Working Together to Protect our Community and Advance our Academic Mission

Health FAQs

The following are COVID-19 health-related FAQs. For questions related to 2020-21 academic year please visit the Campus-Wide FAQ page.

Protecting Public Health on Campus

What institutional measures is the University taking to prepare for COVID-19 cases that may emerge?

The University is implementing a testtraceisolate, and treat strategy, which is detailed here. These University-wide plans have been developed in close consultation with infectious disease specialists at UChicago Medicine and in accordance with federal, state, and local guidelines for higher education.

Does the University report COVID-19 cases that occur in the campus community?

The University of Chicago COVID-19 Dashboard provides important information on the status of COVID-19 at the University and the health of the campus community. There, you can find detailed weekly information, including the weekly surveillance test positivity rate, number of students in isolation, etc.

Individual Actions

What should I do to help maintain the health of the campus community?

When it comes to limiting the spread of COVID-19 in the University of Chicago community, we’re all in this together. Take steps to help protect fellow students, faculty, other academic appointees, postdoctoral researchers, staff and community members by upholding the UChicago Health Pact.

What does self-monitoring mean?

Anyone coming to campus is expected to self-monitor for symptoms and stay home if you have potentially been exposed to COVID-19 or have had any symptoms, including:

  • Cough
  • Runny or stuffy nose
  • Shortness of breath
  • Fever
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Chills
  • Body aches
  • Sore throat
  • New loss of taste or smell
  • Nausea, vomiting or diarrhea

If any of these symptoms are present, the individual should not enter University facilities.

Is COVID-19 safety training a requirement?

All members of the University community, whether they will be on campus or not, are required to complete the online attestation formfor the Winter Quarter, which acknowledges they have completed the University’s COVID-19 Safety Training and will comply with the University’s COVID-19 health requirements. 

Face Coverings

Is it OK for a face covering to have cords that tie around the back of the head, instead of ear loops?

Yes. A face covering that fits around the back of the head can still meet the requirements – it should fit snugly but comfortably against the side of the face and allow for breathing without restrictions. This requirement is not met by masks that are loose-fitting, such as neck gaiters, bandanas, or scarves. 

Can I use a mask that has an exhalation valve or vent?

No, masks with vents do not comply with University requirements, because the vents can let viral particles through.

Should I use an N95 respirator to meet the mask requirements?

No. N95 masks should only be worn by employees who have been issued them as a requirement of their job, and only after they have been properly trained and fitted for the mask. The same guidance applies to P100 respirators.

Can I use a KN95 mask to meet the mask requirements?

The CDC has advised that KN95 masks can be preferable “in some situations or for some people.” This includes situations of prolonged close contact with people who do not live in the same household, or for people at increased risk for severe illness from COVID-19. Visit the CDC website for more information and guidance about KN95 masks.

COVID-19 Testing

Where can I find information on COVID-19 Testing Program?

You can find information on the University’s testing approach by visiting the UChicago COVID-19 Testing page.

COVID-19 Tracing

How does contract tracing work?

All reports made to C19HealthReport@uchicago.eduof a UChicago community member who has been exposed to COVID-19 or tested positive are forwarded to the University’s Contact Tracing Team. A Contact Tracer is assigned to interview each individual with confirmed COVID-19 to determine if they have been in close contact with other members of the University community.

It is vitally important for all members of the University community to cooperate with the University’s Contact Tracing Team. Their work has been essential in limiting the spread of COVID-19 on campus. 

For more information, visit the UChicago Forward website.

Isolation and Quarantine

What does quarantine mean?

Quarantine is used to keep someone who might have been exposed to COVID-19, particularly through close contact or recent travel, away from others in case they develop COVID-19. Quarantine is needed because individuals with COVID-19 can be contagious before they show symptoms and some people with COVID-19 do not ever feel sick.

What does isolation mean?

 Isolation refers to the period when someone with a confirmed case of COVID-19 must stay away from people who are not infected.

What guidance and support does the University provide for individuals who are in isolation after testing positive for COVID-19?

