University of Delaware and Delaware State require COVID-19 booster shots for students

The University of Delaware and Delaware State University are requiring students to receive a COVID-19 booster shot before the beginning of their spring semesters.

The announcements came as COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations surge in the face of the widespread delta variant and the emerging omicron variant, both of which are more transmissible than earlier strains of the virus. Research indicates the protection afforded by the initial vaccine doses wanes over time.

Students are checked in at the Field House - where hand sanitizer and masks are put to use - as the University of Delaware held move-in days in 2020.

DSU announced Thursday it is delaying students’ return to campus by two weeks. The spring semester will begin virtually on Jan. 10. Students are required to have the booster by Jan. 24, the day classes are scheduled to return in person.

As part of its announcement, DSU said faculty and staff are “expected to get the booster as well.”

UD students must get the booster by Jan. 24 unless they previously received an exemption, the school announced last week. The mandate applies regardless of whether students are taking classes on campus, online or in a hybrid format. UD’s spring semester begins Feb. 7. 

Graduates file into the Tubman/Laws Residential Courtyard as the College of Health and Behavioral Sciences of Delaware State University holds commencement ceremonies for the class of 2021, Saturday afternoon, May 8, 2021 at the Dover campus. Delaware State held multiple smaller ceremonies, at times overlapping, and concluded with a commencement ceremony for the class of 2020, which had missed out on an in-person event last year in favor of a virtual ceremony.

COVID-19 IN DELAWARE: What you need to know about the COVID-19 surge as Delaware hospitals run over capacity

Over the past two weeks, the number of COVID-19 cases in Delaware has increased 35%. The weekly case average and number of hospitalizations are the highest they’ve been since January.

Last week, UD reported 117 cases between students and employees. It was the school’s highest mark since the week beginning Sept. 5. UD averaged fewer than 50 cases per week during the fall.

According to the university, 91% of students are fully vaccinated, meaning they received two doses of the Moderna or Pfizer vaccines or the single-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

Fans show proof of vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test as well as a separate coronavirus protocol check-in as they enter Delaware Stadium for a University of Delaware football home opener, Saturday, Sept. 11, 2021.

Ninety-three percent of employees are fully vaccinated. UD implemented a vaccine mandate for employees with a Dec. 8 deadline in October. The school announced its vaccination mandate for students in May.

Those who are exempt must be tested weekly.

Contact Brandon Holveck at Follow him on Twitter @holveck_brandon.

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