WACO, Texas – The rise of the COVID-19 Omicron variant is leading to some possible changes for Baylor’s spring semester.
President Dr. Linda A. Livingstone released a statement today discussing the following potential scenarios:
1: The spring semester could begin as scheduled, but on a remote/virtual/online basis for all classes, meetings and student activities until Tuesday, February 1. Baylor Law School students would receive a separate communication from their Dean. This potential decision would allow the university to lower the population density on campus for the first two weeks of the semester, and would allow time for everyone eligible to voluntarily get a booster shot. This would also enable Baylor to take into account any new information about Omicron which would emerge after the New Year.
2: Residence halls could open as planned, but with the requirement that all residential students test within the first 24 hours of returning to campus. Students should have a plan if they become infected, as quarantine and isolation services will be severely limited.
3: On-campus, in-person Panhellenic recruitment could proceed as planned, but with elevated testing and health protocols in place, and the ability to pivot to virtual, if necessary.
4: The January online and professional and education programs could continue as planned.
5: Staff could return to campus as scheduled on Tuesday, January 4.
6: The campus face coverings requirement could continue for at least the first two weeks of the spring semester for all classrooms and labs when used for academic instruction, in addition to some indoor locations where appropriate social distancing may not be possible, private faculty and staff offices when requested, and other areas designated by posted signage.
7: Mandatory testing for unvaccinated individuals could be maintained, but with the addition of mandatory surveillance testing of ten percent of all students, faculty and staff for at least the first two weeks of the semester. Those who have received a COVID-19 booster or who have had a positive COVID test within the past 180 days will be exempt from testing. You can use the form at www.baylor.edu/vaccine to upload your completed vaccination card, including a booster dose, or your positive COVID test within the past 180 days.
The university’s strong preference is to begin the spring semester and related activities as initially planned and as scheduled. Several projections indicate that Omicron will have spiked and potentially receded by late January, right after the scheduled start of the semester.
Baylor plans to providing another update early next week.
Source: Baylor University