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 COVID-19 virus. 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 with the SUNY Empire community as we receive it.

Our students play an important role in keeping the SUNY Empire community healthy and safe. In this 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.

Vaccination Requirement

SUNY COVID-19 Vaccination Policy requires that students either verify that their COVID-19 vaccination series is complete, or obtain an exemption, to attend any in-person college course or event; or receive any in-person academic service or support.

New York State now defines a complete vaccination series as: (1) Two doses of Moderna or Pfizer COVID vaccine, or (2) A single dose Johnson and Johnson COVID vaccine. Additionally, January 2022 guidance requires students who have received the initial vaccine series to provide proof of a booster. Individuals are eligible for a booster if more than six months have passed since their initial vaccine series. Students must provide proof that they have received the booster one month from the date they become eligible to receive a booster.

Special Note: Please note that at this time, only fully vaccinated students are approved to register for onsite residencies.

Verifying Your Vaccine and Booster

Non-NYS Residents

Screenshot your vaccination card.
• Screenshot(s) should include your full name, date of birth and clearly list all vaccine dose information, including any booster doses.
• Email screenshot(s) to covidvaccine@esc.edu.

NYS Residents

Follow one of the two methods outlined below.

1. Screenshot your vaccination card.

  • Screenshot(s) should include your full name, date of birth and clearly list all vaccine dose information, including any booster doses.
  • Email screenshot(s) to covidvaccine@esc.edu.

2. Download the Excelsior Pass Plus.

  • Access Excelsior Pass Plus. Select GET THE PASS PLUS. (Do not select Get my Excelsior Pass as that does not contain your entire COVID-19 vaccination record.)
  • Follow the prompts and enter your information as indicated. You will need to enter the following information regarding the final dose in your initial vaccination series.
    • Date of dose
    • County where administered
    • Brand of vaccine
  • When pass loads, there will be a prompt for you to add it to your Excelsior Pass Wallet. Select that option.
  • If needed, get the NYS Excelsior Pass Wallet app. You can download it for free to your mobile phone via the App Store (Apple) or Google Play Store (Android).
  • Once it loads, open it. If you are showing more than one pass, Click the white pass.
  • This will open your COVID-19 Vaccination Excelsior Pass Plus. At the top right of the image, select the box with the arrow pointing up.
  • You will receive a pop-up warning you to Share Carefully. Click OK.
  • Select an option to email the pass.
  • Email your pass to covidvaccine@esc.edu with the Subject: COVID booster information.

Applying for a Medical or Religious Exemption or Accommodation

Temporary Medical Accommodation

If you need time to become fully vaccinated or to obtain a booster, you may apply for a temporary medical accommodation. This includes students who are not yet fully vaccinated or boosted, and international students who received a COVID-19 vaccine not authorized or approved by the FDA or the World Health Organization. Please submit requests to covidvaccine@esc.edu. Requests will be reviewed, and a decision made within five business days.

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

Medical Exemption

Students may be exempt from the vaccine requirement if a licensed health care provider certifies in writing that the COVID-19 vaccination may be damaging to your health. SUNY Empire will provide reasonable accommodations for these students if they need to do in-person studies.

Please complete the COVID-19 Medical Exemption Form fillable 9-1-2021 (PDF 181kB), including the medical provider certification and submit to covidvaccine@esc.edu. Requests will be reviewed and a decision made within five business days.

Religious Exemption

Students who hold religious beliefs that are contrary to the COVID-19 vaccination may be granted an exemption. Please complete the SUNY EmpireCOVID-19 Religious Exemption Form fillable 8-30-2021 (PDF 77kB) and submit to covidvaccine@esc.edu. You must explain how receiving the COVID-19 vaccine conflicts with your religious beliefs or practices. Philosophical or moral objections to the vaccine will not be accepted as a religious exemption. Students granted a religious exemption will be subject to certain restrictions. Requests will be reviewed, and a decision made within five business days.

Surveillance Testing

Beginning the week of January 18, SUNY Empire will conduct COVID-19 surveillance testing at our locations. Locations will be randomly chosen for testing each week. All employees working — and all students receiving in-person services — at the location on testing day must participate in testing, regardless of vaccination status.

Testing Before In-Person Courses

All students registered for in-person study groups and residencies will be tested for COVID-19 at the beginning of the in-person meetings. After the term begins, students will be included in weekly testing per our standard testing requirements, including applicable vaccination-based exemptions.

