Updated: Dec. 20, 2021 at 4:02 p.m.
Officials are canceling all in-person social gatherings immediately and will move exams online beginning Friday to curb a recent rise in COVID-19 cases.
Faculty can begin holding exams virtually sooner than Friday, and officials are restricting eating to dining areas only, administrators said in an email to the University community Wednesday afternoon. The change comes amid a recent rise in COVID-19 cases, with officials identifying 92 positive tests Tuesday, the highest single-day case total of the pandemic yet, as the first cases of the Omicron variant were confirmed in the University community.
“We understand that this news comes at an already stressful time during finals and other scheduled end-of-semester activities,” officials said. “At this time, we have not made any changes regarding spring semester. We will continue to monitor COVID-19 transmission among our community members and in the region and will update you with more information soon.”
Georgetown University officials announced Wednesday that University-sponsored events must take place virtually or outdoors after the school reported its highest single-day total of COVID-19 cases to date, The Hoya reported.
The University’s COVID-19 positivity rate has largely stayed below 1 percent this semester but has increased in recent days, according to GW’s testing dashboard. More than 160 cases have been identified in the past week.
Federal public health officials have said preliminary data suggests the Omicron variant could cause a milder infection while having a transmission advantage over existing variants, CNBC reported. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and chief medical advisor to President Joe Biden, said during a White House COVID-19 briefing Wednesday that the Moderna and Pfizer booster shots provide substantial protection against the variant.
Roughly 98 percent of the GW community is vaccinated, and vaccinated individuals must get tested for COVID-19 once every 15 days to maintain access to campus facilities. Unvaccinated community members who have an exemption from the University’s mandate are required to receive a test weekly.
Officials have maintained an indoor mask requirement throughout the semester, even after Mayor Muriel Bowser lifted the District’s mandate last month. City public health officials have since said vaccinated individuals should still wear masks inside due to high transmission rates.
When students return from winter break next month, officials will provide them with a two-day grace period for COVID-19 testing before restricting access to campus facilities.