Fall 2021 Guidance/COVID-19 Information

Fall 2021 Guidance/COVID-19 Information

Overview

The purpose of these guidelines is to explain the policies and procedures SUNY Cortland will operate under during the fall 2021 semester as they pertain to COVID-19 vaccination, testing, and safety precautions designed to protect the health of the campus community and promote student success.

SUNY Cortland’s outstanding educational experience is anchored by in-person instruction, close and persistent contact among students, faculty and staff, and a residential campus that successfully promotes student engagement in co-curricular and extracurricular programs. The procedures and policies in this guidance prioritize the in-person campus experience our students and community value. We expect that the SUNY Cortland campus community will largely be one of vaccinated individuals.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo has announced that students at SUNY colleges and universities will be required to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19. This mandate is pending final approval of the vaccines by the FDA. SUNY Cortland anticipates FDA approval of the vaccines soon and strongly encourages all students to get vaccinated for COVID-19 before the start of the Fall 2021 semester on Aug. 30, 2021.

In addition, SUNY Cortland has adopted local campus regulations requiring vaccinations of all students to access residence halls and certain other programs and services effective Aug. 26, 2021, without regard to full FDA approval. More details are provided below.

This guidance is subject to change if SUNY Cortland experiences an increase in the rate of infections on campus or in the community.

Recently updated:

Quick answers

Further details on all topics are outlined in the guide below.

Are vaccines required for all students?

All students living in residence halls are required to be vaccinated. Limited exceptions will be made only for approved medical and religious reasons. In addition, we may limit certain programs and services to students who are not yet vaccinated.

The requirement for all students to be vaccinated, regardless if they live on or off campus, will go into effect once the FDA approves at least one vaccine. The university anticipates this will happen soon, and we urge all students to get vaccinated as soon as possible.

Do students need to submit proof of vaccination?

Yes. Students will be able to complete the vaccination verification process through a link in myRedDragon. All students will be notified and provided with instructions when this SUNY portal is available in early August.

Are vaccines required to live on campus?

Yes. Limited exceptions will be granted for approved medical or religious exemptions. Students unwilling to comply with the vaccination requirement must cancel their housing on or before Aug. 10, 2021.

What if a student is not fully vaccinated by the scheduled move-in date?

Students living on campus who have begun the vaccination process and received at least an initial dose will be allowed to move into their residence hall. A grace period will be offered until Saturday, Sept. 11, for residential and non-residential students to become fully vaccinated. Students will be required to wear face coverings, physically distance and test weekly until they are considered fully vaccinated.

Are off-campus students required to be vaccinated?

All students who access campus buildings and dining facilities are strongly encouraged to be vaccinated. Once one of the vaccines is approved by the FDA, all students will be required to be vaccinated, with limited exemptions for approved medical or religious reasons. Students who wish to relax face covering and physical distancing while on campus must submit proof of vaccination.

Are face coverings and physical distancing mandatory?

Yes, for not-yet-vaccinated or exempt students. Those who have submitted proof of vaccination may choose to relax these measures.

Is vaccination required for students who have recently had COVID-19?

Yes. Experts have not yet determined how long immunity from being sick with COVID-19 lasts. Antibodies from prior recovery may not provide protection from more recent variants.

Proof of vaccination

Fully vaccinated students will enjoy a robust in-person campus experience during the Fall 2021 semester. All students living on campus are required to be vaccinated, with exceptions made only for approved medical and religious exemptions.

Vaccinated students will be able to complete the vaccination verification process through a link in myRedDragon. All students will be notified and provided with instructions when this SUNY portal is available in early August.

Although vaccination is not yet required to attend classes, any students who live in campus residence halls must complete the vaccination verification process prior to Aug. 10. Any off-campus students who wish to relax face covering and physical distancing while on campus also must complete the vaccination verification process. Students will be able to access the vaccination verification portal through myRedDragon in early August.

Students must be fully vaccinated to relax face covering and social distancing on campus. They are considered fully vaccinated against COVID-19 when:

  • More than two weeks have passed since they received the second dose in a two-dose series (Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna), or more than two weeks have passed since they received a single-dose vaccine (Johnson & Johnson/Janssen), AND
  • They have completed the vaccination verification process through a link in myRedDragon. All students will be notified and provided with instructions when this SUNY portal is available in early August.

Residential students

All students living in on-campus residence halls and apartments must complete the vaccination verification process prior to Aug. 10.

Students who have started the vaccination process and received at least an initial dose will be allowed to move into their residence hallA grace period will be offered until Saturday, Sept. 11, for residential students to become fully vaccinated. Students will be required to wear face coverings, physically distance and test weekly until they are considered fully vaccinated.

