Despite the Omicron variant, colleges and universities report pushing through the Covid surges. The New York Times reports on some colleges loosening rules “for a virus that won’t go away.” Some institutions, such as the University of Wyoming, are enforcing fewer restrictions for the spring semester, as they transition from “containment” to “management.” The Washington Post and Inside Higher Ed report that as the “Omicron semester” starts, whether online or in-person, colleges are tense and universities are aiming to push through the semester, despite a wave of infections, receiving pushback and criticism from others.
As many institutions pushed back their in-person start dates amidst the Omicron variant spread, The Chronicle reports that some faculty are asking for more flexibility in their classrooms to teach virtually. Citing safety concerns and fear for those with young children or personal health complications, instructors are asking administrators to provide accommodations for them to teach remotely. Some students are also rallying for safer conditions in support of faculty. However, some faculty members still fear retaliation from their supervisors.
The Chronicle examines what the “new normal” could look like on college campuses. University health experts acknowledge the challenges that have risen from attempting to contain the virus, with some colleges reporting that their prevention efforts are breaking down. Stanford University, for instance, ran out of isolation spaces, and some schools are scaling back on their testing, contact tracing, and isolation measures, despite the reality of the continuing and historically high infection rates throughout the country. Experts look towards the virus’s endemic stages, however, say they expect high surges to continue for the next three weeks.