CTS COVID-19 Policy – Updated August 15, 2022
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 to be fully vaccinated and boosted against Covid-19 to attend in-person classes (including semester face-to-face classes, flex classes, hybrid classes, and intensive classes), CTS events, or to be present on campus. Chicago Theological Seminary also strongly encourages all staff and faculty to be fully vaccinated and boosted against Covid-19 to work on site at CTS, to attend 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.
In order to protect the most vulnerable in our community, Chicago Theological Seminary will continue to require students, staff, and faculty to wear a mask covering over the nose and the mouth at all times while in the CTS building, with narrow exceptions:
- An individual can remove their face coverings if they are in a private room/office alone, with the door closed.
- An individual can remove their face coverings while actively eating or drinking. Masks must be worn at all other times, including in class (including when speaking/presenting), in meetings, during events and lectures, and when walking through the building. We expect many members of our community will choose to maintain distance and use face coverings for various reasons, and we request everyone act with consideration and understanding regarding these choices. Free masks are available at the South Reception desk upon request.
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.
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 hands frequently, use hand sanitizer, and disinfect high-touch surfaces. CTS staff will no longer be sanitizing spaces and surfaces throughout the day.
For additional information, please read the FAQ section below.
COVID-19 VACCINATION POLICY – STUDENTS
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.
This policy applies to all graduate and non-degree students who attend classes on campus or who plan to be on campus for any reason beginning September 5, 2022. Students refers to persons enrolled at CTS and ACTS (Association of Chicago Theological Schools) students who opt to take CTS in-person courses. CTS classes for Fall 2022 begin Tuesday, September 6.
Chicago Theological Seminary strongly encourages any student, who intends to take in-person classes at CTS, to be fully vaccinated and boosted for COVID-19 on or before August 15, 2022 in order to be on CTS premises. Beginning on August 15, 2022, CTS will no longer collect
vaccination or booster records. Those who have previously filed for an exemption under the previous COVID-19 policy will no longer be required to submit weekly testing. However, CTS strongly encourages any unvaccinated individual to test themselves regularly so as to prevent COVID-19 infection. Chicago Theological Seminary will continue to require students to wear a mask at all times except in a private office with the door closed, or when actively eating and drinking.
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.
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.
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.
COVID-19 VACCINATION POLICY – EMPLOYEES
Consistent with its commitment to providing and maintaining a workplace that is free of recognized hazards, Chicago Theological Seminary has adopted this policy to safeguard the health and wellbeing 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.
This policy applies to all employees who will be working on campus at any time beginning August 15, 2022.
Chicago Theological Seminary strongly encourages all employees, who intend to work in-person at CTS, to be fully vaccinated and boosted for COVID-19 on or before August 15, 2022 in order to be on CTS premises. Beginning on August 15, 2022, CTS will no longer collect vaccination or booster records. Those who have previously filed for an exemption under the previous COVID-19 policy will no longer be required to submit weekly testing. However, CTS strongly encourages any unvaccinated individual to test themselves regularly so as to prevent COVID-19 infection. Chicago Theological Seminary will continue to require staff and faculty to wear a mask at all times except in a private office/study room with the door closed, or when actively eating and drinking.
IV. Vaccine Administration
While proof of vaccination is no longer required, CTS strongly encourages that all employees keep up-to-date with their COVID-19 vaccinations and boosters. Employees are responsible for scheduling and obtaining their vaccines and may get the vaccine during their regularly scheduled work hours contingent on supervisor approval. Chicago Theological Seminary will pay employees for time spent getting the vaccine if done during their regular work hours. Supervisors must approve employee leaves to obtain the vaccine during working hours to minimize business interruptions.
V. 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.
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.
VII. 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 termination/dismissal.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
What does this policy mean for classes?
In March, CTS noted plans for 2022-23 in the Academic Matters FAQ. Information in that document pertaining to classes, course schedules, modalities, the Learning Commons, and Commencement has not changed. Briefly, courses will be delivered: face-to-face (in-person 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). All Summer 2022 courses are currently online and will run through August 20, 2022. See the course schedule, Campus Café or the Registrar for specifics. Here are dates as noted on the 2022-23 Tri-Term Academic Calendar. Fall 2022 semester opens on September 6. The class add/drop period runs from September 6 through September 16. The Fall Term ends December 16, 2022. January 2023 Intensive 1 commences January 3. January 2023 Intensive 2 begins January 9. As of today, January 2023 intensive courses will be face-to-face and online depending on the professor’s preference. Students should contact the professor in advance regarding course modality. Spring Term 2023 commences January 17, 2023. The Spring Term ends April 28, 2023. May Intensive 1 is May 15-19, and May Intensive 2 is May 22-26, 2023. Summer Intensive 2023 begins May 30 and ends August 18, 2023. Akin to the January Intensives, modality for the May Intensives will be determined by the professor. We anticipate a selection of face-to-face
and online course offerings.
Per the Association for Theological Schools (ATS), PhD students must complete half of their classes in residence. The waiver from ATS and the Department of Education granted through June 30, 2021 that allowed PhD students to take all their courses online has expired. However, SEVIS, or the Student Exchange Visitor Program will continue to allow international doctoral students to take online courses. PhD students with questions about course modality should contact Emily Vogt, Associate Dean and PhD Program Director. CTS is accredited by ATS.