Testing for Vaccine-Exempt Students

Additionally, 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 regardless of whether or not that location is included in weekly surveillance testing.

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.

Positive Tests

If you test positive, local county departments of health and NYS Department of Health rules will apply.

If you tested outside of SUNY Empire, have a positive COVID-19 result, and have been on-site within the last 7 days, please contact covid@esc.edu. Please provide the date of your positive result, the date of the start of your symptoms (if applicable) and the last date you visited a college location.

For more information on positive tests, quarantine and isolation requirements, please visit the NYS Department of Health website.

Mask Requirement

Based on CDC guidance, in-house testing positivity rates, location density, vaccination rates, and other criteria outlined in SUNY’s spring guidance, SUNY Empire State College lifted the mask mandate for vaccinated employees, students, and visitors effective March 2, 2022, for all locations.

Regardless of location, individuals who have been granted either a temporary or permanent medical or religious exemption must continue to wear masks on campus and observe social distancing in indoor settings. Additionally, individuals at college sites located in third-party locations, such as a community colleges or military base, must follow the masking requirements of the host organization. Anyone who wishes to wear a mask should feel free to continue to do so.

Empire Entry Registration Requirement

Any student or visitor checking into a location 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 students and visitors 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.

COVID-19 Cleaning and Disinfecting Protocols

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.

Our locations are cleaned and disinfected daily. High-touch areas are disinfected more frequently on a regular schedule though out the week. Disinfecting kits, including anti-virus sprays, wipes, and hand sanitizer, are provided for your safety and may be used to sanitize your workspace.

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

Vaccinations

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 verify their vaccine and if applicable, booster. More details about vaccine verification can be found in the COVID-19 Vaccination Requirements section of this page.

How do you define fully vaccinated?

Per SUNY Policy, people are considered fully vaccinated: (1) two weeks after receiving the second dose in a two dose COVID-19 vaccine series or (2) two weeks after receiving a single dose COVID-19 vaccine.

Additionally, January 2022 guidance requires students who have received the initial vaccine series to provide proof of a booster.

Do I need to have a COVID vaccination or exemption on my record in order to register for classes?

No, you do not. However, if you are planning on attending in-person courses or using onsite student supports, you will need to verify your vaccination status and if eligible, your booster as well.

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.

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?

You do not need to let anyone know that you are fully vaccinated unless you plan to come to a location, attend a college-sponsored event at a physical location or attend an in-person course.

Exemptions and Accomodations

How do I obtain a medical exemption?

Students may be exempt from the vaccine requirement if a licensed health care provider certifies in writing that the COVID-19 vaccination may be damaging to your health. SUNY Empire will provide reasonable accommodations for these students if they need to do in-person studies.

Please complete the COVID-19 Medical Exemption Form fillable 9-1-2021 (PDF 181kB), including the medical provider certification and submit to covidvaccine@esc.edu. Requests will be reviewed and a decision made within five business days.

How do I obtain a religious exemption?

Students who hold religious beliefs that are contrary to the COVID-19 vaccination may be granted an exemption. Please complete the SUNY EmpireCOVID-19 Religious Exemption Form fillable 8-30-2021 (PDF 77kB) and submit to covidvaccine@esc.edu. You must explain how receiving the COVID-19 vaccine conflicts with your religious beliefs or practices. Philosophical or moral objections to the vaccine will not be accepted as a religious exemption. Students granted a religious exemption will be subject to certain restrictions. Requests will be reviewed and a decision made within five business days.

Who is eligible for a temporary medical accommodation?

If you need time to become fully vaccinated or to obtain a booster, you may apply for a temporary medical accommodation. This includes students who are not yet fully vaccinated or boosted, and international students who received a COVID-19 vaccine not authorized or approved by the FDA or the World Health Organization. Please submit requests to covidvaccine@esc.edu. Requests will be reviewed and a decision made within five business days.

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

How do I schedule an appointment for vaccination or booster?

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

COVID-19 Testing

Who needs to get tested for COVID-19?

Beginning the week of January 18, SUNY Empire will conduct COVID-19 surveillance testing at our locations. Locations will be randomly chosen for testing each week. All employees working — and all students receiving in-person services — at the location on testing day must participate in testing, regardless of vaccination status.

Additionally, 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.

What happens if I test positive?

