August 19, 2021
The surging coronavirus delta variant is spurring some colleges to make early changes to their health and safety plans as students arrive on campuses for the fall.
Some institutions are switching classes online for a few weeks, and at least one university delayed the start of its semester. Many colleges are also reinstating mandatory mask wearing where allowed by law, even among vaccinated students and employees.
Not every college is adjusting fall plans, however, prompting backlash particularly among faculty members.
The delta strain shattered hopes for a typical start to the academic year. Coronavirus numbers are skyrocketing again in the U.S., and health officials warn the country could soon tally 200,000 new cases per day.
The variant’s effects are already apparent on some campuses. Amid rising cases, Wiley College, a historically Black institution in Texas, instituted a campuswide quarantine on Aug. 11 that officials there expect to last at least two weeks, according to a local media report. Everyone on campus will remain isolated until they test negative for the virus.
Some colleges have set up new precautionary measures.
California State University, Stanislaus, pushed back its campus reopening. While classes are set to begin as scheduled Aug. 23, the institution won’t start in-person instruction until Oct. 1, its president announced last week. The university is allowing students to move into campus housing, but only if they show proof of vaccination, or documentation exempting them from receiving the shot and evidence of a negative coronavirus test.