As of Friday (Dec. 18), 1,605 students at Cornell University have tested positive for SARS-CoV-2 in the last week, with many of them reportedly having the Omicron variant.
The school has a mandatory COVID-19 vaccination policy for students. Mask wearing indoors is compulsory.
“Virtually every case of the Omicron variant to date has been found in fully vaccinated students, a portion of whom had also received a booster shot,” said Vice President for University Relations Joel Malina in a statement.
The campus is now engulfed in fear, anxiety, and speculation, none of which have been mitigated by the University’s response.
Those in quarantine haven’t been using their isolation period to recover from the virus; they have been studying and taking exams remotely, fearing threats of academic probation in retaliation for completing them later. This has been exacerbated by the lack of consistent guidelines for accommodations and general empathy—as some students are still required to take finals despite having COVID-19.
In addition, Cornell has run out of isolation housing, including hotel space off-campus. As a result, many people are forced to stay in their dorms, putting their roommates and suitemates at a high risk of getting infected; some students are sleeping in classrooms to avoid getting sick.
There’s been no clear communication between the university and students.