UPDATED OCTOBER 23, 2020
Georgia Tech's Return to Campus Plan
Fall Semester 2020
The upcoming academic year presents challenges unlike any Georgia Tech has faced before as a community. We eagerly await our time together again on campus, but things will look different when we return. The health and safety of our students, faculty, and staff come first, before anything else.
We know that the past few months have been very stressful for many. It is our hope that this guidance will help prepare you for how the campus will look and feel in the fall. Georgia Tech will be following a set of new health practices and safety measures that may be unfamiliar. At times, they might feel uncomfortable or inconvenient. But coming back to campus safely means recognizing that simple, individual actions affect everyone around us, and so responsibility also lies with each of us. Jackets protect Jackets.
Beyond the required face coverings, physical distancing, and personal hygiene that we will each practice, you will also see necessary changes around campus. Those changes will include enhanced cleaning and disinfection measures; new configurations and seating in classrooms, labs, and office spaces; new expectations for campus, housing, and dining services; ongoing risk assessments and analyses; and detailed testing, contact tracing, and quarantine protocols.
The Covid-19 situation is fluid, and guidance may change over time. We’ve prepared three contingency plans to address this possibility. Under the current contingency plan, we will return to classes in the fall with the above-mentioned measures in place. If necessary, plans also exist for transitioning to an online format for a period of time during the semester and for beginning the fall semester with remote instruction.
We know there has been concern and uncertainty as the details of our plans have been communicated. We have developed this electronic guidebook to help you find the information most relevant to you in one, easy-to-access place online. It will be updated regularly.
Our students are what makes Tech, Tech. We can’t wait to see you in the fall!
Campus Health and Safety
You might wonder how to protect yourself and those around you while on campus this fall. Here’s what you should know.
Each of us has a responsibility to ourselves and our fellow Yellow Jackets to be mindful of our shared commitment. To take concrete actions, day in and day out, to promote health and safety on campus. To look out for each other. To take care of each other. That's what we do at Georgia Tech. #JacketsProtectJackets
Personal Hygiene, Physical Distancing, and Face Coverings
Simple actions can save lives. The following links will take you to information we’ve prepared with guidance from the University System of Georgia (USG), the Governor’s Covid-19 Task Force, the Georgia Department of Public Health (GDPH), and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Take a moment to familiarize yourself with what you can expect from us, and what will be expected of you on campus.
- Preventive Practices
- Social or Physical Distancing (6 feet of separation from others)
- Cloth Face Coverings
Wearing a mask can help prevent the spread of Covid-19. All faculty, staff, students, and visitors will be required to wear an appropriate face covering while inside campus facilities and buildings, where keeping 6 feet of distance between yourself and others may not always be possible. We will provide every member of Georgia Tech’s campus community with reusable cloth face coverings.
Cleaning and Disinfection on Campus
Facilities and Classrooms
We have spent the past several months enhancing cleaning and disinfection on campus. We have retrained staff and adopted new cleaning methods. Here are some (but not all) of the new precautions we will be using in the fall:
- Facilities Management has upgraded air filters to MERV-13 filters where possible, and ensured all systems are operating optimally.
- Expanded disinfecting fogging operations, using EPA N-List disinfectant, Annihilare.
- Augmenting current cleaning protocols to focus on disinfecting touch points.
- All classrooms are cleaned by Building Services staff and fogged daily.
- Disinfectant and wipes are available in classrooms and for workspaces.
- Signage to encourage best practices for personal hygiene and the movement of people through campus spaces.
- Modified setups in offices, classrooms, labs, makerspaces, and other facilities to enable social distancing as well as cleaning and disinfection protocols.
Safety in the Classroom
- Hand sanitizer stands are provided in every building at the entrances and in restrooms and classrooms.
- Facilities Management and building managers will identify classroom entrances and exits. If classrooms have two entrances, they have specific entrances for entering and exiting the room.
- Students will be asked to avoid congregating outside of classrooms.
- Supplies of disposable face coverings for students are available in many buildings across campus. See where you can pick up a face covering if you need one.
- Classrooms have been configured to maintain 6 feet social distancing. The tables have been numbered to allow for assigned seating.
- Air purifiers have been installed in classrooms in Skiles and DM Smith, where HVAC systems could not be upgraded to MERV-13.
- Air quality sensors have been installed in various classrooms across campus, and the data is being captured and monitored.
- For Academic Labs, Environmental Health and Safety (EHS) is conducting risk assessments.
- Students not following safety practices should be reported to Student Conduct.
