FAU surpasses Fall 2021 cumulative COVID-19 cases after first week of spring classes

There were 532 cases in the fall semester across all FAU campuses. There are now 728 cases impacting the university this spring.


Eston Parker III

FAU had 561 cases across all of its campuses on Jan. 14, six days after instruction resumed following winter break. The case total is at 728 as of Jan. 21, according to the university’s COVID-19 tracker.

Michael Gennaro, Managing Editor

The university saw more COVID-19 cases in less than one week of the spring semester than in the entirety of the fall semester.

Larry Faerman, acting vice president of student affairs and enrollment management, confirmed to the University Press that the cumulative amount of positive COVID-19 cases for the Fall 2021 semester was 532 cases.

FAU had 561 cases across all of its campuses on Jan. 14, six days after instruction resumed following winter break. The case total is at 728 as of Jan. 21, according to the university’s COVID-19 tracker.

The Omicron variant of COVID-19 became the dominant strain in December, when it passed the Delta variant. Omicron accounts for over 98 percent of all new cases, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention. The CDC says that Omicron is more transmissible than the original strain of COVID-19.

On Jan. 12, CDC director Rochelle Walensky said that most deaths were still from the Delta variant but Omicron cases were “resulting in unprecedented daily case counts, sickness, absenteeism and strains on our health care system.”

Nicole Morse is a member of the Florida Atlantic University chapter of the United Faculty of  Florida, the faculty union that represents the university’s professors. Morse provided a statement via email from the union to the UP.

“Since the beginning of the pandemic, the faculty union UFF-FAU has been deeply concerned about safety for the entire FAU community. As a union, we fight for safe and equitable working conditions for faculty and we know that our working conditions are our students’ learning conditions. Everyone at FAU – everyone in Florida –deserves clear, science-based guidance on how to teach and learn safely during this time, and we are dismayed that political considerations rather than health, science, and safety continue to shape the response to the pandemic. In the fall, we stepped into a gap left by FAU administration by distributing masks on campus. Amid this surge, we are seeking the best ways to use our collective strength to advocate for practical and sensible steps to be taken to protect our Owl family,” the statement read.

The university updated its COVID-19 guidelines for the Spring 2022 semester on Jan. 5.

“The rapid spread of the Omicron variant during the past few weeks is a reminder that the COVID-19 pandemic is not over and all members of the university community have a shared responsibility to Protect Your Owl Family. All students, faculty and staff, regardless of vaccination status, are expected to wear face coverings while indoors in any FAU facilities, including classrooms and laboratories. If you are sick, stay home. You may not be at high-risk yourself, but you may encounter others who have conditions that put them at risk of serious illness.”

The university downsized its “live with remote option” offerings for classes for the Spring 2022 semester, Provost Brett Danilowicz wrote in an email on Nov. 23. Danilowicz begins a new position next month as president of Radford University.

The UP reached out to Danilowicz before publication of this story for further details about remote learning and health policy, but Danilowicz’s assistant Rochelle Campbell referred  them to media relations.

The UP sent an email to Media Relations but the response did not give details on when or why an instructor is allowed to take their class to a remote or asynchronous environment.

On the Boca Raton campus, Student Health Services runs one COVID-19 testing site for the spring semester, according to the coronavirus testing website. The center is open on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 8 a.m. to noon, and is located in the Student Housing Offices, room 109.

Michael Gennaro is the Managing Editor for the University Press. For information regarding this or other stories, email [email protected] or message him on Twitter or Instagram @mycoolgennaro