University Lifts COVID-19 Testing Requirement for Unvaccinated Students, Encourages Boosters

Boosters against the Omicron subvariant will be available at a few locations on campus this fall.


Adyant Kanakamedala

Rosenwald Hall on a sunny summer day.

By Peter Maheras

The University will no longer require unvaccinated people to undergo weekly COVID-19 testing, according to an email sent on Thursday, September 29, by Provost Ka Yee Lee and Executive Vice President Katie Callow-Wright. COVID-19 testing will still be available for those who opt in to the voluntary testing program or who wish to test after a possible exposure.

The email encouraged students to receive an updated COVID-19 booster shot targeting the Omicron subvariant in addition to the annual flu shot. The University plans to offer a small number of vaccine booster clinics on campus this fall. The University reported a campus-wide vaccination rate of more than 95 percent but did not specify what percentage of people had received a booster.

Appointments for the Omicron-specific booster are available at the CVS in Hyde Park and UChicago Medicine.

Masking remains optional, but Lee and Callow-Wright recommended the use of masks in indoor settings when others are present. “While anyone may ask others to wear masks, no one is obligated to do so in classrooms, and individual instructors may not set masking policies for classes,” the email read.

The University’s exposure policy still requires anyone who tests positive for COVID-19 to wear a mask until they receive two consecutive negative tests 48 hours apart.

The email reminded students to follow University protocol of isolating if symptoms arise. Anyone who tests positive for COVID-19 must isolate for at least five days and until symptoms have subsided. Isolation housing will remain at Stony Islandfor students living on campus who test positive.

Between September 23 and September 29, UChicago Forward reported 90 new cases of COVID-19 with nearly 60 students isolating on or off campus. Chicago’s COVID-19 risk level remains low according to the CDC’s guidelines for assessing community transmission of the virus. The current daily average of cases in Chicago is 329.