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 Autumn Quarter, please visit the Autumn Quarter FAQ page.

General Information

What are the symptoms of COVID-19?

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), symptoms include cough, shortness of breath, fever, chills, muscle pain, headache, sore throat, and a loss of taste or smell. Symptoms may appear 2-14 days after exposure to the virus.

What can I do to reduce my risk of COVID-19 exposure

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the best way to prevent infection is to avoid being exposed to the virus. CDC recommends everyday preventative actions that you can find here

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.

Have members of the University community tested positive for coronavirus? (from covid site)
The University maintains a weekly count of cases reported to the C19HealthReport@uchicago.edu For the most recent information, please visit this website.
Will the University provide those coming to campus with facemasks or other items?

The University will provide members of the University community who will be on campus with a package consisting of two UChicago-branded cloth face masks and a digital oral thermometer.

Individual Actions

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

The success of all our planning for the coming academic year rests with each member of the campus community consistently taking steps to help keep themselves and our community safe. We will call upon every member of our on-campus community to uphold a new commitment to help prevent the spread of COVID-19. Specifically, every person on campus must adhere to these requirements – universal face coverings, social distancing, self-monitoring, COVID-19 reporting, and training and attestation.

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?

Yes. Everyone returning to campus must complete a short training program in advance and sign an electronic form affirming that they will comply with safety precautions. Students will receive additional information about the training and attestation they must complete. For others, links to these materials on available on the University’s UChicago Forward website.

What is the function of the UChicago Health pact?

The UChicago Health Pact is a reminder of the actions the University community needs to take in order to return to campus. Each individual is required to complete an online COVID-19 training program and affirm via an online form that they will comply with the University’s COVID-19 health and safety requirements, which are based on guidance from UChicago Medicine and other public health experts.

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 will contact tracing work?

Contract tracers will coordinate directly with those who test positive for COVID-19 to help identify others that may have been exposed to COVID-19 and provide recommendations to limit further spread of the virus. As part of this coordination, the contact tracer will determine if the individual has been in close contact with other members of the University community.

The Contact Tracing Team will notify any known close contacts at the University of their potential exposure to COVID-19. Contact tracers provide close contacts with public health recommendations to limit the spread of the virus (including information about quarantine requirements) and direct them to University resources for further support.

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.

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.

What is the purpose of isolation?

The goal of isolation is to enable individuals to recover from illness and prevent spread of COVID-19.  Even if you are asymptomatic, staying in isolation will help keep others safe while you are contagious. 

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. 

If I need to isolate, where can I find guidance and support?

This webpage provides specific information for those who are isolating on- or off-campus. 

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. 

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.