep a record of the plans. 

Our goal is to gradually increase on-campus scholarship while maintaining public health through physical distancing, masking, hand hygiene, surface cleaning, and other safety measures while on campus as well as in our personal lives. Plans that address these factors thoughtfully are likely to be approved faster than ones that are rushed to review.

All personnel should be familiar with the safety incident reporting tool – UCAIR – from the Office of Research Safety (ORS), which allows for anonymous reporting. 

I also remind you that no one should be pressured to work on campus if they are uncomfortable doing so, and retaliatory action will not be tolerated.  Students who have concerns can contact the PSD Dean of Students, Bahareh Lampert (, and research staff and postdoctoral scholars who have concerns can contact their Human Resources Partner or Divisional Administrator Susan Hearth (, in addition to departmental representatives.

Please let me know if you have any questions. Thank you.

Michael Foote

Deputy Dean for Academic Affairs, Physical Sciences Division

To: PSD Community
From: Angela Olinto, Dean
Subject: Planning and preparing for autumn quarter
Date: June 30, 2020

Dear PSD Community,

I write to follow up on the memo attached from President Zimmer and Provost Lee. The PSD has begun planning for the gradual resumption of on-campus activities, including non-laboratory research, staff functions, graduate student orientation, and Autumn courses. In the coming weeks, you will hear more details about the process for returning to campus from chairs, directors, and managers. I want to emphasize, however, that we will carefully consider the density and spatial distancing in our buildings and workspaces at every phase of the resumption. While we will work to accommodate as many of our constituents who want to return to campus as possible, some will continue to work remotely or follow a combination of in person and remote work to maintain the safety of our community.

We thank all of our researchers who have already returned and consistently taken steps to keep themselves and their colleagues safe. You are paving the way for our community to move forward and we look forward to welcoming more of our members to follow in your footsteps.

We will continue to keep you informed as we plan and prepare for Autumn Quarter.

Best wishes,


To: PSD Faculty
From: Angela Olinto, Dean, and Michael Foote, Deputy Dean
Subject: Resumption of non-lab activities
Date: June 23, 2020

Dear Colleagues,

The University has now completed its first week of Phase 2, and the resumption of on-campus laboratory research has gone well thus far. We would now like to gather information to help us plan for the resumption of non-lab activities. 

If you do not have a lab but are interested in returning to campus, please complete this brief form so that we can make a preliminary estimate of the number of people who require access and which buildings will be affected. As with lab-based research, you will be required to complete a training video, an attestation, and develop a comprehensive plan that details the use of PPE, cleaning procedures, scheduling, sign-in/sign-out, communication mechanisms, and any common areas use in order to return to campus. Of particular importance will be plans for maintaining social distancing. We will provide further information and instructions for completing these plans in the near future.

We would like to remind you that nobody should feel pressured to return to campus if they are not comfortable doing so.

Thank you,

Angela and Michael

To: PSD Students
From: Bahareh Lampert, Dean of Students
Subject: Safety Guidelines and Resumption Planning
Date: June 6, 2020

Dear Students, 

We hope you are doing well and staying safe. Over the next several weeks and months we will be communicating important information about safely returning to campus, labs, and classrooms for the upcoming academic year. As a reminder, on Monday, June 8, at 5:00 p.m., you are invited join a Physical Sciences Town Hall on the resumption of laboratory research, where we will discuss PSD's laboratory research implementation protocol, and share information about safety best practices. You should have received an agenda as well as a Zoom link via email on 6/5/20.  Please do let the PSD DOS office know if you still need access to this upcoming meeting.

The health and safety of our community remain our top concern. No one should be pressured to work on campus if they are uncomfortable doing so, and there will be no disciplinary or retaliatory action taken against anyone who prefers not to return to work on campus due to concerns about infection. Students who have concerns can contact their department’s student affairs representative or the PSD Dean of Students, Bahareh Lampert

Personal Safety

In accordance with guidance provided by the state of Illinois, the City of Chicago, and the University, all PSD students, faculty, and staff will be expected to comply with social distancing guidelines and public health measures. 

Campus Safety Guidelines

  1. Stay home if you have a fever, cough, or other symptoms (shortness of breath, difficulty breathing, chills, muscle pain, sore throat, new loss of taste or smell). 
  2. Wear a face covering at all times on campus (i.e., disposable mask or cloth face covering).
  3. Social distancing requires staying at least six feet (approximately two meters) away from others.
  4. Practice frequent hand hygiene. Hand washing or using hand sanitizer keeps you healthy and prevents the spread of infections. 
  5. Disinfect. Workspaces should be cleaned and disinfected regularly, including personal workspaces.
  6. Do not congregate. Move with purpose and avoid gathering in the lobby or other common spaces of the building. 