What about CTS-Bayan classes?
Bayan and CTS offer an MDiv and MA with specific foci. Bayan employs a hybrid modality for its courses. While a portion of the work is online, there are required weeklong, in-person sessions. For the 2022-23 academic year Bayan courses will meet in-person at CTS on October 9-14 and October 16-21, 2022, and February 26-March 3 and March 5-10, 2023. For additional information about Bayan classes, contact Munir Shaikh, Vice President of Operations and Academic Affairs at Bayan Islamic Graduate School; or Tina Shelton, Registrar for CTS.
What about building access?
All staff, faculty and students must use their keycard for entry as the doors will remain locked. 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 your keycard, please contact Michele Carr, Controller, as soon as possible.
What are the classroom protocols?
Faculty, students, and TAs are required to wear masks while in the classroom. Students refers to those enrolled at CTS and ACTS students who are opting to take CTS in-person classes. Faculty and students should be reminded not to leave handouts or other materials in the classroom and to thoroughly wash their hands.
If I’m presenting in class or for a meeting, can I remove my mask?
No, masks are required to be worn for the duration of your time in classes or in meetings, except at times when you are in a private office/study room alone or when actively eating and drinking.
If I remove my mask to eat my lunch, do I need to keep wearing it once I’m finished?
Yes, we ask that you put your mask back on after you are finished actively eating or drinking.
What about if I’m eating my lunch and then I run to the restroom, do I need to wear my mask?
Yes, we ask that you put your mask on at all times, including while walking through the building to the restroom.
If I’m in a class or a meeting and all of the participants agree to remove their masks, is this allowed?
No, we ask that you continue to wear masks at all times. We recognize that some in our community may be immunocompromised or be caring for someone who is immunocompromised. Asking everyone to wear a mask protects us all.
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, use hand sanitizer, and disinfect high-touch surfaces.
What if I am an online student with no intent of taking CTS courses in-person?
Whereas the policy centers on CTS and ACTS students who are planning to take courses in-person at CTS, online students who do not intend to come to campus do not need to take further action. If at any time an online student desires to enroll in an intensive course or any in-person class at CTS, visit the building or to attend any event, CTS strongly encourages individuals to be vaccinated and boosted before arriving on campus. All individuals are required to wear masks for the duration of their time in the building except in a private office/study room with the door closed or while actively eating or drinking.
Will I be able to study in the Learning Commons?
The Lapp Learning Commons is open. The hours of operation are Monday to Friday 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. CT. If you wish to visit the Learning Commons, you must adhere to all protocols related to wearing a face mask, sanitizing areas, and disinfecting your hands. The library stacks are now open and students are able to directly explore and handle books on their own. In addition, the course reserves collection is available for checkout. 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 Yasmine Abou-El-Kheir,
Director of the Lapp Learning Commons, if you require assistance.
What about Common Areas?
All persons are required to wear masks while visiting common areas such as the kitchen spaces, meditation room, third-floor student area, hallways, restrooms, fourth-floor dining hall, and both chapels. Masks do not have to be worn when alone in personal offices or in private study areas. Disposable masks are available at the South Reception desk.
What about staffing at CTS?
CTS staff and faculty are still encouraged to work remotely, as they are able, in an effort to limit the number of persons in the CTS building. Most staff and faculty members are in their offices on occasion, and some are regularly present several 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?
Beginning in the fall there may be some low-density, small on-campus events that meet local, state, and federal public safety guidelines. Larger events such as the Annual C. Shelby Rooks Lecture will take place online. We are hopeful that some events including Commencement will be held in-person.
Does this mean visitors will be allowed on campus?
As the COVID-19 pandemic persists, visitors to CTS are restricted to those explicitly invited and hosted by a faculty, student, or staff member. This includes ACTS students who opt to take CTS in-person courses. Visitors must wear a face mask at all times. Face coverings need to fully cover the nose and mouth and have ear loops to securely hold them in place. CTS expects every person who enters the building to adopt precautions designed to mitigate the risk of viral transmission. Please know CTS shares this in the spirit of hospitality and generosity.
I’m planning ahead, so what about Commencement?
CTS Commencement is scheduled for April 28, 2023 at 2 p.m. CT. We are confirming the location for Commencement and will update the community as soon as possible. Prospective 2023 graduates should be in touch with their advisors and Tina Shelton, Registrar. 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?
Any person who tests positive for COVID-19 (regardless of vaccination status) must follow these
- 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.
- You will be required to quarantine for a minimum of 5 days and obtain a negative COVID tests or a physician’s release form all dated after the 5-day quarantine period in order to return to work or class. These documents should be submitted to Michele Carr.
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, we ask that you refrain from coming to the CTS building for 5 days and monitor yourself for symptoms, regardless of vaccination status. We strongly suggest that you obtain a COVID-19 test at least three days after your point of exposure. Once the 5-day period is over, you can again enter the CTS building.
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 academic concerns, please go directly to the respective professor. If you do not receive a timely response, feel free to contact Dr. Stephanie Buckhanon Crowder, Academic Dean. 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.
To report non-compliance with this COVID-19 policy, contact Shauna Warren, Director of Facilities.