Spring 2022 COVID-19 policies at SUNY New Paltz

The following information was sent to all students, faculty and staff via email on Jan. 6, 2022.


As we approach the spring 2022 semester and the third year of the COVID-19 pandemic, we have learned much and acquired many tools (vaccines, boosters, effective treatments) to mitigate harm to our community that we did not have a year ago.

The spring 2022 protocols described in this message are consistent with SUNY guidance that was announced on Dec. 31, 2021. The expectation for colleges across the system is that we continue to prioritize in-person learning and residential experiences. Our local policies align with the guidance and expectations and in some cases go further, as we continue working to protect the campus community while maintaining a safe in-person semester.

We share these policies at a moment when case counts are again rising, driven by spread of the new Omicron variant. Fortunately, in this new wave of cases, symptoms appear to be significantly milder than previous variants for most people, especially those who are vaccinated. It remains a disruptive force in our lives, contributing to new feelings of anxiety and COVID fatigue for many in our community.

We recognize that it is exhausting to keep up with complex policies that change frequently. We will continue doing all we can to communicate these policies clearly and transparently, with input from bargaining units and other stakeholders, so that all students, faculty and staff are equipped for a safe and productive spring semester. We remain grateful for the continued commitment from each campus community member to do the right things – mask, test, boost, cooperate with contact tracers and quarantine when symptomatic – to protect yourselves and others while on campus.

 

We are moving forward with plans to resume in-person instruction on Jan. 24, and continuing to monitor pandemic conditions

Our originally scheduled first day of classes (Jan. 24) is fairly late relative to our peer SUNY campuses, most of which are sustaining plans to open as scheduled. At this time, we are planning to do the same.

We know by now that COVID-19 conditions change quickly, and we need to be agile in our response. We are asking our community to be prepared to go remote for the first week or the first two weeks of the spring 2022 semester, if campus leadership determines it is necessary to make this temporary adjustment.

Please remember that individual faculty members may not unilaterally change their course modality for the entire semester. However, as we have communicated in the past, faculty may certainly make use of remote learning tools to keep a course moving forward in the event of short-term challenges meeting in person (such as quarantine of faculty, dependent family members or a significant number of students). Faculty should let their department chairs know of plans to temporarily move a course to a remote modality for such short-term purposes.

The start of the semester is also a good time to review the If/Then Scenario guidance we provided in the fall. That guidance remains in effect until further notice.

 

Students and employees must get two COVID-19 tests for the start of spring – one before coming to campus, and one during their first week back on campus

We previously announced that all students, faculty and staff (regardless of vaccination or booster status) would be required to get a test before coming to campus for the spring 2022 semester. Per SUNY guidance, we can no longer allow those who have received a booster shot to opt out of testing before they return.

Students will need to complete this pre-return test to have their ID card access to campus buildings turned on before the first day of classes.

There are multiple options for fulfilling this pre-return testing requirement. See here for detailed instructions. Note that we will accept PCR or antigen tests ONLY for the pre-return testing requirement. PCR tests (not antigen) will be required for the post-arrival test requirement and ongoing surveillance testing.

At home tests are available to purchase from most drug stores and online stores such as Amazon. There are many types available; here is one, and here is another.

On-campus PCR testing is available on Jan. 12, Jan. 18 and Jan. 19; use this link to schedule an appointment. Please remember that if you test off campus, you must upload your results to the COVID-19 Profile at my.newpaltz.edu to satisfy the requirement.

The new SUNY guidance also requires students, faculty and staff to test after they return to campus. The College will offer expanded on-campus testing during the week of Jan. 24 – 28 to accommodate the need for increased testing. We will share more details about the expanded testing schedule soon.

 

All eligible students must get boosted by Feb.1; other students must get boosted within one month of eligibility

State and SUNY guidance for spring 2022 requires all students to get their COVID-19 booster shot when they are eligible.

The CDC and other experts are recommending COVID-19 booster shots for everyone over the age of 12. According to their guidelines, you are eligible for the COVID-19 booster if:

You got the Moderna vaccine (second dose) 5 months ago

You got the Pfizer vaccine (second dose) 5 months ago

You got the Johnson & Johnson vaccine (single dose) 2 months ago

The CDC says you may choose what vaccine to get as your booster shot; you can stay with the same variety or mix and match.

Boosters are widely available, though appointments are often necessary in advance. The national database at Vaccines.gov is a great place to start looking for an appointment in the U.S.

The CDC permits those who have recently had COVID-19 to get boosted as well. Unless otherwise advised by your doctor, there is generally no medical reason to delay vaccination after recovering.

