Dec. 22, 2021
We recognize that many in our campus community have questions about whether the omicron variant of COVID-19 will impact the university’s spring semester operations. We are writing to confirm that CU Boulder will not alter our Jan. 10 start to the spring semester, with the vast majority of classes being offered in person as planned.
We continue to rely upon the advice of our Scientific Steering Committee and our Public Health Office, which are taking into account the specific conditions prevailing on our campus and in the Boulder community. At this time, we anticipate few changes to our previously announced spring plans thanks to our campus’s high vaccination rate and low case rates as the fall semester ended, as well as our indoor mask requirement and other mitigation measures.
Currently, CU Boulder is not requiring those who are fully vaccinated to get COVID-19 booster shots, though we do highly recommend boosters as an added layer of protection to help minimize negative health impacts in our community and decrease the possibility of disruption to the spring semester. While the omicron variant does appear to be more transmissible than other variants, vaccination continues to appear to provide the best defense against severe illness. The currently available data also demonstrate significantly lower rates of hospitalization among those who have been vaccinated.
Our current vaccine reporting requirements are aligned with the recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which considers a full course of vaccination as consisting of two doses of either the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines or one dose of Johnson and Johnson’s Janssen vaccine. Of the students, faculty and staff who have completed CU Boulder’s vaccine requirement, more than 96% are confirmed to have received a full course.
While we encourage eligible people to receive their booster as soon as possible, we believe our current reporting requirements, the continued uptake of boosters in the community and our indoor masking requirements in educational and public spaces provide the right foundation as we begin the spring semester.
What we’re tracking
We will remain vigilant as we enter the new year and gain more data about omicron. In conjunction with our campus Scientific Steering Committee, our Public Health Office will continue to monitor the latest COVID-19 developments, including while many campus offices and services are closed Dec. 25 to Jan. 2, to ensure we are making decisions that prioritize the health and safety of our campus and surrounding community. Our decisions will align with the latest science and federal and state guidelines, and we will continue to provide updates to our campus community as new information becomes available.
Metrics our Scientific Steering Committee and Public Health Office will continue to monitor as the omicron variant spreads include:
- The severity of breakthrough cases specific to individual variants.
- Transmission of breakthrough cases between vaccinated people.
- The percentage of our population that is fully vaccinated, which is high not only on campus but also in the surrounding communities.
To continue to protect yourself and your community, the university’s Public Health Office recommends getting tested during the holiday season prior to gathering with others indoors in order to detect cases early and prevent transmission. In addition to on-campus testing at Wardenburg, the state offers numerous free community testing sites as well as free distribution of at-home test kits.
We are grateful that our campus community answered the call to get vaccinated and has been receiving boosters when they are eligible to do so. These measures will provide the best protection as we approach the spring semester. Thank you for your commitment to the health and safety of our campus and broader community.
Chief Operating Officer