STANFORD (CBS SF) – Amid concerns about the COVID-19 omicron variant, Stanford University announced Thursday that the first two weeks of classes in the Winter 2022 quarter will be conducted online and that the schools will require student to receive booster shots.
"We've all been watching in recent days as COVID-19 cases have increased in some parts of the country, and as other universities have seen surges on their campuses," university provost Persis Dell and associate vice provost Russell Farr said in a letter to students.
"The current uncertainty around Omicron poses a number of logistical challenges for the start of in-person classes, particularly if students either test positive over the break and cannot travel back to campus on time, or test positive upon arrival and need to isolate," they went on to say.
Under the plan, classes would be held online starting January 3, with in-person learning resuming January 18, after the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday.
Officials said starting the quarter online would "support academic continuity and to provide as much predictability as we can based on what we have seen on recent days."
University officials stressed that the campus would remain open. They added that students did not need to change their post-holiday travel plans and that students would be welcome to on-campus housing if they are healthy.
Stanford also announced that students would be required to provide documentation of receiving a booster dose of vaccine by January 31, unless they have a medical or religious accommodation.
"We anticipate this two-week period of online instruction will allow students to settle in, get booster doses and navigate any health issues without the concern of missing the beginning of classes," officials said.
The university previously announced that students returning over the New Year's holiday would be required to take a university-provided rapid COVID-19 test upon arrival and two additional tests during their first week on campus. Gatherings during the first two weeks of the quarter are also limited.
At the beginning of the school year, the university required vaccination to attend in-person classes and weekly COVID-19 testing of students, regardless of vaccination status.
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