Online courses, COVID recalls in spring 2022
A new year and the new strain of the coronavirus resurrect problems familiar to millions of students across the country. Most undergraduates are about to start a new semester in the next few days or weeks, and colleges are again rapidly changing their day-to-day operations as the the omicron variant goes ahead daily case files.
Residential universities can be particularly vulnerable to epidemics, especially at the start of the semester. Many students travel across the country or abroad to attend classes. Undergraduates tend to live in nearby neighborhoods with roommates – on or off campus – which can increase their likelihood of becoming infected with the coronavirus.
Some universities have already decided to offer the first weeks of the spring semester virtually. And those who offer an in-person start say digital instruction is always a possibility. In addition, some who had canceled COVID-19 precautions have reinstated these measures, such as the University of Alabama, which reintroduced its masking requirements.
Will the spring semester 2022 begin in person or online?
Some colleges plan to start their semester online. The list is growing and includes private and high level institutions such as Harvard University in Massachusetts, Stanford University in California and Georgetown University in Washington, DC, as well as many of the University of California campuses, University of Michigan, Jackson State University in Mississippi and the University of Hawaii campus.
Some universities, such as Howard in Washington, DC., and State of Tennessee, are delaying the start of their semester but plan to organize face-to-face classes when they resume. And some, including Louisiana State University, allow instructors to decide whether they want to start the semester by offering their courses remotely, in person, or in combination.
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Others, like Brunette college in Rhode Island, the University of California, Berkeley, and Pennsylvania State University plan to stick with their opening plans in person. the University of Florida It’s also sticking to its plans for an in-person semester, though the faculty union has asked the administration to offer the first few weeks of instruction digitally.
Some universities, however, may change their plans as the semester approaches, said Chris Marsicano, a professor at Davidson College, who heads the College Crisis Initiative to study how colleges are responding to the pandemic. About 10% of the 400 top universities the group surveyed plan to start online for the spring semester.
“Students should expect things to evolve and change as the pandemic changes,” he said. “It’s not like last fall, where just getting online could mean staying online forever. Everything indicates that any delay or remote start will be followed soon after by a return to normal operations.”
Universities say they plan to rely on mask requirements, vaccination campaigns and, in some cases, coronavirus testing to get students back to campuses.
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Will students need to be vaccinated? Will Colleges Need Boosters?
Most universities have encouraged their students to get the vaccine. But many, especially private colleges or those in the Blue States, had required proof of vaccination for students if they wanted to attend classes in person.
Institutions such as Princeton University in New Jersey, duke university in North Carolina, Oregon State University and the University of New Mexico require students to get their boosters towards the start of the semester. And New York Governor Kathy Hochul asked New York City and State Universities to require booster shots for students who wish to be on campus.
Marsicano said about a quarter of the schools his group reviewed have recall requirements in place. He said others were running booster clinics on their campuses to facilitate access to vaccines.
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It’s hard to need reminders right away, as some students may not be eligible for a third injection by the time the new semester begins. Students and families should frequently check with their universities for the necessary documents to provide proof of vaccination. Colorado State University, for example, had announced a booster requirement in late December, but was still working on a way for students to report receiving a third injection as early as early this week.
However, most universities have allowed medical and religious exemptions that would also apply to booster doses. Unvaccinated students are likely to face more coronavirus screenings than their vaccinated peers. Some colleges, like Ohio University Where Emory University in Georgia, will require all students to test for the coronavirus upon arrival on campus, regardless of their immunization status.
Universities are likely to change their course offerings in the coming weeks. Tuesday alone University of Cincinnati and the Queens University of Charlotte has announced plans to go virtual for the start of the semester.
Collaborators: Danielle Ivanov, Gainesville Sun; Molly Bohannon, Colorado; Natalie Pate, Journal of Statesmen; Keisha Rowe, The Clarion-Ledger