The last weeks of the college school year have again been disrupted by COVID-19 as universitiesswitch to online courses and downsize large assemblies in response to increases in coronavirus infections.
Colleges in Washington, DC, New York, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, Connecticut and Texas have reintroduced a series of virus measures, with Howard University moving to distance learning amid an increase in the number of cases in the country’s capital.
This is the third academic year in a row that has been improved withmeaning that soon-to-be seniors have not yet experienced a normal college year.
“I feel like last summer it was like everyone was like, ‘Oh, that’s it. We’re approaching the tail end,’ ‘recalled Nina Heller, a junior at American University in Washington DC, where administrators brought back a masked mandate approx. one month after lifting it. “And then it did not quite happen, and now we are here in the summer again, and there is virtually no end.”
“The pandemic is still with us”
Mandates were given widely in the wake of the spring break as the number of cases fell following a winter increase driven by the omicron variant. However, several northeastern cities have seen an increase in cases and hospitalizations in recent weeks as the BA.2 sub-variant of the omicron variant continues to spread rapidly across the United States.
“As much as we want to move on and believe that the pandemic is over, and I think we all want it to happen at this point, it’s wishful thinking,” said Anita Barkin, co-chair of a COVID 19-task. strength of the American College Health Association. “The pandemic is still with us.”
COVID-19 was so relieved at Williams College that the private liberal arts school in Massachusetts allowed professors to decide whether to require masks in their classes early last week. But only a few days later, with increasing cases, it reintroduced an indoor mask mandate that was even stricter than what had been in place before.
“I think students really feel like people they know are falling like flies,” said junior Kitt Urdang, who has had half a dozen friends test positive in recent days. “There has definitely been a lot more uncertainty than there has been on campus since COVID hit.”
, leading to the University of Pennsylvania and Temple University again demanding them from Monday. Though the colleges have not made any changes.
A quiet campus
In Washington, DC, Howard University’s main campus, affectionately dubbed “The Hilltop” by students and alumni, was largely quiet this week, with many students taking classes and graduating from home. The academic year is nearing a muted end as rising virus numbers prompted administrators to suddenly switch back to online education.
The city’s COVID infection rate has more than doubled in April. In addition to American, Georgetown and George Washington University also reinstated their mandates for indoor masks. But Howard is the only one who has moved away from personal instruction. The spring semester ends on Friday, with final exams for most students starting next week. Administrators have promised an update on what it means for the May 7 launch ceremony.
“I do not think people are super dissatisfied with wearing masks,” said Lia DeGroot, a senior George Washington who never shed her mask during the only week the mandate was lifted at her school. “Of all the things that the pandemic has disrupted, I think wearing masks is, you know, a relatively small thing to do. I think it’s a kind of mindset that a lot of students have.”
Large increase in cases
In nearby Baltimore, Maryland, Johns Hopkins University announced this month that it was testing all undergraduate students twice a week through Friday, noting a steep increase in cases. The school also said masks would be required not only in classrooms but in places like the common areas of the living room.
In Houston, Rice University announced earlier this month that students should resume wearing masks in classrooms, citing an increase in cases on campus. Large college parties were also canceled.
New Mexico State University took a different path and announced Monday that all students on campus must be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 by July 1, ending the possibility of submitting weekly tests as an alternative.
One of the few counties still identified by the CDC as having high proliferation is home to New York’s Syracuse University, which on Monday announced it would again require masks in classrooms.
J. Michael Haynie, the school’s vice chancellor for strategic initiatives and innovation, said in a letter that “it is important that we take reasonable measures to minimize the impact of COVID infections” with finals and start approaching fast.
The University of Rochester in upstate New York, the University of Connecticut, Bowdoin College in Brunswick, Maine and Columbia University in New York City took a similar approach. Many, like Columbia, noticed that their monitoring test programs found more cases.
While many students were eager to mask themselves, the hernia came.
“We’re at the point where we’re tired of masks,” said Neeraj Sudhakar, a Columbia student studying financial engineering. “We probably have a vaccination rate of 99%, so at this point I think we should just move on with the pandemic and treat it as endemic instead of going back to what we did the last two years.”