Additional Guidance in Response to COVID-19 Variants

February 15, 2021

To: All Students
From: Michele Rasmussen, Dean of Students in the University
Subject: Additional Guidance in Response to COVID-19 Variants
Date: February 12, 2021

You received an email earlier this week about the new COVID-19 variants and the steps the University is taking to help prevent their spread. It is important to understand that the new COVID-19 variants may spread more easily than other strains and may lead to more cases of COVID-19. An increase in the number of cases is likely to lead to more hospitalizations and further strain on health care resources. It is crucial that you follow these guidelines to help protect the health and safety of our community.

  • Self-Monitor for COVID-19 Symptoms: Individuals who are infected with the new COVID-19 variants may become contagious more quickly, so it is important to continuously monitor yourself for symptoms and avoid any close contact with others if you begin to feel sick. If you experience symptoms, contact UChicago Student Wellness at 773-834-WELL to seek medical advice and, if necessary, schedule a COVID-19 test.
  • Report Positive Test Results: If you test positive for COVID-19, report your diagnosis immediately to so that contact tracing and isolation/quarantine procedures can begin. Reporting is required whether or not you are on campus. Rapid and accurate contact tracing is critical for preventing COVID-19 outbreaks. 
  • Wear a Face Covering: The University requires everyone on campus to wear a face covering that fully covers the nose and mouth and has ear loops to securely hold it in place. It is not sufficient to wear masks that are loose-fitting, such as neck gaiters, bandanas, or scarves, and such coverings do not meet the University’s new requirement. The latest guidance from the CDC has highlighted that loose-fitting masks do not sufficiently protect you or the individuals around you. Proper face coverings must be worn while in University buildings, with few exceptions.
  • Limit Your Close Contacts: COVID-19 spreads mainly among people who are in close contact (within about 6 feet) for a prolonged period. Limit your close contacts to the same few people over time—no more than five including the people in your household.
  • Avoid Indoor Social Gatherings: As a reminder, the City of Chicago has prohibited gatherings and parties in private residences with more than 10 people. If you attend any gathering, you are expected to wear a face covering and maintain at least 6 feet of social distancing.
  • Keep Following the UChicago Health Pact: It is essential that you continue to adhere to the precautions outlined in the health pact, which help reduce your close contacts and limit the spread of COVID-19.

We are grateful for your continued vigilance and commitment to keeping yourself healthy and looking out for the wellbeing of our community. Your hard work makes a huge difference. For additional COVID-19 information and resources, please visit

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