What Students Should Know: COVID-19 and Returning to Campus for Fall 2021

As we return to campus in fall 2021, SUNY Polytechnic Institute’s first priority is the health and safety of our campus community, including its students, faculty, and staff. The best way to maintain the safest environment possible throughout 2021 and beyond is for each of us to take steps to minimize the risks, not only for ourselves, but also for all members of the SUNY community. This includes:

  • Getting vaccinated
  • Hand washing for more than 20 seconds, along with the use of hand sanitizer (containing at least 60% alcohol)
  • Being mindful of our surroundings and the impact we have

And, as required:

  • Completing daily screenings
  • Wearing face coverings (masks)
  • Social distancing
  • Participating in testing and tracing

Any of us alone can spread this disease and cause harm to others. But all of us together can build a community that is safe and healthy, where educational success is possible.

An important note: 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.

Here’s what you need to know and do as SUNY Poly welcomes you to campus in fall 2021:

Stay Informed

We will keep our campus community updated about the latest COVID-19 information and impact in a number of ways:

  • Please monitor your SUNY Poly email daily for important updates. The most important information will be sent to you via e-mail.
  • SUNY Poly’s COVID-19 resource webpage includes resources, communications, and safety information.
  • Fall 2021 information and FAQs will be found here on the fall 2021 plan webpage.
  • Please follow SUNY Poly’s social media channels which will share important information, updated procedures, and health/wellness guidelines:

Return to Campus Safely – Vaccination, Testing and Isolation Requirements

Vaccination:

  • All residential students are required to share proof of vaccination with the Wellness Center at wellnesscenter@sunypoly.edu. Please see page 3 #4 in the Fall 2021 plan for more details about vaccination requirements, etc.

Utica Students - Before Coming to Campus

  • All residential, commuter, and those students needing access to campus must fill out the daily Utica campus screening before arriving to campus.
  • The New York State Department of Health refers travelers to the CDC for any requirements, restrictions, or recommendations on domestic 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 travelers. The website also includes a listing of prohibited travel from certain countries.

Utica Students - Arrival to Campus

  • All students who are not fully vaccinated and 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. Please see the student testing webpage.
  • On-campus testing submission begins Monday/Tuesday, August 30/31 for all students, faculty, and staff regardless of vaccination status.

Albany Students - Before Coming to Campus

  • All residential, commuter, and those students needing access to campus must fill out the daily Albany campus screening before arriving to campus.
    • Please note: Students previously approved to be on campus who have participated in weekly pooled testing and remain in compliance with all COVID-19 measures are not required to complete the pre-arrival requirements and should continue to engage in testing as required.
  • The New York State Department of Health refers travelers to the CDC for any requirements, restrictions, or recommendations on domestic 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 travelers. The website also includes a listing of prohibited travel from certain countries.

Please note that as a result of the SUNY Poly-University at Albany Partnership, SUNY Poly Albany campus residential students residing at Freedom Apartments will also be required to follow the University at Albany pre-arrival requirements and testing protocol. Please find more information here: https://www.albany.edu/covid-19, with links to upload student documentation, the UAlbany student health screening, and to register a pooled test kit here: https://www.albany.edu/covid-19.

Albany Students – Arrival to Campus Testing: Monday 23/Tuesday 24 and Monday 30/Tuesday 31:

  • All students who are not fully vaccinated and have not provided proof of vaccination to the Wellness Center must provide evidence of a negative COVID-19 test taken within 72 hours of arriving on campus and test upon arrival to campus at the start of the semester. Please see the dates above as well as the student testing webpage.
  • On-campus testing submission begins Monday/Tuesday, August 30/31 for all students,  faculty, and staff regardless of vaccination status.

Get Screened Daily

Everyone, including students, coming to or on-campus (residential students), whether vaccinated or unvaccinated, must complete a daily health screening:

  • Utica campus students must fill out the screening form before accessing campus each day.
  • Albany campus students must fill out the screening form before accessing campus each day.

