UW to return to online learning for start of 2022 as Omicron cases rise

The University of Washington is going back to online learning for the start of winter quarter, due to rising cases of the COVID-19 Omicron variant.

The university announced the decision on Tuesday, saying they want to give students more time for testing and booster shots between the holidays and the start of winter quarter. Classes will be moved online between Jan. 3–9, and students will return to in-person learning Monday, Jan. 10.

UW notes that certain lab courses may still be in-person the first week, or have in-person options. Clinical instruction, practicums and research activities will remain in-person, and campus facilities will largely remain open, including housing, libraries, advising and student services.

"We recognize the news in recent days — and even this announcement — may spark both concern and a sense of déjà vu," reads a joint statement from UW President Ana Mari Cauce and Provost Mark A. Richards. "The rapid spread of Omicron does remind us of the spread of the original coronavirus and comes at a time when we are all feeling the losses and the physical, mental and emotional effects of a nearly two-year pandemic."

RELATED: Holiday travel buzzing, but some making last-minute cancellations due to Omicron

The added week of remote learning is meant to prompt students to get their booster shots or monitor symptoms from the holidays before getting back to the classroom, as the Omicron variant has now become the dominant strain in the U.S.

UW leadership also says they are ready to change their booster shoot policy to align with the state's, if such a change were to happen.

"While Omicron is a new risk, our community has demonstrated time and again our ability to meet the many challenges posed by the novel coronavirus," reads the statement. "Thank you for all that you have done and are doing to keep yourselves, your friends and loved ones, and our community safe and healthy, and best wishes for a joyous winter break."

RELATED: CDC data: Omicron now dominant COVID-19 variant in US

READ MORE: Health officials: King County should prepare for omicron COVID surge

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