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Universities on Omicron: ‘shelter in place,’ travel ban, online classes, delays

They’re back to slowing the spread

The University of Pittsburgh will require its students to “shelter-in-place” when they return to campus Jan. 8. Georgetown University will be virtual through Jan. 30. Yale University has pushed back the start of its spring semester a week to Jan. 25, and it will also start online.

Princeton University has even issued something of a travel ban.

The recent Omicron surge has prompted college and university leaders to revamp their spring semester plans, citing the highly transmissible COVID variant as the reason.

“A University-wide shelter-in-place period will begin on Saturday, Jan. 8 on all campuses for students in University housing,” the University of Pittsburgh told students. “During the shelter-in-place period, students should only leave their rooms or apartments to attend classes, labs or clinicals in person.”

Fox News reports that at Princeton, “Beginning January 8 through mid-February, all undergraduate students who have returned to campus will not be permitted to travel outside of Mercer County or Plainsboro Township for personal reasons, except in extraordinary circumstances.”

Georgetown President John DeGioia stated in his announcement that students can delay moving in if they want. Prior to Jan. 31, in-person gatherings will also be limited with events being held virtually or outdoors.

“As we continue to monitor the trajectory of the pandemic, we will share any further updates to our plans as soon as they become available,” DeGioia stated.

At Yale, administrators state that they hope to begin in-person classes by Feb. 7.

NBC reports that Howard, Syracuse and several other universities have also all pushed back the start of the spring semester by roughly a week, adding that while “some public health experts said omicron might result in fewer hospitalizations, especially in vaccinated people, the new variant is responsible for a sudden increase in infections.”

At Michigan State, the spring semester will be online for at least the first three weeks.

“I realize that students prefer to be in person, and so do I. But it is important that we do so in a safe manner,” President Samuel Stanley stated in an announcement to the campus. “Starting the semester remotely and de-densifying campus in the coming weeks can be a solution to slowing the spread of the virus.”

The measures come despite the fact that many colleges and universities have mandated not only COVID vaccines, but also booster shots. Many also continue to require masks.

In fact, at Wake Forest University, students were informed Dec. 29 that during campus events, “food and drink must be served and consumed outdoors to avoid removing masks indoors.”

MORE: Growing number of universities require students get COVID booster shot

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About the Author
Fix Editor
Jennifer Kabbany is editor-in-chief of The College Fix.