Rise in COVID Cases Prompt Colleges to Switch to Virtual Classes
Non-academic events and other in-person activities are also being cancelled due to the recent spike in COVID cases on campuses.
With COVID cases and hospitalizations again rising in the U.S., more and more universities, particularly those in the Northeast, are switching from in-person classes to virtual ones. The schools are also halting sporting events, indoor dining and other in-person activities.
This week, New York University announced that it is encouraging final exams be changed to remote/online format. It also cancelled all discretionary, non-essential, non-academic gatherings and events. Study groups must now meet online.
Princeton announced on Wednesday that its undergraduate final exams would be in remote format. It also cancelled or postponed all indoor gatherings where masks can’t be worn.
On Tuesday, Cornell University’s Ithaca campus announced that all final exams would be given online rather than in person. All undergrad activities and university-sponsored events were cancelled, as was the recognition ceremony scheduled for Saturday for December graduates.
The move was prompted by 469 active student COVID cases, reports NPR. On Tuesday, the school reported 903 cases among students between December 7-13, reports CNN. Many of those were Omicron in fully vaccinated individuals.
Many schools are switching their dining facilities to grab-and-go or are encouraging students not to eat together.
On Thursday, Harvard moved all its undergraduate dining halls exclusively to grab-and-go services and urged students not to congregate in eating areas, reports the Harvard Crimson. Last week the school reported 138 new COVID cases and more than 50 new cases each day so far this week.
Last week Middlebury College in Vermont switched from in-person to online instruction for the remainder of winter, and the University of Pennsylvania banned all indoor, end-of-the-year social events.
Many colleges are now requiring students and employees receive COVID booster shots. Those campuses include Syracuse, Boston University, Notre Dame, the University of New Mexico, UMass Amherst, Boston College and Northeastern, among others.
Public health experts say that boosters are the best way to fight the Omicron variant of the coronavirus, which appears to be much more transmissible than previous COVID variants.