Just as schools hoped to return to at least semi-normalcy, mask mandates have been extended, people have been asked to put a limitation on social events, and booster shots are being required. Omicron, the new variant of COVID-19, has lately been taking a large toll on the country. More people are wearing masks, getting tested often, and simply being more cautious.
In the face of both the Delta and Omicron variants, cases have shot up like never before. According to the CDC, as of January 12, 2022, the current 7-day moving average of daily new cases (782,766) increased 33.2% compared with the previous 7-day moving average (587,723). Locations such as New York, New Jersey, and Hawaii are experiencing over 20% increase in cases.
What’s more, a towering 90% of patients in hospitals with COVID are not vaccinated. Although 62% of the United States population is fully vaccinated, health authorities are pushing for more and more people to get the booster. The booster shot is important to protect individuals from the Omicron variant. While EHS is in-person, the increasing number of COVID transmission rates have prompted several colleges and universities to temporarily suspend on-campus learning.
The situation now seems indistinguishable to that of the fall of 2020, when schools were deciding whether to go remote or not. In 2020, students would arrive on campus and get tested forthright. After getting tested, all students would proceed to self-quarantine in their rooms for two weeks as an extra precaution before attending any activities or classes. Although a lot of colleges and universities were in person last school year, many were still online. Now, numerous colleges and universities have started to go remote again due to the increase of COVID cases across the country.
“while I want to provide reassurance that, to date, we have not seen severe illness in any of our infected students, we do have a role to play in reducing the spread of the disease in the broader community.”
For example, Cornell University shut down its campus and had students attend class virtually, which encouraged other universities to do the same. In total, Cornell has reported a whopping 930 positive COVID cases, which put the campus on Code Red. According to Coronavirus Updates, Cornell University President Martha E. Pollak states, “while I want to provide reassurance that, to date, we have not seen severe illness in any of our infected students, we do have a role to play in reducing the spread of the disease in the broader community.”
New York University (NYU) has also held classes, seminars, and student advising virtually since December 15th, 2021. The school has even canceled important events such as graduations, holiday parties, and athletic competitions due to the surging rates of new coronavirus cases in the local community.
“It’s not a cause for alarm, but it is a cause for concern, action, and appropriate actions.”
This decision was terribly upsetting to the students who have just recently come back to campus after a one year absence. However, the university’s provost, Katherine Fleming, declared, “It’s not a cause for alarm, but it is a cause for concern, action, and appropriate actions.” While the announcement upsetted many, NYU has high hopes for the fully in-person spring season to be safer than ever before.
Additionally, Princeton University took drastic measures such as moving December final exams online so students can remain home and safe, despite other universities not doing so. A number of other colleges and universities, including Stanford and DePaul, have already announced that they will delay starting the 2022 spring semester.
Countless colleges and universities are making an effort to try and keep their campuses open, but with a profusion of new COVID cases each day, it looks like more and more schools are going remote each week.