New COVID policies at 6 major universities, 1 community college this summer |


While some are easing their policies, case increases are prompting others to stick to protocols until the fall.

UNIVERSITY OF ILLINOIS/FRED ZWICKY

As the fallout from omicron keeps the number of positive COVID-19 cases high across the country, universities are unveiling plans for much quieter summer sessions, some with mitigation strategies still in play. place and others with fewer protocols than they had in the spring.

Monday, Syracuse University began its transition to the “endemic” phase of campus management over the next two months, according to a letter to its community from President J. Michael Haynie. It’s suspending all on-campus testing, halting updates to its COVID-19 dashboard, and eliminating its COVID project management office. Syracuse is also allowing staff to travel again to serve the university, but with caution for those who do.

“Faculty and staff travelers are strongly encouraged to anticipate the possibility of contracting COVID-19 and the need to self-isolate with consequent travel disruptions,” he wrote. “Departments or units sponsoring student travel must have a plan to accommodate any student required to self-isolate or quarantine during travel and be prepared to support the traveler during any confinement.”

At +9%, New York State is one of the few where positive cases are not in at least double digits. However, the BA.2.12 variant and others have pushed numbers up again in the Northeast, with neighboring Pennsylvania and Connecticut up 158% and 130%, respectively, in the past two weeks. Hospitalizations are also up more than 30% in both states. Across the country, cases have increased by more than 50% and the United States has just passed the grim milestone of one million deaths from COVID-19.

Yet that hasn’t stopped institutions from holding grand opening ceremonies in recent weeks, even in areas where COVID is on the rise, using outdoor venues to keep them as safe as possible, even in stifling conditions. tulane university pulled off its big outdoor ceremony with speaker Ken Jeong this weekend, even though Louisiana’s numbers were up 138%. Eastern Kentucky University held its start Friday (132% statewide increase in cases), with reports of a few students and guests requiring treatment due to the heat.


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Most universities are continuing, even with COVID in the air, and they plan to do the same in June, July, and part of August, with fewer protocols in place.

  • Like Syracuse, North Carolina State University is abandoning its COVID dashboard, stating that due to the amount of home testing performed and lack of reporting, “data tracking no longer provides a comprehensive view of the impact of COVID-19 on campus.”
  • The officials at University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign lifted masking requirements for face-to-face classes while limiting on-campus testing to one location, though they note fall strategies have not been determined. They said they would not be offering regular weekly updates on the campus’ COVID status during the summer. Western Illinois University has ended virtually all masking requirements except for those who are symptomatic and stopped daily email self-checks.
  • Missouri State University is also eliminating the majority of its COVID policies, including shutting down its COVID dashboard, masking, testing and back-to-sport, according to chairman Clif Smart. On June 30, employees will also no longer be able to take paid emergency leave for COVID-19, which gave full-time and part-time workers an additional eight days if they tested positive since early January. “Vaccines are readily available, hospitalization rates are much lower, and the medical community has more research and new tools to manage COVID-19,” Smart said.

Not all institutions are ready to abandon COVID security strategies. The two University of Hawaii system and the Contra Costa County Community College District in California say they will maintain their masking requirements throughout the summer. Hawaii’s decision came after meetings with public health officials, who noted the spike in cases on the islands, now up nearly 70% over the past 14 days. California’s state count, which can vary significantly by location, increased by 83% overall. In Contra Costa, they are up 114%.

Even with the decisions to mask or unmask, college campus leaders continue to encourage students, staff, and faculty to get vaccinated (including booster shots) before the summer and fall and to report to their establishments that they received them.

“We are working to ensure that as many members of our UI community as possible are fully immunized,” said Dr. Lana Dbeibo, Director of Immunization Initiatives for Indiana Universitythe medical response team said in a statement. “We know that 40-50% of people with COVID-19 who are able to shed the virus have no symptoms. This, along with the continued emergence of variants, makes it even more necessary that we all get vaccinated as soon as possible.

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