The University has provided Guidance for Individuals in Isolation, for people who are isolating off-campus and for on-campus students who are in temporary isolation housing. 

Where should students stay for quarantine or isolation if they test positive for COVID-19 or have close contact with someone who has a confirmed or suspected case?

Separate space in campus housing will be reserved specifically for students in residence halls who contract COVID-19 and must follow isolation procedures. Students who contract COVID-19 while living off-campus will be required to remain in isolation where they live.

Once isolation is complete, can I stop using normal precautions like wearing a face covering or social distancing?

No, you must continue following the same rules after isolation. In order to get over COVID-19 you will develop some immunity, but we don’t know how long that will last. For the safety of our community, everyone is required to continue following the same precautions – including wearing a face covering and maintaining social distance.

Will I continue in the Mandatory/Voluntary Surveillance Testing Program if I test positive?

Participation in the Mandatory/Voluntary Surveillance Testing Program will be suspended for students, faculty, other academic appointments, postdoctoral researchers, and staff who test positive for a period of up to 90 days after testing positive for COVID-19. People who have recovered from COVID-19 often continue to have positive tests even though they are no longer contagious.  The PCR test we use at UChicago can detect even fragments of RNA from the virus, but studies show that no live, transmissible virus is present after 10 days.

The testing program staff will work with participants to suspend weekly testing and to re-schedule the testing when appropriate to resume. If during the period of suspension, any faculty member, academic appointee, postdoctoral researcher, or staff member experiences symptoms, they must call the UCM COVID-19 triage hotline for screening and testing, at 773.702.2800. Students must call UChicago Student Wellness at 773.834.WELL.

If you are scheduled to participate in the Mandatory/Voluntary Surveillance Testing Program, and you  have tested positive for COVID-19 at any point in the 90 days prior to the day you are scheduled for your first test in the UChicago program, you should provide such evidence to the attention of Dr. Richard McDonough, Senior Medical Director for UChicago Student Wellness, at sccimm@uchospitals.edu or call 773.834.WELL for review and to initiate the suspension process.

Should I continue to take classes while in isolation?

You are welcome to attend classes remotely if you are able. Remote options are available for virtually all classes. While you are under no obligation to inform your instructor or your adviser of your health status, if the mode of instruction for your class is in-person or blended, you should let your instructor know that you will not attend the in-person portion of the class. You should follow up with your adviser if you require additional academic support. 

Treatment for COVID-19

What should I do if I test positive for COVID-19 or have a known or suspected exposure to the disease?

The University has developed an Exposure Protocol for anyone who tests positive for COVID-19 or has a known or suspected exposure to the disease. According to the protocol, any University community member who has a confirmed case, symptoms, or exposure must promptly self-report at C19HealthReport@uchicago.edu. These initial reports are fielded by the University’s new Contact Tracing Team, which began operation this summer.

Public health guidelines call for anyone who has tested positive for COVID-19 to be isolated until at least 10 days have passed since symptoms appeared and at least 24 hours have passed since the resolution of fever without the use of fever-reducing medications and improvement of other symptoms.  

Individuals who suspect they have COVID-19 due to exhibiting symptoms, or have had close contact with a COVID-19-positive person or recently returned from areas with widespread, ongoing transmission should review the University’s Exposure Protocol for specific guidance.

What treatment is available for those who test positive for COVID-19?

Any faculty, other academic appointee, postdoctoral researcher, or staff member with a positive result from a test conducted by UChicago Medicine will be informed of their test by UCM, and will be provided with options for follow-up care. Students who test positive will be notified by and can receive follow-up care from UChicago Student Wellness. 

What mental health resources are available?

Mental health clinicians at UChicago Student Wellness are available to support students and the Staff and Faculty Assistance Program (SFAP) offers support for University personnel. 

Treatment for COVID-19

Where can I find information about the COVID-19 vaccines?

Please visit the UChicago Forward website for the latest information on the COVID-19 vaccines.

If you have been exposed to or test positive for COVID-19, promptly report to C19HealthReport@uchicago.edu, even if you have not been on campus.