Navigating this new normal may feel strange, but it is critical that we demonstrate our care to each other by following the above guidelines and any other guidance distributed by public health or University officials. Students may review the University’s website for ongoing guidance at any time.

Students should also feel empowered to anonymously report safety concerns through UCAIR. The UCAIR app can be downloaded once you submit the request form. You can also report concerns directly on the website. UCAIR allows you to notify University officials about safety concerns without having to discuss the concerns directly with a person or group who may not be observing guidelines.

You are always welcome to share any concerns with the Dean of Students directly. You can reach Dean Lampert via email at any point.    

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and Training

All students, faculty, and staff on campus are expected to wear personal protective equipment (PPE) while on campus. Specifically, whenever you are on campus you must wear a face covering that covers both your mouth and nose. 

Students working in labs also need to continue to follow their standard lab safety practices.

Anyone returning to campus (faculty, other academic appointees, staff, and students) will be required to complete a short training program in advance. Individuals will be required to sign an electronic form affirming that they will comply with safety precautions, including reporting of positive cases, and that they will self-monitor for symptoms related to COVID-19. 

What to do if you are experiencing symptoms

If you are experiencing symptoms of the COVID-19 virus, you should not go to your University destination and should consult your healthcare provider immediately.  Any student who is experiencing symptoms can contact the UChicago Medicine COVID-19 triage hotline for screening, at 773.702.2800.

Students on USHIP will not be charged for COVID-19 testing: If you are required to be tested for COVID-19, cost sharing will be waived, including copays, coinsurance, and deductibles for diagnostic testing provided at approved locations in accordance with CDC guidelines.

If you test positive for COVID-19 and have been in a University-owned or operated facility, please contact so that the health and safety of others in our facilities can be addressed. A community member who has tested positive for COVID-19 must self-isolate as directed by healthcare professionals before returning to University locations. Individuals who have tested positive are asked to contact the Dean of Students prior to return. 

All best,


To: PSD Faculty
From: Angela Olinto, Dean
Subject: Research Resumption
Date: May 26, 2020

Dear Colleagues,

As you have seen in recent communications, the University will continue to operate with essential-only personnel and that, even when the stay at home order is lifted, we expect to operate with a low-density of people on campus. Those on campus need to adhere to policies regarding face coverings, social distancing, self-monitoring, and self-reporting. All PSD community members are encouraged to report any issues they see regarding physical distancing and improper PPE; this can be done anonymously through the UCAIR system

The University has convened several working groups to plan for the resumption of activities on campus. Each group includes a member of PSD leadership and has drafted guidelines for a phased return to activity, which are under review and should be disseminated in the coming weeks. PSD representatives on these committees are: 

·Education: Stu Kurtz, Deputy Dean 

·Laboratory research: Aaron Dinner, Deputy Dean 

·Non-lab research: Michael Foote, Deputy Dean 

·Staff: Michael Grosse, Senior Associate Dean 

We expect that, as research begins to ramp up on campus, laboratory-based researchers will phase in first, because of their inability to perform their work remotely. Due to the diversity of PSD laboratory configurations and research needs, each PI will be responsible for completing an individual plan for ramp-up, which will then be reviewed by a departmental committee before submission to the PSD for final approval. The form will be shared with all PIs after it has been finalized by the central administration.  

The PSD has formed a committee with representation from all departments and institutes to develop a form to help PIs structure their individual plans. The committee members are: 

·Aaron Dinner (Chair), Deputy Dean

·Andy Campbell, Deputy Dean 

·Andy Davis, Geophysical Sciences

·Bryan Dickinson, Chemistry

·Margaret Gardel, Physics

·Shan Lu, Computer Science

·Jeff McMahon, Astronomy & Astrophysics and KICP

·David Miller, EFI

·Dan Nicolae, Statistics

·Jonathan Simon, JFI

·Shmuel Weinberger, Mathematics

BSD will hold a town hall tomorrow, Wednesday, May 27 at 2:00 p.m. to review the overall framework for increasing their research. I include the invitation message from Dean Polonsky below, and the agenda, attached. PSD will host our own town hall to review our implementation plan when finalized.

