Americans have been witnessing the impact of COVID-19's Omicron variant in their daily lives over the last few days. We recognize that change is a constant in this pandemic environment, and we understand that returning to in-person classes immediately after winter break is not prudent.
The threat of the omicron variant comes as a shock to schools that were hoping to ease up on safety precautions this spring. Many are now warning students to brace themselves for another term of masking, testing, and, in extreme cases, social life restrictions.
Syracuse University's in-person classes will begin on January 24. Given the sharp increase in COVID cases, the rapid spread of the omicron variant, and public health officials' warnings that the first three weeks of January will be the most difficult of this surge, the University has decided to postpone the start of the spring semester by one week.
This semester, however, we will have booster shots that have been proven to be both safe and effective. Vaccinations were critical to our ability to enjoy a full-fledged in-person fall semester. Booster shots will be essential in order to maintain the same experience in the spring semester. It should be required by the start of the new semester, or as soon as you are eligible, as we announced earlier this month. We know that new cases of COVID will continue to emerge.
Despite the fact that Covid-19 cases are on the rise across the country, Harvard will hold an in-person spring semester. Classes are set to begin on January 24.
The University announced Tuesday that affiliates must receive booster shots by Jan. 31, but that the spring semester will go on as planned despite the fast-spreading Omicron variant. The vaccine's protection provided by widespread vaccination reduces the risk of serious illness.
"Although the transmissibility of Omicron presents new challenges," the administrators wrote, "we are confident that by minimizing contact, masking, distancing, and testing on a regular basis, we can maintain a safe academic, research, and work environment for everyone." For the first two weeks of the semester, all on-campus dining will be limited to "grab-and-go" options, and the size of indoor gatherings will be limited.