Jul 132021

CTS Covid-19 Policy – Updated March 27, 2023

Following the lifting of the vaccine mandate for institutions of higher education in Illinois, beginning on August 15, 2022, Chicago Theological Seminary will no longer require proof of vaccination and boosters for students, staff, and faculty.

Though vaccines are no longer mandated, Chicago Theological Seminary strongly encourages all students, staff and faculty to be fully vaccinated and boosted against Covid-19 to attend in-person classes, CTS events, or to be present on campus.

Please keep in mind that there are significant privacy concerns about asking individuals for their vaccination status on an ad hoc basis. Faculty, staff, and students should refrain from asking individuals about their vaccination status.

Masking Requirements
Following the lifting of mask requirements for businesses and other institutions of higher education in Illinois, beginning on April 1, 2023, Chicago Theological Seminary will no longer require masks to be worn while working in the building. However, we recognize folks in our
community that are immunocompromised or may live with or care for an individual who is immunocompromised.

As of the Summer 2023 term, which begins May 30, 2023, and for subsequent terms, professors may require masks for any in-person class at Chicago Theological Seminary. Any in-person, on-campus class that has a mask requirement will note such on the website where CTS courses are listed and will be communicated with students prior to the start of the term. Masks will continue to be required for in-person classes for the Spring 2023 term which ends April 28, 2023. Of note all 2023 May Intensive courses are online.

While the wearing of masks is no longer required for staff and guests while working in the building, anyone is welcome to continue wearing a mask at their own discretion. As a reminder, when wearing masks, ensure that the mask is completely covering your nose and mouth. Free masks will continue to be available at the South Reception desk upon request.

Social Distancing
In alignment with the City of Chicago’s guidance, CTS no longer has social distancing requirements. However, we encourage individuals to be mindful of the space they are in and leave space between themselves and others when possible. Classes, meetings, and events may be moved to larger rooms to allow folks to spread out.


Risk Tolerance
As a community seeking to care for one another, we understand individuals assess risk differently and have differing levels of risk tolerance based on their unique situations. We encourage members of our community to be mindful of personal space and boundaries (i.e., ask before offering a handshake) and to respect the decisions of those who may choose to avoid in-person gatherings.

Surfaces/Use of Spaces/Hand Sanitizing
Chicago Theological Seminary continues to work closely with our custodial vendor to clean and sanitize the building regularly.

Hand sanitizer, disinfecting spray and cleaning wipes are available in several locations in the CTS building, including the South reception desk, the North and South main entrances, and outside the Learning Commons. As part of general health and safety guidelines, people are encouraged to wash their hands frequently, use hand sanitizer, and disinfect high-touch surfaces. CTS staff will no longer be sanitizing spaces and surfaces throughout the day.

Additional Questions
For additional information, please read the FAQ section of this document carefully.


I. Purpose
Consistent with its commitment to providing and maintaining a learning environment that is free of recognized hazards, Chicago Theological Seminary has adopted this policy to safeguard the health and well-being of employees and their families; our CTS students and visitors; others who spend time in our facilities; and the community from infectious conditions. This policy is intended to comply with all state and local laws. It is based upon guidance provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and public health and licensing authorities, as applicable.

II. Scope/Applicability
This policy applies to all graduate and non-degree students who attend classes on campus or who plan to be on campus and all employees who will be working on campus beginning April 1, 2023. Students refers to persons enrolled at CTS and ACTS (Association of Chicago Theological Schools) students who opt to take CTS in-person courses.

III. Policy and Vaccine Administration
Chicago Theological Seminary strongly encourages all employees and any students who intend to take in-person classes at CTS to be fully vaccinated and boosted for COVID-19 in order to be on CTS premises. CTS will no longer collect vaccination or booster records.

IV. Policy Modification
Government and public health guidelines and restrictions, and business and industry best practices regarding COVID-19 and COVID-19 vaccines are changing rapidly as new information becomes available, further research is conducted, and additional vaccines are approved and distributed. Chicago Theological Seminary reserves the right to modify this policy at any time in its sole discretion to adapt to changing circumstances and business needs, consistent with its commitment to maintaining a safe and healthy workplace and living and learning environment.

