UPDATED OCTOBER 22, 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 will return with precautions and measures in place all over campus and have worked hard to develop a robust plan for returning as safely as possible.
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 fall will look and feel on campus. Georgia Tech will be following a set of new health practices and safety measures that may be unfamiliar. At times, the measures will likely 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. We can only do this together. 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 transportation, housing, and dining services; ongoing risk assessments and analyses; and testing, contact tracing, and quarantine protocols.
The Covid-19 situation is fluid, and guidance may change as time goes by. 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.
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 social 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 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 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. The Exposure Decision Tree 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.
Isolation vs. Quarantine
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. Learn more about Isolation and Quarantine.
After Home Isolation and Returning to Campus
If you have been isolating for Covid-19, before you physically return to work on campus or visit the campus even temporarily, you must adhere to Georgia Tech’s “Return to Work” guidelines.
Fine out more about returning to work after home isolation in the Campus Guidelines for After Home Isolation.
Accommodation Requests for Individuals at Higher Risk for Severe Illness with Covid-19
- Course mode designations for fall semester have been finalized based on all accommodation requests received to-date. If your situation changes, you can request a teaching accommodation at any time.
- The GTHR Return to Campus Manager’s Toolkit outlines higher risk categories, as well as the process for requesting Covid-19-related alternate work arrangements. If you need assistance or have questions, email Ann F. Harris, GTHR-Employee Relations Compliance Advisor.
- Anyone who cares for or lives with individuals at higher risk for severe illness with Covid-19 should work with their direct supervisor to ensure that their work environment allows for social distancing and the ability to practice the behaviors that reduce the spread of Covid-19.
Teaching and Learning
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 and Teaching Preparation
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. Most courses will have some in-person attendance.
If you will be teaching in a remote or hybrid learning environment, the Georgia Tech Remote and Hybrid Teaching Academy will help you prepare for teaching in these environments with high-quality course delivery, while ensuring student engagement.
New faculty can access the Teaching Academy materials at the Open Access site.
What you need to know to plan your courses:
- Please offer flexible office hours, in an appropriate format and mode, to maximize your students’ access to one-on-one interactions.
- We strongly encourage assigned seating to support contact tracing efforts. Building managers will designate which seats are to be occupied.
- In the event that we must transition to remote learning, please prepare to deliver course material both online and in-person.
- All classrooms have been equipped to capture classroom instruction with cameras and microphones.
- Use a wireless microphone if using a face shield, especially in a large classroom. Request a microphone.
- Plastic face shields will be available to faculty members to use while lecturing in classrooms. Disinfect your face shield after each use.
- Have a specified location in the classroom for students to ask questions.
- Keep the doors open for smaller classrooms.
- Plan to accept ALL papers, projects, tests, homework, and other assignments only in electronic format unless the assignment is a physical artifact.
- Use Canvas to post the syllabus, grades, and communications.
- Use Georgia Tech-approved platforms. (These offer privacy, support, and access.)
- You have flexibility in planning hybrid delivery.
- Optional support platforms are available to faculty, including HonorLock for digital proctoring and Camtasia for content recording and editing.
- Environmental Health and Safety is conducting risk assessments and safety plans for all academic labs.
What you can do to prepare:
Familiarize yourself with the technology options and become competent in the technology you choose:
- For live delivery, become familiar with the AV technology in classrooms or a webcam in your home or office.
- For asynchronous delivery, , Canvas, and are available.
- Electronic assessment tools include Canvas, Gradescope, and .
- For exams, optional digital proctoring with HonorLock is available. (Student requirements must be in the syllabus if used.)
Learn effective teaching methods for remote and hybrid teaching, for example:
- Use more, lower value assessments.
- Seek and use frequent student feedback. (Surveys developed by the Center for Teaching and Learning are available in Canvas Commons.)
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.
In Georgia Tech’s initial return to campus plan, Academic Research outlined a timeline for the summer, which ramped up on-site researchers from 10% to roughly 75%, with priority given to researchers unable to perform their work remotely. Limited activities of research personnel (25%) resumed on June 18. Research personnel density was increased to 50% on July 13.
Currently, we plan to remain at 50% personnel density and will revisit this level after the start of fall semester. Further increases to research activities (as much as 75% personnel density) will be decided as conditions and support infrastructure permits. We will continue to prioritize research requiring campus access. Researchers are advised to continue completing duties off-site that do not require campus access.
All non-essential travel is prohibited until further notice.
Travel for USG faculty and staff will follow up-to-date travel guidance from the CDC. If you are traveling to campus from a region that has experienced an increase in Covid-19 cases, you should follow the appropriate CDC guidelines related to self-quarantine.
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.
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.
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.
CARE Center, Counseling Center, Stamps Health Services, and the Student Center
Please be aware of services available to students so that you can make referrals and recommendations as needed, and visit the specific service page for more information.
Operational details and services including the CARE Center, Counseling Center, and Stamps Health Services are available from the Office of 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.