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Northwestern and Loyola share plans to allow more students on campus this winter despite COVID-19 surge gripping Chicago and suburban Cook County

Chicago Tribune logo Chicago Tribune 10/29/2020 Elyssa Cherney, Chicago Tribune
a man and a woman standing in front of a store: Atmosphere in the souk of Jerusalem's Old City, Israel, on March 22, 2008. Photo by Corentin Fohlen/ABACAUSA.COM *** Local Caption *** - © Corentin Fohlen/ABACA PRESS/MCT Atmosphere in the souk of Jerusalem's Old City, Israel, on March 22, 2008. Photo by Corentin Fohlen/ABACAUSA.COM *** Local Caption *** -

Northwestern University in Evanston and Loyola University Chicago both shared plans Wednesday for expanded campus reopenings next term despite the ongoing surge of COVID-19 prompting greater restrictions in Chicago and its suburbs.

The announcements from the schools, which have predominantly residential campuses, come as the state reported 6,110 newly confirmed cases of the virus — the second-highest daily tally since the pandemic began. The rising numbers and increasing hospitalizations have triggered bans on indoor dining and caps on gatherings in eight of the state’s 11 regions under the governor’s plan.

Northwestern officials acknowledged the mounting cases in an email to students about the plans, noting an uptick in infections among graduate students, faculty and staff, and cautioned that any decisions could be amended due to public health conditions.

a group of people standing in front of a crowd with Western Wall in the background: Jews are praying at the Holy Place in front of the Western Wall, the Judaism's holiest site, in Jerusalem's Old City, Israel, on March 21, 2008, during the celebration of Purim, a Jewish holiday commemorating the Jewish people's deliverance from the ancient Persian Empire, as recorded in the Biblical Book of Esther. Every day, hundreds of people walk to the Western Wall to pray or just stand against it. Many carry their own prayers on small slips of paper and tuck them in the crevices of the stone blocks. Photo by Corentin Fohlen/ABACAUSA.COM *** Local Caption *** - © Corentin Fohlen/ABACA PRESS/MCT Jews are praying at the Holy Place in front of the Western Wall, the Judaism's holiest site, in Jerusalem's Old City, Israel, on March 21, 2008, during the celebration of Purim, a Jewish holiday commemorating the Jewish people's deliverance from the ancient Persian Empire, as recorded in the Biblical Book of Esther. Every day, hundreds of people walk to the Western Wall to pray or just stand against it. Many carry their own prayers on small slips of paper and tuck them in the crevices of the stone blocks. Photo by Corentin Fohlen/ABACAUSA.COM *** Local Caption *** -

But for now, NU intends to invite first- and second-year students to live on campus and take classes next term. Only upperclassmen were permitted to do so this fall, and the school’s positivity rate has stayed below 1%, the email said. In the last week, 49 new cases have been reported among the campus community, according to NU’s public dashboard.

Jews are praying at the Holy Place in front of the Western Wall, the Judaism's holiest site, in Jerusalem's Old City, Israel, on March 21, 2008, during the celebration of Purim, a Jewish holiday commemorating the Jewish people's deliverance from the ancient Persian Empire, as recorded in the Biblical Book of Esther. Every day, hundreds of people walk to the Western Wall to pray or just stand against it. Many carry their own prayers on small slips of paper and tuck them in the crevices of the stone blocks. Photo by Corentin Fohlen/ABACAUSA.COM *** Local Caption *** - © Corentin Fohlen/ABACA PRESS/MCT Jews are praying at the Holy Place in front of the Western Wall, the Judaism's holiest site, in Jerusalem's Old City, Israel, on March 21, 2008, during the celebration of Purim, a Jewish holiday commemorating the Jewish people's deliverance from the ancient Persian Empire, as recorded in the Biblical Book of Esther. Every day, hundreds of people walk to the Western Wall to pray or just stand against it. Many carry their own prayers on small slips of paper and tuck them in the crevices of the stone blocks. Photo by Corentin Fohlen/ABACAUSA.COM *** Local Caption *** -

“As long as the positivity rate stabilizes and does not continue increasing, we will be able to continue to support the COVID-related needs of our community,” the NU email said. “The vast majority of you have been wearing masks, socially distancing and following protocols for testing, contact tracing, and quarantine and isolation."