Get Tested Regularly

Utica Campus - Fall 2021 Regular Student Testing:

All Hilltop/Commuter/Online Needing Access/Adirondack & Mohawk Students who have not provided proof of vaccination to the Wellness Center must take part in pooled surveillance testing once every week (residential students are required to be vaccinated).

Those who have submitted proof of vaccination are required to take part in biweekly surveillance testing.

Please review all testing procedures/schedules and additional information on the student testing webpage.

Albany Campus -

Fall 2021 Regular Student Testing:

All students who have not provided proof of vaccination to the Wellness Center must take part in pooled surveillance testing once every week.

Those who have submitted proof of vaccination are required to take part in biweekly surveillance testing.

Please review all testing procedures/schedules and additional information on the student testing webpage.

Check the COVID-19 Dashboard

Be Responsible – It’s Easy to Do Your Part

Each of us can take small steps to protect ourselves and the campus community. Because COVID-19 is highly contagious, these simple measures apply both on and off-campus:

Wear face coverings:

Please Note: SUNY Poly faculty, staff, and students 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. students2, faculty, and staff3) are not required to maintain social distancing or wear masks except as indicated below and in areas where the rate of transmission is high to substantial. 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.
  • After a potential exposure, wearing a face covering is required for 14 days.

However, in certain settings, especially when some unvaccinated members of the community may be present, fully vaccinated individuals may be required to wear face coverings. All impacted individuals and groups will be notified. Supplemental signage that will be posted providing further direction as needed.

  • Within classrooms/laboratories everyone is required to wear face coverings, with exceptions for only fully vaccinated faculty/staff who are able to teach from the teaching zone which is at least 6-feet from the nearest student in the classroom. In those classrooms where the faculty/staff are unvaccinated, or the teaching zone is not at least 6-feet from all students, face coverings will be required.   
  • For any events, gatherings, activities, and other engagements that include people from outside the SUNY Poly community, all attendees and participants will be expected to wear a face covering as a precaution regardless of vaccination status. Some limited exceptions may be allowed. 

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) must still 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 (subject to changes based on FDA approval/booster shot guidance).

  • 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.
  • Community transmission. Additional requirements may be imposed by the campus or System Administration based upon the increasing COVID-19 transmission rates on campus.

In addition:

  • Regularly wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds and use hand sanitizer where soap and water are not available.
  • Stay home when you are sick or have potentially been exposed to COVID-19.
  • Practice social distancing when required (see above) to reduce transmission.

Vaccination Mandate

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 23, 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.

If Exposed, Complete Mandatory Quarantine and Isolation

Students who test positive for COVID-19, have been exposed to individuals who tested positive for COVID-19, or are informed by a state or local health department, or a medical or campus official, that they are “at risk” for having COVID-19 will be required to quarantine or isolate. This includes taking classes remotely and not going to dining halls and other campus facilities. Please note that SUNY Poly will follow all New York State and local county health guidelines, which may be updated.

  • The campus has specific information about restrictions. More information will be provided at that link.
  • Residential students identified for quarantine and isolation will have access to assistance such as delivery of meals and medication. All students under quarantine and isolation will receive mental health, academic, and/or other supports, as needed.
  • Symptomatic students are expected to isolate until their test results are known, at which time they will be instructed on next steps. Students living on campus who test positive are required to isolate either at home or in designated spaces on campus, following all instructions and guidelines issued by the University and the county health department until they are cleared to resume usual activities. COVID-19 positive individuals will be required to isolate for 10 days.
  • Off-campus students testing positive will isolate either at home or in their off-campus residence for the 10-day period.
  • Vaccinated individuals exposed to COVID-19 positive individuals do not need to quarantine as long as they remain asymptomatic. These individuals should self-monitor for symptoms and wear a face covering during the next 14 days, with appropriate follow up should symptoms develop. CDC guidance also indicates the exposed person should test for COVID-19 3-5 days after the exposure. 
  • Unvaccinated individuals with recent COVID-19 exposure must quarantine for 14 days or may leave quarantine with Health Department approval after day 10 without testing and no symptoms or after day seven following receipt of a negative test result (test must occur on day five or later).
  • These individuals should self-monitor for symptoms over the 14 days following the exposure. If symptoms develop, self-isolation should occur with prompt follow-up with the local public health authority or a healthcare provider. Individuals who find themselves in this circumstance should wear a face covering and remain socially distanced until medical evaluation and follow-up instruction has been provided.

