COVID pushes NIU online to begin semester

University pivots to online for first week of semester.


Northern Star File Photo

The East Lagoon at NIU will sit empty the first week of the Spring 22 semester. NIU announced the decision to begin online starting Jan. 18. NIU expects to return to normal learning Jan. 25.

DeKALB— Out of an abundance of caution, NIU will begin the Spring 2022 semester remotely until Jan. 25 for all courses being taught at NIU.

The decision was made to “help protect the health of our community during the surge of the Omicron variant,” according to the release sent to students Friday. 

Classes are currently the only department that will begin remotely. Campus services, offices and research spaces will remain open and operational during the first week, according to the announcement.

No further information was made available as to the reasoning behind the decision or how class instruction would be given. NIU did not make anyone available for further comment by the time of publication.

The news comes as the University of Illinois-Chicago, Urbana Champaign, DePaul University and Northwestern University all announced similar decisions to move classes remote to begin their respective terms.

Along with remote learning to begin the semester, NIU also announced new testing requirements and COVID guidelines.

Effective Jan. 18, all students will be required to be a part of the on-campus surveillance testing program. Vaccinated students are expected to make up 20% of the weekly testing pool, according to a Wednesday NIU news release.

Vaccinated students should expect to be tested once every five weeks unless having tested positive within 90 days of being asked to test. 

NIU students who chose to register and attend classes in-person had to provide proof of fully vaccinated status by Jan. 6 or be dropped from all courses. Currently, NIU has not made a decision on whether to require COVID-19 booster shots, but “encourage getting a booster as soon as possible,” according to Friday’s news release. 

Over the first week of 2022, DeKalb County had 1,172 positive cases of COVID-19, according to the DeKalb County Health Department

NIU is set to return to regular class schedules on Jan. 25, but if the positivity rate is above 8% on Jan. 23, NIU faculty reserves the right to keep individual classes online until the positivity rate drops below 8%.