Fall 2021 Plan

Read SUNY Poly's Fall 2021 Plan.

SUNY Polytechnic Institute
Academic Continuity and Health and Safety Plan
Fall Term 2021

1.    Background

The State of New York and the entire nation continue to navigate the logistical and health challenges that have resulted from the COVID-19 pandemic. On June 15, 2021, the Governor announced that all state-mandated COVID-19 health and safety restrictions were lifted, effective immediately, as 70 percent of New Yorkers age 18 or older have received at least the first dose of their COVID-19 vaccination series. Shortly thereafter, the Governor announced that on June 24, 2021, New York ended the state disaster emergency declared for the COVID-19 pandemic on March 7, 2020.

Therefore, as SUNY Poly seeks to maintain the highest level of public health and safety, this plan looks to provide the maximum in-person educational experience possible. As federal, state, local, and SUNY health guidance changes, so too will SUNY Poly’s approach, which has been established and responsive to active campus needs through wide-ranging community stakeholder input.

This plan follows SUNY System Administration and NYS Department of Health guidance. Further details can be found in the FAQs. As federal, state, local, and SUNY health guidance changes due to the evolving COVID-19 pandemic, SUNY Poly’s rules will also evolve as the institution receives new guidance and/or regulations are promulgated. SUNY Poly reserves the right to change its policy in regards to these matters and will provide updates as needed on the SUNY Poly website.

2.    Masks and Social Distancing

Please Note: SUNY Poly faculty, staff, students, and visitors have been notified they must wear a face covering at all times while indoors on campus starting August 5, 2021, except in those locations which are usually exempted such as in a student’s dorm room, in an employee’s enclosed office, when alone in a private space, or when seated and actively eating and drinking. This requirement will be reassessed and the community will be updated about any changes. This new guidance supersedes the face covering guidance below, which could be reverted to at such time as it is considered safe to do so:

Fully Vaccinated Individuals: Pursuant to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines, fully vaccinated individuals (i.e. students , faculty, and staff ) are not required to maintain social distancing or wear masks, subject to the exceptions below. Pursuant to CDC guidance, nothing herein  prohibits fully vaccinated individuals from continuing the use of masks and the CDC has recommended fully vaccinated people wear a mask in public indoor settings in areas of substantial or high transmission. Additionally:

  • The CDC indicates fully vaccinated individuals can choose to wear a face covering regardless of the level of transmission, particularly if they or someone in their household are immunocompromised or at increased risk for severe disease from COVID-19; and
  • After a potential exposure, wearing a face covering is required for 14 days.

In certain settings, especially when some unvaccinated members of the community may be present, fully vaccinated individuals also may be required to wear face coverings, notification will occur in advance supplemented by signage where appropriate.

  • Within classrooms/laboratories everyone is required to wear face coverings, however, fully vaccinated faculty/staff may be allowed to instruct without a face covering if they are able to teach within the physically distant teaching zone (an area at least 6-feet from the closest student) at the front of the classroom. If the classroom design and occupancy do not allow for at least a 6-foot separation, the instructor will be expected to wear a face covering.
  • For any indoor events, gatherings, activities, or engagements that include participants or attendees from outside the SUNY Poly community, everyone will be required to wear a face covering as a precaution, regardless of vaccination status.
  • Changes to CDC, NYSDOH, SUNY and local Department of Health requirements may require face coverings in all indoor settings (except those usually exempted such as in a student’s dorm room, in an employee’s enclosed office, when alone in a private space, or when seated and actively eating and drinking).
  • Campus dining facilities and event locations are expected to provide some socially distanced areas to accommodate unvaccinated individuals who are required to be socially distant and those who have a significant concern due to their own health or personal situation, where social distancing can be more protective and reduce risk.

In very limited circumstances and during approved events, individual presenters or performers may be approved to take masks off when presenting / performing for a fully masked audience or group.  All events of this sort must be submitted to the events committee who will review for logistical needs, and COVID-19 considerations.  Approval for exemption of the required mask mandate will be issued by the EHS department in consultation with Campus Safety Monitors and appropriate COVID response team members as needed, and after discussion with the event organizers regarding the need for such exemptions. 

