California Colleges Order Boosters or Online Courses to Mitigate COVID Outbreak

Many students and faculty in the area, from Santa Cruz to Palo Alto, will return to 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 the growing concerns about the spread of the virus. Omicron COVID-19 variant on campuses.

University of California schools on the quarterly system are postponing campus returns to next month and requiring booster shots. California State University needs boosters on 23 campuses across the state. And other local private schools such as Stanford and the University of Santa Clara are either carrying out temporary closures of similar campuses or implementing recall warrants.

Closures and vaccine recall warrants are the latest actions taken by local leaders in response to the omicron variant, which has nearly tripled in just one week, helping to fuel a recent increase in the total number of COVID-19 cases.

Stanford University on Thursday became one of the first local universities to postpone in-person classes for the start of the next winter term. The university has said it will require members of the school community to be vaccinated, as similar demands unfold across California.

In a letter to the campus community, Stanford University President Persis Drell and Vice President Environmental Health and Safety Russell Furr said the pivot to online education was motivated by the uncertainty regarding the omicron variant and to “minimize disruption in student lessons and also provide as much predictability as possible for students and instructors.”

The university’s decision is no longer an outlier at the local or state level.

Several UC schools across the state announced Tuesday that they will launch distance learning courses 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.

University of California President Michael V. Drake wrote to presidents of schools on Tuesday giving them the discretion to design their own plans to mitigate the risks of omicron and urging them to encourage booster injections on all. campuses. UC Davis has announced that it is requiring eligible staff and students to obtain a recall by January 31 or provide proof of exemption. The school will operate the classes remotely the first week to allow time for students and staff to get the shot.

Other universities are using the callback requirements on an immediate call for online learning as a way to mitigate the spread on their respective campuses.

California State University officials announced on Wednesday that all faculty, staff and students accessing college facilities or programs will need to receive a vaccine booster for the spring semester. The school community will have until February 28 or six months after the initial full vaccination to fulfill the requirement. Professors represented by unions will not be subject to the recall requirement until CSU concludes its meeting and conference process with those unions, according to a statement from the university.

San Jose State University, San Francisco State University, and other California state schools will continue to offer in-person learning to those who meet the requirements.

“Implementing the recall requirement now will help mitigate the potential spread of the variant on campuses when they are restocked in January after the winter recess,” the Chancellor of State University wrote. California, Joseph Castro, in a press release.

Schools such as SF State hope to keep campuses open.

“We always plan for a semester with a mix of in-person and remote experiences that have been designed based on an investigation of student needs and wants for the spring semester,” wrote Kent Bravo, spokesperson. word of the SFSU, in an e-mail.

The University of Santa Clara has a similar plan.

Classes at the university will resume in person on January 3 as scheduled, but faculty 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, written in an email. The university will require COVID-19 booster injections “as soon as students are eligible,” and all students must get tested twice in the first week of the winter term, Arora said.

Other schools such as Holy Names University in Oakland, where most courses are already online, are not making course adjustments. The university – like many others – has required proof of vaccination for students enrolling in on-campus or hybrid courses, spokeswoman Sonia Caltvedt said.

There is some opposition to delays in opening schools. Gov. Gavin Newsom, various education groups and teachers’ unions, a local UCSF professor who specializes in infectious diseases 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 that while she thinks most people will need a booster, children and students who are vaccinated are at less risk of catch the virus or become seriously ill, and schools should remain open at this point in the pandemic.

“The reason we reopened was because there were so many mental health effects and worries that the kids were losing learning,” Gandhi said.

In a statement Wednesday, Governor Newsom and public education officials wrote to support keeping schools open statewide, praising the way school communities “have worked tirelessly to keep schools safe and in person”.

“California schools were opened because of, and 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 our students: to protect each other and to keep our classrooms open, ”the statement said.