Iconic Hepner Hall at San Diego State University. Photo by Chris Jennewein

Due to rising COVID-19 numbers and an anticipated mid-January surge following holiday celebrations, San Diego State leaders Wednesday announced that SDSU would begin its spring semester virtually.

The semester, scheduled to start Jan. 19, will remain virtual through at least Feb. 4. Return to in-person instruction is scheduled for Feb. 7.

“The temporary start in the virtual space will allow the January case spike to subside, and also provide a window for those who recently received their COVID-19 booster an additional two-week period for it to take full effect,” read a joint letter by SDSU President Adela de la Torre, Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs Salvador Hector Ochoa and Interim Director of the School of Public Health Eyal Oren.

All students, faculty and staff eligible for the COVID-19 booster will be required to have their booster on file in HealthConnect by Jan. 18 to be considered fully vaccinated, according to guidelines announced last month by the California State University system. The Jan. 18 deadline remains in place, SDSU said.

SDSU campuses will remain open during the two-week virtual period, but nearly all classes and labs will remain remote with a few in-person exceptions.

Additionally, SDSU asked residential students to delay returning to campus until Feb. 5 or Feb. 6 if they are able to do so. However, on-campus housing will continue to be open as scheduled for students who are unable to delay their return.

COVID-19 testing remains available for students, faculty and staff through SDSU’s Student Health Services. COVID-19 test kits are also available for students, faculty and staff at vending machine locations across SDSU and SDSU Imperial Valley.

“The health and safety of our entire campus community remains paramount, and we remain incredibly proud of our extremely high COVID-19 vaccination rates among our students, faculty and staff,” the joint letter read. “With these proactive measures in place, we can safely and successfully enter into the start of the spring 2022 semester together.”

San Diego State also updated COVID-19 guidelines on Tuesday for those attending basketball games at the university’s Viejas Arena. All guests age 2 and older are required to present either proof of a completed COVID-19 vaccine series or a negative COVID-19 test. Starting Jan. 18, all people eligible for the COVID-19 booster will be required to show proof of the booster in order to qualify as having completed the COVID-19 vaccine series.

SDSU is offering game-day antigen testing for basketball guests via Phamatech. Tests will cost $35, paid online when signing up.

Similarly, UC San Diego began a planned two weeks of remote-only classes Monday in an effort to reduce the spread of COVID-19.

Students and faculty, regardless of vaccination status, are required to complete a COVID-19 test on the day they return to campus for winter quarter. People who are not vaccinated and those who are vaccinated but have not received a booster shot are required to test for the virus two times per week, between three and five days apart.

Remote-only instruction also began Monday at other University of California campuses.

–City News Service

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