The general criteria are as follows:

  • The presenter or performer must be fully vaccinated or have proof of recent (within past 90 days) recovery from COVID-19, or must have tested negative for COVID-19 within the previous 72 hours.  Proof of such shall be provided to the appropriate office (i.e., HR, Wellness, EHS) and reviewed before approvals are given.
  • The presenter or performer must be no closer than 12-feet from the nearest attendee or audience member.  Additional distance may be appropriate for those who are not vaccinated.   
    • Unrelated individuals sharing a stage shall also be at least 12-feet from the unmasked individual, unless they are a related individual (e.g., part of the same family unit) or an integral part of the performance.
  • When interacting with individuals or when within 6-feet from others (e.g. stage party, audience members, individuals called from the audience), masks must be worn by all.
    • Individuals who are part of a team (e.g., musical duo) may be allowed to remove masks when performing together as long as the individuals are part of the same "act".
  • Outdoor settings will have fewer restrictions regarding masks when social distancing is in place.

Unvaccinated/Partially Vaccinated Individuals: Unvaccinated individuals and those who have chosen not to share proof of vaccination with HR (employees) or EHS (visitors) must wear face coverings at all times. Exceptions for unvaccinated individuals include the following: they may remove their face coverings indoors or outdoors only when alone, while working at their workstation socially distanced from others or with a physical barrier in place, or while socially distanced, seated, and actively eating/drinking.

More Information: Individuals are considered fully vaccinated: (1) two weeks after receiving the second dose in a two dose COVID-19 vaccine series or (2) two weeks after receiving a single dose COVID-19 vaccine.

  1. Special consideration. Pursuant to the CDC, “A person with a disability who cannot wear a mask, or cannot safely wear a mask, because of a disability as defined by the Americans with Disabilities Act (42 U.S.C. 12101 et seq.)” may submit a request to Disability Services at ds@sunypoly.edu for consideration of an exemption from mask wearing based on a medical accommodation, regardless of vaccination status. These individuals should be aware of the risk posed by not wearing a mask in certain situations, and should take extra precautions to protect themselves (e.g., social distancing).
  2. Community transmission. Additional requirements may be imposed based upon the increasing COVID-19 transmission rates on campus or in the surrounding counties.

3.    Event Capacity Limits

The State of New York’s COVID-19 restrictions remain in effect for large-scale indoor event venues—now defined as indoor venues that hold more than 5,000 attendees. Because no indoor SUNY Poly facility holds more than 5,000 attendees, at this time, events/gatherings may be held consistent with the State’s implementation of the CDC guidelines.

Fully Vaccinated Individuals: This means that proof of vaccination can be used to eliminate social distancing and remove masks for fully vaccinated individuals at events/gatherings where and when indicated. For any engagements that include people from outside the SUNY Poly community, everyone must wear a face covering as a precaution. Please note the latest guidance regarding face coverings in section 2; the campus community will be notified of any updates.

Unvaccinated/Partially Vaccinated Individuals: Unvaccinated or unknown vaccination status individuals who are over the age of four must continue to wear face coverings and practice social distancing where possible within the venue. Certain events/gatherings may require proof of a negative diagnostic COVID-19 test result collected within the last 72-hours. Additional guidance may be provided at the event, or in advance, as is possible.

4.    Mandatory Vaccination for Students and Vaccination Management System

Effective August 23, 2021, all SUNY Poly students are required to be vaccinated against COVID-19. This mandate is in effect for any SUNY Poly student coming to any SUNY Poly campus or facility for any reason during the 2021-22 academic year, and went into effect upon the FDA granting final approval to the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine on August 22, 2021. Once a student receives their COVID vaccine, they must submit proof of vaccination to wellnesscenter@sunypoly.edu. Proof of vaccination of a two-part series is the completion of both doses.