Finally, I want to emphasize that the health and safety of our community remains our top concern. No one will be pressured to work on campus if they are uncomfortable doing so, and there will be no disciplinary or retaliatory action taken against anyone who prefers not to return to work on campus due to concerns about infection. Students who have concerns can contact their department’s student affairs representative or PSD Dean of Students, Bahareh Lampert. Research staff and postdoctoral scholars who have concerns can contact their Human Resources Partner or Divisional Administrator Susan Hearth

Thank you for your continued patience and cooperation,

Stay Scient, Safe, and Sane,


To: PSD Students and Recent Graduates
From: Angela Olinto, Dean, and Bahareh Lampert, Dean of Students
Subject: PSD Convocation
Date: April 7, 2020

Dear Students,

As President Zimmer announced today, the University will not hold an on-campus Convocation ceremony due to current public health guidance. We understand the disappointment our graduating students and their families may feel about this news, and we are committed to celebrating your amazing achievements this year in a virtual ceremony, as well as next year, when we will welcome you back to campus to participate in the hooding ceremony in person. 

Convocation is an enduring tradition at the University of Chicago, and, more importantly, a well-deserved recognition of our students' tremendous accomplishments. Though we cannot be together on campus this June, we will honor our graduates as a PSD community. In finishing a degree at the University of Chicago, our graduating students have demonstrated enormous resilience and dedication to intellectual challenge. We are so proud of you.

Please reach out to the Dean of Students Office with any questions, and we will be in touch later this Quarter with further details.

Dean Angela Olinto and Dean of Students Bahareh Lampert
Physical Sciences Division

To: PSD Community
From: Angela Olinto, Dean
Subject: Thank You
Date: April 6, 2020

Dear PSD Community,

As we start a Spring Quarter that differs so drastically from the norm, I write to express my gratitude. I know some of our community members are facing incredible challenges—both personally and professionally—during this global health crisis. Despite these circumstances, I have seen remarkable demonstrations of resilience, generosity, and comradery as well as a dedication to continuing to advance science and learning across the Division.

Students, faculty, academics, postdocs, and staff: thank you for your creativity and unwavering commitment to research and education; your flexibility and patience as policies and practices evolve; and your willingness to help and support others. 

Wishing you, your families, and friends health and wellness,


To: PSD Spring Quarter Instructors and TAs (via Chairs and Directors)
From: Bahareh Lampert, Dean of Students
Subject: Spring 2020 Tasks, Policies, and Resources
Date: April 4, 2020

Dear Students, 

In light of the University’s decision to move to remote learning and teaching in Spring 2020, I write to provide you with additional information about the following:

  • Activating Zoom accounts
  • Recording and privacy policies for remote learning
  • Resources that will be useful when classes begin

Activating and testing your Zoom account

All students have free access to Zoom accounts. You will need a Zoom account and an internet connection to participate in remote learning this quarter. If you are a teaching assistant in the Spring, you received an email from ITS prior to this week with instructions relevant to your setup process.   

Otherwise, if you have not done so already, you should create a UChicago Zoom account in advance of your first class session by navigating to, then clicking on the “Sign In” button, which will create the account.  (Please note that even if you already have a free Zoom account, you should Sign In and create a UChicago Zoom account. If you have a free account using your UChicago email address, you will need to cancel that account before creating your new one.). 

After creating a Zoom account, you should start up a meeting to check your audio and webcam. Log into Zoom, then click on “Meetings” in the sidebar, then on “Personal Meeting Room” then the “Start Meeting” button. After clicking on the Start Video icon, look to see that the image is clear and that the green microphone button in the lower-left corner lights up when speaking into the microphone. When finished, you can click on “Leave Meeting” to exit the session.

More information about using Zoom can be found at the IT Services website.

Recording and privacy policy 

Instructors have the discretion to record course sessions, except when recording is required to meet the needs of students granted an accommodation by the Office of Student Disability Services. 

Recordings and transcripts will be made available to students in the relevant course, the instructor, and other necessary University officials. Recordings in which students are personally identifiable will be managed in accordance with the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA).

This time-limited policy has been implemented to effectively deliver a remote education while safeguarding privacy and protecting rights in courses and instructional materials. Below is an acknowledgement for students designed to govern the use of any recordings and provide instructors and students with guidance on the use of instructional materials.

By attending course sessions, students acknowledge that:

A. They will not: (i) record, share, or disseminate University of Chicago course sessions, videos, transcripts, audio, or chats; (ii) retain such materials after the end of the course; or (iii) use such materials for any purpose other than in connection with participation in the course.

