DePaul shifts focus online for fall quarter


Eric Henry

The statue of John J. Egan, located outside of the Lincoln Park Student Center, wearing a mask.

Most DePaul classes will be online fall quarter and students who planned to live in residence halls might not be able to, the university announced in a community-wide email sent Wednesday, walking back on the loose plan the university announced in July. 

“When the COVID-19 pandemic forced DePaul to move almost all university operations online in March, we told you that your health and safety come first,” the email to students read. “…Given our Vincentian values to take care of one another and our community, we do not believe that currently there is a reasonable way to open campus to the full extent we originally had planned and continue to effectively manage the potential health risks to the university and local community.”

The email said that in the coming days, colleges will revise the list of courses that will be offered on campus and that the university hopes to welcome more students back to campus after fall quarter and December intersession. 

Residence halls will not be available to most students, though Housing will be sending students who planned to live there an email later today regarding information on refunds and an online form to apply to be able to stay. 

Technology was upgraded in more than 100 classrooms to better facilitate online learning, the email said. Other campus buildings and resources will be available in the fall that were not previously accessible to students in the spring. 

“Most DePaul buildings will be accessible, including faculty offices,” the email read. “Library services will still be available. Some computer labs will be open.”

A faculty and staff town hall with university leadership will be held next week. More details on that will be released via Newsline, an email sent to staff said. 

The university said that it has started an “emergency fundraising” campaign to provide additional grant aid to students based on financial need. The financial ramifications of the plan will not be known until fall enrollment censuses are completed in coming months.

“We should expect—like most peer institutions— that some degree of financial shortfall will result from this over the entire fiscal year,” reads the email sent to faculty and staff.

The Strategic Resource Allocation Committee will reconvene to discuss budget shortcomings later in the fall. 

DePaul said in an Aug. 10 Newsline post that it plans to have a “full slate” of online fall activities planned for this fall, in addition to some campus events. It will waive the Student Activity Fee and Athletic Fee for fall quarter and allow students to choose whether to opt out of purchasing the U-Pass fee. The last day to opt out without penalty is Sept. 22.

The news comes after university officials announced July 31 that they were reconsidering their original plan amid rising COVID-19 cases in Chicago. In just the past two weeks, DePaul confirmed two COVID-19 cases in two different residence halls on the Lincoln Park campus. 

The university also provided new guidelines for using public restrooms on campus in a Newsline article published Wednesday morning. All occupants will be required to wear face coverings at all times and every restroom will be cleaned and disinfected nightly. The number of occupants per each restroom will not be regulated, with the article stating “because there are fewer on-campus classes this fall and a significant portion of faculty and staff are working remotely, restroom traffic will be significantly lighter.”

Loyola University announced last week that all residence halls will be closed to students this fall, coming just a few weeks after the announcement that most classes will be online with the exception of labs, research and other courses that require in-person instruction. 

Northwestern on the other hand is currently operating under the assumption that most students, faculty and staff will be returning to campus as scheduled. As such, they have implemented a comprehensive testing plan to prevent the further spread of COVID-19 in Evanston. 

There are currently 297 new daily cases of COVID-19 in Chicago based on the seven-day rolling average, a 12 percent increase from when DePaul made its last announcement in July.


Correction (8/13/2020): A previous version of this story stated that there, on average, were 297 new daily cases of COVID-19 in Illinois, when in reality, these numbers are representative of Chicago. The story has been updated to reflect the correct numbers.