Spring break guidance from UIC contact tracing

While the 2021-2022 holiday season brought the greatest number of COVID-19 cases in Chicago and at UIC since the beginning of the pandemic, the past few weeks have brought a welcome respite as cases, hospitalizations and positivity have decreased dramatically.

Despite these encouraging changes, it is important to remember that travel and social gatherings near holidays and breaks have contributed to increased infections on our campus and across the country. In 2021, the city of Chicago reported a spike in the number of cases and in positivity during March and April, likely attributed to the record number of people who traveled at that time since the pandemic had begun. Spring vacations even led to an outbreak of COVID-19 at one of Chicago’s universities, primarily among unvaccinated undergraduate students who traveled during break.

With spring break around the corner, the UIC Contact Tracing and Epidemiology Program reminds you of the following:

  • Travel: If you choose to travel, be sure to familiarize yourself with the COVID-19 restrictions at your destination. You should also be sure to follow local and campus guidance upon return.
    • We recommend reporting any travel to our team 24-48 hours prior to returning to Illinois. Our team can provide you with tailored public health guidance based on your vaccination status and destination.
    • General travel recommendations can also be found on our website.
    • For more information on staying safe during spring break travel, visit this CDC page.
  • Vaccination: Get vaccinated if you are not already. If you are eligible for the booster vaccine, we strongly recommend that you schedule it now.
    • If traveling, you should complete a COVID-19 vaccination series at least two weeks before travel for maximal protection.
  • Masking: Although indoor mask mandates are ending in the U.S. in all 50 states by the end of the month, we encourage you to wear a mask that is adequately thick, well-fitted, and covers your nose, mouth and chin. Other considerations for maximizing protection include wearing a disposable mask under a cloth mask (double masking).
    • Masking is especially important for those who are not vaccinated, up to date on their COVID-19 vaccinations, or at high risk for severe COVID-19 disease.
    • Masking continues to be recommended by the CDC for all individuals, regardless of vaccination status, in community levels designated as high risk. It is also recommended that individuals at high risk for severe illness and those who have household or social contacts at high risk for severe illness wear masks in medium risk.
    • Please remember that the federal government still requires mask wearing while in airports, train stations, bus stations and other public transportation conveyances. We recommend wearing a mask while using other forms of transport, like ride shares.
  • Testing: You should get tested before a gathering. Testing is especially important when multiple households are gathering, and even more important when people are from different states or countries.
    • While PCR tests are most reliable, COVID-19 self-tests are easy to use, produce rapid results, and can be found in many pharmacies and online.
    • COVID-19 self-tests allow for testing at home and can produce rapid results; however, repeat testing is desirable if you will be attending a gathering.
      • If you test positive using a COVID-19 self-test, please be sure to report to us. Please note that UIC does not currently accept at-home tests as proof of infection and repeat confirmatory testing (lab-based PCR) will be advised.
    • Campus saliva testing is quick, convenient and no appointment is required. Please be sure to check the saliva testing website for hours of operation during break.

Please report to us if you develop symptoms of COVID-19, test positive, or have a known exposure to a confirmed or suspected COVID-positive individual. Let’s work together to keep your friends, loved ones and our UIC community safe. We wish you a safe and relaxing spring break.


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