V. Non-Retaliation
Chicago Theological Seminary prohibits any form of discipline, reprisal, intimidation, or retaliation for reporting a violation of this policy or any other health and safety concern. Employees are also expected to report work-related injuries and illnesses, and Chicago Theological Seminary will not discharge, discriminate, or otherwise retaliate against employees for reporting work-related injuries or illnesses or good faith health and safety concerns.

VI. Intentional Misrepresentation or Failure to Comply
Intentional misrepresentation contained in the request for an exemption or failure to comply with this policy may result in disciplinary action which may include suspension/expulsion.


What does this policy mean for classes?
CTS continues to offer multiple course modalities. Courses will be delivered: face-to-face (inperson at CTS with some Canvas support); online (synchronous and asynchronous sessions employing Canvas and Zoom); hybrid (online with required face-to-face sessions); and flex (online with some face- to-face sessions and an online alternative for those who cannot participate in the specified face-to-face sessions). See the course schedule, Campus Café or the Registrar for specifics.

Individuals opting for an in-person, on-campus course may be required to wear a mask for the duration of the class session. The requirement will be indicated on the website where courses are listed and will be communicated to students prior to the start of classes.

What about CTS-Bayan classes?
A Bayan professor may require masks for their in-person on-campus class. Any mask requirements for an in-person, on-campus Bayan class will be indicated on the course schedule and communicated to students prior to the start of classes. For additional information about Bayan classes, contact Munir Shaikh at [email protected] or the Registrar, Tina Shelton, [email protected].

What about building access?
All staff, faculty and students must use their keycard for entry as the doors will remain locked. This acts as a security measure as well to monitor traffic in the building. We ask that you do not hold doors open for other people as we will be using the keycard swipe as a contact tracing measure. All guests and visitors must sign in at the South Reception desk. If you lose or forget your keycard, please contact Michele Carr at [email protected] as soon as possible.

What are the classroom protocols?
A professor may require masks for an in-person, on-campus class. This requirement would be for all students, those enrolled at CTS and ACTS students who are opting to take CTS inperson on-campus classes. Disinfectant supplies can be made available at any time and professors or students may choose to use those supplies prior to the start of class.

If I’m presenting in class or for a meeting, can I remove my mask?
If your in-person, on-campus class has a mask requirement, masks would be worn for the duration of your time in class. Once the class concludes, you would be able to remove the mask while walking through the building. Masks will not be required in the Learning Commons. Employees who work in the building will no longer be required to wear masks as of April 1, 2023.

If I remove my mask to eat my lunch, do I need to keep wearing it once I’m finished?
If you are eating in an in-person class with a mask requirement, please replace your mask after you are actively eating and drinking.

What about if I’m eating my lunch and then I run to the restroom, do I need to wear my mask?
Masks are no longer required while walking in the building.

If I’m in a class or a meeting and all of the participants agree to remove their masks, is this allowed?
If a class has a mask requirement as previously noted on the CTS website course schedule and/or communicated in advance by the professor, we ask that you honor this and wear your mask, regardless of the comfort level of your fellows. We recognize that some in our community may be immunocompromised or be caring for someone who is immunocompromised and we want to be mindful of their situation.

Who is responsible for cleaning classrooms?
A cleaning service will continue its weekday services. As previously noted, hand sanitizer, disinfection spray and cleaning wipes are available in several locations in the CTS building, including the South reception desk, the North and South main entrances, and outside the
Learning Commons. As part of general health and safety guidelines, people are encouraged to wash hands frequently and use hand sanitizer.

What if I am an online student with no intent of taking CTS courses in-person?
Students who do not intend to come to campus or are studying online only do not need to take further action. If at any time an online student desires to enroll in an in-person, on-campus class at CTS with a mask requirement, students are to honor the course’s mask requirement. CTS strongly encourages individuals to be vaccinated and boosted before arriving on campus.

