Citing the significant increase in in COVID-19 cases caused by the Omicron variant, Delaware State University on Thursday said that it would delay the return to campus by two weeks and that students must be vaccinated and boosted to be on campus.
Classes will still begin on Jan. 10, but in a virtual environment, the school said in a press release.
Faculty and staff will be expected to get a booster as well, the school said in a press release.
“While COVID-19 continues to disrupt our normal business, the University’s nimble, science-based approach has served us well since the pandemic’s earliest days, keeping case counts low by using the best tools at our disposal, including required vaccination, mask wearing, regular testing, and contact-tracing protocols,” said Dr. Tony Allen, DSU’s president in a letter to students, staff and parents.
Allen said the core concerns are that the Omicron variant is durable, has very high penetration rates even for those who are fully vaccinated and spreads three to four times more quickly than other variants.
“Those who are fully vaccinated and have the booster are much less likely to contract the virus,” he said.
DSU’s move came as Delaware recorded 1,164 new cases of COVID-19 on Wednesday, according to the state’s dashboard. It was the highest daily total since the Jan. 6 total of 1,241.
“With the widespread availability of booster shots, the university is emphasizing to all students that they should get a booster shot as soon as possible,” said Dr. Michelle Fisher, associate vice president of Campus Health. “The booster does not provide maximum effectiveness until two weeks after it is administered, and the university wants its students as fully protected as possible before they arrive on campus at the beginning of the semester.”
The University is also making booster shots available on campus throughout January.
Unless students have University-approved religious or medical exceptions, those without booster-shot protection will not permitted on campus during the upcoming spring semester, Allen said in his letter.
The University will hold a open forum on Tuesday, Dec. 28 at 11 a.m. to answer questions and provide additional information. The forum will also be posted on the COVID landing page, and include a follow Q&A.
Betsy Price is a Wilmington freelance writer who has 40 years of experience, including 15 at The News Journal in Delaware.
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