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Baylor considering switching to remote learning in response to latest COVID-19 surge

Baylor University
Baylor University((Source: KWTX))
Published: Dec. 28, 2021 at 1:24 PM CST
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WACO, Texas (KWTX) - Baylor University President Dr. Linda A. Livingstone on Tuesday asked students and parents to begin planning for the possibility of remote/virtual learning during the spring semester as the Omicron variant fuels the latest COVID-19 surge in the U.S.

“If you recall, we have experienced high COVID-19 case counts at the beginning of each semester during the pandemic,” Livingstone said, “And given the latest projections, we need to be prepared for an even greater spike among students, faculty and staff with Omicron.”

Baylor University’s Health Management Team, in consultation with external experts who have provided advice and guidance throughout the pandemic, has been closely following Omicron ahead of the beginning of the semester on January 18, 2022.

“As we’ve seen with the airline, healthcare and service industries over the holidays, we understand that Omicron has the potential to cause widespread employee absences – even with mild symptoms – and severely impact an organization’s ongoing operations,” Livingstone said.

“For Baylor, such operations would be the availability of faculty to teach classes, advisors to support student activities, dining and custodial staff to care for students and the campus, and staff to support a variety of daily University functions.”

The President’s Council and Livingstone recommend students and their families consider and prepare for the following possibilities for the start of Baylor’s spring semester:

  • Beginning the spring semester as scheduled but on a remote/virtual/online basis for all classes, meetings and student activities until Tuesday, Feb. 1. (Baylor Law School students will receive a separate communication from their Dean.) This potential decision would allow us to lower the population density on campus for the first two weeks of the semester and allow time for everyone who is eligible to voluntarily get a booster shot. Also, this would enable us to take into account any new information about Omicron that emerges after the New Year;
  • Opening residence halls 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;
  • Proceeding with on-campus, in-person Panhellenic recruitment as planned, but with elevated testing and health protocols in place and the ability to pivot to virtual if necessary;
  • Continuing with the January online and professional and education programs as planned;
  • Returning staff to campus as scheduled on Tuesday, Jan. 4;
  • Continuing the campus face coverings requirement 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; and
  • Maintaining mandatory testing for unvaccinated individuals, but with the addition of mandatory surveillance testing of 10% 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. 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 has activated its Call Center at 888-283-2158, which will be available from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. CT Monday-Friday for any questions students or parents may have.

CLICK HERE to read Dr. Livingstone’s full letter to students, faculty and parents.

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