B. They will not share links to University of Chicago course sessions with any persons not authorized to be in the course session. Sharing course materials with persons authorized to be in the relevant course is permitted. Syllabi, handouts, slides, and other documents may be shared at the discretion of the instructor.

C. Course recordings, content, and materials may be covered by copyrights held by the University, the instructor, or third parties. Any unauthorized use of such recordings or course materials may violate such copyrights. 

D. Any violation of this policy will be referred to the Area Dean of Students.

Resources for Remote Learning

I recommend that you review and bookmark the following pages in advance of the start of Spring Quarter:

Learning Remotely – This website has resources about remote learning, including guidance about technology, best practices for creating a successful learning environment, and frequently asked questions. 

Teaching Remotely – If students have any teaching responsibilities in Spring Quarter, this website provides useful technical and pedagogical guidance. 

DOS Student Resources – You can find general student resources here, as well as links pertaining specifically to Spring Quarter 2020 and COVID-19. 

Financial Assistance - Students who are facing financial challenges or have concerns about outdated technology that does not support video and streaming capabilities or about their access to broadband may apply for assistance through a program administered by the University Bursar. You may contact me at any time to discuss your concerns. More information about this program and the application form is also available on the Bursar’s website.

Note: Requests for COVID-19 related assistance will be considered above and beyond the eligibility criteria governing the emergency assistance program. In other words, students who have received emergency assistance under the program in the past are still eligible for COVID-19 related assistance and, similarly, receiving COVID-19 related assistance now does not disqualify students from applying for future emergency assistance.

Before classes begin, I also want to thank all of you for your hard work, patience, and flexibility at the end of last quarter and as Spring Quarter begins. This quarter will pose unique opportunities and challenges, and the Dean of Students Office is here to help if you have any questions or concerns. Please feel free to email at any time. If you would like to have an informal check-in session with a PSD staff member, we’d be delighted to hear from you, so please sign up using this form.

I hope you all have an engaging and productive quarter. I look forward to hearing about your experiences.

All best,


To: PSD Community
From: Angela Olinto, Dean
Subject: Pass/Fail Grading Option for the Physical Sciences Division
Date: April 3, 2020

Dear PSD Community,

We recognize that the COVID-19 public health crisis presents a unique set of challenges to our students, including childcare responsibilities, mental and physical health concerns, and technical obstacles for remote learning. With these concerns in mind, we are increasing the flexibility of our current grading practices to help support students. This includes expanding the availability of pass / fail options for the Spring Quarter.

For the Spring Quarter of 2020, the following grading options are available to students in the Physical Sciences Division:

  • For courses taken to fulfill the requirements of a Major or Minor in the Physical Sciences Division, students in the College may request to take up to two courses as pass / fail with the consent of their instructors. Students must then submit a petition to their department to have those courses count toward Major/Minor requirements by Friday of Week 9. For more information about grading options in the Core and electives, view the communication from Dean John Boyer and Dean of Students Jay Ellison.
  • PhD students in the Physical Sciences Division may request to take up to two courses as pass / fail for the Spring Quarter with the consent of the instructors. Students must request through their Department to have those courses count toward degree requirements by Friday of Week 9.
  • Because Master’s programs are shorter-term and coursework constitutes a larger proportion of the educational plan, Master's students in the Physical Sciences Division may request to take one course as pass/fail for the Spring Quarter with the consent of the instructor. Students must request through their Department to have those courses count toward degree requirements by Friday of Week 9.
  • All students may petition for pass / fail options beyond those listed above if they face additional personal difficulties.

While formal grades remain important to many students as they pursue academic and personal goals, we recognize that other students have compelling reasons to select a pass / fail option. Graduate students are encouraged to direct questions to the Director of Graduate Studies if there are concerns about making satisfactory academic progress. 

These options are intended to satisfy the diverse needs of our current academic term only and do not imply a precedent for future policies.

Departments and programs will provide additional guidance on the grading options in the coming weeks.

All the best,


To: PSD Staff
From: Susan Hearth, Divisional Human Resources Administrator
Subject: Human Resources Guidance on Essential-Only Order
Date: March 20, 2020

Dear Colleagues,

With the ever-changing landscape of our work at the University, I’d like to provide you with some information and resources. All resources mentioned in this email are available on the PSD COVID-19 Updates web page.

Pay and Leave Time Related to COVID-19

Casey Cook’s March 19th email announced additional paid time off related to coronavirus for staff employees. There is a newly drafted Temporary Policy on Pay and Leave Time Related to COVID-19 and FAQs.