Covid-19 Daily Self-Checklist and Thermal Image Screening
Another simple way Jackets Protect Jackets is by paying close attention to their own health. Each day, you can use the Covid-19 Daily Self-Checklist to help you take a quick “self-inventory.” You should do this every morning before arriving on campus or leaving your residence. If you answer “yes” to any of the questions in the checklist, stay home. The Covid-19 Exposure Decision Tree can help you decide what action to take from there.
On campus, we’ll also be using thermal screening in strategic locations.
Asymptomatic Surveillance Testing
Georgia Tech has launched a two-part, campus-based coronavirus testing program that relies on saliva to obtain samples used to detect the virus. The goal will be to test as many as 1,500 asymptomatic students, faculty, and staff daily. Learn more about Asymptomatic Surveillance Testing.
The success of this coronavirus surveillance approach will depend on asymptomatic students, faculty, and staff getting tested regularly. Broad testing is essential, and we will be encouraging everyone to actively participate.
All tests are free of charge.
Testing for Symptomatic Individuals
Free diagnostic testing options are also available for faculty, students, and staff with symptoms of Covid-19.
Reporting and Notification
Contact Tracing and Notification
All individuals who participate in the surveillance testing program will receive a notification that they are either recommended or not recommended for a follow-up diagnostic test.
Tech has also begun using NOVID, an exposure notification app that will help students, staff, and faculty be anonymously notified if they have potentially been exposed to Covid-19. Use of the app is voluntary, and it is available at no cost. NOVID can be downloaded from Apple’s App Store or Android’s Google Play Store. Georgia Tech community members should enter the community code "JACKETS" on the NOVID settings.
Find out more about Contact Tracing and Notification.
If You Get Sick
If you test positive for Covid-19 or begin to have symptoms of Covid-19, you must take immediate action for your own health and the safety of others. These guidelines will tell you who to call and how to get help.
If you know you have been exposed to someone who is ill, you also need to take action quickly. These guidelines will help you find the right people to contact and learn what you need to know about keeping yourself and others safe through good hygiene, social distancing, and quarantine if necessary.
If you have been diagnosed with Covid-19, you will need to isolate to avoid spreading the illness to anyone else. If you are exposed to Covid-19 by being in close contact with someone who has it, you may need to quarantine for a period of time until you can be sure you do not have the illness.
Isolation or Quarantine in On-Campus Housing
If you are living on campus and become exposed to or diagnosed with Covid-19, you may quarantine or isolate in a dedicated space provided by housing for this purpose. Don’t worry – you will receive appropriate academic accommodations from your instructors. If you quarantine or isolate on campus, Georgia Tech will make sure that you receive your essential belongings and any health services you need. Individually boxed meals will also be delivered to your isolation or quarantine location.
After Home Isolation and Returning to Campus
Before you leave quarantine or isolation, make sure you meet all the health criteria found in the Campus Guidelines for After Home Isolation.
Students at Higher Risk for Severe Illness with Covid-19
- Students, including graduate teaching and research assistants, who need to request an academic or employment accommodation for those at higher risk for severe illness with Covid-19 should start by contacting the Office of Disability Services (ODS).
- Registering with ODS is a three-step process that includes completing an application, uploading related documentation, and making an appointment for an “intake meeting” (either in person or by phone or video conference) with a disability coordinator.
- If you work as undergraduate or graduate teaching assistant or graduate research assistant and need to request an employment accommodation, please also complete the Georgia Tech Covid-19 Higher Risk Alternative Work Arrangement Request Form.
Academics and Research
Fall 2020 Academic Calendar
We have changed Fall 2020 Academic Calendar to reduce the number of people traveling to and from campus during breaks. We have canceled the two-day fall break currently scheduled for October 5 – 6, and fall instruction will end by Thanksgiving break.
Fall Class Delivery Modes
As part of our return to campus plan for fall, courses and sections have each been designated as residential (in-person with physical distancing), hybrid with limited in-person attendance, or remote.
Details on individual course modes are available in OSCAR. Most courses will have some in-person attendance.
International Students and Study Abroad
Current and newly admitted international students are facing various issues related to travel restrictions or visa matters, subject to guidance from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP). We continue to follow developments closely and will update resources as additional guidance is made available from SEVP.
Following travel restrictions put into place by the U.S. government beginning in March 2020 in response to Covid-19, and the continued unpredictability of the pandemic, Georgia Tech has made the difficult decision to cancel upcoming international internships, exchange programs, and Georgia Tech-sponsored international curricular and co-curricular travel programs for fall semester 2020.
Please note that the cancellations do not include our campuses in France or China. For more information for international students and study abroad participants, visit the Covid-19 Information for International Students page.
