The start of the spring semester will be delayed, and there will be no spring break for Creighton students during the spring semester, said the Rev. Daniel S. Hendrickson, S.J., in an email Tuesday.
The semester will begin on Jan. 27 for undergraduate students attending classes on campus, according to the email, and final exams will be May 6-12.
With the fall semester ending before Thanksgiving, this gives students a two-month break between semesters.
“To carefully and cautiously navigate the winter months, we will delay the start of the spring semester by two weeks from its original start date in January,” Hendrickson said. “In order to provide students with the same amount of instruction time, we will forgo spring break and extend the semester by a few days in May.”
Hendrickson said that students will still receive a break for Easter, with no classes on Friday, April 2. The email says classes will resume the following Monday.
This announcement comes as Nebraska is facing “the largest surge of cases and hospitalizations we have seen,” according to scientists and physicians at University of Nebraska Medical Center and Nebraska Medicine.
Infectious diseases and public health experts at UNMC and Nebraska Medicine released a letter Monday describing the current situation as a “potential perfect storm” with daily counts of COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations equal to the peak in May and hospitals in the state more than 85% full.
Douglas County reported 1,153 new cases and a 12.5% positive test rate for the week ending Oct. 3.
The peak in May was 1,098 new cases in Douglas County in one week.
Nebraska has reached about 49,000 positive cases total and reported a positive test rate of 10.2% for the week ending Oct. 3.
On-campus numbers, however, have remained fairly steady over the last three weeks.
The Creighton dashboard reported 29 new cases among students for the week ending Oct. 3 and no new cases in employees. The dashboard reported 32 weekly cases for each of the two previous weeks.
Creighton has also reported the results from the first full week of surveillance testing. About 759 students were tested the week ending Sept. 26, and 28 of those students tested positive, for a 3.7% positive test rate.
“I was really pleased that from a week previous — [when] we tested 383 students and had a 5.2% positivity rate for that week — that we doubled, effectively, the number of students tested, and we went down to a 3.7%,” said Wayne Young Jr., associate vice provost for student development.
“I think it’s also important to look at how we are doing here on campus with people coming in and out of our campus proper,” he said.
The number of quarantine and isolation spaces being used has also decreased, according to the coronavirus dashboard. There were 84 out of 167 spaces in use, leaving about 50% available.
Last week, there were 42% of spaces available.
“We really just want our community to stay engaged and aware in the Community Standards,” said Winegard. “We’re just really reinforcing those messages that helped us open and get to the midpoint of the semester.”
Winegard said that the education modules recently sent out to students, faculty and staff were meant to act as reminders of the basic standards for being on campus.
Hendrickson echoed this sentiment in his email on Tuesday, while also announcing a fall festival to celebrate making it to the midpoint of the semester.
“Sobering national events and statistics, and a rising percentage of positive tests in Douglas County for the latest reporting cycle, remind us that we must be ever-vigilant when it comes to this virus,” Hendrickson said.
The event, complete with face coverings and social distancing, will be held at Morrison Stadium on Sunday from 6-8 p.m. There will be music, food trucks, pumpkin painting and games, the email said.