CU Boulder to start spring semester with remote classes due to fires, omicron variant

By: - January 5, 2022 1:53 pm

The Eaton Humanities building is seen on the campus of the University of Colorado Boulder on Aug. 14, 2021. (Quentin Young/Colorado Newsline)

The University of Colorado Boulder will begin the first two weeks of spring semester with online classes.

“Because of the impacts of the fires, in combination with concerns about the COVID-19 omicron variant, the broader Boulder area is not in a position to welcome back thousands of students over the next week,” Philip DiStefano, chancellor of CU Boulder, announced Friday. 


Spring semester will begin as scheduled on Jan. 10 and in-person learning will resume on Jan. 24. Residence halls will remain closed until Jan. 21 and students who live off-campus are encouraged to not return to Boulder until then. The school will pro-rate fees and reduce room and board rates to account for the two weeks of remote learning, according to the message. 

Students who have been impacted by the fire or are in other unique circumstances and need on-campus housing sooner than Jan. 21 should contact University Housing. 

Gov. Jared Polis announced a state of emergency last week as a grass fire grew to about 6,000 acres in Boulder County and destroyed almost a thousand homes. The Marshall Fire is the most destructive fire in Colorado history. 

More than 700 CU Boulder employees and over 600 students live in areas that were evacuated, according to a Monday article in CU Boulder Today

“We recognize that this disaster comes amid a surge in COVID-19 cases and the omicron variant,” DiStefano said in the statement. “The Boulder community has reported a very sharp increase in COVID-19 cases in the past week and the surge is likely to continue into January.”

As of Monday, Boulder County’s COVID-19 positivity rate is about 20%, according to the county’s dashboard. A mask mandate for indoor public spaces in Boulder County remains in effect. 

In a FAQ about a booster requirement, the school wrote that it will update the community about any new vaccination requirements in January and the primary focus is on supporting students, faculty and staff who have been affected by the fires. 

The school is starting the spring semester with remote learning, rather than a two-week delay, in order to preserve the current spring break schedule, which students have indicated is “integral to their mental health and well-being,” according to CU Boulder’s website. 

CU Boulder community members who have been impacted by the fires can apply for emergency funds through the CU Boulder student emergency fund and the staff and faculty emergency fund, according to a Thursday email

The high winds in Boulder caused some damage to campus trees and other infrastructure, but the grass fires did not impact the campus, according to a Thursday update from the school. 

Other colleges in Colorado are also altering spring semester plans, including University of Denver, which will begin spring semester with two weeks of remote learning.


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