Delaware State University is one of at least two universities in the state of Delaware requiring an extra level of protection from COVID-19 below. Get the full story from Brandon Holveck at Delaware News Journal below.

Credit: William Bretzger

The University of Delaware and Delaware State University are requiring students to receive a COVID-19 booster shot before the beginning of their spring semesters.

The announcements came as COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations surge in the face of the widespread delta variant and the emerging omicron variant, both of which are more transmissible than earlier strains of the virus. Research indicates the protection afforded by the initial vaccine doses wanes over time.

DSU announced Thursday it is delaying students’ return to campus by two weeks. The spring semester will begin virtually on Jan. 10. Students are required to have the booster by Jan. 24, the day classes are scheduled to return in person.

As part of its announcement, DSU said faculty and staff are “expected to get the booster as well.”

UD students must get the booster by Jan. 24 unless they previously received an exemption, the school announced last week. The mandate applies regardless of whether students are taking classes on campus, online or in a hybrid format. UD’s spring semester begins Feb. 7. 

Over the past two weeks, the number of COVID-19 cases in Delaware has increased 35%. The weekly case average and number of hospitalizations are the highest they’ve been since January.

Last week, UD reported 117 cases between students and employees. It was the school’s highest mark since the week beginning Sept. 5. UD averaged fewer than 50 cases per week during the fall.

According to the university, 91% of students are fully vaccinated, meaning they received two doses of the Moderna or Pfizer vaccines or the single-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

Ninety-three percent of employees are fully vaccinated. UD implemented a vaccine mandate for employees with a Dec. 8 deadline in October. The school announced its vaccination mandate for students in May.

Those who are exempt must be tested weekly.