ALLENDALE TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WOOD) — Classes for the new semester began at Grand Valley State University Monday. For students and staff, this semester will look very similar to the fall semester.  

Even though GVSU students are not currently required to get a COVID-19 booster shot, officials say the university is taking some new steps to prevent the spread of the virus. Those new measures include limiting crowds in dining areas and increasing grab-and-go food options for students. The university is also maintaining its policies from last semester, including its mask and vaccine requirements and enhanced cleaning.

“We are taking the measures to make the campus is as safe as possible and accomplish our mission. We are working with the health department moving forward,” said GVSU Vice President of Finance and Administration Greg Sanial, who is heading up the university’s virus response task force.

The new semester comes as GVSU recorded the most cases it has had at any point of the pandemic, closing in on 70 new cases per day over the past week.

Freshman Jonah Edgerton told News 8 a handful of students were absent from class Monday.

“(The professor) said she got at least like five emails of kids just this week that have already gotten the virus,” Edgerton said.

He said there’s also been at least one positive case in his dorm.

“Somebody in our hall actually tested positive the day coming here, but we have a mask mandate inside our dorms now,” Edgerton said.

The university is encouraging students and staff to get tested for COVID-19 in the first two or three weeks of January as more people return to campus. Starting Monday, testing sites resume regular hours. More information can be found on the university’s website.

At Hope College, a negative COVID-19 test is a student’s ticket back on campus. The college announced new testing requirements on its website, requiring all students, regardless of vaccination status, to schedule a “COVID Check-In” to gain access to housing and attend classes. At the check-in, students must provide proof of a negative test taken within 24 hours of returning to campus or be tested on the spot.

GVSU officials said it may require booster shots in the future, but it depends on what they see on campus going forward.

“We are part of the community, there is spread everywhere in the community. The next couple of weeks are just going to be a real test of the entire community with what’s happening with COVID-19,” said Sanial.