SUNY Empire will resume in-person student services and supports on August 23. Students are encouraged to schedule appointments in advance, wherever possible, until the start of the term on September 7.

Fall 2021 In-person or Online Return FAQs

SUNY Empire Students and Vaccines

SUNY Empire values the health and safety of our students. There’s a lot to know about vaccines and COVID-19 protocols, so we’ve put together the answers to some frequently asked questions. With the FDA's full approval of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine, SUNY policy requires students attending in-person classes or receiving any in-person academic services and supports to be fully vaccinated. Students remaining fully remote or online will not need to submit proof of vaccination, but will need to agree to not access our locations in person. Students may also seek medical or religious exemptions. Virtual supports will remain. 

Our students play an important role in keeping the SUNY Empire community healthy and safe. In this unpredictable and ever-changing environment, we ask that you check our website and your email regularly to stay up to date on our protocols. Please take these protocols seriously and help in every way you can. We’ve asked the same of our faculty and staff.

Vaccines and Verifications

What are the important links to verify my Fall 2021 plans?

What is the SUNY Empire policy on COVID-19 vaccines?

All students who plan to visit one of our locations in person, whether for study groups, services, or meetings, must be fully vaccinated and verify it by submitting the SUNY Vaccination Verification Application. Students who will attend online classes only must agree they will remain online-only for study groups and academic supports via the COVID-19 Remote/Online Attestation Form. Those who receive a temporary medical accommodation, or medical or religious exemptions will need to participate in weekly testing.

How much time do I have to get vaccinated?

The FDA approved the Pfizer vaccine on August 23. You have until Friday, September 24 to verify that you are fully vaccinated, which is 35 days from the date of approval.

I’m coming to campus only once this semester to meet with my mentor. Do I still need to verify I’m vaccinated?

Yes. Any student who will be at one of our locations for any reason — for any length of time — must fill out the Student Vaccination Verification Application.

How do you define fully vaccinated?

If you get the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, you are fully vaccinated two weeks after receiving your second dose. For the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, you are fully vaccinated two weeks after receiving the one dose.

I haven’t registered for courses yet. Do I need to be vaccinated to do so?

No, you do not. However, if you are planning on attending in-person study groups or student supports, you will need to verify your vaccination status by September 24, 2021.

How long will the vaccine mandate remain in effect?

We anticipate the mandate to become permanent in the near future. The only exceptions will be students who have medical and religious exemptions, or students who will attend online classes only. Those students must agree they will remain online-only for study groups and academic supports via the COVID-19 Remote/Online Attestation Form.

How does filling out the application prove that students are fully vaccinated?

When you fill out the application, you give consent for SUNY to access information that proves you are fully vaccinated.

What are my options if I decide not to get vaccinated?

If you do not have a medical or religious exemption, you must attend all classes virtually. You’ll also have to receive all services online and meet with faculty and mentors virtually. You may do so via the COVID-19 Remote/Online Attestation Form.

I’m fully vaccinated, but am attending all classes online or remotely, and have no plans to come to a location. Do I need to let anyone the college know I’m fully vaccinated?

No. But you must submit a confirmation that states you understand you’re not allowed to use SUNY Empire’s in-person services unless you verify you’re vaccinated or submit proof you have an exemption. You may access the confirmation page here: COVID-19 Remote/Online Attestation Form.

If I’m fully vaccinated and doing everything virtually, should I bother to verify my vaccination status?

Verifying your status enables you go to a location later in the term, should you need to do so. It also will save you time if you plan to go onsite in the future. Verify your vaccination status.

Exemptions and Accommodations

How do I obtain a medical exemption?

You must submit a written letter from a licensed health care provider verifying that the COVID-19 vaccine is harmful to your health. Visit our Vaccine Exemption or Accommodation Request page for the application and instructions on how to submit your request.

How do I get a religious exemption?

Students who hold genuine and sincere religious beliefs that are contrary to the COVID-19 vaccine may be exempt after submitting a written statement explaining their beliefs. Moral and philosophical differences are not religious exemptions. Visit our Vaccine Exemption or Accommodation Request page for the application and instructions on how to submit your request. 

Who is eligible for a temporary medical accommodation?

The temporary medical accommodation is intended for students who are not fully vaccinated when the mandate takes effect. This includes students who are pregnant; students who started but have not yet completed the vaccine protocol; and international students who received a COVID-19 vaccine that is not among those approved or authorized by the FDA or World Health Organization.

To get vaccinated, you may use the New York State Department of Health (DOH) COVID-19 Vaccine Scheduling System. Many private companies and pharmacies also offer COVID-19 vaccines. Please check with your local providers for more information.

Who will determine whether I am granted an exemption or accommodation?

A committee will make that determination on a case-by-case basis.

COVID-19 Testing

Who needs to get tested for COVID-19?