Off-campus students

Vaccinated students who live off campus are strongly encouraged to complete the vaccination verification process so they may relax face covering and physical distancing measures, if desired, and enjoy all campus facilities.

Face coverings and physical distancing

Fully vaccinated individuals are not required to wear a face covering or physically distance on campus. Following CDC guidance, nothing prohibits these individuals from continuing the use of face coverings if they wish.

Surveillance testing

Students who have completed the vaccination verification process do not have to present a negative COVID-19 test result upon arrival to campus.

Fully vaccinated individuals may opt out of mandatory weekly testing by submitting documentation showing completion of a vaccination series. These students still must comply with less frequent sample testing during the semester.

SUNY Cortland may decide to require more frequent surveillance testing of all individuals, regardless of vaccination status, upon consultation with the local health department in response to changes in community health and infection rates.

Students will be granted one warning for failure to report for testing. After a second missed test, the student will be subject to the student conduct process and possible removal from campus housing.

More information on surveillance testing frequency, scheduling and location will be available soon.

Symptomatic individuals

Any students who have any symptoms of COVID-19 should contact Student Health Service on the first day they are ill, even if symptoms are mild. This applies to vaccinated and unvaccinated students.

During the evening or weekends, symptomatic students should contact an off-campus health provider such as an urgent care facility or Guthrie Cortland Medical Center.

Likewise, symptomatic employees should not report to work and they should seek testing through their primary care provider or another testing resource in the community. Isolation is required until appropriate medical evaluation has been completed.

Requirements for not-yet-vaccinated and exempt students

Face coverings and physical distancing

Students who have an approved exemption or off-campus students who have not yet completed the vaccination verification process are required to:

  • Wear a face covering at all times indoors on campus, except:
    • When eating meals while seated.
    • When alone.
  • Maintain six feet of physical distancing, where practicable, in indoor settings, such as instructional spaces such as classrooms, laboratories and studios.
  • Comply with all additional requirements applying to classroom, work and research spaces.

Surveillance testing

Pre-arrival

Unvaccinated students for whom vaccination status is unknown, and students granted a medical or religious exemption will be required to submit proof of a negative COVID-19 test prior to coming to Cortland.  This applies to students living both on and off campus.

  • The test must be administered no more than five (5) days prior to the date on which the student will return to Cortland/campus.
  • Test results must be from a valid diagnostic COVID test. This includes PCR/molecular and antigen tests administered in a medical facility or a state or county clinic. Antibody rapid tests are currently not acceptable.
  • Results must be submitted through the test results upload portal located on the COVID tab in myRedDragon.
  • More information for NY testing can be found at https://coronavirus.health.ny.gov/find-test-site-near-you

In lieu of submitting test results, not-yet-vaccinated and exempt students approved by SUNY Cortland’s Student Health Service may complete a 10-day quarantine at home prior to returning to Cortland/campus. Students choosing this option will be required to submit an attestation indicating successful completion of the quarantine period. The attestation will be available in myRedDragon in August.

Weekly

Not-yet-vaccinated and exempt students must participate in mandatory COVID-19 surveillance testing once a week.

It is a student’s responsibility to schedule and complete testing each week as long as they remain unvaccinated or are not yet fully vaccinated (less than two weeks post-completion of vaccination).

Students will be granted one warning for failure to report for testing. After a second missed test, the student will be subject to the student conduct process. Students found in violation may not be allowed to access some campus facilities for the remainder of the Fall 2021 semester.

If an unvaccinated student has tested positive for COVID-19, they will not be required to participate in mandatory COVID-19 surveillance testing for 90 days after the date of their positive test result. At the end of those 90 days, they are required to test weekly.

Medical and religious exemptions

Students may be exempt from a COVID-19 vaccination on the basis of a medical or religious exemption if they meet very specific criteria.

Students granted a medical or religious exemption will be subject to certain restrictions and COVID-19 testing responsibilities detailed in this policy.

Decisions on exemptions will be made in a few business days, depending on volume. Students will be notified via email from Student Health Service staff.

Medical exemptions

Students may be exempt from the vaccination requirement if a duly licensed healthcare provider certifies in writing that the student has a medical contraindication to the COVID-19 vaccine.

Students requesting consideration for a medical exemption from vaccination requirements must submit an exemption request form to student health service. Exemption request forms can be accessed on the Student Health Service channel located on the student tab in myRedDragon. Instructions for submitting exemption requests are included on the downloadable forms.

Requests for medical exemptions must contain:

  • The certification of a licensed healthcare provider,
  • Sufficient information for Student Health Services staff to understand the medical basis for the exemption,
  • The necessary length of the requested exemption,
  • Contact information for the healthcare provider.

Student Health Services will review exemptions in the same way the university considers requests for medical exemptions from measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) immunization requirements.

