University Reports 6 New Cases of COVID-19 in Seventh Week, Keeps Masking and Distancing Requirements Unchanged

Citing the current lack of information about vaccination levels on campuses and other factors, the University has not changed its masking and distancing requirements.


By Hamza Jilani, Deputy News Editor

The University reported 6 new cases of COVID-19 this week, according to an email sent to the University community on Friday, May 14. One of the surveillance tests conducted this week was positive, and the University’s positivity rate overall was 0.21 percent. There are 23 close contacts associated with this week’s reported cases.

Currently, there are no students in on-campus isolation housing, and there are 3 students isolating off campus.

Both the City of Chicago and Illinois’s 7-day positivity rate decreased from 4.5 percent last week to 3.8 percent this week.

The University’s masking and distancing requirements remain in place despite the updated its mask guidance for fully vaccinated people issued by the CDC on May 13. The updated guidance recommends that fully vaccinated people do not need to wear a mask or physically distance unless required by “federal, state, local, tribal, or territorial laws, rules, and regulations, including local business and workplace guidance” and that fully vaccinated people do not need to test after a known exposure “unless they are residents or employees of a correctional or detention facility or a homeless shelter.”

The University announced that it would not be changing its requirements despite the updated guidance in both the UChicago Forward message and an email sent to students and families in the College on Friday, May 14. Both messages cited the current lack of information about current vaccination levels on UChicago campuses as well as other factors as reasons for why masking requirements at the University will not change for now. The UChicago Health Pact requires all individuals to wear a mask and socially distance while on campus grounds, regardless of whether they have been vaccinated.

The University is in the process of gathering more information on vaccination levels and will communicate more on policies related to vaccination in the coming weeks. Currently, participants in the Mandatory Surveillance Testing Program at the University may opt out of the program once they are fully vaccinated, but must self-isolate and arrange for prompt testing if they develop symptoms of COVID-19 even if they are fully vaccinated. An individual is fully vaccinated two weeks after receiving the second dose of the Moderna or Pfizer vaccine, or two weeks after receiving the single dose of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

The UChicago Forward email encouraged all members of the University community to be vaccinated at the earliest opportunity. It also encouraged parents and guardians of vaccine-eligible children to schedule appointments for their children, as the vaccine was recommended by the CDC for children ages 12 to 15. Children of University faculty, other academic appointees, postdoctoral researchers, staff, and students are eligible for a vaccination appointment at UChicago Medicine.

Vaccines are no longer offered at the Student Wellness Center, as the University has incorporated the vaccine clinic at the Student Wellness Center into UChicago Medicine’s vaccine effort. However, the process for scheduling vaccine appointments through MyChart remains the same.

The University has also changed testing operating hours at Rosenwald Hall and Woodlawn Social Service to 8 a.m. till 4 p.m. for the remainder of Spring quarter. All test sites will be closed for Memorial day on Sunday, May 30 and Monday, May 31, and participants scheduled for tests on May 31 can be tested on Tuesday June 1 for their weekly test at Rosenwald Hall or Woodlawn Social Service.