Q: Why go online for the first two weeks? Why not bring students back and just ask them to quarantine while attending in-person classes?
A: To be clear: UConn’s priority is to get students back on our campuses as soon as possible to resume in-person learning. The central goal of moving the first two weeks online was to avoid opening in the midst of the omicron surge, when Connecticut is seeing positivity rates in excess of 20%, and breakthrough cases among those vaccinated and boosted have become more common.
If the University brought back nearly 30,000 students on January 15, UConn would have had to ask a great deal more of them than it already has, including strict quarantines and very limited campus facilities and services. And if we saw an initial surge in positives among students similar to the wider population, we likely would have been forced to move the first two weeks of the semester online anyway, while also running the risk of overwhelming our isolation beds and medical services, which could have endangered the whole in-person semester.
The central goal of the delay is to help ensure that the bulk of the spring 2022 semester can be in-person.
Q: Is this going to be like the spring ’20 semester when UConn initially went online for two weeks and then remained online for the reminder of the spring?
A: That is the last thing the University wants. UConn wants students to return in-person. Unless there are dramatic changes in the predicted case counts over the month, UConn will welcome our students back to our campuses at the end of January.
Q: UConn students have very high vaccination rates. Shouldn’t that have allowed us to avoid going online for two weeks?
A: UConn’s campuses have very high vaccination rates among both students and employees, which is what helped keep our case count so low on our campuses through Thanksgiving. However, the number of breakthrough cases rose with the arrival of omicron – meaning vaccinated people testing positive. While being vaccinated, young, and healthy reduces the risk of serious illness if infected, that is no guarantee that every student who tests positive would experience only mild or moderate symptoms. In addition, while infected they are still at risk of transmitting the disease to others, both vaccinated and unvaccinated. We are also home to students with compromised immune systems and other medical issues who are at a higher risk. And, even if they are experiencing mild symptoms or are asymptomatic, UConn needs to isolate students who test positive on campus (if they do not return home) and has limited space to do so. A high positivity rate could threaten to overwhelm our isolation bed space and our medical services, which could put the whole semester at risk. The University wants to avoid that.
Q: Will I be reimbursed for room and board/dining?
A: Yes, students who have on-campus housing and/or a meal plan who do not live in their residence hall or utilize dining services for this two-week period will receive a credit equal to two weeks’ worth of the overall cost of the housing and/or dining fee for the spring ‘22 semester.
Q: Why do I need to get a booster if you still won’t let us on campus until February?
A: Studies indicate that a booster shot offers strong protection against infection and serious illness – more than being vaccinated alone. In addition, students who are exposed to a positive case of COVID-19 and are not boosted may be required to quarantine for a minimum of five days after an exposure according to new guidance from the CDC. This could result in many fully vaccinated, but not boosted, students missing in-person instruction throughout the semester.
Information on obtaining a booster can be found here and it can be reported to SHaW here. Everyone who is 16 years old and older is eligible to get a booster shot. This includes those who received two doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna vaccine at least six months ago and those who received a Johnson & Johnson (J&J/Janssen) COVID-19 vaccine at least two months ago.