coronavirus pandemic

Stanford Reverts to Online Classes for Winter Quarter Amid Omicron Variant

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Stanford is joining a growing number of universities across the nation that are postponing a return to in-person education after the winter break.

It’s an effort to stop the spread of COVID-19 on campuses but not every campus is putting the breaks on after the holidays.

UCSF infectious disease expert Dr. Peter Chin-Hong pulled no punches when he talked about the threat of the coronavirus in all of its forms, especially the new and rapidly growing number of COVID-19 cases from the omicron variant.

“We certainly know that it’s very transmissible. It’s certainly more transmissible than delta. We know that it’s going to take over the landscape from delta, but we’re not fully confident that it’s going to keep people away from the hospital,” he said.

Stanford University specifically cited omicron’s highly contagious nature in its decision to hold all classes online for the first two weeks of the winter quarter.

The university said that “although we have not seen an increase in cases on-campus related to the omicron variant, the uncertainty of its transmissibility this winter remains a concern and poses some logistical challenges for the start of in-person classes.” Stanford added that it will also help students and teachers move into the new quarter with as few disruptions as possible.

“For those reasons, it’s probably wise to put the pause button on and defer congregate activities like schools that are more optional.”) Meanwhile, UC Berkeley said it has no plans for now to put in-person classes on hold, but is monitoring the situation and will adjust if needed.

The school is advising workers and students to continue masking…testing and vaccinating to stay safe.

Chin-Hong said its appropriate for each campus to make their own decisions based on their own local metrics and not just colleges.

“In San Francisco County for instance, very high vaccination rates, not only in adults but also in adolescents,” he said. Chin-Hong added it’s important for students and staff to get tested before winter get-togethers and before returning to campus, to make sure they don’t bring the virus back to school with them.

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