  • Students choosing to receive the one-dose Johnson & Johnson/Janssen vaccine must receive the one-dose vaccination by Tuesday, August 31, 2021. Proof of this vaccination must be submitted to wellnesscenter@sunypoly.eduno later than Friday, September 3, 2021.
  • Students choosing to receive the two-dose Pfizer vaccine must receive the first dose by Friday, September 3, 2021. Proof of this partial vaccination must be sent to wellnesscenter@sunypoly.edu no later than Wednesday, September 8, 2021. These students have until Friday, September 24, 2021, to receive the second dose. Once the second dose is complete, proof must be sent to wellnesscenter@sunypoly.edu no later than Wednesday, September 29, 2021.
  • Students choosing to receive the two-dose Moderna vaccine must the first dose by Monday, August 30, 2021. Proof of this partial vaccination must be sent to wellnesscenter@sunypoly.edu no later than Friday, September 3, 2021. These students have until Monday, September 27, 2021, to receive the second dose. Once the second dose is complete, proof must be sent to wellnesscenter@sunypoly.edu no later than Friday, October 1, 2021.

Acceptable proof of vaccination includes: a picture or photocopy of the front of the vaccination card or a screenshot of an Excelsior Pass.

In addition, because System Administration is developing a System-wide solution for all campuses to track verified vaccination status of SUNY students, SUNY Poly expects to utilize this resource once it’s available. The system is anticipated to be driven by student consent and will use available authoritative sources (NYS/NYC immunization systems) to verify vaccination status. Students vaccinated outside the State of New York will be required to submit appropriate documentation to the campus: wellnesscenter@sunypoly.edu.

Vaccinations for the SUNY Poly campus community will help us to experience full and active participation in the life of the campus community. Without full vaccination by our community, we expect that there will be limits to what we are able to do and offer on campus. High vaccination rates will reduce the risk of exposures to COVID-19 on campus and provide for a healthier and safer living and learning experience.

Students who choose not to be vaccinated against COVID-19 are permitted to enroll in online courses only (no in-person classes) and are not permitted to access any in-person campus activities or services. No remote learning options are available for students who do not want to receive a COVID-19 vaccine outside of any courses already offered remotely. Students may not request a change in course modality to avoid receiving a COVID-19 vaccination, and faculty cannot accommodate such requests received. In addition, students should be aware that the SUNY tuition and fee refund policy remains in effect for any student who refuses to receive a vaccine and is not approved for an exemption.

In very limited circumstances students may request an exemption from the COVID vaccination requirement for medical or other reasons. Any SUNY Poly student with a legitimate and documentable medical or other reason why they cannot receive the COVID-19 vaccine has until Monday, August 30, 2021, to submit an exemption request by utilizing the medical (available from wellnesscenter@sunypoly.edu) or other exemption (available from studentaffairs@sunypoly.edu) request forms. Detailed information must be provided. Students whose exemption request is denied will have five calendar days after receiving the exemption denial to receive their first vaccine dose and provide documentation to wellnesscenter@sunypoly.edu.

5.    Daily Health Screening

To assist with potential contact tracing and support other health-focused efforts, SUNY Polytechnic Institute is requiring all faculty, staff, and students to screen for (1) COVID-19 symptoms, (2) recent close contacts, and (3) recent positive COVID-19 test result, regardless of individual vaccination status. Screening is available here: https://sunypoly.edu/covid19/screening.html.

  • Albany campus students and employees must screen daily; visitors must screen onsite.
  • Utica campus students and employees must screen daily; information for visitors is also available at the link above.

In addition, students, faculty, and staff are encouraged to perform daily self-health screenings for infectious illnesses, including COVID-19.     Anyone with signs or symptoms of infectious illness is asked to stay home when sick and/or seek medical care, or, if a residential student, contact the Wellness Center at (315) 792-7172. Albany campus students should contact Student Health Services at (518) 442-5229.

6.    Mandatory Pause Requirements

The NYS requirements for a mandatory pause are no longer in effect. However, should SUNY Poly need or be required to pause campus activities in cases of increased community transmission, in-person activities may move online or be cancelled as necessary, and updates with protocols for faculty, staff, and students would be provided by email.

