Florida university commits to in-person learning amid omicron as others shift to remote classes

University of Miami announced it will go remote for the start of the spring semester amid omicron surge

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Dozens of universities are reverting to online classes or delaying the spring semester amid a surge in omicron cases nationwide. 

David Armstrong, the president of St. Thomas University, said the school's Miami Gardens campus will "absolutely" be open for in-person classes on Jan. 10 to welcome students back. 

"We are committed to having in-person education, having people fully engaged, [and] at the same time, making sure that we're keeping our most vulnerable safe and following our protocols to make sure we keep exposures and all those things at a minimum," Armstrong told Fox News Digital on Sunday.

"An in-person full collegiate experience is best for our students personally, socially, health, physically, emotionally, and spiritually."

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St. Thomas University briefly went virtual during the spring and summer of 2020 at the beginning of the pandemic but returned to in-person classes in the fall.  

St. Thomas University is a small Catholic school located in Miami Gardens, Florida. 

St. Thomas University is a small Catholic school located in Miami Gardens, Florida.  (St. Thomas University)

Armstrong noted that St. Thomas University does have some advantages over large state schools, namely that it's in sunny Florida where people can spend more time outside and has a relatively small population of about 1,800 undergraduate students. 

"We have extremely dedicated people that want to give our students the full experience, and we are very diligent and vigilant on contact tracing and following the protocols. That's how you get it done," Armstrong said. 

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"All that being said, if something takes a horrible turn, we are prepared to go virtual, but why do it now when we know we can do all our other protocols and still have in-person, and give the students their money's worth? 

Harvard University announced it will go remote for the first few weeks of the spring semester then return for in-person classes "conditions permitting." (AP Photo/Lisa Poole, File)

Harvard University announced it will go remote for the first few weeks of the spring semester then return for in-person classes "conditions permitting." (AP Photo/Lisa Poole, File)

About 15 miles south of St. Thomas University, the University of Miami announced this week that it will pivot to remote classes for the first two weeks of the spring semester. 

Several other schools have also announced plans to go online temporarily, including Duke University, American University, Georgetown University, Stanford University, Northwestern University and Belmont University.

Some schools have hinted that the online class pivot could be extended. Harvard University told students and staff in a memo that it will return to in-person classes in late January, "public health conditions permitting."

Georgetown University implemented remote learning for the first few weeks of the spring semester. 

Georgetown University implemented remote learning for the first few weeks of the spring semester.  (iStock)

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Armstrong said Sunday that he and the school's board aren't going to make decisions "based on the panic, the political or the timid."

"We were going to make decisions based on what was best for our students to receive a full collegiate experience while keeping our most vulnerable safe," Armstrong said.