Marquette University announces delayed start of second semester due to Omicron COVID-19 variant

Marquette+will+now+require+students%2C+faculty+and+staff+to+get+the+COVID-19+booster+shot.+Those+who+do+not+upload+proof+of+vaccination+will+be+required+to+undergo+weekly+testing

Marquette will now require students, faculty and staff to get the COVID-19 booster shot. Those who do not upload proof of vaccination will be required to undergo weekly testing

Marquette University President Michael Lovell announced Wednesday evening that the start of the spring 2022 semester would be delayed to Jan. 24 for undergraduate, graduate and law school students in a response to COVID-19 and the omicron variant.

“Provost (Kimo) Ah Yun and President Lovell worked with the recommendation from their medical team along with the  executive committee of the Board of Trustees and the COVID-19 Response Team,” Allison Abbott, chair of the University Academic Senate and associate professor of Biological sciences, said in an email to faculty.

The semester was originally scheduled to begin Jan. 18. The university mentioned that a plan to make up for the four lost days of classes will be announced later.

In addition, Marquette announced it will be requiring the COVID-19 vaccine booster for all students and are strongly recommending it to faculty and staff.

Proof of the booster must be uploaded to the MU Medical Clinic Portal prior to Feb. 1, or based on qualification that one has received a second dose of the Moderna vaccine six months prior to receiving the booster, five months after having a second dose of the Pfizer vaccine or after two months of receiving the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

Those who do not upload proof of the vaccine and/or booster will have to undergo weekly testing throughout the spring semester.

The delay in the semester also will not affect predoctoral and postgraduate students in the dentistry program as classes began Jan. 3.

“Students in particular colleges and schools may also receive separate communications from their dean’s offices with additional program-specific information,” the release mentioned.

As of right now, the university said they have no plans to cancel Spring or Easter break.

Students living in residence halls will now move in Jan. 22-23. The original move-in dates were Jan. 15-16.

The release said that students currently living in residence halls will be contacted by the Office of Residence Life with more details about spring semester move in.

The current mask mandate on campus, which requires all students, faculty and staff to wear a mask in all shared indoor spaces regardless of vaccination status, will continue to be enforced on campus throughout the spring semester.

“We are rewriting policy and rebuilding processes to adapt to the new CDC guidelines. If you are currently in isolation or quarantine you need to follow your current instructions and return dates. The updated quarantine and isolation directions are in alignment with the new CDC guidance and will take effect Jan. 18, 2022,” Lovell said in the release. 

These recent mitigation strategies were decided by the Marquette University Board of Trustees and the Marquette University COVID-19 Response Team.

Just as we worked together to be able to stay in-person all of fall semester and achieve a 93% campus vaccination rate, we will work together to continue to mitigate the spread of COVID-19,” Lovell said. “Please use this extra week of Winter Break to get your vaccine booster and to stock up or upgrade your mask supply so our community is even more prepared and protected when we come back together.”

Moving forward, Abbott said that any other changes made to spring semester will be made with feedback from multiple commitees.

The Academic planning committee, which is a part of the university’s COVID-19 response team, and a committee comprised of all department chairs will continue to work on academic policy throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Now that the decision has been made to delay the start of the semester, the first challenge is to decide how to adjust the academic calendar to make up those lost four days,” Abbott said in the email to faculty.

Both committees are currently soliciting faculty feedback on how the university will make changes to the academic calendar without canceling Spring or Easter break.

In addition, there is also a medical committee that is part of the COVID-19 response team. Abbott said that this committee will work to improve mitigation strategies such as masks, booster shots and ventilation.

“Of course, we don’t know how this surge will progress, and we do know that wherever the surge is, we will continue to face the challenges of COVID disruptions this semester. I also know that it will take all of us working together to help our students and to help each other through this semester,” Abbott said in the email to faculty.

This story was written by Julia Abuzzahab and Megan Woolard. They can be reached at julianna.abuzzahab@marquette.edu and megan.woolard@marquette.edu