Winter Break & the University’s Response to Omicron

Dec. 27, 2021

On December 27, Vice President for Human Resources Lianne Sullivan-Crowley emailed all staff the following message:

As the University looks forward to welcoming all staff, faculty, and students back to campus for the Spring semester, our main goal is to support the physical and mental health of our community while maintaining the in-person classroom instruction that remains the hallmark of Princeton. We are fortunate to have leading health and medical experts to advise the University on how to best preserve our core mission of teaching and research while protecting our health and safety, which now must include our response to the highly contagious Omicron variant of COVID.

As you will see in this memo that went to undergraduate students earlier today, undergraduate students may not return to campus until January 14, one week later than the previously announced January 7 return date. The University also is staggering students’ return from January 14 – 23 to help flatten the curve of the campus positivity rate, which will allow the University to better respond to the increase in positive cases we anticipate when students come back to campus. Importantly, all undergraduates must submit a COVID test sample as soon as possible on their return to campus, and must receive a negative test result before attending their first in-person class or campus activity.

Wintersession will still move forward, with some modifications as noted in winter.princeton.edu. The restrictions on gatherings – which prohibit food or any activity that requires removing masks – will be in effect until mid-February as noted in the January 4, 2022 update, and apply to all University-sponsored indoor gatherings on or off campus, including meetings and events with faculty, researchers, staff, graduate students, undergraduate students, or approved visitors.

What You Can Do

The University is taking similar protective measures for staff, as outlined below: 

  • You must submit your COVID test on your first day back to campus. 
  • All staff, faculty, and students must receive a booster by Monday, January 31, or 30 days after you become eligible, and update your vaccine information in VacStatus. Anyone eligible for a booster may receive either the Moderna or Pfizer version, regardless of their original COVID-19 vaccine. You are eligible six months after the second dose of Pfizer and Moderna, and two months after the single dose of the J&J Janssen vaccine. University Vaccine Clinics will resume offering boosters at Jadwin Gym starting January 5.  An updated clinic schedule is available on the Princeton COVID Resources site. Please note that University clinics will not offer the J&J vaccine. To search for booster clinics anywhere in the U.S., visit www.vaccine.gov
  • Attend the Staff Town Hall scheduled for January 6 from 9:00 to 10:00 a.m. EST.  We look forward to answering your questions live via Zoom. Attendees should register through Zoom. Please email questions in advance to townhall@princeton.edu. Your questions will help us to determine the information shared during the presentations. Additional questions will be addressed during the town hall as time permits.
  • Do not serve food or remove masks at any indoor gathering through January 31, 2022.
  • Continue wearing masks indoors except when alone in an office or cubicle or when actively eating or drinking. 
  • Offer each other understanding and support.  In the weeks ahead, we may see disruptions to family schedules, especially for employees with children or elder care obligations. If you have a COVID-related disruption in your ability to come to work, speak to your supervisor about using accrued time off including COVID-19 days for benefits-eligible staff members.

Patience, adherence to reliable and trusted science and public health guidance, collaboration and caring for each other has served us well through the tiring and frustrating two years of an ongoing pandemic, and will continue to do so. Your compliance with these protocols will allow us to continue the in-person teaching and learning environment we pride ourselves on, while safeguarding our community’s health and well-being.  Thank you for doing your part as we usher in the new year.

We will continue to keep you informed of any changes. As a reminder, should you be looking for further information: