Spike in COVID-19 cases sends Ivy League students home early, forces final exams online

Cornell has 97% vaccination rate.

Updated: December 15, 2021 - 3:48pm

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Cornell University has shut down its campus in upstate New York and moved finals week online amid a spike in omicron-led COVID-19 cases.

The school reported 903 cases among students from Dec. 7 to Dec. 13, with a "very high percentage" of them the omicron variant in fully vaccinated individuals, university officials told CNN

The school posted a message online Tuesday telling students about finals and other changes including no in-person ceremony for those graduating in December. 

"Last evening our COVID-19 testing lab team identified evidence of the highly contagious omicron variant in a significant number of Monday's positive student samples," the message reads. "As a result, and out of an abundance of caution, the university is moving to Alert Level Red." 

An official for the school in Ithaca, N.Y., also said essentially every case of the omicron variant so far has been found in fully vaccinated students, including some who have had a booster shot.

The school of roughly 25,600 students reportedly has a 97% vaccination rate.

Fellow Ivy League school Princeton University made a similar decision Tuesday, moving finals online starting Thursday and allowing students to leave campus "at their earliest convenience," following a smaller spike in virus cases.

On Monday, 24 community members had tested positive according to the university's COVID-19 dashboard, including 15 undergraduate students, four graduate students and five faculty and staff members, reports the Daily Princetonian, the school newspaper.

An email from Dean Jill Dolan to students also said the university will be requiring booster shots for all students, faculty, and staff.