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Christopher Newport University starts spring semester virtually due to omicron

The start of its spring semester was pushed back to Jan. 10 to avoid the spread of COVID-19. Then, the university president made the first two weeks virtual.

NEWPORT NEWS, Va. — UPDATE Jan. 10, 2022: In a letter to the campus on Jan. 5, CNU President Paul Trible announced the first two weeks of classes would be held virtually. That covers all classes from Jan. 10 through Jan. 21.

You can read campus announcements about the change here.

ORIGINAL STORY: Christopher Newport University (CNU) announced Thursday that the start of its spring semester would be pushed back to Jan. 10 to avoid the spread of COVID-19.

The original start of the spring semester was supposed to be Jan. 5.

In a letter posted online, Chief of Staff Adelia Thompson said the campus wouldn't be closed, but delaying classes could lower the chance of bringing the omicron variant back to campus.

The date that students can get back into their dorm rooms will be pushed back, to match. They can return the weekend of Jan. 8.

This means that spring break will also have to be adjusted, but the letter didn't say, specifically, what that would entail. 

Thompson promised more details to come -- this letter was meant to give students as much notice about the change as possible.

You can read the full letter below:

Dear Colleagues:

I realize we are sending this message only two days before Christmas, but we are making some changes in plans for the start of the new semester - so we want to give you as much warning as possible.

As you know, the COVID case numbers are climbing and with the holiday gatherings ahead, that trend is likely to continue, especially with the growing presence of the omicron variant.

So, to lessen the chance of our bringing the virus back to campus and getting the semester off to a rough start, we will be delaying our return. We will not be closed, and a few previously scheduled meetings and small events will proceed as planned - but we will work differently so that we can allow the virus numbers a chance to wane.

Please note that this is just an initial announcement of our change in plans. It is likely there will be further messages with more details. Again, we wanted to share this change with you quickly, knowing that we have additional questions to answer.

For students and faculty: Classes will begin on Monday, January 10 not Wednesday, January 5 as originally scheduled. We will adjust Spring Break to allow for this shift (stay tuned for specifics on that please). This means students will move back into the residence halls the weekend of January 8 - not New Year’s weekend. That means a number of changes for Kevin Hughes and his Residence Life team, and for Lisa Duncan-Raines and the Student Success staff, so Kevin will be sending a separate email to students with important updates specifically for them. And as is his custom he will forward that message to all of us too - so we will know what our students have been told.

For staff: We will employ the universal telework policy, and for those who cannot work remotely, we will be using alternate work hours and shifting work start times to allow for a rotating, modified staffing schedule for the first week of the New Year. Please talk with your supervisors regarding your schedule and for specific timekeeping instructions. For some colleagues who can telework, working in-office some that week will be important to address gift and application processing from calendar year-end. Simply work with your Vice President and Supervisors to determine the best plan for rotating schedules so that offices can be successful but also de-densified.

Thanks for your patience as we continue to respond to the ever-changing pandemic environment, and work to protect our campus family. Now - go enjoy YOUR families and friends, and may the holidays bring you joy, and the New Year bring you many blessings.

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