Marquette University announced Wednesday it would delay the start of the spring semester by about a week and mandate COVID-19 boosters for students as cases of the virus continue to surge across the state and country.
The announcement came just hours after Edgewood College, a small private university in Madison, also announced it would delay the start of the spring semester.
Both universities planned to start most classes on Jan. 18 and will instead start on Jan. 24.
"These actions will offer more opportunities to get vaccinated or boosted, move us past the expected local Omicron peak in mid-January, and give us additional time to prepare ourselves and campus for the spring semester," Marquette University President Michael Lovell wrote in a university-wide email announcing the changes.
Lovell asked the campus community for patience and encouraged people to use the extra week to get their booster or to stock up on masks.
Marquette's campus vaccination rate is 93%.
Marquette's delayed start applies to undergraduate classes as well as the Graduate School and Law School. Move-in for students who live in the residence halls will now take place on Jan. 22 and 23. University officials noted they have no plans to cancel spring break or Easter break.
Students will need to upload their proof of vaccination by Feb. 1, 2022 to show that they have received a booster shot. Faculty, staff and students who do not upload that documentation will be subject to weekly testing requirements.
Marquette will also extend its indoor masking requirement "until further notice," Lovell's email read. The university's policies on quarantine and isolation will update as of Jan. 18 to reflect a change in guidance from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that allows people who test positive but are asymptomatic to shorten their isolation period to five days. However, students who live in the university's residence halls will still need to isolate for 10 days after a positive test, regardless of if they are asymptomatic.
In Madison, Edgewood College's schedule change only applies to in-person undergraduate courses. Vaccines are not required by the university and neither is regular testing. The college does have an indoor masking requirement.
Spokesman Ed Taylor said the college's hope is that the case surge will subside by Jan. 24. He said the change was not the result of any concerns around access to resources such as testing or personal protective equipment.
As of late October, 83% of students, 96% of staff and 98% of faculty at Edgewood were fully vaccinated against COVID-19, Taylor said. The college's total enrollment is about 2,000 students, about 1,200 of whom are undergraduates.
Students who need access to dorms before Jan. 24 will be able to gain access on a case-by-case basis. The delayed start will not affect any other aspects of the academic calendar, college officials said, as missed class time will be made up during the semester.
“This change represents an effort to balance our commitment to our face-to-face undergraduate experience with our commitment to the safety of all of our community,” College President Andrew Manion said in a statement Wednesday. “While this adjustment creates more work for some of us, I am very grateful for all the efforts being made to serve our students.”
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This article originally appeared on Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: Marquette University, Edgewood College delay start of spring semester