Remote Work Guidelines & Best Practices

If you haven’t already done so, please fill out the attached PSD Temporary Remote Work Agreement and submit it to your manager for approval. With Dean Angela Olinto’s announcement of the PSD only allowing essential personnel to be on campus as of 5:00 p.m. Saturday March 21st, we need a document for every PSD employee who will be either be completely working remotely or partially working remotely. Please either sign the document electronically or send email approvals. All approved Temporary Remote Work Arrangements should be sent to Susan Hearth

Additionally, There is a UChicago Remote Work Guidelines & Best Practices for staff and Guidelines for Self-Isolation available on the PSD COVID-19 Updates web page.

The PSD HR group is available to answer any questions or concerns.

Key contacts during the campus closure include:

You can also refer to the PSD website for links to additional resources and information, including the University's coronavirus update page and the Spring Quarter websites.

The health and safety of the PSD community is our top priority. Thank you for your cooperation and flexibility in these efforts.

Stay well,


Attachments: PSD Temporary Work Agreement, Self-Isolation Information, COVID-19 Bank FAQs

To: PSD Community
From: Angela Olinto, Dean
Subject: Implementing essential-personnel only in PSD
Date: March 20, 2020

Dear PSD Community,

With the announcement of Governor Pritzker's stay-at-home order, PSD will be implementing the essential-personnel continuity plans established by each unit.

Essential personnel for research labs means the fewest number of people needed to conduct activities that are required to preserve samples/equipment or functionalities critical to the long-term preservation of a lab or project. Other essential personnel include those whose roles are necessary to maintain the safety of our facilities and prevent serious negative consequences. 

Chairs, Directors, and PIs have identified essential personnel for their area and have provided that list to Deputy Dean Aaron Dinner. Starting tomorrow, Saturday, March 21 at 5:00 p.m., only essential individuals should access buildings on campus and only for their required maintenance activities. All others who are not on this essential list, please do not come to campus. We will monitor keycard readers and follow up with any non-essential visitors to our buildings. Plan to gather all materials you might need for teaching, work, or research from labs and offices by 5:00 p.m. Saturday, March 21.

Finally, if your lab has PPE that could be of use by medical personnel, please donate. Individuals willing to help process COVID-19 tests in the lab should complete this form.

Key contacts during the campus closure include:

You can also refer to the PSD website for links to additional resources and information, including the University's coronavirus update page and the Spring Quarter websites.

The health and safety of the PSD community is our top priority. Thank you for your cooperation and flexibility in these efforts.

With all the best,


To: PSD Spring Quarter Instructors and TAs (via Chairs and Directors)
From: Bahareh Lampert, Dean of Students
Subject: Technical and Pedagogical Training Sessions for Spring 2020
Date: March 20, 2020

Dear Spring Quarter instructors and teaching assistants,

We write with updates on the main forms of support for faculty and TAs as they prepare for teaching remotely.

Confirmation Required: All Spring 2020 instructors of record have automatically been assigned Zoom accounts for remote instruction.  If you are a Spring 2020 instructor who has not yet received a Zoom account, please let Sharon Bryant know. Instructions about how to activate your UChicago Zoom account are attached.

Technical Training:  Additional sections have been added to the training registration website (currently through 3/27) for online Zoom and Canvas for Remote Teaching training.  The training sessions are being offered for instructors and teaching assistants. To register for a session, go here and click on “Training.”  The training page includes an asynchronous (recorded) training class, and there are also learning resources online to help individuals get started on their own.  Training sessions will continue until after the start of the quarter.  

Pedagogical Frameworks:  The Chicago Center for Teaching will offer three training sessions next week (through 3/27).  You may sign up at Pedagogical Considerations for Remote Teaching.  Note that this is not a technical training, but rather a forum for discussing the pedagogical issues of remote teaching.  The aims of the session are to:

1. Introduce general pedagogical principles and considerations for a transition to remote teaching. 

2. Model several asynchronous and synchronous teaching and learning strategies.

3. Provide a space for instructors to ask questions and think together about how to meet this distinctive pedagogical challenge.

The CCT can also offer this session for your department as a whole if you would like for the workshop to be focused more on your program’s specific teaching concerns. To arrange for this, please email Joe Lampert.  Finally, attached please find a document from the CCT with Pedagogical Guidance for Remote Teaching.

