Winterfest Friend Circle Pilot

This pilot program is exclusively for application to select Winterfest 2021 initiatives. Its application for other programs, activities, or groups will be assessed throughout Winterfest and potentially available for other activities in the future.

For the purposes of this pilot program limited to approved Winterfest 2021 initiatives – as an option to enable Winterfest participants to collaborate on several approved material projects in controlled environments – a Winterfest Friend Circle includes up to five (5) up-close (within 6 feet) friends who agree to be exclusive contacts – meaning they agree not to risk close contacts outside of their Winterfest Friend Circle for the duration of the Winter and Spring Quarters, or until the pandemic crisis has ended.

Best Practices of a Winterfest Friend Circle:

  • Consider Winterfest Friend Circle members who live in your housing environment and who you will naturally be around.
  • Consider Winterfest Friend Circle members who are enrolled in the Mandatory or Voluntary Surveillance Testing Programs.
  • Choose Winterfest Friend Circle members who share your understanding of the scientific facts underlying COVID-19, and practice high standards in safety protocols.
  • If you have a significant other who you intend to see in person during the Winter or Spring quarter, they should be included in your Winterfest Friend Circle (or otherwise you cannot have close contact with them).
  • If you have an open spot in your Winterfest Friend Circle of five, consider inviting someone you trust who would benefit from increased engagement in student life.
  • Compose your Winterfest Friend Circle before returning for Winter Quarter, or very soon as you arrive.
  • Stay vigilant in handwashing, face covering, and social distancing.  Face coverings/masks are required at all times and for all participants in Winterfest activities, including among those in a Winterfest Friend Circle.
  • Consider outdoor venues for convening your Winterfest Friend Circle.
  • Make accommodations for any member to participate virtually if they choose.
  • While your in-person Winterfest Friend Circle is exclusive, make an effort to expand your virtual friend network by interacting online with others and a diverse group of students across the University.  There are a multitude of virtual engagement opportunities listed on the Center for Leadership and Involvement website
  • While nurturing your own wellbeing through virtual engagement, consider helping others who may be more isolated or not part of a Winterfest Friend Circle by engaging with them virtually on a regular basis. 
  • Leverage your Winterfest Friend Circle to enroll in UChicago Winterfest activities.  Masks are always required in University-sponsored activities.

Symptoms, Close Contacts and Testing:

  • Avoid any interaction if you have symptoms, have tested positive for COVID-19 or have been a close contact of someone symptomatic or who has tested positive for COVID-19.  Follow the University’s Exposure Protocol before reengaging with the group in-person.
  • If a Winterfest Friend Circle member reports symptoms or a positive test result for COVID-19, or breaks the UChicago Health Pact or the exclusivity of your circle through close contact with others, stop convening your Winterfest Friend Circle and support each other virtually until affected member(s) have completed the isolation protocols outlined in the University’s Exposure Protocol
  • Be sure to mention that you are in a Winterfest Friend Circle to any contact tracers (Friend Circle members are equivalent to Household Contacts) and inform your Winterfest Friend Circle of close contacts outside the Circle. To reiterate, if a member of your Winterfest Friend Circle becomes a close contact of someone outside the Circle, the whole Winterfest Friend Circle should stop meeting until exposure protocols timing (usually 7-10 days) has passed without any reports of symptoms or infection among members.
  • A close contact is defined by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Chicago Department of Public Health as any individual who has been within 6 feet of an infected person for a cumulative total of 15 minutes or more over a 24-hour period. 

Avoid as a Winterfest Friend Circle:

  • Avoid multiple circles.  Individuals must choose one Winterfest Friend Circle of up to five (5) persons and stick with it across activities throughout Winter and Spring.
  • Avoid mixing students/friends who live on campus with those who live off-campus, as mixing populations presents significant risk.

Changing Friends in the Circle:

  • If wanting to add a new person to your Winterfest Friend Circle, new members must have had no close contacts for 7 days before joining.
  • If wanting to form a new Winterfest Friend Circle, everyone in the new Circle needs to refrain from participation in other Winterfest Friend Circles and close contacts for 7 days before convening the new Circle.
  • Stay in touch virtually with all members who depart the Circle.