What faculty should know ahead of the fall 2021 semester

This information was sent to all faculty and staff via email on Aug. 16.

As we prepare for the first day of classes on Monday, Aug. 23, we want to share some guidance and information for academic and professional faculty to support a smooth and safe return to campus for the fall 2021 semester.


Masking Requirement and Consequences for Student Non-Compliance

As previously announced, all members of our community will be required to wear masks indoors while on campus this fall. As conditions evolve and necessitate, we may make further changes later this semester.

Students have received multiple notifications about the masking requirement and have agreed to follow an updated “Protect New Paltz Pledge” which includes a section on masking.

The College is committed to enforcing this requirement and supporting faculty and staff in their interactions with students related to masking. The Office of Emergency Management has provided masks to deans’ offices across campus, so that faculty can bring extras to their classes and distribute to students as needed.

We have published a new “Faculty Resource – Maintaining Public Health Compliance in the Classroom” guide that offers additional suggestions and support on this subject, including:

  • Required language on masking and COVID-19 for your syllabi
  • A suggested verbal message for you to deliver to students on the first day of class
  • Guidance for various “what-if” scenarios related to possible student non-compliance

In general, we recommend that in those few cases when students arrive to class unmasked, faculty attempt to resolve the situation informally through use of persuasive language, as illustrated in the Faculty Resource document.

In cases where this approach may be ineffective, or when a student is frequently out of compliance, we have established a new incident reporting process in the Starfish platform, where faculty can “Raise a Flag” on a student’s profile to report masking non-compliance to the College’s Director of Student Conduct. More detailed instructions about that process are available in the Faculty Resource.


Return-to-Campus Requirements for Students

New York State and SUNY announced in May that all students at public universities will be required to be vaccinated against COVID-19 in order to attend in-person classes this fall. However, that requirement will not go into effect until at least one vaccine has full FDA approval.

As previously announced, all SUNY New Paltz students who intend to live in on-campus housing during the fall 2021 semester MUST show proof of vaccination before moving in, with limited medical and religious exemptions. This policy is not contingent on full FDA approval of a COVID-19 vaccine.

Students who are not vaccinated must either attest to a 10-day quarantine prior to their first day on campus, or provide proof of a negative COVID-19 test taken within five days prior to their first day on campus. There are no such requirements for vaccinated students.


Testing and Screening Requirements for Vaccinated and Unvaccinated People

Policies on COVID-19 testing and the Daily Screening are consistent for all students, faculty and staff: Fully vaccinated individuals are exempt from these requirements.

However, unvaccinated individuals must test every week they are on campus and complete the Daily Screening at my.newpaltz.edu every day they are on campus.

Unvaccinated persons have the option of being tested on or off campus. Those who are tested off campus will need to upload their test results to the COVID-19 Profile in my.newpaltz.edu in order to meet the College’s weekly testing requirement.

Additionally, any member of our community, whether vaccinated or unvaccinated, is strongly encouraged to be tested if they develop symptoms like those associated with COVID-19. Students experiencing COVID-19-type symptoms should contact the Student Health Service or their physician immediately to arrange a diagnostic test. Employees experiencing such symptoms should contact their physician.

If unvaccinated students fail to meet screening and testing requirements, they will be held accountable, with repeated violations resulting in a denial of access to campus.

At the beginning of the semester, despite having gotten a full vaccine sequence, some students may be classified as unvaccinated. In order to be classified as fully vaccinated, they must take the additional step of uploading their vaccination information to the COVID-19 Profile in my.newpaltz.edu. Faculty may wish to refer students to the FAQ explaining this process in more detail.


On-campus COVID-19 Testing – Registration and Schedule

The College will continue to provide COVID-19 testing at Awosting Hall in fall 2021, though testing will take place at a significantly reduced volume as compared with spring 2021.

On-campus testing for fall 2021 will be provided on Tuesdays and Fridays beginning Aug. 24.

All on-campus testing this semester will be PCR testing provided by our partners at ENZO Labs.

Enzo Labs testing is by appointment only. You can use this link to sign up. Faculty and staff should enter the letter “E”, then their employee ID number, where the scheduling form asks for student ID. Note that you will need your health insurance information to make an appointment.

Results from Enzo Labs testing are generally available within 2-3 business days after testing. We remind our community that this is only an estimate; we are dependent on our partners’ ability to process tests, and cannot guarantee exact result times.


Info about Campus Air Filtration Systems and Classroom Cleaning

We continue to hear questions from faculty and staff about the College’s HVAC systems for circulating air, and understand this has been a point of concern for many during the COVID-19 pandemic.

As we have shared previously, SUNY New Paltz is following or exceeding all CDC and state guidelines related to air filtration for indoor spaces.

Facilities Operations upgraded all campus air handling systems with MERV 13-rated filters in summer 2020. These filters, which trap small particles more effectively than lower-rated filters, will be our campus standard moving forward.

As part of the plan to modify the campus environment to reduce the possibility of transmission, Facilities also implemented new, longer hours of operation for HVAC systems across campus. This has the effect of circulating more outdoor air and increasing overall air exchange in indoor spaces.

Custodial staff continue to clean classrooms daily, using CDC-approved disinfectant on high-touch surfaces.


Must-have Information for Instructional Faculty

Instructional faculty have received three critical-to-have communications regarding fall semester teaching under separate cover.  However, faculty may consult this information by clicking on the links below:

Welcome Letter

Syllabus Requirements

Accessible Syllabus Template


Fall 2021 Academic Calendar

For the first time since before the COVID-19 pandemic, SUNY New Paltz is returning to a traditional academic schedule for fall 2021.

The complete Academic Calendar can be found online. Some key dates we’d like to highlight here:

  • Thursday, Aug. 19: Resident students begin moving into campus homes
  • Friday, Aug. 20: State of the College Address and New Student Convocation
  • Monday, Aug. 23: First day of classes
  • Friday, Oct. 29: Last day for students to withdraw from courses
  • Monday, Nov. 1: Black Solidarity Day (classes in session)
  • Monday, Nov. 8: Spring 2022 course registration begins
  • Monday, Dec. 6: Last day of classes
  • 10 – 16: Final exams
  • Tuesday, Dec. 21: Last day for faculty to submit final grades

As in the spring 2021, semester, final exams will be held in the modality (in-person, hybrid, online) of the class.


We offer thanks in advance to the academic and professional faculty, as well as to all colleagues, for whom the success of our students is paramount as we go forward into the fall 2021 semester.

Barbara Lyman
Interim Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs

Stephanie Blaisdell
Vice President for Student Affairs