I hope you were able to enjoy the holiday season with family and friends and, as we look to begin the new year, are cautiously optimistic as I am that 2022 will be a year of positive change.
One of the key areas of focus will be recapturing some of the elements that have made CUNY a beacon of student success and social mobility such as campus support services, higher levels of in-person instruction and student activities.
State and city leaders have recognized the importance of restoring in-person activities and instruction as we move ahead in 2022. Last Friday, Governor Kathy Hochul announced a series of measures impacting CUNY and SUNY for the Spring semester, including:
- Students enrolled in in-person or hybrid classes for Spring 2022 will be required to get the booster shot as soon as they are eligible for it. We will soon share details of the process for students to provide proof of booster vaccination, along with the deadlines for doing so. In the meantime, I encourage not only students but all members of our community to get the booster shot, which has been shown to provide further protection against COVID-19 and its variants.
- All faculty will be required to be vaccinated against COVID-19, ensuring that everyone in a classroom is vaccinated, except the few with approved exemptions or exceptions. We are grateful that most of our faculty are already vaccinated and ask that faculty upload proof of vaccination in CUNYfirst. If you are among the few who are not vaccinated, please take immediate steps to do so. In the weeks ahead, we will outline details of the faculty mandate policy, which requires approval by the CUNY Board of Trustees.
- Pre-testing before the Spring semester begins for some student groups taking in-person or hybrid classes. We will provide more guidance about this as we get closer to the start of the semester but, as in the past, students returning to dorms will be required to be tested before moving in.
Vaccines will continue to be required for all students taking in-person and hybrid courses. Any enrolled student who has not uploaded proof of vaccination documents to CUNYfirst by Jan. 18 will be de-registered from in-person and hybrid classes for non-compliance with the vaccination mandate. If they subsequently upload proof, they may register for courses up to the end of the add/drop period on Feb. 3.
New CDC Guidelines
CUNY will begin following CDC’s recently issued guidance that adjusted the recommended quarantine and isolation times for people in close contact with someone who is positive or those who test positive:
- CUNY employees and students who come into close contact with someone with COVID-19 should base their approach to quarantine – if it is needed, when to end it, and when to test – depending on whether they are boosted, fully vaccinated and when, or unvaccinated. Please follow CDC’s guidance on quarantine spelled here.
- Employees and students who test positive for COVID-19 should isolate for at least 5 days. When to end isolation, test and return to in-person work or class varies depending on whether or not a person develops symptoms or is severely ill. Please follow CDC’s guidance on isolation spelled here.
- For a detailed description on CDC’s guidelines on quarantine and isolation visit here.
- Employees who are able to work remotely during quarantine and isolation should do so.
In accordance with existing CUNY campus plans, CUNY offices will continue to operate at the 50% in-person capacity guidelines that have been in place since August now through February 25. Starting on Monday, February 28, staff members will work 70% of the time in person. Please start to make any needed preparations to be ready for this transition.
During the current Omicron surge, supervisors are encouraged to work with Human Resources to address individual situations where short-term fully remote work arrangements may be particularly aligned with our commitment to mitigate the potential spread of infection. We urge employees who are not feeling well to stay home.
A reminder that any staff member returning to work this spring for the first time in-person will need to be fully vaccinated, and their proof-of-vaccination documents uploaded and approved in CUNYfirst, or they will need to participate in CUNY’s Cleared4 testing program. Please don’t wait to upload your proof of vaccination or get set up for testing.
CUNY will continue to monitor campus and university-wide positivity rates through our testing programs. Since August 25, CUNY has administered 97,640 tests to unvaccinated individuals. You can check the latest numbers in our COVID-19 Safety Tracker available here.
The random testing of vaccinated students, faculty and staff that began in late November will be expanded for the Spring to include more people and increase the frequency of testing. Please be on the lookout in case you are randomly selected to be tested as you are required to comply.
A reminder that we are offering free PCR testing at CUNY testing sites. Any CUNY student or employee who needs to be tested for any reason may walk into a site, show their CUNY ID, register in the system and get tested. Results will be available as usual within 24 to 48 hours. For a list of CUNY sites and hours of operation, visit here. For our general FAQ on the testing program, visit here.
The policies outlined above are intended to safeguard the health of every member of our University community while safely enabling us to maximize in-person instruction, an objective that we understand to be vital to our students’ academic success. We realize that public health conditions can evolve rapidly and, as we have seen repeatedly over the past two years, federal, state and city officials could modify these policies and procedures as appropriate.
We will provide more information soon; in the meantime, please get vaccinated and boosted, remain diligent about masking and distancing, and stay safe.
By Félix V. Matos Rodríguez, PhD