IBL News | New York
As the Omicron variant of COVID-19 spreads, colleges and universities now face the challenge of whether requiring booster shots and when to resume face-to-face learning. For college officials and millions of college students, these problems seem familiar. The pressing question is when to start the new semester, either the next few days or weeks.
Some institutions have already decided to start the first weeks of the semester virtually reinstating tough precaution measures.
The list includes Harvard University, Stanford University, Georgetown University, several of the University of California’s campuses, Michigan State University, Jackson State University in Mississippi, the University of Cincinnati, the Queen’s University of Charlotte, and the University of Hawaii’s campuses.
Regarding vaccination, most universities encouraged their students proof of inoculation.
Eight institutions in the University of California system that are operating remotely — Berkeley, Davis, Irvine, Los Angeles, Merced, Riverside, San Diego, and Santa Cruz — extended virtual classes to late January. Stanford University, Duke University, and Seattle University have announced delaying a return to in-person classrooms, as well.
In a message to the campus community, the President of Seattle University, Eduardo M. Peñalver, explained that remote learning would be extended through January 30.
He summarized the dominant thinking in higher education:
“Current projections suggest that the Omicron-driven wave will continue to grow rapidly before cresting over the next few weeks. While early research continues to indicate that the variant is less severe and results in milder illness compared to earlier variants, especially among vaccinated people, there is still a great deal of uncertainty.”
That uncertainty is affecting admission offices and visitor centers, too. Virtual tours seem to be the new norm for now.