By Jack Besterman | January 17, 2022
The University at Albany announced that it would be delaying the start of its Spring 2022 semester from Jan. 19 to Jan. 24 in an email to students Tuesday. University officials said that the five day postponement would afford students more time to get tested and receive their booster shot of the vaccine, which is mandatory before returning to campus.
The announcement came after the president of Albany’s chapter of United University Professions (UUP), the nation’s largest union for higher education, asked the university to delay the start of the semester by at least a week. UUP also asked the university to expand the use of remote work, especially for larger classes. Additionally, the Albany chapter has approved the purchase of approximately 2,000 N95 masks, which they will distribute to members of the union.
This change in schedule means that residence halls won’t open until Jan. 21. When asked if the university was working with students whose travel plans were impacted by this sudden change, Kelsey Butz from the office of Communications and Marketing said that they would work with affected students on a case-by-case basis and those students should email the Dean of Students office for assistance.
This delay comes as COVID-19 cases have surged in Albany and all across the country. Daily positive cases in Albany County went from a seven day average of 418 new cases per day at the end of December to an average of 928 new cases per day on Jan. 9, according to the Albany County Department of Health.
The Omicron variant has been causing record numbers of COVID infections globally, and initial reports indicate it is more infectious than the original strain of the virus. While the CDC says that breakthrough infections are “likely to occur” in people who are fully vaccinated, they also note that vaccination decreases the likelihood of severe cases which result in hospitalization or death, and recommend that anyone above the age 16 get a booster shot.