US Universities are delaying the offline classrooms for the upcoming spring semester of 2022. Students are accustomed to the new norm of attending physical classes but now it appears that the transition to online learning will occur once more.
Universities and colleges around the United States are preparing for a shift to virtual classes once again as a result of the extremely infectious Omicron Covid-19 variety that is sweeping the country.
The Spring semester would be delayed, and any remaining in-person tests in the Fall term will be relocated online, stating Top universities and Ivy League institutions such as Princeton, Stanford, and Harvard University.
“We write to inform you that for the first three weeks of January we will take steps to reduce density on campus by moving much of our learning and work remotely,” a statement from Harvard reads. “It is prompted by the rise in Covid-19 cases locally and across the country, as well as the growing presence of the highly transmissible Omicron variant”.
Trinity University in Texas has rearranged its academic calendar to extend the winter vacation till the end of January. “We believe this will provide time for eligible faculty, staff, and students to receive booster shots and avoid having individuals return to campus during the peak of the surge,” the university elaborates on its website.
In addition to increasing online learning and changes to Spring term plans, the top 25 US institutions have also demanded booster injections for students and employees before they may return to campus. A few have criticized the move, claiming that institutions have gone too far.
“So students should absolutely have every right to make their own personal decision,” Ophelie Jackson, a spokesperson from College Reform, a conservative college news site, was quoted saying. “These young college students are not at that high risk compared to the older population, as we’ve seen.”
Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna, and Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen vaccines have all been approved for booster doses by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Blood samples collected a month later from those who received their booster dose indicate identical levels of omicron-neutralizing antibodies that were proven successful against previous versions, according to Pfizer.
Changes in vaccine regulations, semester planning, and travel restrictions cause holiday plans to be disrupted for overseas students.
Worried about probable border closures, international student centres at colleges have warned foreign students not to leave the country. International travel to the United States is still possible, providing that travellers complete immunization and testing criteria prior to departure. President Joe Biden has also lifted the travel ban imposed on eight countries in Southern Africa on Tuesday.
For universities that are postponing the start of the new semester, it is uncertain whether the shift to virtual classes will continue throughout the semester. With the outbreak of Covid-19 instances averaging more than 2,60,000 cases per day, students and authorities fear another mental health disaster.