UPDATED FEBRUARY 18, 2021
Spring Semester 2021 at Georgia Tech
The pandemic continues to leave its mark on the personal, academic, and professional lives of each one of us, but the Georgia Tech community response has been tremendous. During the Fall 2020 semester, faculty developed innovative approaches to instruction, students demonstrated remarkable focus and flexibility, and our dedicated staff continued to provide critical support for our academic mission. The fall semester was tough, but our community worked together in the spirit of caring and collaboration.
For spring, we believe we can safely increase on-campus presence and instruction to include regular, prescheduled in-person meeting in hybrid courses. This plan is primarily guided by two principles: The physical, mental, and emotional well-being of every student, faculty, and staff member remains paramount. And we will continue to make instructional quality, academic progression, and quality of the student educational experience our primary mission.
We learned much in the fall about this disease and our ability to combat it, and our goal now must be to use that experience to safely return to campus in the spring. Our surveillance testing program and contact tracing efforts, together with a commitment to enhanced cleaning and community-wide use of face coverings and distancing practices on campus, must be maintained in the spring to keep transmission rates low.
Throughout the spring, we will continue to communicate clearly and consistently. The information below outlines our ongoing measures to keep our community safe and healthy, and how you can do your part as we move forward.
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. Here’s what you should know.
Please continue to test, mask, and distance as vaccines are distributed.
Recent guidelines from the CDC still recommend testing for fully vaccinated employees of non-healthcare, high-density settings and workplaces (such as campuses), following an exposure and through routine workplace screening programs. The CDC also recommends other prevention steps (wearing a mask, social distancing, and diligent handwashing) to help stop the spread of the coronavirus, even as vaccines are being distributed.
The coronavirus continues to affect communities across the country, and we cannot let our guard down. In order to have a successful spring semester during this evolving public health crisis, it is critical to stay vigilant on campus. We do this for ourselves, our loved ones, and our fellow Yellow Jackets. #JacketsProtectJackets
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 is 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 the coronavirus. 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
Cleaning and disinfection efforts on campus have increased. Building managers and Facilities Management are adhering to the following measures to limit the spread of the coronavirus and promote a safe campus.
Learn More About:
Covid-19 Daily Self-Checklist and Thermal Image and 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.
On campus, we’ll also be using thermal screening in strategic locations.
Asymptomatic Surveillance Testing
Georgia Tech has a campus-based coronavirus testing program that tests saliva samples to detect the virus. Learn more about Asymptomatic Surveillance Testing.
The success of this surveillance approach depends on asymptomatic students, faculty, and staff getting tested weekly. Broad testing is essential, and is encouraged to actively participate.
All tests are free of charge.
Testing for Symptomatic Individuals
Students who have symptoms that could be due to Covid-19 can get free rapid testing through Stamps Health Services. Students can schedule an appointment by going to https://health.gatech.edu/make-appointment.
Faculty and staff should access symptomatic testing through their primary care provider or through community resources such as urgent care centers and the Georgia Department of Public Health test sites.
Positive Test Notification and Contact Tracing
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.
If an individual’s sample is recommended for further diagnostic testing, the original sample submitted for testing is retested as an individual sample instead of a dual pooled sample. Results of diagnostic testing will be communicated by Stamps Health Services through the Patient Portal.
If Someone in Your Lab or Classroom Tests Positive
Georgia Tech has communications protocols and procedures for faculty, staff, and research laboratories to follow in the case of a positive Covid-19 test in a classroom or laboratory. These procedures ensure the individual's privacy while also maintaining the highest standards of safety.
- Communications Protocol for Faculty/Students for a Positive Covid-19 Case in the Classroom
- Guidance for Responding to a Covid-Positive Test for a Research Laboratory
Georgia Tech has a team of contact tracers who will reach out to members of the community who test positive for Covid-19. All members of the Tech community are asked to cooperate with the contact tracers to provide complete and accurate information about symptoms of Covid-19, time course of symptoms, and other members of the community with whom the individual may have had close contact. Successful contact tracing is an important part of the overall strategy to control spread of the virus on campus.
Georgia Tech is using NOVID, a pandemic radar app that will help students, staff, and faculty get ahead of the spread of the coronavirus. NOVID is an app that notifies you before you’ve been exposed to the virus so you can take the necessary precautions to avoid getting sick. Use of the app is voluntary, and it is available at no cost to members of the Georgia Tech community. Information about the app is available on the Covid Central portal.
Learn More About:
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 Are Exposed
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.
Isolation vs. Quarantine
If you are diagnosed with Covid-19, you will need to isolate to avoid spreading the illness to anyone else. If you are exposed to the virus 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.
Find 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 spring 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.
Faculty and staff who fall into one of the following GDPH and CDC categories for higher risk for severe illness with Covid-19 may request alternate work arrangements.
- Fill out and submit the Georgia Tech Covid-19 Higher Risk Alternative Work Arrangement Request Form.
- Documentation for underlying medical conditions will be required as a part of the request.
- All requests should go to the Institute’s Human Resources office, which will review the request and upon approval will work with the employee and their immediate supervisor in documenting and providing for the alternate work arrangement.
Employees who need ADA reasonable accommodations may request an accommodation at any time throughout the year.
- Fill out and submit the Georgia Tech Employee Accommodation Request Form.
- Medical documentation for the disability will be required as a part of the request.
- All requests should go to the Institute’s Human Resources office, which will review the request and upon approval will work with the employee and their immediate supervisor in documenting and providing for the reasonable accommodation.
For more information about work arrangements and leave options for employees unable to come to campus, refer to the Return-to-Campus Manager's Tool Kit.
Faculty and staff who care for or live 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 the coronavirus.
