University officials say they are reconsidering plans for fall quarter amid rising COVID-19 cases


Eric Henry

A student walks along the Quad, located in Lincoln Park.

University officials stated Friday via Newsline that an increase in local COVID-19 cases is leading DePaul to reconsider plans for fall quarter, including the number of courses occurring on campus. 

The article — published by President A. Gabriel Esteban, interim provost Salma Ghanem and executive vice president and chief financial officer Jeff Bethke — states that the university is “closely watching public health indicators, seeking guidance from local and state authorities and listening to the voices of our students and their parents, faculty, and staff.”

The article further states that the university intends to share information by August 12 “at the latest.”

This announcement comes one day after DePaul’s Department of Housing added additional quarantine options for students returning to campus. 

“The current guidelines for phase 3 would direct all higher education to remote learning only,” said Cheryl Hover, associate director of Emergency Management. “Therefore, any in-person classes would need to shift accordingly. As city and state guidelines for higher education adapt quickly as the environment around us is changing, we are closely monitoring in order to make necessary changes to stay in compliance.”

When asked of a potential contingency plan in the event of a larger outbreak or spike in cases, Hover directed The DePaulia to the university’s Return to Campus and COVID-19 Reporting Protocol pages.

When speaking at a virtual seminar as part of the Downtown Future Series, Ghanem stated that the university is approaching fall quarter from a student-based approach, rather than the interest of the institution.

Despite seeing a dropoff of cases in May and June, the city has seen an increase of positive cases throughout the summer, following the implementation of Phase 4 of the Restore Illinois reopening plan. 

There are currently 266 new daily cases of COVID-19 in Illinois, based on a seven-day rolling average. 

Editor’s note: The DePaulia has reached out to university representatives and is awaiting comment.

Update (7/31/2020): The story has been updated to include a response from Cheryl Hover, associate director of Emergency Management.