Cornell University announced Tuesday that all remaining final exams would be administered online and the university’s fall graduation ceremony had been canceled due to high COVID-19 transmission and the omicron variant.
The university made the announcement that “rapid spread of COVID-19 among our student population” had prompted the decision to close campus classrooms before final exams had finished. The university also closed the campus libraries and gyms and canceled the school’s December graduation ceremony.
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"While there is still much that is not known about the Omicron variant, it appears to be significantly more transmissible than Delta and other variants,” university President Martha Pollack said in a letter to the campus community.
“There is some evidence (though far from certain) that it generally causes milder cases, particularly among vaccinated individuals,” Pollack continued. “However, when you have high transmissibility, you’re going to have very high numbers of cases, and so even with lower rates of serious illness, outbreaks must be taken seriously.”
Cornell’s COVID-19 tracker site says that, in the past week, the university has administered over 27,000 tests with 665 positive cases, about a 2% positivity rate.
Pollack acknowledged that none of the infected students had developed severe symptoms but said, “We do have a role to play in reducing the spread of the disease in the broader community.”
“It is obviously extremely dispiriting to have to take these steps,” the university president wrote. “However, since the start of the pandemic, our commitment has been to follow the science and do all we can to protect the health of our faculty, staff, and students.”
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The university has a mandatory vaccination requirement for students who are taking classes in person.