See the COVID-19 Testing Requirements for details about what you should do if you test positive for COVID-19.

Visiting a Location

Can I meet with SUNY Empire staff, faculty and mentors 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 to ensure that the individual you wish to meet with is in the office and available on that day and time.

How do I make an appointment?

Please contact the individual or office you wish to meet with via email or phone call in order to schedule an appointment.

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. All students visiting our locations must be fully vaccinated and boosted (if eligible) or have an approved exemption. All students who have been granted either a temporary or permanent medical or religious exemption must continue to wear masks on campus and observe social distancing in indoor settings. Additionally, you may be asked to submit to COVID-19 surveillance testing.

What is Empire Entry?

Empire Entry is a location-based sign-in system powered by the Envoy Protect app. It provides a quick and convenient way to sign in and out of our campus locations, ensure students and visitors 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.

How do I get the Empire Entry app?

Download the Envoy app on your Apple or Android device.

What if I don’t have a smart device or am otherwise unable to download the app?

If you do not have a smart device or are unable to register before your arrival, you may complete Empire Entry upon arriving at your location by accessing 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.

Do I need to sign out when I leave a location?

You must sign out upon leaving using the Empire Entry app or iPad kiosk at the building’s main entrance.

I am vaccinated and boosted. Do I need to wear a mask?

No. Based on CDC guidance, in-house testing positivity rates, location density, vaccination rates, and other criteria outlined in SUNY’s spring guidance, SUNY Empire State College lifted the mask mandate for vaccinated employees, students, and visitors effective March 2, 2022, for all locations.

Regardless of location, individuals who have been granted either a temporary or permanent medical or religious exemption must continue to wear masks on campus and observe social distancing in indoor settings. Additionally, individuals at college sites located in third-party locations, such as a community colleges or military base, must follow the masking requirements of the host organization. Anyone who wishes to wear a mask should feel free to continue to do so.

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.

SUNY Empire currently requires staff to work onsite in our locations. Exceptions are made for those who have approved telecommuting agreements or approved alternate work accommodations.

For further details, please see the SUNY Telecommuting Policy

Revised Guidance for State Agencies Affirmation (PDF 167kB)

SUNY Telecommuting Policy (file 57kB)

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 July 30, 2022. The policy was developed by SUNY System Administration and the Governor's Office of Employee Relations. SUNY Empire is updating its Return to Onsite Plan accordingly:

Masking

At this time, SUNY Empire is not requiring masks for vaccinated persons. However, SUNY Empire requires unvaccinated faculty, staff, students, and visitors to wear a mask inside its locations unless the building itself has a stricter guideline. All SUNY Empire visitors should accept and follow any specific building requirements set by the building management.

SUNY Empire State College leadership continues to monitor the evolving response to the COVID-19 pandemic and will adjust our requirements based on any changes in infection rates.

Vaccinations

In late July, Governor Cuomo announced a State Employee Vaccine Requirement that mandated all 130,000 state employees 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 June 30, 2022. 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 and continue to wear masks while working in a SUNY Empire location. The state is currently working with our respective unions to finalize an agreement on this program. 

Meetings and Conferences

In-person meetings and conferences can once again be scheduled at our locations. We do suggest having a virtual option for those who are still sensitive about face-to-face group interactions. Please reach out to our support team with any specific questions at covid@esc.edu.

Room Capacities

As of March 2022, all rooms may return to their original capacities.

Travel

If approved by your department, travel may resume based on business needs.

Food

Since general mask requirements have been rescinded, eating and drinking is now permitted at events.

Cleaning Procedures

SUNY Empire is currently in the process state-wide of resuming normal cleaning operations for daily tasks. We have disinfection tools and services at the ready should we need to deploy them in response to an event.

Hand sanitizing stations will remain in common areas in all buildings and will be checked/restocked daily. Campus departments can request additional cleaning supplies (wipes, hand sanitizer, etc.).  Employees looking for supplies should inquire with their office or department support staff. Supplies will be distributed to departments by work order. 


Important Resources

Faculty and Staff

Contact Us with Questions or Concerns

Students: Contact 1Stop Student Services at 1stop@esc.edu or 1-800-847-3000, ext. 2285.

Employees: Contact Director of Facilities Joshua Fleming at joshua.fleming@esc.edu.

Media: Contact Interim Assistant Vice President of Communications and Marketing Cherie Haughney at cherie.haughney@esc.edu

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