“But omicron has changed that,” Syverud said. “It has made us go back and say, until we know more about this variant for sure, we’re going to have to reinstate some precautions.”

Facing rising infections and a new COVID-19 variant, colleges across the U.S. have once again been thwarted in seeking a move to normalcy and are starting to require booster shots, extend mask mandates, limit social gatherings and, in some cases, revert to online classes, AP reports.

The threat of the omicron variant comes as a gut punch to schools that were hoping to relax safety measures this spring. Now, many are telling students to prepare for another term of masking, testing and, if cases get bad, limits around social life.

After a fall with few coronavirus cases, officials at Syracuse University were “feeling pretty good” about the spring term, said Kent Syverud, the upstate New York school’s chancellor.

“But omicron has changed that,” Syverud said. “It has made us go back and say, until we know more about this variant for sure, we’re going to have to reinstate some precautions.”

Last week, Syracuse announced that all eligible students and employees must get COVID-19 booster shots before the spring term. Students will also face a round of virus tests when they return, and officials are weighing whether to extend an existing mask mandate.

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