Further Information on Response to COVID-19 Cluster

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: Further Information on Response to COVID-19 Cluster
Date: April 9, 2021

We are writing with updates on the restrictions that we announced yesterday in response to a new cluster of COVID-19 cases among undergraduates.

As anticipated, tests have detected additional COVID-19 cases in the cluster, underscoring that this is a serious situation requiring action by all of us, including renewed commitment to the UChicago Health Pact. As of today, testing has found 76 new cases among College students since last weekend, including 65 among students living on campus. Our goal is to limit any secondary transmission beyond this initial group that was exposed, using measures that have proven to be effective, with continued guidance from experts at UChicago Medicine and the Chicago Department of Public Health.

Undergraduate Research and Student Positions

On-Campus Students – As we announced, because of the high number of COVID-19 cases affecting undergraduate students in residence halls, all students living on campus must observe a stay-at-home period of at least seven days, lasting through Thursday, April 15. Undergraduates in campus housing cannot perform in-person research or student positions. Supervisors should consider whether remote options are possible.

Off-Campus Students – Undergraduate students who live off-campus may be permitted to come to campus for their duties, including research responsibilities, but only if: 1) they do not have potential symptoms of COVID-19; 2) they have not been identified as a close contact of someone with COVID-19; and 3) they have not recently attended a party or an unmasked gathering. (You can easily monitor your symptoms – as required by the health pact – using the C-19 Symptom Checker.) If these conditions are met, supervisors and academic leaders have discretion about whether to allow in-person duties through April 15 for students who live off-campus.

Athletics

Through April 15, only spring sport athletes who live off-campus will be permitted to engage in in-person team activities. Off-season fall and winter sport activities have been suspended through April 15.

Potential Consequences for Non-Compliance

Most members of the University community have upheld public health requirements throughout this academic year, and our focus remains on encouraging voluntary compliance with the requirements of the UChicago Health Pact. However, the University has procedures in place to address non-compliance, and these have been used when needed throughout the academic year. We will continue to take measures to address misconduct and are gathering facts about off-campus gatherings that may have played a role in the new cluster.

Please note that the focus of the University’s Contact Tracing Team is on identifying close contacts of people with COVID-19 and preventing further spread; contact tracers are not part of the disciplinary process. Cooperating with contact tracers is a requirement for being on campus, as reflected in the mandatory attestation regarding COVID-19.

If you are concerned you may have been exposed to COVID-19, please get tested immediately. 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.

With the University community’s recommitment to the UChicago Health Pact, we hope to be in a position to resume in-person learning and other campus activities after this period of added precautions. We will continue to provide updates on the cluster and ongoing measures to address this problem.