Georgia Tech has developed guidelines for safely conducting research in the academic year 2020-21. All research activities must be consistent with safe operations, including all campus guidelines regarding use of personal protective equipment (PPE), social distancing, and contact tracing.
- If you have questions directly related to a specific faculty member’s research or lab, please contact the faculty member or lab director.
- For all other questions and general information about undergraduate research, please visit Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program.
- Additional guidance on Resident Instruction (RI) research activities can be found on the Covid-19 Information for Researchers page.
If you are working on design and class projects in the fall, you will have access to campus makerspaces. You can expect that all makerspaces will use virtual queuing and online scheduling when possible. There will be designated waiting areas for high-volume machines. Space managers will oversee lab and hand tool cleaning, ensuring that disinfecting processes are in place, that tools are cleaned after every use, and that all common areas are cleaned.
If you have questions about accessing and using a particular makerspace, please contact the individual space manager.
Housing and Residence Life
What to Expect for Fall 2020
Housing and Residence Life will operate a little differently this fall. We have eliminated all triple and quadruple rooms, increased cleaning and resources for our students, and modified residential programming. To keep everyone as safe as possible, we will also have a no-guest policy for at least the first eight weeks of the semester.
To learn more about all of the steps you can take to protect yourself and others, whether you’re in your residence hall or anywhere else on campus, visit Jackets Protect Jackets.
And to find out more about what to expect in Housing and Residence Life this fall, visit the Housing and Residence Life FAQ site.
Dining Services is also making changes to protect the Georgia Tech community. They have eliminated salad bars, buffets, and soup stations, and are providing more grab-and-go options and implementing enhanced cleaning and disinfection protocols for all dining operations.
For more information, visit Dining Services
CARE Center, Counseling Center, Stamps Health Services, and the Student Center
The CARE Center and the Counseling Center, and Stamps Health Services will offer both in-person and virtual appointments. Face-to-face appointments will require wearing a face covering and social distancing, with exceptions for medical examinations. Student Center services and operations are available on the Student Center website.
For more information on these and other student services, contact the Vice President and Dean of Students or the Division of Student Life.
Most athletic teams (and indeed, most sports) can’t be practiced with social distancing. The health and safety of our student-athletes and staff come first. Georgia Tech will work with the USG, the NCAA, ACC, and our national and local health authorities to determine how or if each of our athletic programs will resume in the fall.
Strategies to reduce the risk of contracting or spreading Covid-19 will include education, personal hygiene practices, screenings, testing, monitoring, disinfection, and social distancing. We will communicate transparently and often with our student-athletes and stakeholders to ensure that Georgia Tech Athletic Association’s return is a safe one.
Student organizations will need to follow social distancing guidelines. Depending on the needs of the student and staff member, staff supporting student organizations will offer appointments, meetings, and trainings both online and in person.
The Center for Student Engagement staff are available for consultation as student organizations revise their plans and event strategies.
Socialize and Engage Safely on Campus
The coronavirus pandemic has changed the way we do things at Georgia Tech. Since the summer, we have phased Tech’s reopening and redoubled our efforts to reduce the spread of the virus on campus — so that we can create a “new normal” that’s as safe as possible.
Through hygiene protocols, safety measures in facilities and operations across campus, weekly testing and contact tracing, and a shared responsibility of looking out for each other, our new normal is working. Learn about classroom safety.
For the remainder of the fall, and as we look ahead to the Spring 2021 semester, here’s what you need to know about socializing and engaging safely on campus:
- Campus event spaces are operating with reduced occupancy to promote physical distancing.
- We recommend that events take place in large outdoor spaces.
- For larger events, we encourage timed entry, in which smaller groups attend at designated times, spaced out during extended event hours.
- All in-person events are subject to review by the Event Logistics Committee to advise and assist with hosting an event that meets all current public health and safety guidelines.
- For more information about events and event planning, visit specialevents.gatech.edu/fall-campus-events-guidelines.
- Georgia Tech has set up large, social distance tents in greenspaces across campus to encourage small group socializing. Find tent locations on the campus map.
- The Office of Undergraduate Education is hosting outdoor open office hours in October and November for students to meet and chat with faculty, staff, and administration in a safe, socially distanced environment. Refreshments are provided.
- The Student Center Programs Council brings fun, thought-provoking programming to campus.
- The Ferst Center for the Arts is hosting performances and activities on a reduced capacity basis. Visit Georgia Tech Arts Virtual Events for more information.
- Bobby Dodd Stadium is not only the site of socially distanced football games, but also movies under the stars. View the Fall Flicks Outdoor Movies schedule.