The University of Chicago issued a stay-at-home order Thursday, among other restrictions, in response to a "large cluster" of coronavirus cases at the school, particularly among undergraduate students.
University officials said tests in recent days detected more than 50 cases involving students, many of whom live in residence halls.
"We expect this number to increase," the school said in an alert.
These are the new mitigations in place:
- Students living in residence halls must observe a new stay-at-home period for seven days, beginning immediately and lasting through April 15
- All classes will be fully remote for at least seven days
- All on-campus dining will be on a takeout-only basis until further notice
- Any students who have recently attended a party or unmasked gathering are asked to be tested immediately for the coronavirus
- Students are urged to cooperate with the university's contact tracing team to limit any further spread of the virus
- Outdoor tends on campus will be closed for at least seven days
- Non-curricular in-person programming is suspended during the stay-at-home period
Many COVID-19 cases on the University of Chicago campus have been connected to one or more parties held at off-campus fraternities over the past week, school officials said.
According to a notice from the school, health officials are particularly concerned with the spread of the B.1.1.7 coronavirus variant, which is a more contagious variant that emerged out of the U.K. but has been spreading across Chicago.
"Unfortunately, this is the largest cluster of cases to reach our campus community since the academic year began," the school said.
Cook County health officials warned Wednesday that if the current trend of rising coronavirus metrics continues, the county "will not hesitate to tighten restrictions."
Dr. Rachel Rubin, co-lead of the Cook County Department of Public Health, said she "is extremely concerned with the rise in new cases and increase in the positivity rate of COVID-19 in suburban Cook, and throughout the state of Illinois" and urged people to gather outside rather than inside.
"We are considering tightening up the required mitigations again if the trend continues, but we're not taking such actions now, not yet," she said.
As of Wednesday, Cook County Health officials said seven suburban communities had seen a more than 200% increase in the last two weeks. Those communities included Glencoe, Northridge, Riverside, Robbins, Harvey Lynwood and Berkeley.
As of Saturday, both the city of Chicago and Cook County have each recently seen more than 600 new daily cases, Rubin said. Just a few weeks prior, Rubin said approximately 250 cases were reported each day.