The University of Chicago announced on December 20 that all students and employees “will need to submit proof of receiving a booster shot or apply for an approved exemption” by January 31, 2022. Yet in this same announcement, the university noted—without offering an explanation—that UChicago Medical Center employees and “clinically active faculty and staff in the Biological Sciences Division” will not be required to receive a vaccine booster.
It’s unknown why only these employees, who were required to get the COVID-19 vaccine, are exempt from the booster requirement. If the booster is as necessary for public health as the university claims, questions arise as to why more than 9,000 people, who regularly interact with sick and immuno-compromised patients, do not have to get it.
The university also advised students, who are now on winter break, to suspend “non-mission critical gatherings on campus, such as holiday parties” and to “avoid gatherings where public health compliance, importantly including masking requirements, or the prevalence of vaccination are unknown.” Students are also encouraged to test “before and/or after attendance” if they attend such gatherings.
When students return to campus in early January, they will be required to “remove [their] mask[s] for the shortest time possible” while eating and drinking, and they will no longer be permitted to lower their masks while speaking in class. Additionally, students who live in on-campus housing should anticipate “a period of mandatory weekly testing,” which was previously only required for unvaccinated students.
Update: Since the publication of this article, the University of Chicago has informed the Chicago Thinker that, “given the increasingly critical patient-care demand caused by the pandemic, and the staffing challenges faced by hospitals in Chicago and across the country, the University of Chicago Medical Center (UCMC) has decided not to introduce additional COVID-19 vaccine mandates at this time for UCMC employees and clinically active BSD faculty and staff.”