Omicron surge forcing North Texas colleges to double down on COVID-19 protocols

Colleges throughout North Texas are evaluating how students and staff will safely begin their spring semesters in the midst of a significant COVID-19 surge.

 Tiarra Williams is a senior at the University of North Texas in Denton. She says she appreciates UNT’s protocols. 

The university’s website says it will likely require mandatory COVID-19 testing at designated times. Students and staff can opt out if they’re vaccinated. 

"Adulting is kind of hard, and especially doing it in a pandemic," Williams said. "And we don’t know how these variants are going to affect each of us. So the university is like, ‘We have these resources. You don’t have to do it alone and figure it out by yourself.’ And I think that’s really good."

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TCU has updated its COVID-19 protocols with a stronger position on face coverings.  Its latest notice says: "due to the current Tarrant County community spread level, TCU requires that face masks be worn in all indoor campus spaces to help protect the health and safety of our community." 

 The University of Texas at Arlington will require students and staff to show a negative COVID-19 test result by Feb. 4. Its officials say: "Given the emergence of new COVDI-19 variants and the prevalence of holiday travel and gatherings, we believe required testing is needed for a safe start to the spring term."

Elijah Strong, a Dallas native, is a sophomore at Wiley College.

"I think the protocol is something we definitely need," he said.

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The campus east of Dallas will require returning students to quarantine in their dormitories and attend classes virtually for the first two weeks of the spring semester. 

Strong says he has no problem with it.

"The frustration with the pandemic is a thing," he said. "But the protocol to keep us all safe I think we’re acquainted with it."

Most universities will offer testing sites and vaccines to students and staff. It’s all part of efforts to continue as safely as possible with in-person campus life.

"My plan is to just wear my mask and be careful of the people I have around me," Williams said.

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