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What You Need to Know About COVID-19 at SUNY Empire State College

SUNY Empire State College is taking proactive measures to protect the safety and security of students, faculty, and staff while closely monitoring the development of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). The college is in close contact with SUNY System Administration and the New York State Department of Health and will share updates and new guidance quickly with the SUNY Empire community. 

Important Student FAQs

In order to help reduce density, most of our campus locations will follow a distance learning model beginning March 17, 2020 and continuing through the Spring 2021 Term. Some locations began to phase-in employees and staff in Fall 2020. During Summer 2021, SUNY Empire State College will initiate a phase-in of the rest of its faculty and staff, planning for return to full-time onsite work and student instruction by the start of the Fall 2021 semester. This will also coincide with a transition from appointment-only student visits to full walk-in service. For further details, please review these important documents:

Revised Guidance for State Agencies Affirmation (PDF 167kB)

SUNY Telecommuting Policy Fall 2021 (PDF 2,032kB)

Return to Work Plan 8/21 (PDF 706kB)

Updated Telecommuting for COVID-19 and Vaccination (PDF 124kB)


For additional location-by-location guidance, please review:

SUNY Empire's Return to Onsite Plan

The portion of the state telecommuting pilot program related to COVID-19 accommodations set to expire September 7 has been extended through October 12, 2021. Meanwhile, SUNY System Administration and the Governor's Office of Employee Relations agreed upon a new Telecommuting Policy that will take effect September 7 through December 31, 2021. Given the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's updated masking guidelines in areas of substantial or high transmission, SUNY Empire is updating its Return to Onsite Plan accordingly:

Phase 1: June


  • Staff as directed by President’s office to return onsite before July 2.   
    • June 1: President’s Cabinet onsite a minimum of two days per week. 
    • June 7: Presidents Council onsite a minimum two days per week. 
    • June 28: Director level, at a minimum of one day onsite that week. 


  • Student contact and communication continues virtually.     
  • Building doors remain locked, with ID badge access only.    
  • Meetings may take place in small groups and will be limited to room capacities and socially distanced. SeeNYSDOH Guidance.    

Phase 2: July 6 (Many locations will resume this schedule on August 9)


  • All Phase 1 Cabinet and Council report (minimum Monday-Thursday) onsite.    
  • Staff shall report onsite in groups.      
  • Group A, a minimum of Monday/Tuesday    
  • Group B, a minimum of Wednesday/Thursday    
  • Group A/B will be required to report with both groups (minimum  Tuesday/Wednesday).   
  • Directors will be expected to be onsite to welcome their groups.

Faculty on reading period may remain on reading period and are expected to return to their onsite locations at the end of reading period. However, faculty are welcome to use their offices as needed. For access, please 


  • Staff must follow all new protocols.   
  • You will be required to complete  Empire Entry, powered by the ENVOY app.  
  • Student communication continues virtually.     
  • Building doors remain lockedwith ID badge access only.   
  • Enter any needed work tickets be it for a Facilities incident or I.T. incident 

Meetings may take place, and should be limited to room capacities and socially distanced. SeNYSDOH Guidance. 

Phase 3: July 19


  • Staff and details as indicated in Phase 1 and Phase 2.  


  • Continue to follow all new protocols.   
  • You will be required to complete Empire Entry, powered by the ENVOY app.  
  • Student contact and communication continues virtually.     
  • Building door  remain locked, with ID badge access only.  
  • Meetings may take place and should be limited to room capacities and socially  distanced. See NYSDOH Guidance. 

Phase 4: August 9  - September 3


  • Staff will resume July schedule, which in many cases is an alternating A/B schedule. Please consult with your supervisor and report any changes to Human Resources.
  • August 23: students return for in-person services by appointment only. Appointments may last up to one hour.


  • Normal planning/work/operations.  
  • Student contact and communication allowed onsite beginning August 23 according to and following room capacity levels. 
  • Building doors  are unlocked during business hours.     
  • Meetings may take place and should be limited to room capacities and socially distanced. See NYSDOH Guidance. 

September 7 - October 12, 2021

The current state telecommuting agreement for COVID-19 precautions and vaccinations has been extended as of September 3, 2021: Updated Telecommuting for COVID-19 and Vaccination (PDF 124kB). This allows employees given COVID-19 remote work accommodations to continue to telecommute through October 12, 2021. The deadline for SUNY Empire employees to receive at least one does of a COVID-19 vaccine has also been extended to October 12. 

