UChicago to Distribute Free KN95 Masks, Take “Cautious Approach” to Lifting Mask Mandate

UChicago Forward reported 152 new cases of COVID-19 and 405 close contacts. The University is also distributing free KN95 masks for students and employees through February 28.

By Casey Kim

The University reported 152 new cases of COVID-19 and 405 close contacts identified this week, according to an email sent to the University community on Friday, February 18. Seventy-one students are in on-campus isolation housing, with 24 isolating off campus.

Chicago’s seven-day case positivity rate declined to 1.8 percent this week, down from 2.7 percent last week. Chicago Department of Public Health Commissioner Allison Arwady expects to make a decision next week as to whether the City will lift its indoor mask mandate by February 28, in alignment with the State of Illinois. Though the University is subject to the City of Chicago’s mask mandate, it may take a more cautious approach and continue to require masks for a period even if mandates are lifted, per the UChicago Forward email.

The email noted that the school will continue to monitor the number of students isolating on campus to determine if the isolation-in-place measures in residence halls currently in effect are still necessary. According to the email, "the number of students in isolation housing at Stony Island has fluctuated as students cycle through or leave after testing negative."

The University also announced its distribution of free KN95 masks for students and employees, available for pick-up between 8 a.m. and 6 p.m. until Monday, February 28, at the front desk reception of the Quadrangle Club (1155 East 57th Street).