University sets plan to trace COVID-19 at DePaul


Eric Henry

Brownstones Coffee, located in the Lincoln Park Student Center, with social distance seating and sign reminding students to wear face covering.

In an attempt to monitor the spread of COVID-19 across DePaul’s two campuses, the university has developed a contact tracing team to notify members of the community when they come in contact with an infected individual. 

The information was announced via Newsline — despite The DePaulia requesting information from the team directly two weeks prior.

Led by Shannon Suffoletto, director of the Office of Health Promotion and Wellness, and Cheryl Hover, associate director of emergency management, the team will work closely with public health officials across the city. 

That team includes “public health professionals and access to consultation with expert physicians as needed,” Hover said. She added that consultation with the Chicago Department of Public Health is also readily available.    

Widespread on-campus testing and temperature checks to enter campus buildings will not be offered at this time, according to a Newsline report. 

“DePaul is seeking on-campus testing options for limited testing of select populations and will utilize testing sites in the local Chicagoland and surrounding areas,” Hover said. “DePaul recognizes that many faculty, staff, and students will be working [and] studying remotely and may work directly with their healthcare provider on testing options.” 

Instead, the university has supplied campus facilities with up to 700 hand sanitizer machines. Hover declined to comment more specifically on the reason the university chose to invest in hand sanitizer rather than on-campus testing.

“There are many aspects to prevention of COVID-19, including access to testing and ensuring there is hand sanitizer readily available on campus,” Hover said. 

Most of the money designated for university stimulus, not student grants, went toward updating academic technology to enhance remote learning, university spokesperson Kristin Mathews told The DePaulia. 

The university will require all students and faculty to use #CampusClear — an app for individuals to self-screen for symptoms. Visitors may also be asked to show their results to university officials prior to entry of any DePaul-owned or operated buildings.

“Developed for higher education institutions, #CampusClear includes a brief questionnaire and medical symptoms check,” the announcement read. “Based on the answer to the screening question, the app will display a screen that states ‘good to go’ or ‘you are not cleared for campus access.’”

If a member of the DePaul community is diagnosed with COVID-19, they are required to report their case. Hover said that “close contacts” — people that have been within 6 feet of the positive person for 15 minutes or more and are identified by the COVID-19 positive patient — of the diagnosed individual will be notified.  

All faculty, staff and students will receive an email notification when a positive case is confirmed, though the university has not decided whether that information will be compiled in one spot publicly. The identities of cases and close contacts will remain private throughout the entirety of the contact tracing process. 

Contact tracers will also provide assistance to students, such as  bringing groceries, supplies and medical care and mental health resources if needed, according to a Newsline article

Hover said it is “difficult to directly assess” the level of risk for those residing in campus residence halls.

Decreasing the density in the residence halls certainly does help minimize some risk,” Hover said. “However, students should still take all precautions and follow the community guidelines set forth by DePaul.”