7.    Cleaning Protocols

While the New York State mandatory cleaning and disinfection protocols are no longer in effect, SUNY Poly will continue to assess and ensure that all cleaning protocols are in compliance with NYSDOH Higher Education Guidance and CDC guidance (Interim Guidance for Higher Education during the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency and Reopening Guidance for Cleaning and Disinfecting Public Spaces, Workplaces, Businesses, Schools, and Homes).  

Additional resources regarding cleaning/disinfecting and protecting oneself include:

The Facilities Department is utilizing current public health guidance to develop best practices for cleaning and disinfection in coordination with EHS. Custodial staff will be assigned to increase frequency of cleaning in high-traffic locations, such as classrooms, hallways, restrooms, public reception areas (to include common areas in residence halls), and elevators. Custodial staff will clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces at least once per day and regularly clean and disinfect other surfaces as necessary given the level of traffic and needs for the space.

Products used for disinfection routines will be EPA/NYSDEC-approved to be effective against COVID-19. Custodial staff are trained on the appropriate use of cleaning and disinfection chemicals and wear appropriate PPE. SUNY Poly will provide hand hygiene stations and supplies across both campuses for individuals. Specifically, this includes: hand washing supplies, such as soap, running water or disposable towels or hand sanitizing liquid, such as alcohol-based sanitizer with 60 percent or more alcohol where hand washing may not be available or practical.

Self-use cleaning/disinfecting materials are available in many locations/classrooms that can be used by an individual to disinfect the workstation, computer keyboard and mouse, desktop or other surface.

8.    Ventilation and Air Filtration

SUNY Poly is increasing outdoor airflow and ventilation rates in indoor settings to the extent it is compatible with individual comfort and safety and in accordance with building codes and standards, as well as applicable lease, contract, or other use agreement requirements.

The American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) Epidemic Task Force has continued to assess and shared the potential for airborne transmission of COVID-19 within buildings. To that end, SUNY Poly continues to follow the current and emerging guidelines regarding mechanical and ventilation systems. SUNY Poly is using a combination of increased outside air, which reduces the volume of potentially impacted air being recirculated, in addition to running the ventilation systems longer and increasing particulate filtration.

Because the air handlers in the Cayan Library, Student Center, Field House, and Campus Center were designed for and currently use MERV-13 or 14 filters, those buildings will utilize the Building Management Systems to increase the ventilation rates, further mitigating risk. Similarly, SUNY Poly is increasing ventilation rates and has replaced the existing MERV-8 filters with MERV-13 filters in Kunsela and Donovan Halls. ASHRAE recommends schools and universities install filters with a minimum rating of MERV-13 (or the maximum MERV the system can handle) to improve air filtration and slow the transmission of viruses in HVAC systems, and SUNY Poly is meeting or exceeding this recommendation.

Residence Halls:
Adirondack and Mohawk residence halls are not designed with air handler systems (systems that operate to heat, cool, and ventilate building space). Instead, the buildings have baseboard radiant heat and natural ventilation through doors and windows.

The new Hilltop Hall residence hall has a robust, energy efficient heating and cooling system using ground-source geothermal heat pumps. For ventilation, the building has an energy recovery unit that is controlled to increase outdoor air use and increase fresh air exchanges in the building. The final filter for these units is a MERV-13 filter.

The Oriskany Hall energy recovery units are fitted with a minimum of MERV-13 main filters. For ventilation, the building has energy recovery units that are controlled to increase outside airflow rates and fresh air exchanges.

9.    COVID-19 Testing

Fully Vaccinated Individuals: Fully vaccinated students and employees (including auxiliary workers and vendors with a regular on-campus presence) may opt-out from mandatory weekly testing upon the submission of documentation showing completion of a full vaccination series, understanding that the definition may be subject to change based on final recommendations from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and CDC on booster shots. Biweekly surveillance testing of vaccinated individuals is required as a way to monitor and proactively manage potential breakthrough cases.

Unvaccinated/Partially Vaccinated/Vaccine Exempt Individuals: Mandatory weekly testing for this cohort will continue to be required for any person4 who has a physical presence on campus and who has not been fully vaccinated or who has not shown proof of vaccination. See below for more details.

