The University will be conducting classes virtually until at least Jan. 31, according to a Jan. 6 email from President Sarah Mangelsdorf. According to a Jan. 7 email sent by juniors SA president Sabeet Kazmi and SA vice president Rusama Haque, students will not be allowed on campus early unless granted permission by the University. The Jan. 6 email explains a previous Jan. 5 announcement that shifted class online and delayed the standard return to campus as COVID-19 cases skyrocket.
Students will only be allowed to return early if they are already en route to the university, are international travelers with complex visa/travel situations, do not have access to reliable internet at home, or live in an unhealthy family environment. Only students who meet one of these four criteria will be allowed on campus, according to an email from Dean Runner sent to the CT. Students in these four categories must email ResLife (email@example.com) or Dean Runner (firstname.lastname@example.org) to receive approval for early arrival.
Additionally, these students will be required to upload proof of a negative COVID-19 test (taken within 72 hours before arrival) and proof of a booster shot to the UHSConnect portal. Home-administered rapid tests, such as the popular Binax test, will be accepted. Students should take a photo of the test against a sheet of paper and write down their full name, their date of birth, the date and time of the test, location of the test, and their phone number.
The Jan. 5 email also announced that UR would no longer be offering COVID-19 tests to students upon arrival to campus; this along with the sudden shift in tone between the two emails caused confusion and anger among students. Students took to social media, leaving over 400 frustrated comments on UR’s Instagram posts announcing the virtual shift. The Jan. 6 email offered more specific information in regards to the University’s plans for the next month.
Staff are being encouraged to work remotely while essential workers are required to continue in-person, as in previous guidance. Students who remain on campus or plan to return early will have meal plans activated beginning Friday, Jan. 7. Grubhub benefits from the previous semester will be temporarily extended into this semester, allowing students to spend their declining dollars on deliveries from off-campus restaurants. Commuter students and those not returning to campus early will have their meal plans paused “until further notice.”
Dining facilities will open as planned on Jan. 8, serving breakfast, lunch, and dinner options. Continuing COVID-19 protocol, all individuals indoors are required to be masked and gatherings are limited to 10 people while outdoor gatherings are limited to 50.
Libraries on campus will be open and operate as normal assuming apt staff availability. In-season athletics will continue with scheduled league based competition but spectators will be banned at these events. Undergraduate research will continue virtually.
Students who will remain remote will have their “room and board charges adjusted on a pro-rated basis.” According to the email, the amount will be applied to student accounts once the official date to return to campus is determined. Financial aid will not be reduced.
The email slated Jan. 26 as the date University administration will reassess the situation, and decide when and how to fully reopen campus. The Jan. 6 email was the third email in three days which significantly changed the University’s reopening plans.
This decision comes as COVID-19 cases skyrocket in Monroe County. Over 4,000 new cases were recorded on Wednesday, “a three-fold increase from the previous week.” The University reported 40 positive tests on Jan. 6, making a two week total of 228 positive cases.
The complete update can be found on UR’s COVID-19 Resource Center. Cases continue to be updated on UR’s COVID-19 Dashboard and on the Monroe County COVID-19 Dashboard. Additional information about early move-in can be found on the ResLife website.
Correction (01/07/22): The headline and content of this article has been changed in order to reflect updated information that students would be required to seek approval from the university to return early. A previous version of the article suggested students would not need approval to return to campus early.