SEATTLE — The University of Washington will make most of its classes virtual the first week of the winter quarter due to the fast-spreading omicron COVID-19 variant and the short time between holiday gatherings and class resuming.
For the week of Jan. 3, most classes will be held online, but clinical instruction and practicums will occur in person, and facilities at all three campuses will mostly remain open during work hours.
The university said in a release that it plans to return to in-person instruction on Jan. 10.
The CDC says more than 70% of all cases in the U.S. are omicron, and King County health officials warned last week that case counts could soon reach more than 2,000 daily new cases.
President Joe Biden addressed the country on Tuesday, saying the government would be providing 500 million rapid tests to Americans, as well as increasing support to overwhelmed hospitals.
UW officials said that delaying in-person classes will enable more people to get their booster and allow people a week to monitor for symptoms and get tested following holiday gatherings.
To many, the spread of omicron is reminiscent of the early days of the pandemic, but university and health officials have reminded the public that much has changed. There are now vaccines and boosters, which greatly decrease the likelihood of experiencing severe disease, and a better understanding of necessary preventative measures, including masks and testing.
University officials did not say they would require boosters -- something the University of Oregon announced this week -- but instead said they would follow any future changes to state vaccine requirements.