California colleges order boosters or online courses to ease COVID surge
Many students and faculty in the region, from Santa Cruz to Palo Alto, will resume online teaching after the holidays and will have to scramble to get booster shots after officials at several universities announced the measures in response to concerns concerns about the spread of Variant omicron COVID-19 on campuses.
Schools at the University of California on the quarter system are postponing returns to campus until next month and requiring booster shots. California State University needs boosters at 23 campuses across the state. And other local private schools such as Stanford and Santa Clara University are either proceeding with similar temporary campus closures or implementing recall mandates.
The shutdowns and vaccine recall mandates are the latest action by local leaders in response to the omicron variant, which has seen an almost 3-fold increase in just one week, helping to fuel a recent rise in the total number of cases. of COVID-19.
On Thursday, Stanford University became one of the first local universities to postpone in-person classes for the start of the next winter term. The university said it will require members of the school community to receive a booster shot as similar requirements unfold across California.
In a letter to the campus community, Stanford University President Persis Drell and Vice Provost for Environmental Health and Safety Russell Furr said the pivot to online teaching was motivated by uncertainty regarding the omicron variant and to “minimize disruption to student classes and also provide as much predictability as possible for students and instructors.”
The university’s decision is no longer a local or statewide outlier.
Several UC schools across the state announced on Tuesday that they would launch remote classes for at least two weeks in January. UC Berkeley operates on a semester system and plans to continue in-person when classes resume in mid-January.
On Tuesday, University of California President Michael V. Drake wrote to school chancellors granting them the discretion to devise their own plans to mitigate the risks of omicron and urging them to encourage booster shots on all campus. UC Davis announced that it requires eligible staff and students to obtain a recall by Jan. 31 or provide proof of exemption. The school will hold remote lessons the first week to allow students and staff to get the shot.
Other universities are using recall requirements rather than an immediate call for online learning as a way to mitigate the spread on their respective campuses.
California State University officials announced Wednesday that all faculty, staff and students accessing university facilities or programs will be required to receive a booster shot for the spring semester. The school community will have until February 28 or six months after the initial full vaccination to meet the requirement. Faculty represented by unions will not be subject to the recall requirement until the CSU concludes its process of meeting and consulting with those unions, according to a statement from the university.
San Jose State University, San Francisco State University and other schools across California will continue to offer in-person learning for those who meet the requirements.
“Implementing the recall requirement now will help mitigate the potential spread of the variant on campuses as they repopulate in January after the winter break,” wrote the chancellor of the State University of California, Joseph Castro, in a press release.
Schools such as SF State hope to keep campuses open.
“We’re still planning a semester with a mix of in-person and remote experiences that were designed based on a survey of student needs and wants for the spring semester,” wrote Kent Bravo, gatekeeper. word of the SFSU, in an e-mail.
Santa Clara University has a similar plan.
Classes at the university will resume in person on January 3 as scheduled, but professors will have the option of offering some classes online or in a hybrid format for the first week of the winter term, Deepa Arora, spokesperson for university, wrote in an email. The university will require COVID-19 booster shots “as soon as students are eligible for them,” and all students must get tested twice during the first week of the winter term, Arora said.
Other schools such as Holy Names University in Oakland, where most courses are already online, do not make course adjustments. The university – like many others – required proof of vaccination from students enrolling in on-campus or hybrid courses, spokeswoman Sonia Caltvedt said.
Delays in opening schools are arousing some opposition. Gov. Gavin Newsom, various education groups and teachers’ unions, a local UCSF infectious disease professor and some students are calling for schools to return as planned.
Dr Monica Gandhi, professor of infectious diseases at the University of California, San Francisco, said while she thinks most people will need a booster shot, vaccinated children and students are at lower risk of catch the virus or become seriously ill, and schools should remain open at this stage of the pandemic.
“The reason we reopened was because there were so many mental health effects and concerns that children were experiencing learning loss,” Gandhi said.
In a statement Wednesday, Governor Newsom and state education officials wrote in support of keeping schools open across the state, praising how school communities “have worked tirelessly to keep schools and people safe.”
“California schools were opened because of, not in spite of, our safety priority. As we approach the new year, we reaffirm our shared commitment to each other, to our parents and to our students: to protect each other and keep our classrooms open,” the statement read.