This evening, University community members received an emailed update regarding COVID-19 guidelines for the spring semester.
“All eligible community members must receive a COVID-19 booster shot by January 31, 2022,” Kathleen J. Byrnes, Vice President for Student Life, said in the email. “For now, please note, we will continue to follow the masking guidelines from the Fall 2021 semester; the mask policy will remain in effect until all community members, without an approved accommodation, have received an approved COVID-19 booster.”
The mask policy for the fall semester required all community members to wear masks inside public buildings and all visitors to wear masks at all times around campus.
Byrnes also restated information regarding testing that had been announced in December. All students will be required to participate in arrival testing during the first few weeks of the semester.
Students participating in Panhellenic recruitment will be tested on Wednesday, Jan. 5. Law students who have returned to campus will be tested on Jan. 6-7. Undergraduate on-campus students and full-time graduate students on campus will be tested during the week of January 10, and all students living off-campus will be tested during the week of Jan. 17.
The arrival testing will be strictly enforced, and Byrnes warned that students who fail to participate in testing “will be withdrawn from their classes and will have their housing and/or meal plan contracts canceled, if applicable.”
Those who have already been exempted from the vaccine requirement, for medical or religious reasons, will not have to reapply to be exempt from the booster. However, surveillance testing will continue to be required twice-weekly for those community members.
Byrnes also included the updated isolation requirements in the email. Students who test positive will be isolated for five days, and after five days, if they are asymptomatic or if symptoms resolve, they will be released but must wear a mask for five more days.
As the Omicron variant sweeps across the country, many worry about what the spring semester will look like for Villanova. There are currently 79,761 COVID-19 cases in Pennsylvania and 4,941 in Delaware County, according to the CDC’s COVID Data Tracker.
Several universities decided to go online for the beginning of January. Harvard University has moved operations online for the first three weeks of January, but plans on being in-person for when classes begin on Jan. 24. Additionally, Georgetown University will be online for the first few weeks of their spring semester beginning on Jan. 12, but they will allow on-campus resident students to move into their dorms starting on Jan. 11.
Some local schools, including the University of Pennsylvania and Temple University, will also be online for the beginning of January, yet Villanova seems determined to remain in person for the spring semester.