From ever-changing COVID-19 policies to monkeypox precautions, here’s what the DePaul community should know this quarter
Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, DePaul has rolled out various policies for students, faculty and staff to follow. The pandemic has affected students in big ways, from changes to mask and vaccine mandates, to access to testing, to classes flipping between in-person and online modalities.
On August 18, DePaul explained their policies and guidance for the Fall Quarter regarding COVID-19 and monkeypox in their fall health update.
Coming into this school year, DePaul has implemented more relaxed COVID-19 policies and discontinued several university resources. Students are now being asked to rely on the city’s resources.
On Monday, our ‘In The Loop’ newsletter had a brief overview of the policies. Here is a more in-depth explanation of any new and continuing policies you can expect from this fall term.
The COVID-19 vaccine is still required for students. Vaccines are required up to the first booster shot. You must submit documentation of the boosters as you would with DePaul’s other immunization requirements on Campus Connect. Religious and medical exemptions are still allowed.
Students will not be required to wear masks anywhere on campus.
Still, DePaul highly recommends masks and will have them available in campus buildings on the first floor in front desk areas. Masks will also be available by request at the front desks of residence halls.
DePaul’s on-campus testing will end this quarter due to “increased accessibility to at-home tests.” This announcement came prior to the federal government’s announcement discontinuing its free at-home mail tests as of September 2.
Last school year, DePaul had the option for students to be tested on-campus. The testing was free and available on both the Lincoln Park and Loop Campuses.
This year, DePaul will provide students with rapid COVID-19 tests. These can be obtained on both campuses in the following locations Monday through Thursday 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.:
Office of Health Promotion & Wellness
2250 N Sheffield, Suite 302
Student Affairs Office
25 E. Jackson, Suite 1400
COVID-19 Self Reporting
Students are not required to report a positive COVID-19 test to the university even if they are living in on-campus residence halls. DePaul does recommend isolating in place and following the communicable diseases guide for both Lincoln Park and Loop housing.
The COVID-19 dashboard previously held data of students who self-reported their positive tests and holds data from August 2020 to August 2022. This resource will now be discontinued as reporting is not required.
This data was an easy way for students to see rising cases on campus. Russell Dorn, manager of news and integrated content, now encourages everyone at DePaul to visit Chicago’s COVID-19 dashboard, in light of DePaul’s own discontinued COVID-19 dashboard.
President Robert Manuel explained that the loss of this resource doesn’t necessarily mean that DePaul isn’t keeping track of COVID-19 cases. “Even though you’re not seeing it, on the website or in constant communications anymore, that work is happening in the background, and the moment there’s a reason to raise a flag, that’s when we start to communicate the path forward.”
Visitor policy/current dorm policy
The visitor policy in residence halls was updated on August 30. It explains that each resident may have up to two visitors. Visitors can be non-DePaul students and the regular hosting responsibilities are expected. Non-DePaul student visitors must be vaccinated and have to show proof of their vaccination at the front desk.
The updated visitor policy also hints at the flexibility of policies due to the ever-changing state of the COVID-19 pandemic. It mentions that “If there is a significant change in the positivity rate on campus or throughout the city, DePaul Housing and Residential Education reserve the right to alter the visitor policy.”
In the 2021-22 school year, isolation housing was an option made available to students who tested positive while living in residence halls. It allowed students with a positive test to safely isolate themselves away from other residents in on-campus apartments.
For the fall quarter, DePaul is not getting rid of isolation housing, but it is changing. Since it is recommended that students isolate in place, there is not as much of a need for the isolation housing.
Dorn explained that this year, “Residents who are not comfortable with isolating in their unit may choose to isolate in place somewhere off campus or in a designated apartment building adjacent to campus.”
Isolation housing is now referred to as “short-term housing”. The communicable diseases campus housing information page says, “it can be used for COVID-positive students if they have symptoms that are serious but not serious enough to be hospitalized.”
A roommate of someone with a positive COVID-19 test, positive monkeypox test or any other infectious disease can apply for short-term housing.
Short-term housing is limited and cannot be guaranteed for students.
If you are interested, residents may call Public Safety to speak with your resident director on duty.
DePaul explained in the health update that they have a plan for communicable influences/pandemic outbreaks that they will follow in a circumstance where monkeypox reaches campus. Check out 14 East’s previous coverage of DePaul’s monkeypox plan as well as locations for the vaccine in our ‘In the Loop’ newsletter.
Similar to COVID-19, DePaul will consult similar sources to make their decisions. DePaul also consults an advisor from AMITA Health weekly about monkeypox.
Dorn currently “encourages all members of the DePaul community to read up on the symptoms of monkeypox as well as ways to prevent the disease.”
For Manuel, he finds that there are two sides to approaching the pandemic, especially for new students. “One is the traditional wash your hands, cough into your arm, make sure that you’re testing and staying home, and then we can help isolate you if you’re feeling sick.” Then he explains the other side: “Articulate what it is that is meaningful to you, and find somebody at the university who can help you build your reality that’s comfortable for you.”
Updated policies show steps toward a return to normalcy on campus. On the other side, there are concerns that relaxed policies will bring less caution towards COVID-19.
With each COVID-19 and monkeypox policy, the university is basing decisions on CDC updates and state/local requirements. The DePaul community can expect that when there are big changes in the city, there will be a change at DePaul as well.
Header by Annie Gidionsen