Teaching and Learning
Spring 2021 Academic Calendar
To minimize the health risk to our community due to travel-related transmission, there will not be a weeklong Spring Break, and the first day of classes has been delayed to Thursday, Jan. 14. To allow students the opportunity for a mid-semester break from instruction, no classes will be held (and no assignments or assessments due) on Tuesday, March 16, and Wednesday, March 24. The dates of final exams have not been changed.
The mid-semester break days from instruction are intended to provide students with a mental break from coursework, and as such, faculty are encouraged not to schedule exams or align major homework due dates for the day or two immediately following the break days.
Spring Class Delivery Modes and Teaching Preparation
As in the fall semester, classes will be offered in one of three modes – residential, hybrid, and remote. In all modes, instructors are asked to provide clear communication regarding course delivery and expectations.
For the spring, however, we will take the opportunity to improve on the hybrid mode by substantially increasing the clarity of the in-person engagement that is expected within each offering. Faculty teaching hybrid courses are asked to include in their syllabi, and in the Course Descriptions Tool, plans for regular, pre-scheduled, and meaningful in-person engagement with students.
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 instruction from the podium with webcams 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. Face shields are not recommended as a substitute for a cloth face covering and should be used together with your mask. Disinfect your face shield after each use.
- 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.
- Environmental Health and Safety is conducting risk assessments and safety plans for all academic labs.
Remote and Hybrid Teaching Resources
- For live delivery in the classroom or via webcam in your home or office, resources are available to familiarize yourself with the technology options.
- The Hybrid Teaching Guide for Spring 2021 includes helpful tips for asynchronous delivery, electronic assessments, exams, and optional digital proctoring using a variety of tools including: Canvas, Camtasia, and Kaltura, as well as Gradescope, TurnItIn, and HonorLock. (Note: When using HonorLock, student requirements must be in the syllabus.)
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.
Effective Dec. 9, 2020, we are piloting a revised guideline to accommodate laboratories with lower personnel numbers and sufficient excess space in their laboratory. These revised guidelines include:
- Limiting the number of people in the lab at one time to the greater of four people or 50% of baseline, where baseline is defined as the number of full-time personnel (number of full-time graduate students and full-time employees) who have key or key card access to the building and lab.
- At no time can the total number of people in the lab exceed one person per 150 square feet, regardless of the above number.
- 6 feet of physical distancing must also be maintained at all times. For lab procedures where this may not be possible, please consult with Environmental Health and Safety (EHS) for an assessment of practices and recommendations of extra mitigation measures.
- We remind the campus community that face coverings are required at all times inside campus buildings, even when laboratory PPE requirements do not require one.
We will monitor and assess personnel density parameters once this new guideline is in place and make any future revisions, as necessary.
Exceptions to these guidelines may be considered but must first be assessed and approved by EHS. Please contact EHS for an assessment of laboratory practices and development of additional mitigating measures. EHS has the final decision on these requests and any required mitigating measures. Exceptions may be considered for the following two scenarios:
- Laboratory-specific situations where 6 feet of physical distancing cannot be maintained.
- Procedure rooms of less than 300 square feet that can accommodate two workstations (e.g. fixed piece of laboratory equipment) and maintain sufficient separation between workstations.
For more information contact email@example.com.
We refer PIs to existing guidance on undergraduate researchers in the laboratory. This guidance will be revisited toward the end of January 2021.
Find additional guidance on Resident Instruction research activities.
All non-essential travel is prohibited until further notice. Further details.
Travel is considered essential if it is for:
- Research and business meetings that cannot be conducted virtually; and
- Projects and work that are time sensitive with fixed deadlines.
Requirements for business travel considered essential can be found on the Georgia Tech Procurement & Business Services site.
The use of Travel Incorporated is required during this period of the pandemic.
Travel for faculty, staff and students will follow up-to-date travel guidance from the CDC. Visit the CDC site for recommendations around testing and international travel, as well as considerations before domestic travel. Remember that public health guidance is subject to change.
Socialize and Engage Safely on Campus
The coronavirus pandemic has changed the way we do things at Georgia Tech. We have 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 Spring 2021 semester, here’s what you need to know about socializing and engaging safely on campus:
Event planners have the responsibility of determining how to create safe events on campus.
If your event cannot move to a virtual format, planners are required to follow Georgia Tech’s Spring 2021 Campus Event Guidelines.
View detailed information and resources for Spring 2021 event planning.
- 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 virtual events in Spring 2021.
- 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.
- The Career Center is offering virtual events throughout the Spring 2021 semester.
Dining Services has also made changes to protect the Georgia Tech community. Team members will serve students at all salad bars, buffets and soup stations. Reusable to-go containers are available for students to take items with them and trade the containers for a new one each time they return. Dining has also implemented more grab-and-go options and enhanced cleaning and disinfection protocols for all operations.
For more information, visit Dining Services.
Student organizations are required to follow social distancing guidelines. Depending on the needs of the student and staff member, staff supporting student organizations offer appointments, meetings, and trainings both online and in person.
The Center for Student Engagement staff are available for consultation as student organizations create their plans and event strategies.
CARE Center, Counseling Center, Stamps Health Services, and the Student Center
Need to Refer a Student?
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.
For additional resources, including Campus Services, please visit the Student Services and Resource Guide.
Georgia Tech athletics adheres to protocols established by the Atlantic Coast Conference’s Medical Advisory Group to guide the safe return of intercollegiate sports to our campus.
Protocols outlined by the ACC Medical Advisory Group include Covid-19 testing standards for all student-athletes and staff members, guidance for quarantining and isolation in the event of positive tests (following guidelines from the CDC), and practices to mitigate the risk of transmission during athletic competition.
Read the ACC Medical Advisory Group's Report.