Campus will not close for Omicron


Photo by Charity Pflederer

President Ronald Rochon announced at the University Updates session that he does not plan to close campus with the emergence of the Omicron COVID-19 variant.

Shelby Clark, Editor-in-Chief

President Ronald Rochon is not closing campus for the Omicron variant of COVID-19. In-person Spring 2022 classes will begin Jan. 10, 2022 as planned. 

The Omicron variant of COVID-19 was discussed at the virtual University Updates session Wednesday morning alongside results from the Division I survey. This was the first session of Professional Development Day for faculty, staff and administration. 

Rochon said he has been asked about closing the campus again. He said the thought of closing campus “is not in my mind.” 

The presidential task force is looking at COVID-19 data and best practices to “keep people moving forward,” Rochon said. 

Dr. James Porter, Deaconess Health System president, said he does not think we are headed toward another shutdown because Omicron is not causing “severe disease in the vast majority of people that it infects.” 

Omicron is highly contagious, and Porter said most of the people in the Vanderburgh community with Omicron have mild symptoms. 

“If you have a cold, there’s a pretty good chance that you have Coronavirus, and that it’s the Omicron variant now in our community,” Porter said. 

He said there will still be deaths, hospitalizations and ICU stays and encouraged attendees and all high risk people to get vaccinated and boosted for COVID-19 if eligible. 

People who are vaccinated and boosted are less contagious and are less likely to have severe infection, Porter said. The university health center offers the COVID-19 vaccine and booster.

Porter said because Omicron is so contagious, professional medical grade masks such as KN95 masks are more effective than cloth masks in preventing the spread of Omicron. 

“In a community like a university where you are going to have a lot of in-person, face-to-face encounters, the more we can use better masks, the less likely we’re going to be to spread it person to person,” Porter said. 

The indoor campus mask policy mandating masks to be worn inside campus buildings is still in place for the start of Spring 2022.  

The Center for Disease Control shortened the recommended quarantine and isolation period to five days on Dec. 27, 2021. The Dean of Students office has been managing COVID-19 contact tracing for the university. 

Jennifer Hammat, Dean of Students, said they will still ask individuals in the campus community who test positive for COVID-19 to isolate for five days and will continue to follow the recommendations of the CDC.