Take Care of Yourself – Physically and Mentally

We understand that this is an exceptionally challenging time. SUNY and SUNY Poly have resources to help you get the support you need. You can start here:

Understand What’s Being Offered On-Campus and Online

As of August 4, 2021, SUNY Poly has approximately 644 classes scheduled for the fall semester. About 25% of the classes will include on-campus instruction, 50% will be remote synchronous instruction, and 25% will be asynchronously remote.

Get Instructional and Technology Help

ITS has provided a means to request software necessary for class work to meet the fall 2021 Academic Technology Requirements.

Request Accommodations for Disabilities

Students who wish to disclose covered disabilities and receive reasonable accommodations should contact the Office of Disability Services at SUNY Poly:

Follow Housing and Dining Updates

SUNY Poly—Utica Campus

  • Health-focused efforts for residential living are detailed below:
  • Residential students will move in:
    • Thursday, August 26, 2021 (first year students only, by scheduled appointment)
    • Friday, August 27, 2021 (transfer students only)
    • Saturday, August 28 and Sunday, August 29, 2021 (returning students only)
  • All students must take part in required testing/screening (see above).
  • There is a strict no guest/visitor policy (except for other residential students).

SUNY Poly—Albany Campus

If We Have to PAUSE, Follow These Rules

If SUNY Poly must switch to a two-week (or longer) PAUSE, the following rules apply:

  • Based on the risks associated with potential COVID-19 community spread, 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.

If We Have to Pivot to Remote Instruction, Follow This Plan

If SUNY Poly must switch to remote instruction for the remainder of the semester, the following rules apply:

Academic operations in a remote (online) environment

  • Blackboard will remain as the primary online learning environment. All learning materials will be made available to students via Blackboard
  • Facilities will be closed wherever needed, maintained at base operational levels, and only accessible to essential personnel.

Move-Out Process

  • An emergency shutdown of Residential Life Operations may require students to make a complete residential move out. Please consider this as you pack for the fall semester. Albany campus residential students will follow the UAlbany move out protocol.
    • The campus will consult and follow the guidance of local health departments in order to stop the potential spread of COVID-19.
    • Students will be notified of the necessity to check out via SUNY Poly email and “call them all” text/phone notification.
    • Students will also be notified via email and web postings about COVID-19 testing requirements.
    • Checkout will be handled using a socially distanced structure, appropriate distancing and face coverings will be required.
    • All students must vacate the residential complex within 48 hours of a presumed negative test result in the event of an emergency shutdown of Residential Life Operations.
    • Residential students will utilize the housing portal to confirm their knowledge of the shutdown and to schedule a departure time. Students who are unable to depart campus immediately will be able to request an extended stay.
    • In the event of an emergency shutdown, move-out assistance will not be permitted. Students are expected to depart campus immediately upon completion of the move-out process.
    • Accommodations will be made for international students or those with special needs to remain on-campus.
    • Following move out, Residential Life and Facilities staff will complete room inspections and end of semester cleaning.

Medically Isolated or Quarantined Students

  • Students isolated or quarantined at the time of shutdown will remain in their assigned quarantine or isolation location until the Wellness Center and/or County DOH determine it to be safe for them to move out.
  • All services will remain in place for isolated or quarantined students during shutdown.

Refunds of Housing Payments and Fees

  • If the campus closes early in the event of a shutdown, students may receive a credit to their account or a refund for the days reduced.
  • Students who choose to leave campus on their own, outside of an emergency shutdown, will not be eligible for a refund of housing costs and will follow the refund policy in place for housing.
  • Broad Based fees will only be reduced if services or benefits cannot be provided. The Health Service and Technology fees will not be adjusted as these services can be provided either remotely or through an on-campus setting through the entire semester.

Changes and Updates

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.

Thank you in advance for everything you are doing—and will do—to make the fall 2021 safe for you, your fellow students, and the campus community and beyond.

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