Medical Technology

The rise in COVID levels in universities across America is causing universities to react

Editor’s note: Find the latest COVID-19 news and guidance in Medscape’s Coronavirus Resource Center.

The recent surge in COVID-19 cases is causing several universities across the country to react, some canceling winter graduation ceremonies while others are requiring all students to receive a booster shot.

For instance, the University of Maryland on Thursday announced that it canceled its winter commencement ceremonies and put safety measures back in place because of the surge.

“Our COVID-19 dashboard was updated to show 98 positive cases from university testing plus an additional 12 self-reported cases (these results are from tests taken since Monday) and we expect to see another high number of cases from today’s testing,” university President Darryll J. Pines, PhD, wrote in a letter to the campus Thursday. “These are the highest case counts we’ve seen this fall semester.”

The main graduation ceremony scheduled for Monday has been called off, as have departmental ceremonies on Tuesday and Wednesday, Pines said.

“We know how important this time is for our winter graduates and their families, but our first responsibility must continue to be the health and well-being of our community. All winter graduates will be invited to the spring ceremony in May,” he said.

Students taking in-person final exams will be required to wear KN95 masks, and all

dining halls will transition to takeout options only, Pines said. Basketball, volleyball, and some other sports will be suspended at campus recreation facilities. Students must leave their dorms 24 hours after taking their last exam.

Earlier this week, Cornell University in Ithaca, NY, reported more than 900 new COVID cases, with a “very high percentage” of them from the Omicron variant in fully vaccinated people. In response, the university moved final exams online. Social events and the winter graduation ceremony were also called off.

Other colleges made changes because of an increase in COVID cases.

  • Stanford University will require all students to provide proof of booster shots by Jan. 31. Students will take online classes the first 2 weeks in January before going back to in-person learning Jan. 18.

  • Emory University in Atlanta said that all students, faculty, and staff are required to get a booster shot by Jan. 19. The school said it already had a 97% vaccination rate.


University of Maryland. “Important COVID-19 Actions: Effective Immediately.”

Stanford University. “Update on the beginning of winter quarter.”

Emory University. “Emory University to require COVID-19 boosters for students, faculty, staff.”

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