The University of Delaware will require all spring students to be vaccinated with a booster shot by Jan. 24 whether they are on campus, online or in a blended schedule.
In an email announcement to students Thursday, the school credited the fact that 90% of the campus had been vaccinated with keeping the number of new cases and the rate of positive tests low.
“However, the pandemic continues to affect our community — especially through the recent emergence of the widespread Delta variant and the more-contagious Omicron variant — and research shows that the effectiveness of the initial vaccine doses wanes over time,” it said.
The notice came as other colleges around the country are cancelling classes and moving exams online because they have had so many new COVID-19 cases in recent weeks, many of them the Omicron variety.
Delaware health officials say no cases of Omicron have been found in Delaware yet, but it’s been found in surrounding states.
The UD email pointed out that the students who were vaccinated for fall semester are likely eligible for boosters and should get them.
Requiring all students — not just those who wanted to be on campus and in classrooms — to be vaccinated and boosted is new. In the fall, only those on campus had to be, unless they had some kind of medical or religious reason not to be.
Students can take any vaccine booster, the school pointed out, which follows federal health guidelines.
They must submit their updated vaccine card to the UD Health Portal before the start of the spring semester, which starts Feb. 7.
Students who are not eligible before Jan. 24 must receive a booster as soon as they are and will have to submit an updated vaccine card, the school’s email said.
Those with exemptions for vaccination must resume weekly COVID-19 PCR testing at one of the on-campus testing locations beginning Jan. 4. The school did 100,000 COVID-19 tests during fall semester, President Dennis Assanis told the UD Board of Trustees this week.
For spring semester, the student must have weekly COVID-19 PCR testing at one of the on-campus locations beginning Feb. 7.
The University also encourages all students to get tested for COVID-19 before and after traveling for the holiday break.
All travelers boarding a flight from a foreign country to the United States are required to provide proof of a negative COVID-19 viral test no more than one day before air travel.
UD will end asymptomatic testing on campus Monday, Dec. 20. for the holiday break. From Jan. 4 through Feb. 3, asymptomatic testing will be available Tuesdays and Thursdays from 9 a.m. to noon at Harker ISE Lab and 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Pencader Dining Hall.
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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