Will I be able to study in the Learning Commons?
The Lapp Learning Commons continues to be open, and able to directly explore and handle books on their own. Masks are no longer required to be worn while accessing the Learning Commons. The course reserves collection is available for checkout, and group study rooms
will remain available for PhD students to reserve for individual use for the duration of the semester. The Learning Commons can do limited scans of reading materials that are not available in digital format. Virtual reference services are available via LiveChat, email and Zoom. Please email [email protected] or the Director of the Learning Commons, Yasmine Abou-El-Kheir, yasmine.abou-el- [email protected], if you require assistance.

What about Common Areas?
Masks are no longer required to be worn or common areas such as the 3rd floor student lounge, or in hallways and bathrooms. If needed, disposable masks are available at the South Reception desk.

What about staffing at CTS?
Many CTS staff and faculty continue to work remotely for one or more days per week. If a student needs to meet with a particular staff or faculty person, that student should email the staff/faculty member in order to arrange a time to meet either in person or virtually.

What about other CTS Events?
Some in-person campus events at CTS are being planned. Larger events such as the Annual C. Shelby Rooks Lecture are likely to continue to take place online.

Does this mean visitors will be allowed on campus?
Masks are no longer required to be worn by visitors while on campus. As many employees are working remotely, we ask that you pre-arrange meetings happening on campus to ensure employees are available. A last-minute request to access the building may not be able to be
accommodated given limited staffing coverage.

I’m planning ahead, so what about Commencement?
CTS Commencement is scheduled for April 28, 2023, and will take place at Trinity UCC. Trinity UCC strongly encourages the wearing of masks for their events, and CTS will have masks available at the door. We will provide further updates to the community as soon as
possible. Prospective 2023 graduates should be in touch with their advisors and Tina Shelton in the Registrar’s Office, [email protected].

While we are planning for an in-person event, our plans are subject to any COVID restrictions that may be in place at that time by the CDC, state or local guidelines, or the venue.

What do I do if I test positive for COVID-19 and I was recently in the building?

Any person who tests positive for COVID-19 (regardless of vaccination status) must follow these protocols:

  • Contact Michele Carr to report this information. If you were in the CTS building recently, please let us know what dates and times for contact tracing purposes. We may also ask you if you had any direct contact with other individuals while in the building. You are not required to disclose your vaccination status when reporting a positive case.
  • Refer to the CDC website for further guidance on quarantining, isolation and testing: Isolation and Precautions for People with COVID-19

What do I do if I learn I have been exposed to someone who has tested positive for COVID-19?
If you have been exposed to someone who has tested positive for COVID-19, please refer to the CDC website: What to Do If You Were Exposed to COVID-19. If you must come to CTS, you should wear a high-quality mask.

I am vaccinated/have tested negative for COVID-19, but I am experiencing COVID-19 symptoms (fever, sore throat, cough, shortness of breath, loss of sense of taste or smell, vomiting, etc). What should I do?
If you are feeling ill and experiencing any symptoms of COVID-19, please plan to stay home until you no longer have COVID-19 related symptoms out of an abundance of caution, even if you have received a negative COVID-19 test.

I am not feeling well, but the symptoms I’m experiencing do not seem to be related to COVID. What should I do?
If you are feeling ill, even if not experiencing COVID symptoms, we ask that you stay home out of an abundance of caution. It is recommended to take a test for COVID-19 to be sure. Please inform your supervisor or professor if you are staying home due to illness.

What if I have a concern?
These times are still uneasy. CTS is here to journey with you. If you have questions about this COVID policy, please connect with Shauna Warren at [email protected]. If you have academic concerns, please go directly to the respective professor. If you do not receive a timely response, feel free to contact the Academic Dean, Dr. Stephanie Crowder. Students may also complete the anonymous complaint form found on the website. Faculty advisors, peer mentors, as well as the Student Government Association are also student advocates. Additionally, there is an academic grievance process outlined in the Student Handbook.