WU moves classes online for first two weeks of the spring semester

and | Managing Editor and Editor-in-Chief
The Washington University seal sits in front of stairs leading under an arch. A person walks up the right side of the stairs.

A person walks up the stairs underneath Brookings Hall last summer. Spring classes will be online through Jan. 28. (Photo by Curran Neenan / Student Life)

Washington University will hold the first two weeks of spring semester classes online and restrict access to most University housing and on-campus services until at earliest Jan. 28, administrators announced in an email to the community Thursday evening. 

The change to the spring plan follows a surge of COVID-19 cases both nationally and on campus, where the University reported 40 active cases among students this week after reaching a peak of 118 active cases last week. As of Dec. 2, the University had only reported 158 cases for students since Aug. 30, but that number has now risen to 330 cases.

“We have made this decision based on current conditions, and to give us additional time to learn more about the omicron variant and its impact on the community as the situation continues to evolve,” the administrators wrote. “This will allow us to determine more precisely what mitigation efforts will be necessary when students return to campus.”

Other schools such as Harvard University and Emory University have made similar decisions to go online for the first few weeks of the semester.

[Let Student Life know what questions you have about the update to the spring plan]

Yet unlike many other schools, the University will not require students, faculty or staff to receive a COVID-19 booster shot, but “strongly encourages” getting the booster. The administrators also indicated that a booster requirement may be adopted in the future, adding that the University will hold booster clinics on the Danforth Campus in January and February.

“We have set the expectation that all of our students, faculty and staff who are eligible to receive a COVID-19 booster will get one,” read the Spring 2022 Frequently Asked Questions page as an explanation for the lack of a booster requirement. “At this time, we are relying on the members of our community to take personal responsibility for taking this step and do not feel that we need to have a mandate at this time.”

Students with “extraordinary circumstances” who need to return to University housing before Jan. 28 may request an exception to the restrictions (according to the FAQ page, the Office of Residential Life will provide information about the exception process by Jan. 5). The University will not ship items left in dorm rooms to individual students. Students in University housing over winter break will not have to leave. Students who live in University housing or have a meal plan will receive partial refunds of housing and dining fees based on the two missed weeks. 

In January, the University will mail students two COVID-19 self-tests, which they will be expected to complete and then report their results to the University in order to return to campus. For undergraduate students, the University will mail tests to their home addresses as listed on WebSTAC. 

“Access to on-campus facilities and in-person services will be extremely limited during the first two weeks of the semester,” the administrators wrote, adding that social events will not be allowed on campus through the end of January. “Students who are planning to return to St. Louis before Jan. 28 should expect to take their courses in their residence and not in public spaces on campus.” 

Winter varsity athletic events will continue “as long as conditions permit,” the administrators wrote. 

This is a developing story. Student Life will update this article as more information becomes available. 

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