More than 50 students at the University of Chicago have tested positive for COVID-19, in what is the largest cluster of coronavirus cases at the school since undergraduates returned to housing last fall.
In an email to students sent out Wednesday evening, U. of C. officials wrote that the “cases may have been connected to one or more parties held by off-campus fraternities over the last week; the University’s Contact Tracing Team is continuing to look into who might have been exposed and contacting those individuals directly.”
Cases are concentrated among students living in on-campus housing; all those who have tested positive are currently isolating.
“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,” reads the email.
This is not the first cluster of COVID cases at the U. of C. recently: About 25 students at the Booth School of Business tested positive for the virus a couple of weeks ago after attending a St. Patrick’s Day celebration.
To prevent further spread, the U. of C. is requiring all students living in residential halls to follow a stay-at-home order effective until April 15, with the possibility that it could be extended further “if cases have not abated by then.”
Classes in the college will take place remotely, and dining halls will be takeout-only.
“We are hopeful that taking swift, comprehensive steps now should address this outbreak and allow us to conclude the academic year safely,” the email to students reads. “We may need to consider additional steps if there is further spread of COVID-19, including placing further restrictions on in-person activities for Spring Quarter or scaling back planned College Convocation events.”