September 7 - December 21, 2021

The Governor’s Office of Employee Relations (GOER) has approved SUNY Telecommuting Policy Fall 2021 (PDF 2,032kB). This now allows SUNY Empire State College to move forward with a campus-level telecommuting option from September 7 through December 31, 2021. Key aspects of the policy include:

  • Employees who receive approval for a telecommuting work plan will be eligible to work offsite for up to five (5) days per pay period.
  • Telecommuting arrangements will be approved only when they support the operational needs of the college and enable the college to continue providing the highest level of service possible.
  • The telecommuting policy applies across all bargaining units.

Locations in Transition:    

During the past year, SUNY Empire has closed certain locations. If you have a question regarding your new onsite location, or are not certain about where you should report, please reach out to the Office of Human Resources.    

We are currently finishing construction projects at several new locations, which may cause a delay in opening at these sites specifically:  

  • 4 Park Ave, Manhattan  
  • Harlem  
  • Brooklyn, Shirley Chisholm   


At this time, SUNY Empire requires all faculty, staff, students and visitors to wear a mask inside its locations, regardless of vaccination status. For further information on masking guidance, please consult the updated Return to Work Plan 8/21 (PDF 706kB).

SUNY Empire State College leadership continues to monitor the evolving response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued updated masking guidance, recommending fully vaccinated individuals resume wearing masks indoors in areas of substantial or high transmission. This comes in response to an increase in what are known as “breakthrough infections” as a result of the Delta variant now circulating in the United States. Several of our sites fall within the “substantial or high transmission” zones.


In late July, Governor Cuomo announced that all 130,000 state employees will be required to receive a full regimen of a two-dose or single-dose COVID-19 vaccine by Labor Day, September 6. With the extension of the state telecommuting pilot program for COVID-19, this date has been extended to October 12, 2021. This includes faculty and staff here at SUNY Empire. Faculty and staff who do not get vaccinated, whether by personal choice, or for medical or religious exemptions, must undergo COVID-19 testing once a week. The state is currently working with our respective unions to finalize an agreement on this program. 

Important Employee Document

All state employees, including those at SUNY Empire State College, have been asked to read, sign, and return a form to human resources, entitled Revised Guidance for State Agencies Affirmation (PDF 167kB). The form was drafted by the New York State Department of Health and outlines minimum guidelines that all employees must follow regarding masking, social distancing, and other health and safety protocols based on their vaccination status. By signing this document, you acknowledge the updated health and safety protocols. Employees will not be required to show proof of vaccination status. However, unvaccinated employees or those who do not provide proof of vaccination status will be required to participate in weekly pooled or individualized testing depending on your campus location.

After reading the form carefully, you must sign it at the bottom and return it to or Kyle Parker at in human resources.  Signed forms must be submitted by July 9, or no later than three business days after an employee returns to work. 

Student FAQs

Do I need a COVID-19 vaccine?

Yes, if you are accessing SUNY Empire in-person, you must receive a COVID-19 vaccination with limited exceptions. 

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?

When will my location reopen?

Beginning on August 23, most SUNY Empire locations will reopen to students for full in-person services, by appointment only. Students may then resume in-person course instruction from the start of the Fall 2021 semester. on September 7. Some SUNY Empire locations are in a transition phase and/or undergoing renovations. Those locations are as follows:

  • 4 Park Avenue, Manhattan
  • Harlem
  • Shirley Chisholm, Brooklyn

We will update you on the reopening status of those locations.

How do I make an appointment?

First, please contact your faculty member or mentor to schedule an appointment, either via email or phone call.

Then, you must complete the Empire Entry procedure, powered by the Envoy app, to enter a location. After downloading the app to your smart device, simply log in using your SUNY Empire username and password, and register at the location you would like to enter by responding to the COVID-screening questionnaire in the app. Once you’re registered, you must sign in at your designated location in the app, and sign out upon leaving.

If you do not have a smart device, you may complete Empire Entry upon arriving at your location by accessing the iPad kiosk at the building’s main entrance.

More information for Students

Testing and Tracing

Fully vaccinated individuals will be exempt from mandatory weekly testing, once they provide documentation showing they’ve completed a full vaccination series. Employees can provide proof of vaccination by scanning and submitting a COVID-19 Vaccination Record Card or proof of vaccination from the NYS Excelsior Pass to Kyle Parker ( in the Office of Human Resources.

Weekly COVID testing will be required for ALL onsite employees and students  who are not vaccinated.  Test kits will be made available to all employees and students per set schedule outlined below. Per SUNY guidelines, COVID testing will need to be submitted once a week. Tests are submitted to testing labs. Depending on the size of your location, you will be using either a pooled or individual testing protocol.  

