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Necessary Course Corrections to Lower Positivity Rates On Campus

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University of Denver

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  • We have seen an increase of positive COVID-19 cases on campus—almost entirely variant versions of the virus.
  • To combat this increase, we are modifying our procedures and requirements, including stricter rules on required testing, isolation and quarantine. Details below.
  • If we are not able to reverse this trend, we will need to move to Alert Level Yellow before this weekend, which impacts the scale and type of events that may be held on campus, among other considerations.
  • We continue to offer vaccination events on campus, with a special focus on vaccinating our residential student population, on-campus, student-facing faculty and staff and underserved populations in Denver.

Dear DU students, staff and faculty,

Unfortunately, as we predicted might happen due to travel, we are experiencing an uptick in COVID-19 cases on campus following spring break. We need to take immediate steps to course correct so our caseload doesn’t grow further. If we aren’t able to stem the uptick in cases, we will need to move to Alert Level Yellow by Friday which impacts the size and nature of events, among other considerations.

The new cases are almost entirely variants. Although our overall positivity rate (<3%) is still consistent with the blue alert level, we are immediately modifying our protocols to prevent further spread. If we can resume a lower positivity rate in the next two weeks, we will return to looser restrictions. It is especially critical that everyone socially distance, wear a face covering and refrain from social events that increase risk. We appreciate your cooperation.


  1. Please test regularly and on schedule. Starting immediately, failure to test within 48 hours of your expected test date will result in suspension of access to campus without a grace period. Your next two required testing dates can be found on “Campus Access Status” on the homepage of PioneerWeb. As a reminder, currently, vaccination does not exempt individuals from testing.
  2. All residential students who test positive via saliva or nasal swab will now be moved to Hilltop or another isolation space. Because there are at least four variants, as well as the original COVID-19 virus, present on campus, every student in isolation will be individually housed. Unfortunately, for the time being, socializing in Hilltop will not be allowed in order to mitigate the spread of the variants.
  3. Close contacts of individuals who test positive for variants, or are suspected to be positive for variants, are required to quarantine for a full 14 days. Because nearly all cases on campus are variants, nearly everyone will need to quarantine for a full 14-day quarantine. As a reminder, full vaccination (two weeks past the final dose) exempts individuals from quarantine.
  4. Anyone who wishes to attend an approved DU event will be required to have a negative test result collected 24 hours prior to the start of the event. We will work with event leaders to coordinate this process.
  5. Fraternity and Sorority Life chapter members will now be required to adhere to twice-a-week testing until further notice.


To date, the University of Denver, in partnership with National Jewish Health, has given over 15,000 doses of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine on campus. DU staff and student volunteers have helped schedule 6,267 appointments and supported vaccine access to those without ready access to online scheduling.

We continue to move as quickly as possible with vaccinations for our community given our access to vaccines. We are hosting a large first-dose Pfizer vaccine event on Sunday, April 11. We will also host a smaller Johnson & Johnson/Janssen vaccine event on Tuesday, April 13.

After this week, 70% of DU personnel with current campus access will have either been vaccinated or have registered for a vaccination. Additionally, all residential students and students required to test at high frequency with current campus clearance have been offered vaccination appointments for the April 11 or 13 events, as have all students, faculty, and staff who indicated eligibility for priority vaccination due to medical conditions, age, or off-campus jobs or internships.

Using a lottery system, we are also offering appointments to non-residential students with campus clearance and to faculty, students and staff not currently cleared for campus. All events continue to include community outreach and vaccination of non-DU affiliates. We are deeply dedicated to the proposition that DU will be a vaccination location for underserved populations.

We appreciate that the extended need for vigilance is wearing and difficult to maintain. With our aggressive vaccination schedule and other safety measures, we should be able to return to more normal conditions soon, perhaps even within spring term if we can successfully keep our positivity rate low. As always, the COVID-19 Response Team is available for questions, suggestions and concerns at, or 303-656-7137.

We deeply appreciate your efforts to keep our community and the wider Denver community safe.

Sarah Watamura
COVID Response Coordinator