NEW JERSEY — Right now, college students in New Jersey are enjoying their winter breaks. However, things might look a lot like fall 2020 when classes resume in January.
A growing number of colleges are returning to online-only instruction for the spring semester as coronavirus cases spike nationwide and the omicron variant fuels worries of a winter resurgence.
As of Dec. 22, the United States was averaging more than 155,000 new cases of coronavirus each day, a 27 percent increase over the previous week, according to a Washington Post database. Deaths are also on the rise.
It’s been less than a month since the United States announced its first omicron case — yet, by Dec. 18, omicron accounted for 73.2 percent of new cases while the delta variant made up an additional 26.6 percent, according to a CNN report.
By Monday, 48 U.S. states had reported cases of the omicron variant, CNN reported.
New Jersey is among those states. The omicron variant, which was first detected in South Africa, was confirmed in New Jersey on Dec. 3.
New Jersey reported 20,483 new COVID-19 cases on Wednesday, marking its highest single-day case total over the nearly two-year pandemic. This new record is just about 5,000 more than the previous record from last week when New Jersey reported 15,482 cases.
Meanwhile, colleges and universities across the country — including some in New Jersey — are taking precautions and putting in place safeguards to ensure students stay safe.
The College of New Jersey announced that classes would be remote for the upcoming winter session in January due to COVID-19 concerns.
The college expects to move back to in-person classes on Jan. 24 for the spring semester. Read more: New Jersey College Goes Remote For Winter Session Due To COVID
Princeton University had previously moved its final exams to a remote format earlier this month and announced additional precautions on Monday ahead of its spring semester to mitigate the spread of COVID-19.
The university will delay the date students are allowed to return to the school in January and stagger those returns. Read more: Princeton Delaying, Staggering Students' Return After Break
Ramapo College of New Jersey also expects students to return in January for in-person classes, though non-essential employees are allowed to work remotely after winter break in preparation for the return of students to campus on Jan. 17.
Across the country, other notable colleges opting to go remote include Harvard University, Stanford University, and the University of California, according to a National Public Radio report.
"The emergence of this new and fast-moving variant, coupled with student travel to and from campus and the prevalence of gatherings over the holidays, will present our campuses with a unique set of public health challenges as we begin the New Year," University of California president Michael V. Drake wrote in a letter to UC chancellors, NPR reported.
In some cases, schools will go remote only for the first weeks of the spring semester. Stanford University is among those opting for a more temporary approach. Classes there will be moved online for the first two weeks of the semester, and in-person classes are to resume Jan. 18. However, all students will be required to provide proof of receiving a COVID-19 booster dose, the San Francisco Chronicle reported.