Colleges delay resuming in-person classes

Vaccine mandates in flux as Delta variant spreads and cases rise

The University of California at San Francisco — which serves the health professions — has authorized all employees who have been working at home to continue to do so until March 1.

“Our COVID-19 response team is continually assessing data about the pandemic and its impact on our community. Based on its guidance, I have determined that limiting the number of people on site to those whose work is performed on campus and in our facilities is the right course of action under current circumstances,” said an announcement Friday from Chancellor Sam Hawgood.

“This extension will help us reduce the impact of a potential winter COVID-19 surge and prepare for a cold and flu season that may be worse than last year due to greater social interaction. Cold and flu symptoms often resemble COVID-19, and this will strain our ability to meet the COVID-19 testing and contact tracing needs of our on-site workforce and patients,” he added.

Rice University will start the fall semester online for two weeks, Provost Reginald DesRoches announced Thursday.

DesRoches said, “Much remains to be learned about the Delta variant and we need to pay close attention to the current surge that is especially pronounced in Texas. We need time to test and assess the prevalence of COVID-19 in the Rice community and its related health outcomes, and to implement any appropriate risk mitigation actions, keeping in mind the effectiveness of vaccination in preventing serious illness.”

In a separate letter, Bridget Gorman, dean of undergraduates, said students who live in the Houston area should delay their return to campus. She also announced that “if you are currently living on campus this semester but wish to move off campus because of the complexities surrounding the COVID circumstances, housing and dining will waive the fees for breaking the housing contract in the following ways. Students that do not move on campus at all will receive a full refund for room and board.”

Gorman added, “I am sure that reading this, you feel a sense of disappointment that we find ourselves in this situation — I know that I do. But, as much as our vision for our fall start is shifting, I remain optimistic that these changes reflect a relatively short-term opportunity to pause-and-reset, rather than permanent alterations to how life on campus will be this semester.”

Rhode Island College has delayed the start of classes until Sept. 8, according to a letter from Frank D. Sánchez, the president, to the faculty.

“We appreciate everyone’s understanding as we make this modification to the schedule. This approach allows us to increase our rates of vaccination among our student population and maintain a healthy and safe environment, inclusive of all the instruction, events and activities that our vibrant RIC campus has to offer.”

Carnegie Mellon University on Friday announced that all faculty and staff members at the main campus in Pennsylvania — and also California, New York, Virginia and Washington, D.C. — must be fully vaccinated against COVID-19.

A letter from Farnam Jahanian, the president, said, “We are specifically keeping in mind the protection of the thousands of CMU students arriving to campus shortly, as well as those in our community who are immunocompromised or who have young children who are not yet eligible for the vaccine. We continue to be encouraged that, as of today, 75 percent of faculty and staff have already uploaded their vaccine documentation to CMU’s COVID-19 Vaccine Database.”

The University of Oregon and Oregon State University became the first Power 5 universities to announce that they will require proof of vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test for people over the age of 12 to attend their football games, the Associated Press reported.

Oregon said in its announcement that the decision was made with public health authorities and “peer institutions in the state.” The negative test result must be from within three days of the event.

At the University of Hawai‘i, spectators will not be permitted to attend season-opening home sporting events because of the surge in COVID-19 cases, The Honolulu Star Advertiser reported.

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