Dear Students, Faculty and Staff,
I hope that you are enjoying the break so far and getting to spend time with loved ones. As we monitor the increase in COVID cases and anticipate learning more about the Omicron variant over the next few weeks, Seattle University is continuing to act consistent with the latest public health guidance.
Virtual Start to the First Week of Classes
In light of the rapid spread of the Omicron variant and uncertainty about its impacts, we have made the decision that most classes will be held virtually for the first week of January. Clinical placements, practicums and labs will remain in person provided they are allowed at site locations. Faculty will provide additional guidance for those students who will be in person during the first week and will continue to offer flexibility for students if needed due to COVID protocols. Our campus, including residence halls, dining services, the library and other operations, will be open during this time so there is no need for students to change their travel plans. We will return to primarily in-person instruction beginning Monday, January 10.
While much remains unknown about the Omicron variant, medical and public health experts continue to study its effects. Some early research suggests it may be less severe and may result in milder illness when compared to earlier variants. But there is still a great deal of uncertainty, and so we will keep a close eye on this emergent situation as more reliable information becomes available.
The shift to virtual classes for the first week of January will help minimize potential disruptions from the Omicron variant and provide additional time for community members to receive their vaccination booster prior to returning to in-person classes. In addition, as we shared last week, we are putting in place a robust testing regimen for students ahead of your return and employing other important mitigation efforts in the residence halls and elsewhere. We will share more on these planned measures soon.
NEW: Register Your Vaccination Booster
We strongly recommend to everyone who is eligible to get your booster shot as soon as possible and, if eligible now, please do so over break. We are also now asking every member of the campus community to register their vaccination booster once you have received it. You can register here.
There will be additional vaccination clinics on campus in January and details will be shared in the university’s COVID response updates upon our return. When you do return to campus, please be sure to wear face coverings, practice physical distancing where appropriate and take the Safe Start health check each day.
Virtual Instruction Resources for Faculty
Beginning next week, the Center for Digital Learning & Information will be offering support and resources for faculty to prepare for the virtual start of the new academic term.
While this latest development is both frustrating and disappointing after two years of the pandemic, we as a university are prepared for whatever trajectory the variant takes. We will continue to respond with creativity, flexibility and care to whatever the future may hold. At the same time, the measures our campus community has been taking throughout the pandemic to keep one another healthy and safe will continue to be as important as ever in the coming weeks.
We will remain vigilant, but—regardless of what COVID throws at us—Seattle University is committed to ensuring that the coming academic term will continue to be a time for us to grow in knowledge and wisdom, as individuals and as a university community. I look forward to seeing you back on campus in January. In the meantime, I hope your holidays are a joyous and restorative time to reconnect with family, friends and loved ones.
Eduardo M. Peñalver