From college campuses to professional sports, omicron variant causes institutions to take action

PITTSBURGH — As 2021 comes to an end and the New Year approaches, omicron is bringing with it quite a bit of uncertainty.

College campuses are re-thinking what the spring semester will look like. The University of Pittsburgh says it’s keeping a close eye on the numbers and will reassess what’s best for the health and safety of everyone once the new semester is a bit closer. It will keep its mask policy in place.  Pitt students say they wonder if they’ll be able to return to in-person classes once winter break is over.

“Omicron is definitely a little bit scary,” Liam Nearly tells Channel 11. “I think we should expect to see an increase in cases when we come back.  Everybody goes in all directions out and all directions coming in,” Neary added.  “It’s scary, but we’re all just hoping for the best,” Shannon Siedel added. “There’s going to be a lot of large family gatherings that might become problematic,” Siedel continued.

In an email Friday, Pitt’s Chancellor encouraged all students to get vaccinated and to get a booster shot.

“We got an email just today that they’re aware this is picking up and we need to be careful,” Lexi Korenoski said.  “This is pretty serious,” Aaron Matthews tells Channel 11. “I would definitely not want another remote semester — I’m a senior, I’m graduating.”

Penn State University says local COVID-19 cases are at an all-time high and students and staff should prepare for a virtual spring semester.

Carnegie Mellon University was among the first in the nation to require booster shots. All students and staff will also have to have a negative COVID-19 test, regardless of vaccination status upon return in January.

Duquesne University tells Channel 11 it has discussed and is prepared for a variety of possibilities depending on changing conditions.  Boosters, flu shots and a negative test before returning to campus are highly encouraged.

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