Students have until Feb. 1 (or, if not yet eligible, until one month after they become eligible for a booster) to get their shot. Those who do not comply will be subject to conduct charges.

The requirement that all unvaccinated employees test weekly remains in effect. The College is awaiting additional guidance from New York State on employee vaccination and booster requirements.

Unvaccinated students and employees must also continue to complete the Daily Health Screening at my.newpaltz.edu every day they are on campus.

We continue to encourage all campus community members who are eligible to get boosted, as vaccination remains the most effective tool available for reducing the spread and impact of COVID-19 on ourselves and the people close to us.

 

We are working with Ulster County to host a booster clinic on Jan. 24

County health officials will be on campus on Jan. 24, the first day of classes, to provide convenient booster shots for members of our campus community. All three vaccine types (Moderna, Pfizer and Johnson & Johnson) will be available.

Appointments are required to get boosted at the Jan. 24 on-campus clinic. Please use the links below to schedule:

Make an appointment to get a MODERNA booster on Jan. 24

Make an appointment to get a PFIZER booster on Jan. 24

Make an appointment to get a JOHNSON & JOHNSON booster on Jan. 24

Temporary visitor parking for the Jan. 24 booster clinic is available in the Haggerty Administration Building lot, which provides access to the Student Union through the Atrium. Please use this link for a campus map.

 

Surveillance testing will continue as it did in fall, with a new exemption for anyone with a booster

SUNY’s guidance requires a similar approach to testing as in fall 2021: All unvaccinated students, faculty and staff must test weekly, and vaccinated people must participate in periodic surveillance testing.

The spring 2022 guidance allows a new exception: If you get your booster shot and upload it to the COVID-19 Profile at my.newpaltz.edu, you will not be required to participate in surveillance testing.

Testing will remain available on campus, and anyone who wishes to opt-in to an on-campus test is welcome to make an appointment. But the requirement will be lifted for all who get their booster.

 

Masks will be required indoors for everyone, regardless of vaccination status

SUNY’s guidance affirms our original plan to maintain the existing indoor masking requirement for all campus spaces during the spring 2022 semester.

Anyone on our campus in spring 2022 – students, employees, campus guests and visitors – must wear masks indoors at all times, with limited exceptions including when employees are alone in private, closed offices and other similar spaces, and when students who live on campus are in their rooms or suites.

With evidence of increased transmissibility w/ Omicron, we encourage our community to use a three-layer mask where possible. Please do not use bandanas because they do not close below the chin, and do not use face shields by themselves. Face shields with a mask are acceptable. More information about proper mask use is available here from the CDC.

 

We are reducing isolation and quarantine periods to five days, following new CDC guidance

On Dec. 27, the CDC shortened the recommended isolation and quarantine periods from 10 days to five days after symptoms appear or a positive COVID test is administered, whichever comes first. Once out of isolation, the individual must mask at all times for an additional five days.

SUNY New Paltz is following state and local health officials in adopting this new CDC guidance.

More details about our new tracing, quarantine and isolation policies for spring 2022, and reminders about our existing protocols, can be found at this link.

 

The College is hosting a New York State-run public testing site beginning Jan. 11

On Jan. 4, Governor Kathy Hochul announced that SUNY New Paltz would be one of 20 SUNY campuses to serve as a community testing site for all members of the public (including students and employees).

This state-run testing site will provide PCR tests at the College Terrace, Monday – Friday from 8:30 a.m. – 4 p.m., until further notice.

Appointments can be scheduled here. The site will maintain capacity for approximately 225 appointments per day and up to 50 walk-ins.

More information about the state-run testing site can be found here.

Students and employees are advised that tests conducted at this state facility will be considered “off-campus” tests for purposes of our COVID-19 Profile (we know, it’s confusing!). Members of our community who test at the state-run public testing site will need to manually upload their results to the COVID-19 Profile to meet campus testing requirements.

For this reason, we recommend that our students, faculty and staff continue to test at the campus-run testing site in Awosting Hall, as test results taken at that facility are automatically uploaded to your Profile. Use this link to make an appointment for on-campus testing.

 

An update to our ticketed events policy for young attendees

In spring 2022, any guests age 5 and older at indoor ticketed events on campus must wear a mask and provide one of the following:

Proof of vaccination, or

A negative COVID-19 test taken in the last 72 hours, or

A positive COVID-19 diagnosis from the past 90 days

This expands our fall 2021 policy for these events, in response to new CDC regulations allowing vaccination for younger people. It applies to all indoor ticketed events, including performing arts, academic conferences and athletics events, among others.