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The omicron surge flipped spring semester plans for colleges and universities, which have spent the past two years balancing the need for COVID health and safety with the desire for in-person learning and socialization.
Many Philadelphia schools implemented delayed returns to campus, and mandated booster shots for students, faculty, and staff.
Colleges are responding differently. UPenn, Jefferson and some others have adopted stronger mask requirements, requiring double-masking or N95/KN95. The Community College of Philadelphia is staying mostly virtual until Valentine’s Day.
As classes start up around the city, here’s how the colleges are handling in-person learning, vaccinations, masking and other safety precautions.
Classes: First two weeks of classes online, with undergraduate campus housing opening Jan. 15 and return to in-person learning scheduled for Jan. 24
Vaccination: Students, faculty, and staff must receive a booster shot by Jan. 31 or within 30 days of becoming eligible
Masking: Anyone inside campus buildings must double-mask using a cloth mask over a disposable mask, or wear an N95 or KN95
Classes: Two weeks of virtual classes through Jan. 21, with residential move-in starting Jan. 22
Vaccination: Full vaccination required, and booster shots are strongly recommended — but not mandatory — for eligible community members
Masking: Masks are required indoors and in enclosed spaces, including all public areas of residence halls. Cloth masks alone are not allowed — students must wear a surgical mask, a surgical mask with a cloth mask over it, or a KN95. The university is distributing a limited number of KN95 masks on its main campus
Classes: First two weeks online, with return to in-person classes expected the week of Jan. 17 and students asked to delay return to residences to Jan. 13 or later
Vaccination: Booster shot required for eligible faculty, staff and students before returning to campus for the winter term
Masking: Masks required in indoor public, shared, instructional, and research settings, with double-masking, KF94s, KN95s, or other NIOSH-approved valveless masks encouraged
Classes: Mostly virtual through Feb. 14, except for in-person labs or classes with other aspects that require in-person meetings
Vaccination: Boosters required for faculty, staff, and students by May 16 or within 30 days after reaching eligibility
Masking: Anyone accessing campus must double-mask or wear a KN95 mask
Classes: Courses will begin in-person on Jan. 18
Vaccination: Booster shots required for all SJU community members by Jan. 30 or within 30 days of reaching eligibility
Masking: Masks required indoors for everyone outside of private settings (like an office or residence). The university encourages wearing “high-quality masks that meet international standards” and will distribute KN95s to faculty, staff, and students
Classes: First week of classes — from Jan. 18 to Jan. 21 — will be remote, with the university planning to “reassess the situation regularly.” Students may still return to residence halls as scheduled starting Jan. 16
Vaccination: Booster shots required for anyone eligible
Masking: Surgical masks, KN95s, or N95s required indoors in all living and learning settings and recommended in crowded outdoor settings
Classes: Classes will begin in-person as scheduled on Jan. 24. In-person orientation for new students begins Jan. 21, and other residential students will return to campus Jan. 22 and 23
Vaccination: Boosters required for eligible students, faculty, and staff at least two weeks before returning to campus, or within 30 days of eligibility
Masking: Masks required in all public and communal indoor settings — including by performers during performances-except when actively eating, drinking, or playing a wind instrument
Classes: Online learning at East Falls campus from Jan. 12 through 23, with staggered residential move-in between Jan. 21 and 23. At the Center City campus, mandatory large group lectures will be online through Jan. 23, and small group classes and labs will continue as scheduled depending on program
Vaccination: Full vaccination required for all students planning to access campus during the semester, with booster shots strongly encouraged
Masking: Surgical ear-loop or medical-grade masks required in all indoor university settings
Classes: The first week of classes — Jan. 18 to 21 — will be remote, and residential move-in will continue as planned starting Jan. 16
Vaccination: All campus community members must receive a booster shot within 30 days of eligibility
Masking: Masks are required in all indoor settings, with surgical-grade or KN95 masks recommended