Online School

Amid rise in COVID cases, UM to start spring term online


The University of Miami Coral Gables campus. UM announced Thursday night that it will start the 2022 spring semester remotely due to a rise in COVID cases in Florida.

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Amid rapidly surging COVID cases in South Florida, the University of Miami announced Wednesday evening it will start the spring semester with remote-only classes for the first two weeks.

Classes will start on Tuesday, Jan. 18, as scheduled, but students will not be attending courses in classrooms at either the Coral Gables or Marine campuses, according to an email sent at 7:10 p.m. from UM President Julio Frenk. Students and employees at the medical campus will follow guidance from UHealth and the Miller School of Medicine, Frenk said.

Classes will resume with in-person teaching on Jan. 31, he added.

Additionally, orientation and on-campus indoor events planned for the first two weeks of the semester will be transitioned online or postponed.

UM’s decision to pivot to remote learning at the start of the semester follows a trend happening at many colleges across the country, as they contend with surging COVID cases brought on by the highly contagious omicron variant of the coronavirus converging with the delta variant and loosening safety protocols such as mask mandates.

UF faculty say classes should begin remotely in spring term

On Wednesday, the Florida Board of Governors, which oversees the state’s 12 public universities with more than 330,000 students, urged all students and employees to wear masks on campus and get booster shots before classes begin in January, according to a letter posted on its website by board chairman Syd Kitson and system chancellor Marshall Criser, as first reported by the News Service of Florida.

On Tuesday, University of Florida faculty union leaders sent an email to UF President Kent Fuchs, asking that the university start classes remotely for the first three weeks of the spring term, which begins Jan. 5, according to the News Service report.

Fuchs responded Wednesday in an email, saying he will “let the bargaining team respond to items specifically from the union,” the News Service reported.

At UM, “only staff who have been on campus directly supporting students and faculty should return to on-site work next week as planned,” Frenk’s email said. Faculty and staff working remotely are expected back on campus Jan. 31.

Returning students will be required to show a negative test within 48 to 72 hours of their arrival on campus. Students who live on campus in residential housing will be tested again upon arrival.

Booster shots required to be fully vaccinated at UM

UM also announced that for members of the school community to be considered “fully vaccinated,” they must receive their booster shots.

But students are not required to be vaccinated. Rather, students who are not fully vaccinated, including a booster shot, will be tested twice a week.

At the start of the fall semester in August, UM’s faculty senate had unanimously passed a resolution recommending students be required to get vaccinated, except for those with religious exemptions. The senate has not weighed in on the spring measures as the school is closed for the holidays.

Frenk’s email also states that indoor masking will continue to be required.

Lastly, UM will adjust its isolation and quarantine policies in accordance with the most recent CDC guidelines. On Monday, the CDC shortened the recommended quarantine time for people who’ve tested positive for COVID from 10 days to five days if they don’t have symptoms.

The email says that further instructions will be announced next week.

An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated the day that UM President Julio Frenk sent an email announcing the university would start classes remotely in the spring 2022 term. The correct day of the email was Wednesday.

This story was originally published December 29, 2021 9:43 PM.