In addition and subject to final New York State guidance, COVID-19 vaccines recognized by the World Health Organization (WHO) are now accepted by SUNY Poly for purposes of determining vaccination status. See: Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) | WHO - Prequalification of Medical Products (IVDs, Medicines, Vaccines and Immunization Devices, Vector Control).

Please find full testing schedules and protocols: Students and Employees

  • Surveillance Testing for Unvaccinated Individuals:
    • This is scheduled to take place weekly.
  • Surveillance Testing for Vaccinated Individuals:
    • This is scheduled to take place biweekly.
  • Symptomatic Cases. Diagnostic (PCR) testing of all symptomatic residential life students, including those who are vaccinated and who display COVID-related symptoms, will continue through the Wellness Center or other off-campus options. (Please note fees may apply).
  • Contractors and Vendors: Must complete the Daily Visitor Screen any day they are on campus.  Pursuant to SUNY guidance, regular presence and intermingling with the campus community require additional testing requirements.  
  • Reporting. SUNY Poly will continue to report testing results daily through the  SUNY Health Portal and may pre-fill entries for days (e.g. weekends) when no testing is done or is anticipated to be done. If test results are received following pre-filled entries, changes will be made upon receipt of the results.
  • Noncompliance. Any incidents of non-compliance with campus testing will continue to be handled through SUNY Poly’s Student Code of Conduct (Community Standards Office) for  students and Human Resources for employees.
  • Additional Testing. SUNY Poly may impose more frequent testing of students  and employees, regardless of vaccination status, based on conditions that may warrant additional measures.

10.    Pre-Semester Testing

All students who are not fully vaccinated and who have not provided proof of vaccination to the Wellness Center are asked to provide evidence of a negative COVID-19 test taken within 72 hours of arriving on campus at the start of the semester and are required to test upon arrival to campus.

On-campus testing submission begins Monday/Tuesday, August 30/31 for all students, faculty, and staff regardless of vaccination status.

Please see the student testing webpage.

11.    Residence Halls, Quarantine and Isolation Space

SUNY Poly is planning for a higher occupancy of residence halls in the fall semester. The CDC Guidance indicates that fully vaccinated individuals who are exposed to COVID-19 do not have to quarantine unless they are symptomatic, however recent guidance (7/25/2021) recommends testing 3-5 days after the exposure and wearing of face coverings for the 14 days following exposure. Fully vaccinated individuals who test positive must isolate for 10 days.

To meet these needs, on SUNY Poly’s Utica campus, Oriskany Hall is dedicated to quarantine/isolation only. There are 72 beds located at the residence hall complex, and SUNY Poly’s quarantine/isolation team works closely with the Oneida County Health Department for students designated for quarantine/isolation, in addition to providing all wrap-around services for those designated students.

Similarly, Albany campus quarantine needs for residential students are met through the institution’s partnership agreement with the University at Albany.

12.    Academic Calendar

All classes begin Monday, August 30, with a mid-semester break Saturday, October 9-Tuesday, October 12, 2021, and a Thanksgiving holiday recess Wednesday, November 24-Sunday November 28, 2021. Classes end Friday, December 10, followed by final exams from Monday, December 13 – Thursday, December 16, 2021.

13.    College in High School

Students in concurrent enrollment programs must follow the health and safety guidelines and protocols of SUNY Poly. If the course is  delivered at their high school, they must follow the local school district guidelines. If a student takes a course on campus, they must follow SUNY Poly’s guidelines, with the exception that high school students will only be subject to vaccine and testing requirements as designated by New York State local health departments and guidelines provided by local school districts.

14.    Visitors and Guests

Visitors must follow any additional New York State or local health guidelines on capacity limits or other requirements as indicated in the Fall 2021 plan.

No visitors (non-students) are allowed in the residential halls at any time. The only guests (defined as other SUNY Poly students) permitted in the residence halls are other residential students within the standard guest parameters of Residential Life.

All other visitors, vendors, contractors, and consultants to the Utica campus must complete the Visitor Screening, and, if on campus regularly, must have a testing plan in place with EHS (Unaffiliated Entity COVID-19 Testing Program Certification form).

