University of Chicago leadership are confident that the school's relative success in controlling the spread of COVID-19 last year can be continued this year, especially in light of vaccine mandates for students and staff.
An Aug. 26 memo from Provost Ka Yee C. Lee and Executive Vice President Katie Callow-Wright, outgoing President Robert Zimmer's chief of staff, related that 83% of employees and 84% of students have uploaded proof of their vaccinations.
Two percent of students so far have received vaccine exemptions and will be tested every week, as will area employees who do not work with the public and have not uploaded proof of their shots.
Weekly testing on a voluntary basis is also available for vaccinated people.
The provost and vice president promised updated university community vaccine information in the weeks ahead.
Last year we came together and succeeded in greatly limiting the spread of the virus on campus,” they wrote. “With everyone’s continued vigilance and compliance with the public health precautions described in this message, we are able to safely resume on-campus activities.”
Undergraduates will begin moving in on Tuesday, Sept. 21. The first day of classes are Monday, Sept. 27.
Everyone is being asked to wear a mask in university buildings and to carry masks at all times, and everyone is being asked to wash or sanitize their hands throughout the day as well as before and after interacting with others.
Vendors and visitors may only come to campus if invited by a faculty member, academic appointee, postdoctoral researcher, staffer, student, division or unit, or other authorized university affiliate. Those hosts are responsible for communicating the university's visitor guidelines.
Visitors are expected to wear masks. Visitors and the general public will have access to some buildings and "schedules for non-residential dining, exhibitions and events" without a school identification card.
The school's protocol for confirmed or suspected COVID-19 exposures still stands; whether people test positive, have symptoms or have been exposed, they are to report to the university's contact tracing team.
Residence halls are operating at normal capacity, though visitors will be limited. In-person instruction and on-campus activities are to be fully resumed, though individual deans and offices are responsible for resuming in-person work among their own educational and research staff.
Since Sept. 18, 2020, the university has reported 1,219 total cases of COVID-19 and conducted 146,699 total tests. One-fifth of 1% of those tests have come back positive: 0.22% of students have tested positive, and 0.12% of staff have.