Ithaca College announced that students returning to campus for the Spring 2022 semester will be required to have a booster shot of the COVID-19 vaccine, among other new requirements. The college will also require students to show proof of a negative polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test within 72 hours of arriving on campus.
In a Dec. 22 email to the campus community, the college announced these new requirements. In addition, the email said both on– and off-campus students will be required to go through a check–in process at the Athletics and Events Center. The college will hold a six–day move-in process, from Jan. 18–23. The email stated that the deadline for students to show proof of their booster shots is Feb. 15, unless their eligibility for obtaining a booster is within 30 days of the Feb. 15 deadline. Students who have medical or religious exemptions will not be required to get a booster shot but will still have to abide by the college’s safety protocols for unvaccinated students.
The college will begin the Spring 2022 semester at a Yellow: Low to Moderate Risk alert status, meaning non-academic social activities will be canceled. However, the fitness center will be open and athletic events will not be canceled. Out-of-county travel and non-student campus visitations are strongly discouraged. During the final weeks of the Fall 2021 semester, the number of student COVID-19 cases spiked. The semester ended with the college at the “Orange: Moderate Risk” alert level and 123 cases. Currently, there are 228 student cases.
The Omicron variant is now the dominant strain of COVID-19 in the United States, with 73% of new cases being due to Omicron. However, the variant produces mild symptoms, with a 30–70% reduction in new patients requiring hospital treatment. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced that booster shots are effective at preventing strong reactions to the Omicron variant. Cornell University will also require COVID-19 booster shots.
In Tompkins County, there are currently 2,630 cases and 19 hospitalizations, according a Dec. 21 press release by the Tompkins County Health Department. The press release also said that 11 of these hospitalizations occurred within the past seven days. At Cornell, there were 1,021 discovered in the past week, with a 10% positivity rate in testing.