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, recent 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 by February 15, 2022, or 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 at: https://epass.ny.gov. 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

At this time, SUNY Empire requires all faculty, staff, students and visitors to wear a mask inside its locations, regardless of vaccination status.

Empire Entry Registration Requirement

Any person 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 faculty, staff and students 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, recent 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. Additionally, all students must wear masks regardless of vaccination status, and 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 faculty, staff and students 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?

Yes. At this time, SUNY Empire requires all faculty, staff, students and visitors to wear a mask inside its locations, regardless of vaccination status.

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.

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

Who:    

  • 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: President’s Council onsite a minimum two days per week.  
    • June 28: Director level, at a minimum of one day onsite that week. 

Notes:    

  • 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. See NYSDOH Guidance.    

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

Who:    

  • 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 email: COVID@esc.edu.  

Notes:    

  • 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 locked, with 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. See NYSDOH Guidance

Phase 3: July 19

Who:    

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

Notes:    

  • 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

Who:  

  • 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.

Notes:    

  • 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   

Masking

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.

Vaccinations

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 hrdepartment@esc.edu or Kyle Parker at kyle.parker@esc.edu in human resources.  Signed forms must be submitted by July 9, or no later than three business days after an employee returns to work. 


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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