Responding to COVID-19
Updated Thursday, September 8, 2022
Updated Health Guidelines for Fall 2022
Dominican’s Incident Management & Assessment Team (IMAT) would like to provide a brief update on a few recently approved policies that go into effect at the start of the school year.
It is important to note that all the following decisions were made after comprehensive discussion among IMAT members and thorough deliberation with our partners at Rush University Medical Center and in accordance with current CDC guidelines.
Updated COVID-19 Guidelines
- The university’s vaccination requirement will remain in place for all students, faculty and staff.
- Though mandated, the university will no longer collect and store staff and faculty vaccination cards.
- Students, faculty, and staff with an approved exemption will no longer be required to undergo weekly surveillance testing as part of our COVID-19 mitigation measures.
- Dominican University will continue to align with masking guidelines from the CDC. We recommend that masks be worn in indoor spaces throughout campus, particularly in situations where distancing is not possible and when community transmission levels are elevated. Additionally, the university encourages members of our community to wear masks if that increases their level of comfort on campus.
For the health and safety of all, and in accordance with guidance from the Cook County Department of Public Health, we will continue to monitor the recommendations of the CDC, and as situations change, we will re-evaluate our requirements.
We ask that as a community, we continue to respect and support the needs of others during this time. We will remain committed to treating everyone in our campus community with fairness, kindness and respect as we all collectively uphold the Caritas Commitment.*
- The university will continue to offer PCR and antigen testing through our Wellness Center; surveillance testing will no longer be offered.
- We will continue our contract tracing measures but will simplify our process to focus only on individuals who test positive as opposed to exposures to the virus.
- Our plans directly align with the latest guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which was updated Thursday, Aug. 11.
- Updated CDC guidance states, among other recommendations, that individuals exposed to COVID-19 no longer need to quarantine. The agency’s updated guidance can be found here.
- Guests will be allowed in the residence halls following the guest policy.
- Students living in the residence halls who test positive for COVID-19 will be required to isolate off campus if they live within a 200-mile radius. We will allow students to test out of isolation on the fifth day after a confirmed case of COVID-19 and move back into their residence on the sixth day given that their symptoms have subsided and that they do not have a roommate.
IMAT is paying close attention to the evolving spread of the Monkeypox virus. Earlier this month, Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker and the Illinois Department of Public Health declared the current outbreak a public health emergency in the state.
Dr. John Segreti, lead epidemiologist at Rush Hospital, briefed IMAT on the current Monkeypox outbreak while detailing the nature of the virus during its most recent meeting.
Monkeypox is a viral illness transmitted through close contact with rash, lesions, body fluids, and/or contaminated materials from an infected person or animal.
The Monkeypox virus is “not nearly as easily spread as COVID-19,” according to Dr. Segreti, who also noted that the virus is difficult to transmit. The current mortality rate of the virus is “extremely low,” per Dr. Segreti. As of this communication, there have been zero deaths in the United States related to the virus.
Additionally, at this time, there are no reported cases of Monkeypox at Dominican University.
Testing for the virus is readily available both at the local and state level. Treatment for the virus, including an effective and safe vaccine and additional medications, is also available. Approximately 20 sites in the Chicago area are currently administering the Monkeypox vaccine.
IMAT will continue to thoroughly monitor updates from the CDC and IDPH to ensure that all necessary plans are in place to support our students, staff and faculty members as we navigate this most recent public health concern.
Thank you, as always, for your understanding and support. Please feel free to reach out with any questions or concerns you may have.
Incident Management & Assessment Team (IMAT)
*Content updated by IMAT on Friday, August 26, 2022.
Updated Wednesday, August 24, 2022
Student Loan Repayment Pause Extended Through December 31, 2022
On August 24, 2022, the U.S. Department of Education (ED) extended the student loan payment pause through December 31, 2022.
The pause includes the following relief measures for eligible loans:
- A suspension of loan payments
- A 0% interest rate
- Stopped collections on defaulted loans
They have also announced a plan to forgive student loan debt. Learn about the details here: The Biden-Harris Administration's Student Debt Relief Plan Explained.
Updated Tuesday, June 7, 2022
The University will be using a new platform to track COVID-19 cases on campus. We will no longer use the #CampusClear app and, instead, all positive cases, and exposures must be submitted using this COVID tracker link.
We will continue to use this data to monitor campus infection rates to ensure the community stays safe. Thanks in advance for your cooperation.
Updated Thursday, March 3, 2022
In accordance with updated masking guidelines from Gov. Pritzker and the Illinois Department of Public Health, Dominican University will no longer require face masks be worn indoors. While masks will no longer be mandated at Dominican, the university recommends face coverings be worn indoors. Faculty may require students to continue wearing masks inside on-campus class locations, such as in some labs where students are working in close proximity to each other. Faculty may work directly with Deans to coordinate masking within their classroom or lab space.
Masking will continue to be required in the university’s Wellness Center as well as the Goedert Center.
Several other key mitigation measures will remain in place at the university, including the use of the #CampusClear reporting system and our vaccination requirements. Our testing and quarantine requirements will also continue. Additionally, we encourage the campus community to continue diligence with reporting positive tests and symptoms through #CampusClear.
Updated Wednesday, January 5, 2022
Student Loan Repayment Pause Extended Through May 1, 2022
On Dec. 22, 2021, the U.S. Department of Education (ED) extended the student loan payment pause through May 1, 2022.
The pause includes the following relief measures for eligible loans:
- a suspension of loan payments
- a 0% interest rate
- stopped collections on defaulted loans
Learn more about the Student Loan Repayment Restart (link opens in new window).