Albany visitors should follow NY CREATES protocols: more information is available here.

15.    Campus Safety Monitors

SUNY Poly Campus Safety Monitors:

  1. Mike Frame, Chief Operating Officer and Chief of Staff; mframe@sunypoly.edu
  2. Sean Clive, Director of Environmental Health & Safety - Utica Campus;  clives@sunypoly.edu

16.    Travel

The New York State Department of Health refers travelers to the CDC for any requirements, restrictions, or recommendations on omestic and international travel. For domestic travelers, the individual should research the requirements of the state / locality they are traveling to and follow all applicable requirements.
For international travelers, the CDC website provides country-by-country breakdowns and expectations for traveler with a listing of prohibited travel from certain countries.

17.    Mental Health

Given the unprecedented times for students, SUNY Poly is striving to increase support for mental health services among our campus community, including through the following initiatives and resources.

The SUNY Poly Wellness Center in Utica provides medical, counseling, and health promotion services to students. The Counseling Center is located in the Wellness Center (Campus Center, Suite 217). Individual work spaces and waiting rooms follow social distancing and face covering guidelines at all times.

  • Counselors are available for in-person, telephone, virtual (telecounseling and telepsych) counseling sessions. In-person/virtual group sessions may also be available. Appointments are required.

The SUNY Poly Albany campus students have counseling and psychological services provided by a contract with UAlbany. Appointments are required.

Counseling services are confidential, voluntary, and by student request. Counselors will only communicate with a parent/guardian if written consent is obtained from the student.

All students, residential and commuters, known to be in quarantine or isolation are contacted by SUNY Poly Quarantine and Isolation team staff providing information regarding available support services, including counseling. A follow-up email is sent, outlining the detailed services. Phone contact is continued throughout the quarantine and isolation period with the students to ensure health and academic success. Residential students also receive a phone call directly from a counselor, which includes a mental health assessment with follow-up care, if applicable.

Life challenges in addition to COVID-19 that are commonly addressed consist of: balancing personal life, work and/or college responsibilities, and college transition issues such as: roommate, relationship issues, adjusting to college life, homesickness, anxiety, depression, stress, anger, grief, and/or eating disorders, etc.

Crisis intervention services may be provided by our licensed counselors, with referrals to local mental health services for students at high or imminent risk of harm to self or others.

SUNY and SUNY Poly provide the additional, following resources to help students receive support:

Additional Resources Include:

SUNY Poly’s Care Team is an additional resource for students, faculty, and staff to utilize to identify students of concern or in need of support. The Care Team, which meets weekly, addresses challenging, disruptive, or harmful behavior and situations by providing helpful interventions that are aimed at community safety and student success. Care exists to promote and maintain safety and health by identifying and assisting struggling students to become more connected to services. Some referrals may include mental health care and/or safety intervention.

SUNY Poly is committed to providing access to mental health resources for employees who are struggling during difficult times. The New York State Employee Assistance Program (EAP) helps state employees balance the demands of work, home, and life. EAP is a Work-Life Services benefit sponsored jointly by labor and management and is available to New York State employees and their families. To reach an EAP coordinator, please visit the NYS EAP website. The number to contact is 1-800-822-0244.

Below are some additional resources that may be useful for employees:

18.    Intercollegiate Athletics

The fall athletic schedule has been set for intercollegiate competition to resume at SUNY Poly. NCAA, state, NAC (North Atlantic Conference), and local guidelines are forthcoming and subject to change based on evolving needs. While it is anticipated that SUNY Poly will compete during the fall semester, there may be some limitations. SUNY Poly and the Athletics Department are working to identify protocols to safely resume competitive sports.

19.    What Students Should Know: Transparency

A robust, transparent return to campus plan for the fall 2021 semester at SUNY Poly’s Albany and Utica campuses has been developed, which will be shared with the campus community to provide a valuable roadmap to enable a successful academic and research term. As part of this effort, SUNY Poly will include the percentage of courses, which will be offered in-person and virtually so that students can make informed decisions about their educational experience.

View What Students Should Know: COVID-19 and Returning to Campus for more information.



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