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Should Texas State Go Back Online?

todayJanuary 3, 2022 63 5 5

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By Preethi Mangadu
Web Content Contributor

Campuses across the nation are going online for the first couple of weeks of the Spring 2022 semester due to the new Omicron variant of COVID-19 and the rise of COVID-19 positive cases from the holiday season. Should Texas State University do the same?

The Omicron variant was first identified by scientists in South Africa and reported to the World Health Organization (WHO) on November 24, 2021. On November 26, 2021, WHO classified it as a Variant of Concern (VOC). In the United States, the first confirmed source of Omicron was on December 1, 2021.

However, there is no certain point where Omicron developed, currently. According to Kai Kupfer Schmidt of Science.org, “scientists see essentially three possible explanations: The virus could have circulated and evolved in a population with little surveillance and sequencing. It could have gestated in a chronically infected COVID-19 patient. Or it might have evolved in a nonhuman species, from which it recently spilled back into people.”

It is expected “that anyone with Omicron infection can spread the virus to others, even if they are vaccinated or don’t have symptoms,” according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Nonetheless, those who are fully vaccinated and have received a booster shot are more protected.

In Texas alone, Omicron has been spreading rapidly. “We’ve seen a rise by about 113% in reported cases over the last 14 days, which is about four to five times the rise that we’ve had on a national level,” Anass Bouchnita, a postdoctoral researcher working with the University of Texas at Austin, in an article for Houston Public Media, said.

Several universities have decided to hold classes online for the first few weeks because of this variant. For example, the University of Chicago is holding its first two weeks online, and Harvard is holding its first three weeks online.

Other universities have decided to postpone the beginning of the Spring 2022 semester. Universities are also starting to require COVID-19 vaccines and booster shots to help keep their students, faculty, and staff safe as well.

Universities are hoping to avoid the surge of cases that have peaked due to the holiday season and the highly contagious nature of the Omicron variant

President Denise Trauth sent out an email to the full Texas State University Campus stating that those living on campus will require a negative COVID-19 test, performed at least 72 hours before arrival, prior to moving in due to the rise of the Omicron variant. Texas State also requested that students, faculty, and staff take a COVID-19 test before returning to campus. Are these measures enough in preventing the surge of this variant?

Going online for the first week or two could reduce the recent surge of the new Omicron. Last year many universities used this strategy to reduce the surge of COVID-19 cases at the beginning of the semester after long breaks.

Individuals could also help the spread and be more protected by getting fully vaccinated and wearing a mask in crowded places. According to USA Facts, only 56.96% of Texans are currently fully vaccinated and 66.81% have received the first dose of the vaccine.

President Trauth said Texas State will provide a formal update regarding course delivery, university operations, and health and safety measures this week. What do you think Texas State University should do?

Written by: ktsw899

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