Updated Wednesday, August 4, 2021
Keeping our campus community safe
Face coverings required inside all university buildings
Consistent with updated guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Governor Pritzker’s Executive Order, Dominican University will require all students, faculty, staff and visitors to wear face coverings inside all university buildings regardless of their vaccination status.
This change, which we hope will be temporary, is in response to the CDC’s recent recommendation that even fully vaccinated people wear a mask in public indoor settings in areas of substantial or high transmission. Though Dominican’s COVID-mitigation strategies have been effective, Cook County is now experiencing a substantial level of community transmission.
Updated indoor face covering requirement
- All faculty, staff, students and visitors must wear a face covering in indoor university spaces regardless of their vaccination status.
- Individuals who are not fully vaccinated must wear face coverings in any indoor or outdoor public space on campus.
- For all individuals, a face covering does not need to be worn while eating or drinking or when alone in a private space, such as an office or room.
- Exceptions will be made for those who cannot tolerate a mask because of a medical condition or disability.
- These changes are limited to face coverings; there are no changes to social distancing guidelines, capacity limits or planning for face-to-face classes and programming this fall.
We are continuing to monitor guidance and will communicate changes as decisions are made.
As a reminder, our previously announced COVID-19 vaccine requirement for faculty, staff and students remains in effect. Vaccines are our best means of ensuring the safety and well-being of our campus community while expanding the face-to-face learning experience this fall.
We understand this return to masking is frustrating, but we are confident that taking these measures now will allow us to relax restrictions as soon as conditions in our surrounding communities allow.
Updated May 14, 2021
COVID-19 vaccine required for all students, faculty and staff
As vaccine supplies and access increase, Dominican University will require students, faculty and staff to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 before the start of the fall 2021 semester. This applies at both the undergraduate and graduate levels to anyone who intends to be on campus for any period of time.
Vaccines have proven safe and effective, and are a critical tool in stopping the COVID-19 pandemic. Requiring vaccination is the best means of ensuring the safety and well-being of our campus community while expanding the face-to-face learning experience this fall.
We understand that some members of our community may not be able to take the vaccine, including for medical and religious reasons, and exemptions on those grounds will be considered. Learn more.
To learn more about our vaccine requirement, including the deadline for vaccination and how to provide vaccination status, please read our full vaccine requirement page and visit our FAQs. Your safety and the safety of our entire community is our number one priority, and we look forward to an exciting fall semester that is engaging and dynamic.
Planning for an expanded face-to-face experience this fall
Dominican University is planning for an expansion of face-to-face learning this fall as a result of robust COVID-19 testing and other campus mitigation efforts, including our students’ strong commitment to safety, that have successfully prevented community spread over the past year.
Barring major changes in the current trajectory of the pandemic, we fully intend to offer a majority of classes on campus this fall. And we’re confident we can do so safely. Nearly half our classes are currently in-person or hybrid and we’ve had zero major outbreaks of COVID-19 to date.
Fall 2021 will be more than just business as usual
If the pandemic taught us anything, it’s that large-scale disruption comes with opportunities for fresh approaches. So we’re capitalizing on an extraordinary year of innovation by optimizing courses specifically for the formats that best suit each program and produce the strongest learning outcomes. The feedback from current students has been overwhelmingly positive—in fact, recent surveys show students are more satisfied with professors' commitment to their academic success now than pre-pandemic.
We're also expanding on-site and remote support services that have made us a model for student success. We’re building upon creative approaches to physical spaces like our new Learning Commons, home to the WeatherTech Innovation Lab. And we’ve permanently expanded our library’s digital offerings, giving students access to outstanding resources whenever and wherever they need them.
Here are a few of the exciting developments you can expect this fall:
- A majority of classes face-to-face or in hybrid formats, but also a mix of modalities to better suit specific programs and students’ desire for flexibility
- Online courses tailored specifically for the screen to ensure you’re engaged and connected to the curriculum and your classmates—no matter where you study
- Higher residence hall occupancy with more living learning communities grouped by interest
- Even more scholarships, on-campus jobs and leadership opportunities
- Expanded access to the Learning Commons and creative spaces like our WeatherTech Innovation Lab and media center
- More innovations in our already outstanding career development program
- A full athletics schedule
- A tuition freeze that will keep costs the same as this year
Continued commitment to the health of our community
Recognizing that the pandemic is constantly evolving, Dominican continues to hold community safety as its first priority. In consultation with our long-term partner, Rush University Medical Center, we’re developing the details of our fall semester plan in alignment with the recommendations of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Illinois Department of Public Health, the Illinois Board of Higher Education and Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker’s Restore Illinois Plan.
Here’s a look at how we’ve kept cases low:
- Our students, faculty and staff use the #CampusClear app daily for monitoring symptoms, reporting testing outcomes, and contact tracing.
- Dominican community members sign and uphold our Caritas Commitment, committing to follow the strong protocols in place to ensure their fellow Stars’ safety, including mask-wearing, distancing, preventative hygiene and more.
- We’ve expanded testing as one of the inaugural members of the SHIELD Illinois testing program. This allows us to offer the saliva-based test, which the University of Illinois has been using on its campus, and to produce faster results than the nasal tests.
- We upgraded HVAC operations and equipment to improve air flow and quality and added thermographic scanners at each of our key entrances for additional monitoring.
We continue to meet biweekly with experts from Rush University Medical Center to review prevalence data on campus and in the community and will adjust our approach as needed. The Dominican University COVID-19 Tracking dashboard is updated on a weekly basis and published by 5 p.m. every Friday, offering a view of cases on campus. We will provide more details as they develop.