NAU to focus on in-person programming this spring

Dr. Jani Ingram and students, Andee and Jonathan are involved in cancer research at NAU. (Photo courtesy of NAU)

Dr. Jani Ingram and students, Andee and Jonathan are involved in cancer research at NAU. (Photo courtesy of NAU)

FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. — Despite reports about the spread of the omicron variant of COVID-19, Northern Arizona University intends to move forward with the current academic calendar and provide mostly in-person activities at the Flagstaff campus with classes beginning Jan. 10.

Based on the successful management of the delta variant during the fall semester, the school is planning for a full in-person living and learning experience and is confident in the protocols in place, according to NAU president Jose Luis Cruz Rivera.

“As we head into the New Year, we have reason to be both vigilant about omicron and optimistic about our ability to meet this now dominant pandemic variant head on,” Rivera said in a release.

Although some colleges are returning to online learning and other alternative programs in response to the omicron variant, NAU leadership is optimistic as the school heads into the spring semester.

“In recent days, some institutions have announced delaying the start of the semester or starting online for the first one or two weeks, others have instituted booster mandates for all eligible faculty, staff, and students, and most have either confirmed there will be no changes to their calendars or have yet to announce any changes to their plans,” Rivera said.

Over the past weeks, NAU leadership has discussed the best way to handle the rise in omicron and continue the schools educational mission and support for students.

“In thinking about these commitments, we must also factor in the reality that COVID-19 will be with us for the long haul, that each day that passes brings with it new knowledge, new therapeutic treatments, and new public health strategies, and that to date—in the case of NAU—we have amassed an impressive track record of success through intentional mitigation practices and the deep commitment of our Jacks to the safety of all in our community,” Rivera said.

The university plans to continue mititgation measures by making vaccines and booster shot available for the community, and offer testing throughout the spring at the campus. The school also strongly encourages the use of masks and social distancing.

“Get vaccinated and boosted. For those of you who have chosen to be vaccinated, please plan to get your booster shot (if you have not received it already) prior to returning to in-person work and study or within the first week of your return—the booster shot has proven to be an effective tool to reduce severe illness from Omicron,” Rivera addressed students. “Shots and boosters are readily available across the state and country, as well as conveniently accessible at the NAU Fieldhouse.”

Rivera also said the mitigation strategies and academic calendar could be adjusted if the situation changes.

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