At least two Long Island colleges are delaying the start of the spring semester, and they and others are mandating booster vaccinations, as experts predict a January peak in infections from the COVID-19 omicron variant.
They join hundreds of institutions across the country that have taken such steps to protect the fragile normalcy that prevailed on campuses during the fall semester.
Five Towns College in Dix Hills pushed its starting date from Jan. 10 to Jan. 31, while Molloy College in Rockville Centre announced Wednesday that classes will begin Jan. 22 for weekend students and Jan. 24 for weekday students, rather than Jan. 18.
Both will mandate students and employees receive a booster when eligible. At Molloy, those not boosted by Jan. 24 will be required to get a temporary waiver, said spokesman Ken Young. Five Towns College requires those who are eligible to get boosters by the start of the semester.
At Adelphi University, which announced a booster mandate in December, students and faculty must submit a weekly PCR test if they haven’t uploaded documentation of a booster shot by Jan. 21, spokesperson Taylor Damion said.
Boosters also are mandated at Hofstra University, LIU Post, all SUNY campuses, and St. Joseph’s College in Patchogue, where the first week of classes will be remote.
"With the CDC now recommending booster shots, they will be mandatory for our community," Five Towns College President David M. Cohen wrote in a letter to the college community. "This is consistent with policies being adopted by colleges and universities across New York State."
Two LI districts back to in-person
Meanwhile, two Long Island school districts — Glen Cove and Wyandanch — are returning to in-person instruction Thursday, officials said. The districts, along with at least eight others, went remote this week after returning from holiday break.
In the Sewanhaka Central High School District, Elmont Memorial High School will transition to remote learning for Thursday and Friday. New Hyde Park Memorial High School, which went remote Monday, will continue to be remote for the rest of the week. Sewanhaka High School, which was remote earlier this week, will go back to in-person Thursday.
Also this week, at least two Suffolk school districts said they will offer test-to-stay to allow students who have been exposed to COVID-19 in school to continue receiving in-person instruction as long as they test negative for the coronavirus.
The program has been adopted by the Suffolk County Health Department, which issued a guideline last month requiring a student to be tested at least three times in the seven days following exposure. Individual districts in Suffolk County can decide if they want to participate.
School officials stressed that the exposure must have happened in school for a student to be eligible.
"Because we know that very, very few cases of close contacts are happening in school, there will be a very limited number of students who are applicable to test-to-stay," Commack interim Superintendent David J. Flatley said.
As of Wednesday, Flatley said, no student had participated in test-to-stay. He estimated the program enrollment to be in single digits on a weekly basis.
Longwood schools Superintendent Lance Lohman wrote in a notice Tuesday on the school district website that his district is implementing test-to-stay to reduce quarantine days for students.
"Since the beginning of the school year, one of our biggest challenges in keeping our students in school has come as a result of close contact quarantines," he wrote.
Since September, nearly 1,700 students missed school due to quarantine, totaling more than 13,000 days of children missing in-person instruction, Longwood school officials said.
Alyssa Zohrabian, a spokeswoman for the Nassau County Health Department, did not respond to a request for comment on the county’s position on test-to-stay.