University of Chicago announced a stay-at-home period for students Wednesday evening following the largest COVID-19 outbreak at the university since the start of the academic year.
After more than 50 cases of the coronavirus were detected among undergraduates in recent days, the university announced that students living on-campus must observe a week-long stay-at-home period immediately.
“We expect this number to increase,” university officials said in an email sent to members of the university community Thursday.
All undergraduate classes will be fully remote for at least a week starting Thursday and students can only leave their residence halls for food, medical appointments and short walks for exercise.
The cases reported involve many students living on-campus across residence halls. Many of the cases may have been connected to one or more parties held by off-campus fraternities over the last week.
University officials are concerned that the new cases may have contracted the highly contagious B.1.1.7 variant of the virus.
Those who tested positive are currently in isolation. The university is working on contact tracing and is requesting that students who have recently attended a party or an unmasked gathering get tested immediately.
The order will last until April 15, but could be extended depending on the situation.
University officials said they will consider taking 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.”
The university announced in February that its June convocation ceremony for all graduates will be virtual, but the school also said then some smaller events to distribute diplomas could have limited in-person attendance.