It is the third-oldest institution of higher learning in the United States of America as well as one of the most prestigious across the globe. Yale University, despite mandates requiring all students to get COVID booster shots, is now banning their students from frequenting local restaurants and businesses in an attempt to quell the COVID uprise. Per their tweet, the Yale Daily News reported this new policy.
This new take on Yale’s quarantine policy, which was announced last month, comes as COVID numbers are spiking across the nation with the omicron variant taking firm hold, instilling more fear (justified or not) among the masses. “A recent, worldwide surge in COVID-19 cases, driven by the highly infectious Omicron strain, has prompted us to raise alert levels on campus and adjust our plans to best protect our community,” university President Peter Salovey said in the announcement via the Washington Examiner.
The first quarantine policy was announced on December 22, 2021, and was in place for students when they were set to return from winter break and begin their spring semester on January 17, 2022. Now, the spring semester start was pushed back a week, so now it will start on January 25, 2022. Yale also announced in this updated policy that the first two weeks of instruction would be conducted remotely.
Along with that, Dean of Student Affairs Melanie Boyd announced a number of public health restrictions aimed at frustrated students. First, upon students return before which they will need to take a COVID test to get on campus, they will be hit with a two-phase quarantine. Students will be expected to self-quarantine until they receive a negative COVID test result. After they receive their negative results, they are then expected to follow a campus-wide quarantine that will be in effect until February 7, 2022. During this time, students are not allowed to leave the campus. They are not allowed to go into any New Haven (the city in Connecticut where Yale is located) businesses or restaurants.
Yale dining halls will continue to be open during this quarantine period, but only for grab-and-go service. Boyd also informed students that McClellan Hall, which was one of the university’s original dormitories, would once again be used as isolation housing for students who test positive for COVID. Students were sent an email outlining the isolation timelines for students who test positive.
The university also announced that any in-person gatherings and visitors would be temporarily prohibited unless they received prior approval from public health officials. Mask guidelines were also updated as the school now says that cloth face masks are no longer acceptable as face coverings.
As far as Yale’s two-phase arrival quarantine, here is what the university is requiring from their students in Phase One: a student’s individual in-room quarantine begins when they arrive on campus from winter break and ends when they get the results of their COVID test. Students are expected to stay in their suites or off-campus housing until that time. They can only leave to pick up food, test, or if any other medical issues arise. Students are expected to wear their masks at all times, even when in the company of their roommates. They are also expected to avoid any unnecessary contact with others.
Phase Two is Yale’s campus-wide quarantine. They say that they expect it to end on February 7, 2022, but that date can fluctuate according to whatever public health officials deem appropriate as COVID numbers rise or fall. Phase Two states that if a student tests negative for COVID, they can then move freely around campus “but avoid local businesses, restaurants, and bars, including outdoor drinking or dining.” If negative, students can take walks or go for runs off-campus.
Boyd also said there was another option for students who are not comfortable coming back to school under those conditions. “While I hope students will feel comfortable coming back to campus, it’s also possible to take a leave of absence—as a pandemic accommodation, Yale College continues to waive the cap on leaves of absence,” she said via the Yale Daily News.
It should be noted that Yale’s return-to-school policies are much stricter than some of the other Ivy League schools. Brown and Harvard have already announced they are moving forward with an in-person spring semester and Dartmouth has already begun theirs. But Yale isn’t alone altogether as Columbia and the University of Pennsylvania have either started or plan to start their classes online.
Yale students are allowed to come back from winter break or move in beginning January 14, 2022 through February 4. The goal is to start in-class instruction on February 7 but that will be based on a few factors that include the available isolation housing, hospital capacity in New Haven, and just how prevalent COVID and the new variant is across the city.