Earlier this month, the highly contagious omicron variant of COVID-19 led to huge increases in cases on some college campuses.  In response, a few colleges moved finals online and encouraged students to leave campus as soon as possible.  Now, as schools prepare to resume classes in January and COVID cases across the U.S. continue to spike, colleges are taking a variety of approaches to keep students safe.

Some schools will start the semester or quarter online, including Harvard, Stanford, Northwestern, two University of Illinois campuses, two University of Washington campuses, and seven of the ten University of California campuses.

In May, I published a blog post about colleges with COVID-19 vaccine mandates.  Last spring, The Chronicle of Higher Education compiled and has since regularly updated a list of such schools.  When I published the aforementioned blog post, there were 361 colleges on the list.  When the list was last updated on January 6, it included 1,125 schools.

More and more of these colleges are requiring booster shots.  On December 22, there were 78 colleges on the Chronicle‘s list that required a booster.  By January 6, the number had grown to almost 200.

Of the colleges that will start with online instruction in January, some will do it for just a few days while others are planning for a few weeks of remote learning.  But depending on what happens with COVID case numbers, those plans could be extended.  Of course, no one wants to see a repeat of spring 2020, when so many campuses shut down and sent students home to finish the semester online.  Hopefully, that won’t be necessary, but if there’s anything we’ve learned in the nearly two years that we’ve been living with COVID-19, we should expect the best but prepare for the worst.