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Randolph College delays start of spring 2022 semester, mandates COVID boosters

Coronavirus
(Photo: Courtesy MGN Image)

(Photo: Courtesy MGN Image)

LYNCHBURG, Va. (WFXR) — Due to the recent and rapid surge of COVID-19 cases across the country and across Virginia, Randolph College decided to take extra steps to protect the campus community by postponing the start date for the spring semester and requiring vaccine booster shots.

On Friday, Jan. 7, school officials announced that they no longer think beginning the spring semester on Jan. 18 would be safe or feasible due to the current state of the coronavirus pandemic.

As a result, the college’s COVID-19 Task Force decided to delay the reopening of the residence halls until Jan. 29 and the first day of classes until Jan. 31 in hopes that the extra time will be enough for the surge to run its course.

As a result of the delay, spring break will be held March 23-30, exams will take place on May 20-21, and commencement will be pushed to May 29, according to Randolph College.

In addition to the calendar change, school officials say they also decided to require coronavirus vaccine boosters for students who are eligible to receive them. Those who are eligible — and who do not have an approved religious or medical exemption — should receive the booster shot by Jan. 28 at the latest.

The college says that you are eligible for a COVID-19 booster if it has been five months since your initial Pfizer series, six months since your initial Moderna series, or two months since your initial Johnson & Johnson dose.

If you are not currently eligible for the booster, you need to receive the shot within two weeks of becoming eligible.

You can read the Friday’s full message to the Randolph College community below:

I write today with two very important announcements regarding the spring semester calendar and booster shots. As has been the case throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, we have been forced to be flexible and find creative solutions to keep our College family safe and healthy. Vaccinations and safe practices like mask wearing have allowed us to contain the spread of COVID-19 on our campus, and we hope these measures will continue to have a positive effect this spring. While we all wish we were not having these discussions, it is imperative for us to continue to do everything possible to ensure that we keep our community safe and healthy and in person.

The rapid surge of COVID-19 cases throughout the United States, thanks in large part to the high transmission of the Omicron variant, has caused us to look very carefully at our spring semester start date. Just a week or two ago, we were comfortable with the schedule. However, given the current conditions, we do not think a Jan. 18 start date is feasible or wise for our community.

The COVID-19 Task Force has decided that in order to protect our campus family, we will delay the opening of the spring 2022 academic semester until Jan. 31. We believe this delay will hopefully allow this surge to run its course and also help us remain committed to an in-person learning environment.

Under this new calendar, residence halls will reopen on Jan. 29, and classes will begin on Jan. 31. Spring Break will take place March 23-30, exams will be held May 20-21, and Commencement will be moved to May 29. I realize that the calendar change will cause some issues and rescheduling of certain events. We will be working through these questions and concerns over the coming days and will send more information as it is available.

In addition to this calendar change, we have also made the decision to require booster shots for students who are eligible to receive them (and who do not have an approved religious or medical exemption). Those who are eligible should plan to receive your booster shot as soon as possible or by Jan. 28 at the latest. You are eligible for a COVID-19 booster if it has been 5 months since your initial Pfizer or 6 months since your initial Moderna series, or 2 months following your initial J&J vaccine. If you are not currently eligible, you must receive a booster within 2 weeks of becoming eligible for the booster.

Please submit documentation of your vaccine booster to the Health Center as soon as possible. For questions, please contact Ruby Bryant at rbryant@randolphcollege.edu.

The emerging Omicron variant is causing concern throughout our nation, and as we prepare for the opening of the spring semester, we will continue to monitor the COVID-19 situation locally and nationally. In the meantime, please be vigilant in your efforts to stay safe, and we look forward to being together at the end of January.

For more information about Randolph College’s current pandemic policy for the spring semester, click here.

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