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DSU to require COVID booster, delay in-person classes

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DSU President Tony Allen announced that the university will require COVID-19 vaccine booster shots for those on campus. | DBT PHOTO BY JACOB OWENS

DOVER – Just days after the University of Delaware announced that it would join the growing number of colleges and universities to require a COVID-19 vaccine booster to enroll in the spring semester, Delaware State University announced Dec. 23 that it would do the same.

In addition, DSU President Tony Allen said the significant increase in omicron COVID variant cases nationwide and around the world convinced Delaware’s historically Black university to also delay its return to in-person instruction for the spring semester by at least two weeks. Classes will begin as planned on Jan. 10, but they will occur online.

To return to campus, all students, faculty and staff will be required to get a booster shot, officials said. Unless they have university-approved religious or medical exceptions, those without booster-shot protection will not permitted on campus during the upcoming spring semester. 

“With the widespread availability of booster shots, the University is emphasizing to all students that they should get a booster shot as soon as possible,” said Dr. Michelle Fisher, Associate Vice President of Campus Health. “The booster does not provide maximum effectiveness until two weeks after it is administered, and the University wants its students as fully protected as possible before they arrive on campus at the beginning of the semester.”  The University is also making booster shots available on campus throughout January. 

Dr. Neil Hockstein, a Delaware physician and an advisor to Testing for America, which designed the university’s original COVID response plan, said the measures that DSU is implementing are the appropriate responses to the widespread increase in the highly infectious omicron COVID variant cases.

“Delaware State University has done an incredible job at keeping its students safe during this pandemic through testing, quarantine, social distancing, and contact tracing. Along with carefully staying abreast of all CDC recommendations, this has allowed the university to stay open and keep its COVID positive rate far below state and national averages,” Hockstein said in a statement. “The omicron variant represents a new challenge because it is so highly contagious, but by mandating vaccine booster shots and briefly delaying the start of face-to-face classes, university leaders are giving their community the best chance for students to continue working toward their degrees in relative safety.”

DSU will hold a open forum on Tuesday, Dec. 28, at 11 a.m. to answer questions and provide additional information. The forum will also be posted on the COVID landing page, and include a Q&A afterward.

“While COVID-19 continues to disrupt our normal business, the university’s nimble, science-based approach has served us well since the pandemic’s earliest days, keeping case counts low by using the best tools at our disposal, including required vaccination, mask wearing, regular testing, and contact-tracing protocols,” Allen said in a statement.

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