Religious exemptions

Students who hold genuine religious beliefs that are contrary to COVID-19 vaccination must submit an exemption request form to Student Health Service. Exemption request forms can be accessed on the Student Health Services channel located on the student tab in myRedDragon. Instructions for submitting exemption requests are included on the downloadable forms. The student must explain how receiving the COVID-19 vaccination conflicts with the student’s deeply held religious belief or practice. Student Health Services will review all exemption requests as it does for measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) immunization exemption requests.

Residential students seeking medical and religious exemptions

Students intending to live in campus residence halls who wish to request an exemption from the vaccination requirement must submit a petition for exemption to Student Health Services no later than Aug. 10.

Students who are granted an exemption from the COVID-19 vaccine requirement are subject to several obligations to enable them to remain in on-campus housing. Students are required to:

  • Provide proof of a negative COVID-19 test taken within five days of the student’s move-in date or complete a 10-day self-quarantine prior arrival to campus. They will be required to attest to successful completion of the self-quarantine period. Test results must be submitted through the test results upload portal on the COVID tab in myRedDragon.
  • Comply with mandatory COVID-19 surveillance testing once a week.
  • Maintain six feet of physical distancing when practicable and wear a face covering at all times the student is indoors except:
    • When the student is in their private residence hall room or personal space;
    • When they are eating meals while seated and social distancing is appropriately enforced; or
    • When the student is alone.

Housing conditions for students exempted from vaccination requirement

SUNY Cortland reserves the right to reassign exempted unvaccinated students from their housing assignment. The purpose of reassignment would be to avoid placing a mix of vaccinated and unvaccinated students in the same room or suite.

Students with an approved exemption from the vaccination requirement may request to remain in their assigned housing and share a room with their roommates and/or suitemates by gaining written consent from all roommates or suitemates.

Unvaccinated students must initiate the process by disclosing their vaccination exemption status to their roommates or suitemates. After written consent has been acquired in writing from all parties, unvaccinated students should provide these with an email to the Residence Life and Housing Office within five business days of notification that their exemption has been approved.

Off-campus students seeking medical and religious exemptions

Off-campus students who wish to request an exemption from the vaccination requirement must submit an exemption request form to Student Health Services no later than Aug. 10.

Students who are granted an exemption from the COVID-19 vaccine requirement are subject to several obligations to enable them to use on-campus facilities. Students are required to:

  • Comply with mandatory COVID-19 surveillance testing once a week.
  • Maintain six feet of physical distancing when practicable and wear a face covering at all times the student is indoors except:
    • When they are eating meals while seated and physical distancing is appropriately observed; or
    • When the student is alone.

Housing Cancellation

Students unwilling to comply with the vaccination requirement for campus residents must cancel their housing on or before Aug. 10, 2021. Returning students would need to complete a Release from Housing Form for Fall 2021 and new students would complete a New Student Off Campus Approval Form.

Students who petition for medical or religious exemption and are denied the exemption must complete their related form within three business days of notification that their exemption has been denied.


Academics

Special guidelines for classrooms

It is the responsibility of students who are not fully vaccinated to wear a face covering in all classrooms, labs, and other learning spaces, and, when practicable, to maintain six feet of physical distancing. Students who are vaccinated are not required to wear a face covering unless it is a requirement of the lab due to the research being conducted. All students must comply with any additional requirements applying to classroom, work, and research spaces.

Internships and student teaching

Students who are working as student teachers or interns, including those in on- and off-campus placements, are expected to comply with vaccination and safety guidance established by those placements.

  • If a student teacher or a student in a full-time internship/field experience is living on campus, they must follow the campus vaccination guidelines for those students living on campus and also follow the safety protocols in place at their placements.
  • If a student teacher or a student in a full-time internship/field experience is living off-campus and intends to participate in any in-person campus activities (on campus employment, clubs, athletics, etc.) and/or use any campus facility (Student Life Center, library, computer labs, dining halls, etc.), they must follow the campus vaccination guidelines for those students attending in-person classes and also follow the safety protocols in place at their placements.
  • If a student teacher or a student in a full-time internship/field experience is living out of the region while they complete their student teaching or full-time internship, and will NOT be accessing any campus facilities, they will follow the vaccine guidance and safety protocols of their placements. That is, if a placement requires the student teacher or intern to be vaccinated, they must be vaccinated.
  • Student teachers or students in full-time internships/field experiences who choose not to comply with their placement's vaccination policies and/or safety policies will not be given new placements and will need to withdraw from their student teaching/internship courses for the semester.

