Omicron pushes most UW classes online first week of January

SEATTLE (AP) — University of Washington officials said Tuesday remote learning will happen during the first week of the winter quarter in January because of growing concerns about the rapidly spreading omicron variant.

The university told students, staff and faculty that most classes will be held online Jan. 3 through Jan. 9 as they track infections, The Seattle Times reported.

“A week of primarily online classes will help minimize disruptions caused by the omicron variant and enable more people to receive a vaccination booster prior to in-person classes,” UW President Ana Mari Cauce and Provost and Executive Vice President Mark Richards said in a Tuesday message.

“We recognize the news in recent days — and even this announcement — may spark both concern and a sense of déjà vu,” the announcement said.

Several other schools across the country are taking similar measures in the face of the highly-contagious variant, including DePaul, Harvard and Stanford universities.

The University of Oregon in Eugene said this week it will require all students, faculty, and staff to receive a COVID-19 booster as soon as they are eligible. Willamette University in Salem said it will move many large classes online for at least the first two weeks of the spring semester, KOIN reported.

Oregon Gov. Kate Brown on Tuesday extended Oregon’s declaration of a state of emergency, as health officials prepare for an expected surge in omicron COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations.

In a news briefing Tuesday, Washington state health leaders urged eligible people to seek a booster shot “immediately,” as omicron cases increase.