Ecology and Conservation students on a field trip to Jackson Park, where they collected aquatic invertebrates in the Columbia Basin, behind the Museum of Science and Industry. The course also included trips to Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie and Indiana Dunes National Park. (Photography by Jason Smith)

“We shall every one be mask’d”

Classes outside and in tents. Masks worn everywhere, even by the grotesques. Scenes from an Autumn Quarter that required some improvisation.

Since last March, our sense of space has been off. Although personal space varies by culture—Americans prefer to keep 3.1 feet between themselves and a stranger, according to a 2017 study—no culture in the world thinks six feet between friends is normal.

For the students who returned to campus last fall, the normal rhythms of College life were also off. The quarter began with two weeks of quarantine, when all classes were remote, even those with an in-person component. At Thanksgiving, students who went home stayed there. The quarter ended all remote, just as it began.

In these less than ideal circumstances, students still did normal-ish things: they went on field trips, did labs, studied on the quads, played games with their friends. Here’s a look at what Autumn Quarter in Hyde Park felt like this year.

Scenes from UChicago campus during Autumn Quarter
Clockwise from far left: A near-empty campus on a misty afternoon; a Cobb Gate grosteque models correct mask positioning; a class held in one of the Quadrangle Club tents; students on the first day of in-person classes; an art class in one of the Logan Center tents; students in a genetics lab wear masks along with the usual goggles and gloves. (Photography by Jason Smith and John Zich)
Scenes from UChicago campus during Autumn Quarter
Divinity School Teaching Fellow Russell Johnson, AMʼ15, PhDʼ19, teaches Human Being and Citizen on the quad, using a bit more space than would be typical in the fifth century Athens. (Photography by Jason Smith)
Scenes from UChicago campus during Autumn Quarter
Clockwise from left: Collegiate Assistant Professor Brinton Ahlin, AB’09, teaches Self, Culture, and Society in a Quad Club tent; masked spikeball on the quad; two Quad Club tents, used for class meetings and office hours; students in College camp chairs, supplied to faculty who taught outdoors; Ahlin bearing the message “We shall every one be mask’d,” a Shakepearean quote/UChicago Health Pact requirement; an outdoor study session. (Photography by Jason Smith and John Zich)