Campus life

Buses

Riders on campus buses are required to wear face coverings and practice physical distancing regardless of their vaccination status. Riders should note:

  • Campus transportation employees will clean and disinfectant all high-touch surfaces within buses twice daily using EPA-approved spray products effective against human coronaviruses.
  • Hand sanitizer will be available at all bus shelters.
  • The front door of each bus will be the entrance point and the rear door will be the exit point. The number of buses running has been increased to maintain lower occupancies.
  • The first row of seats behind the driver will be vacant.
  • Only one person is allowed per seat every other row on each side of the bus with maximum occupancy of 15 riders.
  • Campus vehicles will be disinfected with EPA-approved sprays effective against human coronaviruses before and after use. All vehicles will be provided with hand sanitizer or disinfecting wipes.

Student Life Center

Depending on the vaccination rates of students and employees, Recreational Sports may require proof of vaccination to enter the Student Life Center and may limit access to indoor recreation spaces and participation in certain programs to fully vaccinated campus community members only.

Potential programs may include fitness classes, intramurals, sport clubs and Outdoor Pursuits. The campus will issue more guidance once there is a fuller understanding of the campus vaccination rate.

Dining

Vaccinated students

There are no face covering or physical distancing restrictions for students who have submitted proof of vaccination.

Not-yet-vaccinated or exempt students

Students who are not yet vaccinated must wear face coverings in dining facilities when they are not seated.

Athletics and club sports

All student-athletes competing on SUNY Cortland’s Division III teams and sport club teams – both new and returning – must be fully vaccinated in order to participate in team activities. Student-athletes should contact their individual coaches with questions.


International students

Vaccination

The CDC and New York State Department of Health have recommended that completing a WHO-approved vaccine series is acceptable as proof of being fully vaccinated.

The current list of WHO-approved vaccines is available online. A vaccine is approved if “Finalized” appears in the column called “Status of Assessment.”

All health information requirements must be presented in English or accompanied by a translation. Students who require the translation of documents can use one of the many translation services available on the internet.

International students should contact the International Programs Office to make arrangements for their arrival.


Visitors and events

Forms

Individuals looking to host an event on campus should fill out the new program/event form online.

Visitors to campus should fill out the visitor form before arriving on campus. The form will be available on this page when it is finalized.


Monitoring and containment

Monitoring of community infection and vaccination measures

According to the CDC, multiple factors should be considered for managing environments where 100% of the population is not fully vaccinated.

The primary factors to consider include: (1) level of community transmission of COVID-19; (2) COVID-19 vaccination rate, including among students, faculty and staff; (3) implementation of a COVID-19 testing program with high participation from the not-yet-vaccinated campus population; and (4) any local COVID-19 outbreaks or increasing trends.

Therefore, the following guidance applies:

  • Not-yet-vaccinated, partially vaccinated, or exempt individuals: Individuals who are not yet fully vaccinated are responsible for continuing to wear face coverings on campus and should continue to observe physical distancing in indoor settings such as instructional space (classrooms, laboratories, studios).
  • Campus discretion: SUNY Cortland may impose additional face covering requirements or restrictions within the instructional setting, such as no eating or drinking, above and beyond the CDC guidance. The university will work with campus stakeholders in the development of any additional changes and communicate those policies.
  • 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 the campus for consideration of an exemption from face coverings based on a medical accommodation, regardless of vaccination status.
  • Community transmission: Additional requirements may be adopted by SUNY Cortland or SUNY System Administration based on the increasing COVID-19 transmission rates on campus.

Isolation and quarantine responsibilities

Symptomatic students are expected to quarantine until their COVID-19 test results are known, at which time they will be instructed on next steps. COVID-19 positive individuals will be required to isolate for 10 days.

Campus residents: 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 SUNY Cortland and the Cortland County Health Department, until they are cleared to resume usual activities.

Off-campus students: Off-campus students testing positive will isolate either at home or in their off-campus residence for the 10-day period.

Vaccinated individuals: Campus community members who are fully vaccinated and exposed to COVID-19-positive individuals do not need to quarantine as long as they remain asymptomatic. These individuals should self-monitor for symptoms for 14 days after exposure, with appropriate follow up should symptoms develop.

Not-yet-vaccinated and exempt individuals: Campus community members with recent COVID-19 exposure who are not fully vaccinated must quarantine for 10 days, but may leave quarantine after day seven, following receipt of a negative test result. This test must occur on day five or later.

In addition, not-yet-vaccinated or exempt individuals should self-monitor for symptoms for 14 days after exposure. If symptoms develop, they should promptly follow up with a local health authority of healthcare provider and self-quarantine if they are no longer in mandatory quarantine. These individuals should wear a face covering and remain maintain physically distant from others until medical evaluation and follow-up instruction has been provided.

Questions/Concerns

We will address questions and concerns sent to the COVID Concerns form.




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