This story was updated December 24.
Northwestern Kellogg School of Management is going back online. Most of its peers in the upper tier of business schools are now planning to follow suit.
Kellogg announced December 20 that it would reverse recent plans to continue in-person instruction when students return from the end-of-quarter holiday break. When classes resume January 3 and through Martin Luther King holiday weekend, until January 18, Kellogg students will attend their classes virtually.
Additionally, Northwestern announced that with limited exceptions, all students, faculty, and staff must receive a Covid-19 vaccination booster shot by Sunday, January 30, or 30 days after becoming eligible for a booster, whichever is later.
MOST TOP SCHOOLS MOVE AHEAD WITH PLANS FOR IN-PERSON CLASSES
“The fast spread of the Omicron variant and guidance from our medical experts have caused us to reconsider the plans we shared with you earlier this month,” wrote Luke Figora, Northwestern’s vice president for operations; Kathleen Hagerty, provost and professor; and Julie Payne-Kirchmeier, vice president for student Affairs. “We announce these decisions (December 20) to provide you as much time as possible to plan for January.”
Northwestern’s post-holiday pause in live classroom instruction follows similar announcements at Stanford University, Harvard University, and elsewhere, as the Omicron variant of the Covid-19 virus causes surges in cases around the United States and Canada. Initially, most top schools planned for in-person classes in January; however, as the number of Covid cases has climbed precipitously nationwide, the worsening situation has spurred reversals. On Tuesday, December 21, NYU Stern School of Business — located in a city that has become an Omicron hotspot — announced it would move classes online until Friday, January 21. According to a letter to the NYU community signed by university President Andrew Hamilton, Provost Katherine Fleming, Executive Vice President Martin Dorph, and Dr. Carlo Ciotoli, executive lead of the NYU Covid-19 Prevention & Response Team, “The trajectory of new cases that our testing program detected at the beginning of last week seems to be continuing. New York City’s Covid-19 new case data show a similar concerning pattern.”
On Wednesday, December 22, Columbia University — like Stern located in the Covid epicenter of New York City — reversed course and announced classes will be remote until January 18. Likewise for UCLA, home to the Anderson School of Management. Duke University announced the first week of its post-holiday classes will be remote; however, in-person instruction at the Fuqua School of Business won’t be affected since classes were scheduled to resume January 13. The University of Washington, home to the Foster School of Business, also will keep classes remote the first week of school, eyeing a return to the classroom January 10.
At the University of Chicago, home of the Booth School of Business, officials on Thursday, December 24 announced that the start of the winter quarter would be moved back a week, to January 10. At The Wharton School and at MIT Sloan School of Management, officials are calling on students to be prepared for modified classes; UC-Berkeley Haas School of Business echoed its peers in vowing to closely monitor the rapidly deteriorating situation, but has not announced any change in January class format.
SCHOOLS INCREASINGLY MANDATE VAX & BOOSTER
At Yale University, plans for post-holiday in-person instruction are still intact even as the university endured the “largest-ever single-day Covid spike” on Wednesday, December 15; a week later Anjani Jain, deputy dean of academic programs, told the SOM community via email that despite changes to the academic calendar for Yale College and the Graduate School of Arts and Science, the business school expects to start SOM classes “in person on January 24, 2022. The MBA core course Global Virtual Teams and the first week of Negotiations will be taught purely online during the week of January 18, Jain adds.
Yale has already mandated vaccination for all students and faculty. Such mandates have not been the rule everywhere, but now, in lieu of — and sometimes in conjunction with — remote learning, some schools are stepping up the pressure on the un-vaxed. MIT Sloan, following the direction of the university, will mandate boosters. So will Chicago Booth and Columbia. University-wide mandates will be enforced at Michigan Ross, Carnegie Mellon Tepper, and Duke Fuqua as well.
At Emory University, Goizueta Business School officials are planning to have in-person classes after the holiday but with an eye on current Covid-19 conditions in Atlanta. According to a statement by Amir St. Clair, associate vice president and executive director for Covid-19 response and recovery at Emory, in addition to requiring vaccinations for all students, faculty, and staff, as of December 16, the university requires the booster against Covid-19 as well.
At Dartmouth Tuck, all students, faculty, and staff must receive a Covid-19 booster shot by January 31. “As the pandemic continues to evolve, it is clear that we remain in the throes of this virus,” Interim Provost David Kotz and Executive Vice President Rick Mills wrote to the Dartmouth community last week.