Students returning to campus will come back beginning Jan. 3 in a staged fashion, must follow a modified quarantine and undergo testing. In general, NU “experienced a better Fall than initially projected,” finding that many of the positive cases stem from small clusters of students at off-campus gatherings and not between employees and students in the classroom.

a man sitting in front of a store: Atmosphere in the souk of Jerusalem's Old City, Israel, on March 22, 2008. Photo by Corentin Fohlen/ABACAUSA.COM *** Local Caption *** - © Corentin Fohlen/ABACA PRESS/MCT Atmosphere in the souk of Jerusalem's Old City, Israel, on March 22, 2008. Photo by Corentin Fohlen/ABACAUSA.COM *** Local Caption *** -

Earlier this month, though, the school’s renowned Kellogg School of Management suspended in-person classes for two weeks because dozens of MBA students socialized together in large groups and some contracted COVID-19.

a group of people walking on a sidewalk: Israeli soldiers patrol the Arab Quarter Souk in Jerusalem's Old City, Israel, on March 21, 2008. Photo by Corentin Fohlen/ABACAUSA.COM *** Local Caption *** - © Corentin Fohlen/ABACA PRESS/MCT Israeli soldiers patrol the Arab Quarter Souk in Jerusalem's Old City, Israel, on March 21, 2008. Photo by Corentin Fohlen/ABACAUSA.COM *** Local Caption *** -

Also on Wednesday afternoon, Loyola announced in an email to students, faculty and staff that it will increase the number of in-person classes — up to 10% of all undergraduate courses — and reopen dorms to students who want to live in single rooms. Loyola largely kept its residence halls closed this semester and shifted the bulk of its classes online.

Loyola officials also said in the email that spring break will be canceled, replaced with two long weekends, as some schools are doing to discourage the spread of COVID-19 through travel, and that the university’s efforts rely on increased asymptomatic surveillance testing.

“We eagerly prepare to come together in person and on campus in greater numbers this spring,” the email said. “Like other universities, we have learned much since the beginning of the pandemic and we trust our community to remain informed, vigilant, and caring so that we can best experience a spring semester in an expanded operational capacity.”

Loyola’s COVID-19 dashboard shows 26 new COVID-19 cases from the last seven days that it administered testing.

a man standing in front of a crowd of people with Western Wall in the background: Jews are praying at the Holy Place in front of the Western Wall, the Judaism's holiest site, in Jerusalem's Old City, Israel, on March 21, 2008, during the celebration of Purim, a Jewish holiday commemorating the Jewish people's deliverance from the ancient Persian Empire, as recorded in the Biblical Book of Esther. Every day, hundreds of people walk to the Western Wall to pray or just stand against it. Many carry their own prayers on small slips of paper and tuck them in the crevices of the stone blocks. Photo by Corentin Fohlen/ABACAUSA.COM *** Local Caption *** - © Corentin Fohlen/ABACA PRESS/MCT Jews are praying at the Holy Place in front of the Western Wall, the Judaism's holiest site, in Jerusalem's Old City, Israel, on March 21, 2008, during the celebration of Purim, a Jewish holiday commemorating the Jewish people's deliverance from the ancient Persian Empire, as recorded in the Biblical Book of Esther. Every day, hundreds of people walk to the Western Wall to pray or just stand against it. Many carry their own prayers on small slips of paper and tuck them in the crevices of the stone blocks. Photo by Corentin Fohlen/ABACAUSA.COM *** Local Caption *** -

Loyola' spring semester begins Jan. 19 for undergraduates. For filling the dorms, Loyola will give preference to first-year students who previously held housing contracts, the school email said. Residence hall density will be reduced, and no more than two students will have to share a bathroom.

echerney@chicagotribune.com

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a person standing in front of a store: Atmosphere in the souk of Jerusalem's Old City, Israel, on March 22, 2008. Photo by Corentin Fohlen/ABACAUSA.COM *** Local Caption *** -

Atmosphere in the souk of Jerusalem's Old City, Israel, on March 22, 2008. Photo by Corentin Fohlen/ABACAUSA.COM *** Local Caption *** -
© Corentin Fohlen/ABACA PRESS/MCT
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