Interim President Marcia White sent the following message to students today (June 15, 2021):
We are so excited to welcome you back to campus for the Fall 2021 semester. Today, New York State reached an important vaccination rate milestone of 70% among the adult population. Our focus is on planning for a safe return to campus that provides the full Saint Rose experience, with opportunities to learn and grow as a community.
Many of you have heard that New York State will require students at SUNY and CUNY campuses to be vaccinated after the COVID-19 vaccine receives full Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval. Currently, the vaccines are being administered under emergency use authorization by the FDA. The timeline for full approval is unknown, though both Pfizer and Moderna have now applied for full FDA approval.
New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo is also strongly encouraging private colleges like Saint Rose to implement the same requirement as SUNY and CUNY. There are now many colleges and universities, including several in the Capital Region, that will require students to be vaccinated after it receives full FDA approval.
Concern for the dear neighbor is central to our identity at Saint Rose, and after careful consideration and seeking expert advice, we feel it is important to show the highest level of care for our students, employees, and the surrounding community and be united with our other local colleges in the effort to end the pandemic. We want students to experience larger gatherings (including lectures, athletics competitions, and student organization events), full capacity classrooms, socializing in the residence halls, and other important aspects of Saint Rose campus life once again.
And so, we have made the following decisions related to COVID-19:
COVID-19 vaccine requirement
Mirroring current New York State regulations with the MMR vaccine, we are requiring students taking at least six credits on campus to be vaccinated against COVID-19 beginning the first full semester after the vaccine receives full FDA approval. In order to give students ample time to complete the vaccination series, if we do not have full FDA approval by July 6, we will not require the vaccine for the Fall 2021 semester.
What you’ll need to submit to return to campus: If full FDA approval of the vaccine is not granted by July 6, students will be required to show one of two things in order to return to campus: Proof of full vaccination (completed 14 days in advance of your first day on campus – such as move-in day or the first day of classes) OR a negative COVID-19 test taken within 72 hours of your return to campus (such as move-in day or the first day of classes). Proof of full vaccination can be uploaded to Medicat now. See this guide to Medicat if you need assistance. For those who will be submitting test results instead, we will provide information on how to do so closer to the start of the fall semester.
Vaccine exemptions: Whenever the COVID-19 vaccination requirement takes effect – just like with the required MMR vaccine – students can apply for either a medical or religious exemption. The process is simple, and details can be found on our restart website under Vaccine Exemptions.
Effective today (June 15, 2021), we have revised our Show Love, Mask Up policy to align with CDC recommendations. Unvaccinated individuals are required to wear a mask inside College buildings. Fully vaccinated individuals do not have to wear a mask inside of College buildings. Due to the low level of transmission risk, there are no masks required outdoors for either population. We understand comfort levels vary and encourage anyone who is more comfortable wearing a mask in any setting to do so. We will revisit the mask policy as the fall semester nears and revise as needed.
Spacing between seats in classrooms will be reduced from 6 feet to 3 feet, mirroring the current guidance for K-12 schools. This will enable us to have in-person classes at full capacity.
Academic and student life
We will hold as many classes fully in-person as possible this fall. In-person events similar to those held prior to the pandemic will resume, though sign-in may be required for contact tracing purposes.
Employees of the College are strongly encouraged to receive the vaccine. Preliminary data shows a high vaccination rate among employees, and we will survey employees for more complete data. Current labor laws make it challenging to require the vaccine of employees, and they have never had the same vaccine requirements as students, such as the MMR vaccine.
Being prepared to return to campus
While the vaccine requirement won’t take effect until after one of the vaccines receives full FDA approval rather than emergency use authorization, we urge you to get the vaccine before you return in the fall. The more people who have the vaccine, the less likely it is the virus will spread on campus. Currently, in the Capital Region, where Saint Rose is located, 72.1% of adults had received at least the first dose of the vaccine, making for a safer community for all of us. We want to be sure to do our part.
Please see the restart website for FAQs and additional details, email questions to email@example.com, and keep an eye on your College email throughout the summer for updates. Until we can welcome you HOME in August, have a safe and relaxing summer.