Colleges with students fully vaccinated against COVID-19 are now seeing surges in infections. The case spikes were largely driven by the highly transmissible B11529 omicron variant.

The University of Oregon (UO) is one such college that saw COVID-19 cases rise among fully vaccinated students. Aisha Ghorashian, a senior at the university, told NPR:

“You feel the stress on campus. People don’t feel safe. You see people wearing double masking and those N95 [masks] that I’ve never seen people wear before.”

Despite UO’s student body having a vaccination rate of more than 96%, the university still reported 960 COVID-19 infections in the first week of January 2022. This coincided with students returning to campus for in-person classes.

Several colleges and universities also reported spikes in infections in the first week of the spring semester. The University of Georgia reported almost a thousand positive cases on campus. Dartmouth College in New Hampshire, meanwhile, reported 1,196 confirmed COVID-19 cases.

Dartmouth senior Sophia Kriz told NPR that she is worried that the steady rise of COVID-19 infections on campus could shut down the semester.

“It sort of feels like we’re in a state of limbo. We’re all on campus, but we’re all just waiting to hear how things are going. All I can do from there is just hope that things get a little more normal.”

According to NPR, colleges are some of the most vaccinated places in the United States. It cited a study by the COVID States Project, which said that 74% of college students were injected with the COVID-19 vaccines at least once as of September 2021.

Despite omicron hitting fully vaccinated people, the mainstream media claims the resumption of in-person learning in the spring semester is to blame for the infection. According to the College Crisis Initiative, only 14% of colleges started the semester online. Before the COVID-19 vaccines were developed, about 40% of colleges began their semesters virtually.

If omicron only hits the fully vaccinated, why restrict unvaccinated students also?

NPR also mentioned the different protocols colleges have implemented to address the spike in infections. Dartmouth has required all students to get a COVID-19 booster shot by the end of January. The New Hampshire-based college has also implemented weekly COVID-19 testing and moved most social activities online. Face-to-face classes remain, however.

Others have resorted to emergency measures. Some schools are now tapping hotels to house COVID-positive students.

One educational institution in Los Angeles opted for a more radical measure – “isolating” unvaccinated students behind tape barriers. L.A.-based New West Charter School (NWCS) confirmed on January 18th that it had segregated a group of students who did not receive the vaccine. The school claimed that the cordoned-off students were conducting a sit-in protest against the charter school’s vaccine mandate.

The six students who did the sit-in were not even allowed to use the bathroom. NWCS also allegedly threatened to suspend the unvaccinated students for turning down the COVID-19 shot.

According to a statement from the charter school, it had implemented a vaccine mandate for students – with a compliance rate of 96%. The six students who were cordoned off “did not follow the new [vaccination] policy” and “still attempted to participate in classes,” leading NWCS to ask them to leave the campus. The unvaccinated students refused to do so and instead did the sit-in.

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