Pooled Testing 

Pooled testing combines test swabs from several people, which are then tested in a single batch.  Here is the process for pooled testing:    

  • Collect your test kit at your work site on designated days and times.    
  • Follow directions on registering and testing.    
  • Submit your test sample in the designated location.    

You will be notified only if your pool tests positive.  

If your pool tests positive, you will hear from contact tracer and be required to quarantine until the positive test(s) 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). 

Individual Testing 

Individual testing is done on one person at a time. The process is:  

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

You will be notified only if your pool tests positive.  

If your individual test comes back positive, you will hear from a contact tracer and be required to quarantine. 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.  

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). 


If you are required to quarantine due to a positive test, or through contact tracing, you should work with your supervisor to determine whether you can continue to work while quarantined.  

If you are not able to work while in quarantine, you should contact the Office of Human Resources about how to use COVID-19 leave, based on the most recent Department of Labor (DOL) guidelines.  The COVID-19 leave eligibility is still in effect.  It can be used for those placed in a mandatory or precautionary quarantine and do not have the ability to continue to work from home for up to 14 days.  Any questions should be directed to the Office of Human Resources.  

Empire Entry:  Checking into Your Location 

Effective May 10, 2021, SUNY Empire State College transitioned to a new 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, staff, and students are healthy and symptom-free, and monitor capacity and visitor activity, all while eliminating the use of shared pens, notepads, and other items. Empire Entry is part of our ongoing effort to keep employees healthy and safe during the COVID-19 pandemic.  

Each time you work onsite at a SUNY Empire location, you will be required to complete the Empire Entry process. 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.  

The Envoy app can be downloaded to either your Apple or Android device. If you don’t have a smart device, or are unable to register before your arrival, you will have the option to register by accessing the app via an iPad kiosk at the main entrance of each location.  

You may also schedule your arrival at a site up to 24 hours in advance on the app. Employees or students who need to enter multiple locations on a given day will have to submit a new registration for each location and must sign out upon leaving. For further instructions on how to use the app, please review this guide.  

To be eligible to enter a site, employees and students must be free of ANY symptoms potentially related to COVID-19 or have had an evaluation and been cleared by their primary care provider. The CDC has provided the following list of potential symptoms:  

  • Have you tested positive for COVID-19 through a diagnostic test in the past 14 days?  
  • Is your temperature greater than or equal to 100°F? 
  • Have you had any known close contact with a person confirmed to have COVID-19 in the past 14 days?  
  • Are you currently experiencing any of the following symptoms?  
  • Cough  
  • Shortness of Breath  
  • Trouble Breathing 
  • Fever  
  • Chills  
  • Muscle pain  
  • Headache  
  • Sore Throat  
  • New Loss of Taste  
  • New Loss of Smell

If you answer “Yes” to any of these questions, you will not be able to register at or enter a site.

If the answer is “No” to all of the screening questions, you will receive the “Green Check” to enter. Detecting these symptoms or potential exposures early, before the employee/student even arrives onsite, will help reduce potential exposure to, and spread of, the virus.  

The Daily Health Report is electronic and easily found by using the Envoy App. You can download this app to your smart phone or tablet. This app will also be helpful to receive updates and any announcement notifications.  

Student Support Services

SUNY Empire continues to offer robust student services virtually, including:

At the limited-open locations noted above, we will offer the following in-person services by appointment only:

  • Student services
  • Academic support
  • Computer labs

Mental Health Resources

In addition to the mental health resources that SUNY provides all students, as well as our own health and wellness offeringsSUNY Empire also partners with ThrivingCampus, an application providing access to local mental health professionals. This application allows students to find local mental health options by filtering for the types of requirements they are looking for in a mental health provider. Students without health insurance are able to find providers who work on a sliding scale based upon income for payment. 

SUNY Empire State College is taking proactive measures to protect the safety and security of students, faculty, and staff while closely monitoring the development of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). The college is in close contact with SUNY System Administration and the New York State Department of Health and will share updates and new guidance quickly with the SUNY Empire community.

Summer/Fall 2021 SUNY Empire Reopening Plan

SUNY Empire State College has developed its Summer and Fall 2021 Reopening Plan. Please continue to check back for updates based on the latest CDC, state, and SUNY System Administration guidance.

Read the plan

Important Resources

Faculty and Staff

The SUNY Empire State College community is volunteering, organizing, and donating their time and services in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Read about the good work being done across the state.

Contact Us with Questions or Concerns

Students: Contact the Student Information Center at or 1-800-847-3000, ext. 2285.

Employees: Contact Director of Facilities Joshua Fleming at

Media: Contact Assistant Vice President of Communications and Marketing Solomon Syed at

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