Stay-at-home order issued at University of Chicago as COVID-19 spikes; school eyes link to fraternity parties, cancels in-person classes

Rosemary Sobol, Chicago Tribune
·1 min read

In the largest cluster to hit the University of Chicago this academic year, the school is reporting at least 50 COVID-19 cases involving undergraduates officials announced Thursday. New restrictions are being imposed, including a stay-at-home order and a halting of in-person classes.

Recent tests detected more than 50 cases involving students, including many who are living in residence halls, according to a written statement from the school, located in the Hyde Park neighborhood. Officials warned they “expect this number to increase.”

“We are particularly concerned because of the high likelihood that these cases involve the B.1.1.7 coronavirus variant, which is currently widespread in the Chicago area, appears to spread more easily than other variants, and is able to cause more severe disease in people of all ages,” according to the statement.

“Many of these cases may have been connected to one or more parties held by off-campus fraternities over the last week,” the statement said.

The students who have tested positive are in isolation, per school protocol, after they were informed Tuesday night and all students have been reminded to uphold urgent restrictions in campus activities.

The outbreak is the “largest cluster of cases to reach our campus community since the academic year began,” according to the statement.

Immediate actions the school is taking include:

  • Imposing a stay-at-home for students living in residence halls, through April 15.

  • Moving all classes to remote learning for at least seven days.

  • Restricting campus dining to takeout only.

  • Suspending all non-curricular in-person programming.

The school is also asking any students who have recently attended a party or an unmasked gathering to be tested for COVID-19 “immediately” and to cooperate with contact-tracing efforts.

rsobol@chicagotribune.com

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