In-person students who do not provide proof of vaccination status because they have received a medical or religious exemption will be required to test weekly at the locations they enter.

How will testing work?

Test kits will be made available to students who need to complete testing. Per SUNY guidelines, COVID-19 testing must be submitted once a week. Tests are sent to testing labs. Depending on the size of your location, you will use either a pooled or individual testing protocol.

What is pooled testing?

Pooled testing combines test swabs from several people, which are then tested in a single batch.

  • Collect your test kit at the designated days and times assigned to the location you visit.
  • Follow directions on registering and testing.
  • Submit your test sample at the designated location.

You will be notified only if your pool tests positive.

What is individual testing?

Individual testing is done one person at a time.

  • Collect your test kit at your work site.
  • Follow directions on registering and testing.
  • Submit your test sample using the mailing instructions provided.

You will be notified only if you test positive.

What happens if I test positive?

If your pool tests positive, you’ll hear from a contact tracer and be required to quarantine until the positive test is identified, which usually takes a day or two. Positive tests will be reported to your county health department. Those who test positive will be interviewed for contact-tracing purposes and required to quarantine at home for 10 days from the date of the positive result. If you are negative in that pool and were not in close contact with the positive test, you may return to work the next day.

Anyone identified as being in close contact for a prolonged period with the individual who tested positive will be required to quarantine for 10 days, unless vaccinated and showing no symptoms (based on current guidance).

Onsite Location Protocols

Will SUNY Empire have in-person study groups and services in the Fall 2021 term?

Yes. SUNY Empire is welcoming students back into our locations for the Fall 2021 term. We’re excited to offer face-to-face mentoring, meetings, academic services, and access to computer labs and in-person support services.

Will study groups be in person or online?

Due to concerns over the recent spread of the delta variant, many study groups will return to our online and hybrid models. Doing so will enable you to study and learn safely from any location.

Can I see SUNY Empire staff and faculty in person?

Yes, if you have submitted proof of vaccination or have an approved exemption. We encourage you to make an appointment before showing up to a location.

Can I meet with my mentor in person?

Your mentor will be available for in-person meetings with fully vaccinated students or those who have approved exemptions. Please communicate with your mentor on the best option for you and your learning needs during the fall term. When meeting in person, please be sure to follow location meeting protocols.

How will I know if it’s okay to enter a location?

Our website is your best resource for updates and location-specific information.

Are there protocols for entering a location?

When you visit a location, we ask that you make an appointment, sign in using the Empire Entry procedure powered by the Envoy app or kiosk at our location entrances, and follow all posted protocols. Vaccines are mandatory for all students visiting our locations (unless you have an approved exemption), and all students must wear masks, regardless of vaccination status.

Can students access our locations?

SUNY Empire locations will be open this fall. Appointments are recommended for all students and visitors. In order to visit our locations, you must be vaccinated and wear a mask, regardless of vaccination status. Upon arrival, you must check into the location by using the Empire entry. This is an app powered by Envoy.

What is Empire Entry?

Any person checking into a location during the Fall 2021 term must follow the Empire Entry procedure powered by the Envoy Protect app. The app is a quick and convenient way to sign in and out of our campus locations, ensure faculty and staff are healthy and symptom-free, and monitor capacity and visitor activity. Empire Entry is part of our ongoing effort to keep our community healthy and safe during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Each time you visit a SUNY Empire location, you will be required to complete the Empire Entry process, using the Envoy app. Simply access the Envoy app on your smart device and register at that location at least one hour before arriving by completing the health assessment. You must attest that you are free of COVID-19 symptoms to register and enter.

How do I get the app?

Download the Envoy app on your Apple or Android device. If you don’t have a smart device, or are unable to register before your arrival, you can access the app on the iPad kiosk at the main entrance of each location.

When do I sign in? Do I have to do it every time I go to a different location?

You should sign in at least an hour ahead of your arrival. You can also schedule your arrival at a site up to 24 hours in advance on the app. Students who need to enter multiple locations on a given day must submit a new registration for each location and sign out upon leaving. For further instructions on how to use the app, please review this guide.

What is SUNY Empire doing to disinfect its facilities?

SUNY Empire has increased its cleaning and disinfection frequency to keep our locations clean and safe for the return of faculty, staff, and students. SUNY Empire has adopted all recommended disinfecting protocols recommended by the CDC.

How often are locations cleaned?

Our locations are cleaned and disinfected daily. High-touch areas are disinfected more frequently on a regular schedule though out the week.

Will you provide cleaning supplies for student use?

Disinfecting kits, including anti-virus sprays, wipes, and hand sanitizer, are provided for your safety and may be used to sanitize your workspace.

What if I don’t comply with SUNY Empire’s COVID-19 protocols?

Failure to comply with our protocols will result in referral to the student conduct officer and may result in disciplinary action.