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Increased Coronavirus Cases: What Ivy League Students Can Expect for Spring Semester

Jan 10, 2022

This winter’s rapid rise in coronavirus cases has demanded a response from Ivy League schools’ administration and campus officials. Each school has responded differently, though most are requiring students, faculty and staff to receive booster shots. Some schools are hosting classes remotely, while others are simply staggering or delaying students’ return to campus. Keep reading to learn more about each school’s response to the recent surge in coronavirus cases.

Brown University

Brown University is requiring all students, staff, and faculty to receive a booster shot by January 26, 2022, or within 30 days of becoming eligible. Because of the near-universal level of vaccination at the university, Brown is not making any changes to operations. The school reopened as scheduled on January 4th, and is planning to welcome students back in person on the first day of classes on January 26th. Brown continues to follow public health measures and upholds an indoor mask mandate.

Columbia University

In mid-December, Columbia announced that the first two weeks of spring semester classes will be held remotely. According to the school, “This two-week remote learning period is designed to minimize disruptions for students who may be unable to travel or who must isolate because of COVID-19.” The university is still allowing students to return to campus at this time, and is requiring students to test on the first business day following their arrival on campus, and again between days five and seven. Students are also encouraged to test 48 hours before arriving on campus. Additionally, all eligible faculty, staff, and students must receive their booster shots by January 31, 2022.

Cornell University

Cornell has seen a rapid rise in cases and addressed concerns surrounding students’ return by implementing pre-departure and enhanced arrival testing. As announced on January 6th, the move-in period has been extended to stagger return and facilitate isolation if students test positive before departure. Although the semester will start on January 24th as planned, the first two weeks of instruction will be virtual. Those who tested positive in December or during winter break will be required to complete a “Self-Reported Positive” form, exempting them from testing for 90 days. While social gatherings are discouraged, athletic events will continue as scheduled; dining halls will be open and offer grab-and-go options. Cornell will also be requiring students to receive booster shots and to wear high-quality N95/KN95 masks– cloth masks have been deemed to fail university standards.

Dartmouth College

In mid-December, Dartmouth announced that they would require eligible faculty, students and staff to receive booster shots by January 31st, 2022. Other preventative measures for the spring semester include requiring all students to undergo PCR testing within 48 hours of arriving on campus, as well as cancelling indoor social gatherings and only offering grab-and-go dining services for the first two weeks of January.

Harvard University

Harvard saw a surge of cases over winter break, even with most students away from campus. On January 3rd, or the first day of winter break for university staff, over 180 employees tested positive. The school has had a 5.07% positivity rate over the past seven days, with faculty, staff, and affiliates making up approximately 68% of cases. In contrast to its fellow Ivy League institutions Yale and Columbia, Harvard will continue to hold in-person classes for the spring semester of 2022, beginning on January 24th. Students will be required to show proof of booster shot by the 31st. For those who are not yet eligible, affiliates must verify their shot within 30 days of eligibility. Furthermore, “grab-and-go” will be the only option offered at dining halls and the size of indoor gatherings will be restricted.

Princeton University

Like many other universities, Princeton is requiring all eligible students, staff and faculty to receive a booster shot by January 31st, 2022. Further, regardless of vaccination status, all students are required to be tested twice weekly. Princeton announced in late December that undergraduate students would not be welcome back to campus until January 14th, one week later than initially anticipated, and that students’ return would be staggered from the 14th through the 23rd. Students are required to submit a COVID test result on their first day back on campus. Princeton has also placed restrictions on gatherings requiring students to remove their face masks.

University of Pennsylvania

University of Pennsylvania announced in mid-December that all undergraduate classes will start remotely on January 12th and will transition to in-person classes on January 24th. Undergraduate move-in day is also being delayed a week to January 15th. Students must complete a negative PCR test 48 hours before returning to campus. Indoor social events are suspended and grab-and-go dining will be offered until further notice. UPenn is also requiring eligible students, staff, and faculty to receive a booster shot by January 31st.

Yale University

On December 22nd, Yale announced plans to delay the spring semester for undergraduate and GSAS students until January 25th, instead of the 18th. January 18th through 21st will be used for online make-up exams, and spring break will be shortened to accommodate for the one-week delay. The university witnessed a record number of cases in a day on December 20th, with a report of 67 cases. To combat rising cases, courses will move online until February 4th and faculty and students will be expected to return to the classroom by the 7th. The university has also given deans and unit leaders the freedom to offer staff fully remote work options until the 7th as well. Although classes have been moved online, laboratory research, studio spaces, and libraries will continue to be open. Eligible students will be required to receive their booster shots by January 18th, while those who aren’t eligible yet will have to receive the shot within seven days of eligibility.

Beyond this brief overview, please find each schools’ updated guidelines and requirements as posted on their websites. We hope that students can make the most of this spring semester, whether online or at school!