Thank you,


Attachment: Pedagogical Guidance for Remote Teaching, Activate your UChicago Zoom Account

To: PSD Students
From: Bahareh Lampert, Dean of Students
Subject: PSD DOS Spring Check-Ins with Students
Date: March 17, 2020

Dear Students, 

In recent days, we have faced a number of changes and new challenges. The Dean of Students Office remains committed to serving as a resource for you as we navigate these changes together. Perhaps the most profound change is the commitment to social distancing. As a community, we have rapidly made changes to accommodate social distancing into our everyday lives, and we sincerely appreciate your cooperation in this public health effort.

COVID-19 requires social distancing in terms of physical proximity, but we as a community should work together against the effects of social isolation. For many of you, interacting with peers, faculty, post-docs, and staff is an invaluable part of your educational experience at the University. Although we cannot replicate that experience Spring Quarter, we do want to offer additional avenues for emotional and social support. Spring Quarter presents an opportunity for our community to grow stronger and demonstrate a commitment to each other’s well-being in an intentional way.

To this end, the PSD Dean of Students Office will be offering optional check-ins (via Zoom, phone, or email) for students during Spring Quarter. These check-ins will generally last 15-30 minutes and will be led by a PSD staff member. You can use the check-ins to discuss how your classes and/or research are going, ideas for coping with social distancing, or anything else you would like to discuss. We would be delighted to hear about your average days during this period. The conversations don’t need to be about anything in particular. 

If you would like to sign up for one or more check-ins, please sign up at this link: All requests will be kept confidential, and you can sign up or cancel at any time.   

Please let us know if you have any questions and thank you for your continued commitment to our community.

All the best,


To: PSD Students
From: Bahareh Lampert, Dean of Students
Subject: Spring Quarter Funding - Normal Schedule - COVID-19
Date: March 16, 2020

Dear Students,

This morning, Provost Lee sent out a message to all members of the University community announcing that the beginning of Spring Quarter will be delayed until April 6, 2020. You can view that email here:

If you are receiving a stipend or have an assistantship for Spring Quarter, the timing of your payment will NOT be impacted by the delay of the start of courses.  Neither pay nor pay schedules will be affected by delaying the start of Spring Quarter by one week.

If you have any additional questions, your student affairs administrators will be a great resource here.  And of course, the Dean of Students Office can answer questions as well.

All best,


To: PSD Postdocs
From: Angela Olinto, Dean
Subject: Additional guidance regarding coronavirus (COVID-19)
Date: March 16, 2020

Dear Postdocs,

I wanted to write to provide information and guidance for our community’s response to Coronavirus/COVID-19. The situation is ever-evolving, and I appreciate your patience and flexibility during this difficult time. Our Chairs, Directors, and faculty are developing continuity plans to account for a number of contingencies, including high levels of absenteeism and closures.

As of now, the campus remains open for research activities. We encourage you to work remotely if possible and recognize that you may have child care responsibilities at home. Please collaborate with your supervisor or program director to determine the structure and schedule of your work during this time. Complete the Flexible Work Arrangement document attached and return it to your supervisor or program director.

For those whose research cannot be accomplished remotely, we encourage social distancing in labs and offices and the use of virtual meetings if applicable. Anyone who feels unwell should stay home. Those with reason to believe they have been exposed to COVID-19 should self-quarantine for 14 days.

I recognize that this is a challenging time for all members of our campus community, and it is important that we continue to support one another. This is a time when we are reminded of how connected we are and how critical it is to take care of ourselves and others both physically and emotionally. As we face these challenges together, please find a number of resources that may help you navigate the coming weeks below:


If you have other questions, please reach out to your unit administrator or our office.



Attachment: PSD Temporary Work Agreement

To: PSD Staff
From: Angela Olinto, Dean
Subject: Additional guidance regarding remote work
Date: March 14, 2020

Dear Colleagues, 

I write to provide additional information following President Zimmer and Provost Lee’s message and guidance from the University HR community.

We encourage remote work where possible, starting Monday, March 16. I am including a copy of the PSD Temporary Remote Work Agreement. Please submit this form to your manager for approval. You and your manager will collaborate to determine the structure of your schedule, tasks, and deliverables during this time. The university recommends and supports Microsoft Teams, for general collaboration, chat, and productivity; and Zoom for video- and tele-conferencing. Understanding how to use these tools will be important, even if you are not working remotely. LinkedIN Learning, available to all at UChicago, provides training videos on Teams, Zoom offers video tutorials, and the working remotely resource page includes more helpful tools.

