DePaul is returning to online classes for first two weeks of winter quarter to combat potential Covid-19 surge


Eric Henry

Students walk around a mostly empty campus during the pandemic.

DePaul is moving back to online classes for the first two weeks of the winter quarter — Jan. 3 to Jan. 15 — due to growing concerns surrounding Covid-19, according to an email sent by Provost Salma Ghanem to faculty on Friday. 

According to the email, in-person classes will resume on Jan. 18, following the observance of Martin Luther King Jr. Day. 

“With winter break approaching, the Community Health Team and university leaders are making decisions based on the best scientific information and data available,” the email reads. “Because we start right after the New Year, before other institutions around the country do, we want to ensure faculty have adequate time to prepare.”

The email also says that certain exceptions will be made for classes that cannot be offered online. 

This move comes as Illinois continues to see an increase in Covid-19 cases and hospitalizations. On Thursday, Illinois reported 11,524 new confirmed and probable cases, the most the state has reported in one day since Dec. 1, 2020. In the last week, the state has seen its case positivity rate jump to 4.7 percent. 

Hospitalizations have also increased in Illinois, with more than 2,500 people currently requiring care because of Covid-19, the highest total since last January. 

Chicago’s positivity rate remains one of the lowest in the state at around four percent. 

Last week, the World Health Organization designated the new Omicron variant as being a “variant of concern” after cases began to emerge from Europe and South Africa. Several U.S. states have already reported cases of the new Omicron variant in the past couple of days. 

Illinois has yet to report an Omicron case. 

In the past eight weeks, DePaul has reported 51 confirmed cases of Covid-19 from students, faculty and staff. On Friday, the university reported two student cases. 

DePaul spent much of the 2020-21 academic year conducting most classes online. It was only until this past fall quarter that the university returned to a majority of in-person classes. 

In addition to the email regarding classes moving online to begin the winter quarter, the university also sent out another email on Friday saying that all residence halls will still reopen Jan. 2. 

“Students who live on-campus may be expected to show proof of a negative Covid-19 test after returning from winter break,” the email reads. “Housing will communicate with residence hall students early next week with more details and information.”