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Restrictions in Response to Large Cluster of COVID-19 Cases Among Undergraduates

April 8, 2021

To: Members of the University Community
From: Michele Rasmussen, Dean of Students in the University, and Eric Heath, Associate Vice President for Safety & Security
Subject: Restrictions in Response to Large Cluster of COVID-19 Cases Among Undergraduates
Date: April 8, 2021

Last night we informed students in the College about urgent restrictions of campus activities in response to a large cluster of COVID-19 cases involving undergraduates.

Tests in recent days have detected more than 50 cases of COVID-19 involving students in the College, including many living in residence halls, and we expect this number to increase. Those who have tested positive are in isolation, following University protocols. Many of these cases may have been connected to one or more parties held by off-campus fraternities over the last week. We are particularly concerned because of the high likelihood that these cases involve the B.1.1.7 coronavirus variant, which is currently widespread in the Chicago area, appears to spread more easily than other variants, and is able to cause more severe disease in people of all ages.

Unfortunately, this is the largest cluster of cases to reach our campus community since the academic year began. We are taking a number of actions immediately to limit any further spread, including:

  • Stay-at-Home: Students living in residence halls must observe a new stay-at-home period of seven days, beginning immediately and lasting through April 15.
  • Remote Courses: Classes in the College will be fully remote for at least seven days, beginning Thursday, April 8. This applies only to College classes. In-person graduate classes may continue to meet as scheduled.
  • Dining Commons:  All dining in the on-campus dining commons will be on a takeout basis only until further notice.
  • COVID-19 Testing:  Any students who have recently attended a party, or an unmasked gathering, should be tested immediately for COVID-19.
  • Contact Tracing: We urge all students to cooperate fully with the University’s Contact Tracing Team. The combination of contact tracing and testing is essential to help limit further spread of cases on campus. If you are symptomatic, identified as a close contact or test positive, please report immediately to C19HealthReport@uchicago.edu.
  • Tents: All outdoor tents on campus will be closed for the duration of the stay-at-home period.
  • Events and Programming:  Non-curricular in-person programming for College students is suspended during the stay-at-home period. This includes undergraduate RSO activities and residence hall programs and outings.

How to schedule a screening

  • Faculty, academic appointees, postdoctoral researchers, and staff members should call the UChicago Medicine triage hotline at 773.702.2800 to arrange a test and receive any needed medical attention.
  • Students should call UChicago Student Wellness at 773.834.WELL.
  • Employees of UCM or the Biological Sciences Division may call 773.702.6819.

Please note, we encourage all members of the University community to be vaccinated at the earliest opportunity, whether through the University’s dedicated vaccine clinic or through other providers. If you receive a UCM MyChart activation notice or vaccine scheduling invitation through the University’s vaccine clinic, please respond quickly if you plan to be vaccinated. Scheduling invitations are released on a rolling basis, depending on vaccine supply and capacity. See the April 2 update message for more information.

We need everyone to continue to follow the requirements of the UChicago Health Pact, including wearing face coverings, maintaining a distance of 6 feet whenever possible, and complying with all restrictions on social gatherings. We are hopeful that taking swift, comprehensive steps now should address this outbreak and allow us to conclude the academic year safely. Additional steps may be needed if there is further spread of COVID-19, including placing further restrictions on in-person activities for Spring Quarter or scaling back planned College Convocation events.

We know this setback is a disappointment after the successes of this academic year. With the continued commitment of the University community, we will meet this latest challenge.

UChicagoSocial: UChicago Student Wellness