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ULouisville Refuses to Go Remote, Says Omicron ‘Less Severe’

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Administrators at the University of Louisville have refused to switch to distance classes, going against hundreds of other colleges and universities that moved online for spring amid a surge in COVID infections.

In a letter on Monday, university leaders announced that spring courses would be held in person despite the threat of the Omicron variant.

“The risk of severe illness to fully vaccinated individuals from contracting COVID remains very low (and even lower to boosted individuals). Research shows that the Omicron variant causes less severe disease than previous variants,” the letter stated.

Interim President Lori Stewart Gonzalez added that remote classes negatively impacted students’ mental health. When implemented with proper health protocols, in-person instruction is more effective for students and safe for faculty, she said.

“An Indiana University study has shown that COVID transmission was lower when students took more in-person classes, and the CDC has compiled other studies that support this finding,” Gonzalez wrote.

The message comes as the country sets new records for COVID hospitalizations, surpassing last winter’s peak over the weekend. 

‘No Wiggle Room’

The Courier-Journal reported that interim dean of arts and sciences David Owens told department chairs that refusing to attend in-person courses “may result in discipline.” The school has also made it clear that there is no “wiggle room” on the policy.

Many students and staff are concerned, with some calling the policy “ridiculous and short-sighted.” Nearly 1,500 faculty, students, and graduate workers have signed a petition asking the university to reconsider its guidelines.

“The Petition to Keep all Cardinals Safe” includes six demands, though students and staff say all they want for now is to protect the community’s health by moving classes online.

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