For those whose roles and responsibilities cannot be accomplished remotely, we encourage social distancing in labs and offices and use of virtual meetings if applicable. Anyone who feels unwell should stay home. Those with reason to believe they have been exposed to COVID-19 should self-quarantine for 14 days.

The PSD HR group is available to answer your questions and concerns.

The health and well-being of our community is our first priority. We will continue to share new developments and guidance as they arise. I appreciate your flexibility and commitment to ensuring that PSD operations continue during this challenging time.

Thank you,


Attachment: PSD Temporary Work Agreement

To: PSD Faculty
From: Angela Olinto, Dean
Subject: Additional guidance regarding coronavirus (COVID-19)
Date: March 14, 2020

Dear Colleagues, 

Following the message from President Zimmer and Provost Lee and a subsequent meeting with the University HR community, I would like to offer some additional guidance.

Staff, graduate students, and postdocs should work with their supervisors and PIs to make arrangements to complete work from home whenever possible. Labs and campus remain open, and experimental research may continue.

When on campus or in labs, follow recommended social distancing and hygiene protocols, such as dispersed placement at lab stations, frequent hand washing, and increased wipe-down of equipment and surfaces. Anyone who feels unwell should stay home. Those with reason to believe they have been exposed to COVID-19 should self-quarantine for 14 days.

Spring Quarter instructors of record should register for remote teaching training if unfamiliar with Zoom. 

I attach a message from Provost Lee and Dean Boyer regarding Winter Quarter final exams. 

I will continue to share new developments and guidance as they arise. The health and well-being of our community is our first priority. Thank you in advance for your cooperation in these efforts.

Thank you, 


Attachment: Message about Final Exams

To: PSD Students
From: Bahareh Lampert, Dean of Students
Subject: Winter 2020 Final Exams Online and Study Spaces
Date: March 14, 2020

Dear Students,

I hope you are well and taking good care.

I write with two important updates. 

Winter 2020 Final Exams:

Attached please find a message from the Provost’s Office regarding Winter quarter final exams.  The letter states that “final examinations should be administered and evaluated online or through remote mediums, such as take-home exams.”  It will be up to each individual faculty member to determine the best way to administer and evaluate online or remote exams, and they will contact students directly about these plans.

Additional Spaces for Study:

In order to help students practice the suggested social distancing measures, the University is making additional study spaces available. In addition to the Regenstein Library A level and 1stfloor, please find below a comprehensive list of campus locations with extended hours for immediate use:

William Eckhardt Research Center – 1st Floor & Meeting Room 161

Saturday 14-Mar 8:00 am – 11:00 pm

Sunday 15-Mar 8:00 am – 11:00 pm

Monday – Friday 16 Mar - 20 Mar 8:00 am – 11:00 pm

Reynolds Club & Hutchinson Commons*

Saturday 14-Mar 8:00 am – Midnight

Sunday 15-Mar 9:00 am – Midnight

Monday – Friday 16 Mar - 20 Mar 7:00 am – Midnight

* These spaces will be dedicated to study when not in use for dining or for early voting.

1st Floor Classrooms in Harper Memorial Library & Stuart Hall*

Saturday 14-Mar 8:00 am – 10:00 pm

Sunday 15-Mar 9:00 am – 11:00 pm

Monday – Friday 16 Mar - 20 Mar 6:00 pm – 11:00 pm

* The Cox Lounge in the basement of Stuart Hall is also open for studying.

We encourage you to make use of these spaces and follow best practices for social distancing.

As a reminder, the Arley D. Cathey Learning Center in Harper Memorial Library is now open 24 hours a day through exam week.

Cathey Learning Center in Harper Memorial Library

Saturday 14-Mar 24 Hours

Sunday 15-Mar 24 Hours

Monday – Thursday 16-Mar-19-Mar 24 Hours

Friday 20-Mar Closes @ 4:30 pm

If you have any questions or concerns, do let me know.  The PSD Dean of Students office is here to support you. 

All best,


To: Winter Graduates
From: Bahareh Lampert, Dean of Students
Subject: Remote teaching and learning student survey
Date: March 13, 2020

Dear students, 

As we prepare to move to remote teaching and learning for Spring Quarter 2020, the PSD Dean of Students Office would like to gather information about your access to technology.

Please complete this brief survey:

You will need to log in using your CNET ID and password to submit responses. Your responses will be kept confidential.

Please complete the survey by 3/18/20.

