Howard University moves some classes online as COVID-19 cases rise

D.C.’s Howard University is moving some classes online as the semester comes to a close and COVID-19 cases on campus and in the District tick up.

“Over the past week, the positivity rate at the University increased from 2% to approximately 5%,” the school said in an update, noting that the rise in cases is “partly due to the impact of the BA. 2 omicron subvariant,” which has become the dominant strain on campus, in D.C. and across the U.S.

The BA. 2 omicron subvariant has not been shown to cause more severe illness, but it is more transmissible.

Starting Thursday, Howard University said it is putting the following changes into effect:

  • Undergraduate didactic courses conducted during the final days of classes (April 14 through April 22) will be held online, as will any final examinations for undergraduate students.
  • Laboratory courses will complete the final week of labs as scheduled, with strict adherence to required masking and other mitigation measures.
  • Graduate and professional students (architecture, dentistry, divinity, education, graduate school, law, medicine, nursing and allied health, pharmacy, social work) as well as students in fine arts performance courses will maintain their previously announced in-person schedule.
  • Residence halls will remain open through the final examination period to maintain student access. Students are allowed to check out of the residence halls early, if they have classes online, and have cleared that they do not have face-to-face finals with their professors.
  • All residential students are required to move out of the residence halls by the previously published date of May 8.
  • Howard encourages any social gatherings to be conducted outdoors as the weather continues to improve.
  • The school is partnering with student leaders to assure that any indoor social events maintain required use of masks throughout the duration of the event, include proof of COVID-19 vaccination and current Bison SAFE app indicator before entry. Capacity at indoor social events will be limited to further promote safety.

Masks are required indoors at Howard University, as well as outside in group settings.

Earlier in the week, American University said it will once again require masks in all buildings at its Northwest D.C. campus.

George Washington University said that it is reinstating its indoor mask requirement for its buildings and facilities as well.

Last week, Georgetown University reimposed its mask policy citing a significant increase in COVID-19 cases among students and staff. Johns Hopkins in Baltimore did the same.

WTOP’s Jack Moore contributed to this report.

Will Vitka

William Vitka is a Digital Editor and reporter for He's been in the news industry for over a decade. Before joining WTOP, he worked for CBS News, Stuff Magazine, The New York Post and wrote a variety of books—about a dozen of them, with more to come.

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