Updated: Feb 9, 2022
By: JOSEPH WHELAN / STAFF REPORTER
Toward the end of 2021, citywide COVID rates climbed to an all-time high since the very beginning of the pandemic in March 2020. They reached a seven-day average of nearly 44,000 at its highest, drastically paralleling the infection rates at the start of the pandemic.
The cause was a new, highly contagious variant of COVID called Omicron which raised health concerns tremendously among residents of New York state and across the nation.
These events happened concurrently with the Fall 2021 semester coming to a close as many students were preparing for Finals Week. This ultimately resulted in LIU’s administration announcing their decision to make the COVID Booster shots a requirement for attending in-person learning for the Spring 2022 Semester.
In a statement emailed to students LIU Chief Operating Officer, Joseph L. Schaefer, wrote to the student body that, “all students, faculty, and staff who are eligible to receive the COVID-19 booster must provide proof of successful completion in the University’s Vaccination Portal.” He would later add that, “documentation will be due prior to the spring semester.”
Although the number of cases were said to have peaked in the beginning of January 2022 and while the number of COVID cases on LIU campuses remain low, this precautionary decision was made on behalf of LIU administration’s with the public’s health as a main concern.
LIU students were given ample time during the winter break to receive the Booster shot, and many rose to the occasion to yet again get the jab. Those who didn’t provide sufficient documentation due the beginning of Spring 2022 semester were unable to return to campus and were limited to online learning.
The booster requirement was also extended to LIU’s faculty and staff. Some believe this prompted many students to receive last minute changes in their schedules, more specifically, to the professors teaching their courses.
Along with this, many students elected to register for online learning as a precaution. For these select few, the Fall 2021 return to in-person learning was short-lived, as they promptly returned to online learning for the current semester.
Though a large majority of students still attend in-person classes, the number of online students likely saw a significant spike from the Fall 2021 to the Spring 2022 semester.
Similarly to the LIU Booster shot requirement, CUNY Schools also required the booster shot for eligible students who wished to attend in-person classes during the Spring 2022 term. However, despite the requirement, CUNY students still have the time to upload proof of vaccination until the deadline on March 1.
The deadline also applies to the NYC community colleges, where the spring semester does not begin until March. However, students who will miss the deadline will face harsher consequences of being ineligible to register for both in-person and online classes for the Summer 2022 and Fall 2022 terms.
Additionally, other private universities in the tri-state area, such as NYU and FDU among others, require the Booster shot alike to LIU’s Booster requirements. Students of aforementioned universities were required to get the Booster shots prior to their return to class.
As of the beginning of February, the number of seven-day average cases has dropped to around 3,000 cases. New studies continue to come out and the Spring 2022 semester remains in full swing, with preventative Covid-19 measures continuing to strengthen the safety of in-person learning.
The CDC has also stated that cloth masks are less effective in preventing the spread of Omicron, thus prompting on-campus learners to use surgical masks, N-95s, and KN-95s instead of cloth masks.