students on walkway in front of Wentz Science Center

June 21, 2021

Dear Cardinal Community,

It is with great excitement that I share with you the College’s fall 2021 semester plans, which include returning to pre-pandemic activities and experiences that we value as a campus community.

Earlier this month, the State of Illinois entered Phase 5 of the Restore Illinois plan, allowing for all sectors of the economy to fully reopen and for in-person gatherings of all sizes to resume. This important milestone for the state paves the way for our fall plans.

Thank you to the College’s Institutional Response Team (IRT) and subcommittee members for their continuing work to review and revise the College’s health and safety protocols for the upcoming semester. While our current plans reflect a more typical on-campus experience this fall, the IRT will continue to evaluate COVID-19 data and trends, both on-campus and more broadly, and make recommendations on, or adjustments to, our health and safety practices and protocols as necessary.

Please continue reading for important details regarding our return to campus for the fall 2021 semester. Additional information and FAQs are available at

Fall 2021

Academic Calendar & Class Schedule

The College will follow its standard academic calendar (two 16-week semesters) and daily class schedule for the 2021-2022 academic year. Classes will begin as scheduled—for both undergraduate and graduate students—on Wednesday, August 25. Welcome Week for new students will take place in-person, August 20-24.

The academic calendar will include standard breaks and final exam schedules, including fall break (October 18-19), Thanksgiving break (November 24-26), final exams (December 13-16), and winter break beginning December 17. The full 2021-2022 academic calendar is available here.

The daily class meeting schedule is posted at

Academic Instruction

The College’s primary teaching and learning modalities will be in-person. Classroom and lab capacities and configurations will return to normal. Faculty will be expected to teach course sections as they are listed in the published class schedule, and students will be expected to physically attend in-person classes.

Additional information for faculty regarding academic instruction will be forthcoming from the Provost, including a process for proposing any adjustments to operations due to unique circumstances.

Vaccination Strongly Encouraged 

After close consultation with the IRT, Cabinet and President’s Council, and with feedback from the campus community, the College has decided not to require members of the campus community to be fully vaccinated as a condition for returning to campus this fall. However, the College strongly encourages all students, faculty and staff to get vaccinated prior to returning to campus. There will be safety requirements for those who are not vaccinated.

Health and Safety Practices 

Based on current guidance from local, state and federal health authorities, the College’s health and safety practices have been updated as follows:

  • Masks:
    • Masks are no longer required outdoors regardless of vaccination status.
    • Effective immediately, fully vaccinated individuals are not required to wear masks indoors. It is strongly recommended that non-vaccinated individuals continue to wear masks indoors.
    • Important: North Central College will continue to be a “mask-friendly” environment. The wearing of a mask should not be considered an indication of vaccination status. It is expected that all members of the campus community respect an individual’s decision to wear a mask on campus.
  • COVID-19 testing, contact tracing:
    • Fully vaccinated individuals who submit valid documentation of their vaccination status will not be required to participate in the College’s COVID-19 testing, and will not be required to quarantine if they are a close contact of someone who tests positive for, or is exhibiting symptoms of, COVID-19.
      • Information about the process for submitting proof of vaccination with be forthcoming.
    • Non-vaccinated individuals and those who have not submitted valid proof of vaccination will be required to:
      • Submit proof of a negative COVID-19 test prior to returning to campus for fall semester;
      • Participate in the College’s COVID-19 testing throughout the semester; and
      • Quarantine if determined to be a close contact.
  • COVID-19 positive or probable cases:
    • All campus community members—regardless of vaccination status—are expected to report to the College positive or probable cases of COVID-19, and to isolate per public health guidelines in the case of a positive COVID-19 test.

Residence Life 
In addition to the health and safety measures mentioned above, residence hall protocols will return largely to pre-COVID-19 practices. There will be no restrictions on the use of residence hall space, and on-campus guests will be allowed in residential areas with proper approval.

New and returning resident students will soon receive communication from the Residence Life staff with additional residence hall information and protocols, including move-in procedures, housing and roommate assignments, and further details for international students.

Dining Services
The College will return to pre-COVID-19 dining operations this fall. Dining hours will be communicated at a later date. 


All Cardinal athletics programs will return to pre-COVID-19 fall, winter and spring competition and practice schedules. In addition, all athletic facilities will return to standard hours and operations. The athletics department is awaiting further guidance from the NCAA regarding vaccination and/or testing requirements and spectator policies for NCAA-sanctioned competitions. Additional information and protocols will be shared with coaches and student-athletes in the coming weeks.

Campus Facilities

Campus facilities will return to standard hours of operation, access and capacities.

Campus Events

Campus events—such as meetings, conferences, and social gatherings—can take place without capacity restrictions and with the appropriate safety guidance and procedures in place.

Return to Campus-based Work

While many employees have continued to perform essential on-campus functions throughout the pandemic and others have gradually transitioned back to campus-based work over the course of the past year, we are excited to welcome all employees back to campus this summer. Employees will begin transitioning to campus-based work starting Monday, July 12. More information about the process and expectations for returning to campus-based work will be communicated soon to all staff members.

I am very much looking forward to the year ahead and the return to our usual vibrant campus life!

Please continue to be on the lookout for important communications throughout the summer, visit as your source for the most up-to-date information, and send any questions to


Troy D. Hammond
Professor of Physics
North Central College

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