All best,


To: PSD Community
From: Angela Olinto, Dean
Subject: Updates on coronavirus (COVID-19)
Date: March 12, 2020

Dear Colleagues,

As you have read in the communication from President Zimmer and Provost Ka Yee Lee this morning, the University is moving to remote learning for undergraduate and graduate classes for the entire Spring Quarter of 2020.

In collaboration with the University and the Chairs and Directors, we have taken several steps to protect the health and safety of our community and to plan for academic and administrative continuity.

·        Student support: Our Dean of Students, Bahareh Lampert, has sent a message to students outlining resources and asking students to contact her if acute concerns arise regarding housing, food access, or well-being. If you know of a student who needs support, please reach out to the Dean of Students Office.

·        Teaching remotely: The University is preparing trainings on Zoom web conferencing and other aspects of teaching remotely. In the meantime, we are communicating with departmental IT and PSD's IT group about readiness.

·        Working remotely: We are also working with HR and preparing departments for updates onUniversity decisions about alternative work options for staff. The University plans to send additional staff-specific communication in the coming days.

·        Research and lab continuity: Our Chairs and Directors are developing continuity plans to prepare for possible campus restrictions or closures that may affect research and labs. We expect more guidance to come soon.

·        Facilities: New soap dispensers with a larger capacity are being installed throughout buildings and soap dispensers are being checked more frequently by cleaning staff. Cleaning staff are also using Virex (an anti-germ disinfectant) on surfaces and door handles.

·        Events: In accordance with the University’s guidance, we have decided to postpone the Winter Quarter graduation reception, scheduled for March 20, and the Staff Awards Ceremony, scheduled for April 14. Your department will be in touch about decisions regarding scheduled events within your unit.

We recognize that there are still many unanswered questions, and we will continue to work with the administration and chairs and directors to keep you informed. We thank you for your patience and calm as we work together during this time.


Angela V. Olinto

To: Winter Graduates
From: Bahareh Lampert, Dean of Students
Subject: Winter 2020 graduation ceremony canceled
Date: March 9, 2020

Dear Students,

We have been closely following the evolving situation with coronavirus (COVID-19), and have decided out of an abundance of caution and for the safety of our community and visitors to cancel the Winter Quarter Graduation Reception scheduled for March 20.

Although there are relatively few confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Illinois, public health officials have said that the continuing growth of cases is likely and large public events can pose an added risk, especially those with travelers from many locations. In addition, travel advisories and flight availabilities have been changing recently with little notice. This uncertainty, the size of our event, and concerns in our community all contributed to our decision to cancel.

We look forward to celebrating your accomplishments in the spring ceremony. Please share this information with your families and friends and let them know we hope to welcome them soon.

Please let me know if you have any questions.

All the best,


Bahareh Lampert

Dean of Students

To: PSD Community
From: Angela Olinto, Dean
Subject: PSD updates on coronavirus (COVID-19)
Date: March 9, 2020

Dear Colleagues,

Like many of you, I share a deep concern for how the coronavirus (COVID-19) will continue to impact our global and University communities. I recognize that there have been and will continue to be disruptions in our families, travel, work, and studies, and I assure you that PSD will be a partner in helping to resolve issues that arise during this difficult time.

We are closely monitoring developments with the virus and working with central administrationand our departments to ensure we are prepared for a range of contingencies. We invite you to visit for up-to-date information and FAQs. Please if you have specific questions.

As we approach spring break, please review the University travel guidelines communicated inProvost Ka Yee Lee's March 3 email, the University's COVID-19 information page, and the CDC’s travel notices for the latest information. If you need to reschedule travel, we suggest reaching out to your airline, accommodations, and/or travel agency. Many airlines are offering waivers to reschedule travel to certain destinations or opportunities to cancel flights with funds applied to future travel. For scheduling future business travel, we recommend you review CDC guidelinesand book through the University's preferred travel agency, Fox World Travel, which automatically recycles unused non-refundable United and Southwest tickets.

Finally, I reiterate the message from Ka Yee C. Lee, Provost, and Kenneth S. Polonsky, Executive Vice President of the University for Biology and Medicine: We must continue to support each other during this time and take steps to promote physical and mental health and wellbeing. Students, please contact Student Health Service at 773-702-4156 or reach out to 773-702-9800 if in need of immediate counseling care. Faculty and staff, please contact the Staff and Faculty Assistance Program, which provides support, counseling, and other resources. The CDC has posted a list of precautions to prevent the spread of COVID-19 here. Further health information is available from UChicago Medicine and CDPH.

Please do not hesitate to reach out to and our office with questions and concerns.


Angela V. Olinto