Despite mandates in place for masks and vaccinations, Cornell University is closing its campus as fast as it can after a coronavirus outbreak on campus.
The Ivy League college reported 903 infections between Dec. 7 and Monday, according to CNN.
The school’s COVID-19 dashboard put Cornell’s status as “red alert.”
Officials said a “very high percentage” of the documented cases are due to the Omicron variant.
“Virtually every case of the Omicron variant to date has been found in fully vaccinated students, a portion of whom had also received a booster shot,” Vice President for University Relations Joel Malina said in a statement.
Cornell has decided to essentially shut down its campus, located in Ithaca, New York. The college has 25,600 students.
As part of its plan, the college is moving final exams for the fall term online, closing all libraries and canceling all activities, President Martha Pollack told students in a letter.
“While I want to provide reassurance that, to date, we have not seen severe illness in any of our infected students, we do have a role to play in reducing the spread of the disease in the broader community,” Pollack said.
“(The) point is that higher transmissibility leads to exponential growth, which outweighs the linear decrease in percent of severe cases. To avoid this type of situation, it is imperative not to let such infections run unchecked, but to take steps that limit transmission,” she wrote, according to WNBC-TV.
Malina said the college’s actions are designed to “help students who have tested negative to return safely home for the winter break, and in an effort to limit the spread of the Omicron variant to vulnerable populations.”
The school requires all students to be vaccinated except for those who have been granted religious or medical exemptions.
Unvaccinated students must be regularly tested, as are many vaccinated students. Cornell requires students to wear masks indoors.
Ninety-seven percent of people on campus are fully vaccinated, according to the college’s COVID-19 dashboard.
The ceremony for fall semester graduates that was scheduled for Saturday has also been canceled, according to NPR.
Princeton University is also moving all of its fall semester final exams online, according to Bloomberg.
Princeton urged students to go home “at their earliest convenience.”
“We hope to avoid letting the final exam schedule interfere with students’ travel home for winter break,” Jill Dolan, dean of the college, and W. Rochelle Calhoun, Princeton’s vice president for campus life, wrote in a letter to students. “We certainly don’t want you remaining on campus in required isolation through the holidays.”
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