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COVID-19 cases rise on campus, as peer institutions announce Spring 2022 plans

<h5>McCosh Health Center</h5>
<h6>Abby de Riel / The Daily Princetonian</h6>
McCosh Health Center
Abby de Riel / The Daily Princetonian

During the penultimate week of the semester, the University’s COVID-19 positivity rate was 0.58 percent, according to the COVID-19 dashboard — the highest positivity rate since the return of students to campus in early 2021.

The dashboard still lists the Campus Risk Status as “Moderate to High,” despite a positivity rate above 0.5 percent being labeled as “High” elsewhere on the site. According to the website, positivity rate is one of many factors that determines the Campus Risk Status.

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“Above [0.5 percent], our ability to provide isolation, quarantine, contact tracing, etc. may be compromised,” the website explains.

During the week of Dec. 11–17, the website also reported a maximum isolation dorm occupancy rate of 91.7 percent, among the highest the University has experienced.

On Dec. 20, there were 43 total positive cases, an all-time high, surpassed only by the following day, which had 44 cases. On both days, the majority of positive tests came from faculty and staff, with 28 and 29 cases on Dec. 20 and 21, respectively.

Professor of African American Studies Eddie Glaude Jr. tweeted on Thursday morning about his positive test result, stating that “Symptoms range from minor body aches, bad headache and scratchy throat.”

Glaude did not respond to a request for comment from The Daily Princetonian by the time of publication.

The case counts came as students navigated final exams and assignments, as well as move-out before winter break.

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In an email to the student body on Dec. 14, Dean of the College Jill Dolan encouraged students to “leave campus at their earliest convenience,” and explained that all finals Dec. 16 onwards would be given in a remote format only.

As peer institutions like Harvard, Yale, and Stanford make decisions regarding the beginning of the spring semester, Princeton has yet to make any formal announcements about delaying the start of courses or making instruction remote.

Yale and Stanford have both elected for the first two weeks of instruction to be held remotely. Yale will also delay the start of the semester by two weeks and shorten its spring break. Harvard will be remote for the first three weeks of January but undergraduate classes, starting January 24th, are expected to be held in-person. Brown has announced that it will not make instruction remote or delay the semester. 

Princeton has, however, announced that it will require all eligible students, faculty, and staff to receive their booster vaccine before Jan. 31. Students not remaining on campus over winter break will be allowed to return to campus as early as Jan. 7, when building access will be restored. Classes for the Spring 2022 semester are scheduled to begin on Jan. 24.

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Andrew Somerville is a staff writer who corresponds with and covers USG happenings and other campus news. He can be reached at jas19@princeton.edu.

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