Ransomware attacks have been in the news lately, including an attack over the Fourth of July weekend that impacted up to 1,500 organizations. In this edition of “ITS In-Depth,” we speak with Syracuse University Chief Information Security Officer Chris Croad…
COVID-19 Update: Spring 2021 Underway, Important Reminders to Stay Healthy and Safe
Dear Students, Families, Faculty and Staff:
Welcome back to campus and to the Spring 2021 academic semester! As the new semester gets underway, I am writing to share some important information.
First, however, I want to say thank you to our entire campus community. Many of you continue to sacrifice in service to our academic mission, and in support of our collective efforts to safeguard the health, safety and wellness of our campus and the Central New York Community. The expanded access to the COVID vaccine that we anticipate later this spring and summer gives us a reason for optimism. At the same time, to sustain our residential campus experience this spring will require additional sacrifice and new compromises. To stay open and operating will require—as Chancellor Kent Syverud said in his Winter Message to the University Community—determination and grit. These are qualities you have demonstrated time and again throughout the COVID health emergency. Along with patience and grace, these are attributes we will all need to employ once again in the weeks ahead to successfully navigate what is hopefully the final leg of our pandemic journey. In anticipation of your continued efforts, I want to say thanks.
Whether you are new to campus or returning to Syracuse this semester, please pay close attention to the information contained in this update. We learned a great deal last semester, and we have applied those lessons in the form of new or changed policies and processes designed to minimize the impact of the pandemic on our campus and community. We will update you regularly through these emails and post updates at Syracuse.edu/staysafe.
Today’s message covers important information regarding:
- COVID-19 Testing
- Stadium Testing Center Hours
- Six Things to Know About the Upgraded COVID-19 Stadium Testing Center
- Remote Student Testing
- Steps to Take Before Testing
- Student Community Reminders
- Stay Safe Pledge
- Student Daily Health Screenings
- Schine Student Center Building Usage
- Access to the COVID Vaccine
- Resources for Responding to COVID-19 Exposure
- COVID-19 Response Checklists
Stadium Testing Center Hours: The Stadium Testing Center will operate with enhanced hours, including evening and weekend availability.
- Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.
- Wednesday evening from 5 to 10 p.m.
- Sunday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Six Things to Know About the Upgraded COVID-19 Stadium Testing Center: A recent SU News story highlights some of the process improvements and changes made at the testing center since the fall semester. Read about the new SalivaDirect testing method, in-house lab analysis, expanded eligibility and more.
Remote Student Testing and Campus Access: We recognize that some of our students have chosen to learn in a fully remote capacity this semester. Remote students who are in Central New York are still encouraged to take advantage of the Stadium Testing Center resources. As a reminder, any student who intends to access campus resources or facilities (classrooms, laboratories, libraries, fitness centers, etc.)—no matter how infrequently—is required to be tested weekly. Individuals, whether remote students or students who live off campus, are prohibited from accessing campus buildings and facilities without participating in the COVID surveillance testing program. Failure to be tested as required will result in consequences, as previously communicated.
Steps to Take Before Testing: In order for our laboratory to provide you with a COVID surveillance test result, it is important to provide an adequate and non-contaminated saliva sample by following these simple instructions:
- Do not eat, chew gum, drink, use mouthwash or use any tobacco products for 30 minutes before testing.
- Deposit enough saliva to reach the line marked on your tube.
- Be sure you only deposit saliva into the tube (not mucus or phlegm).
- It is recommended to hydrate well earlier in the day before you test to prevent dry mouth.
If you do not follow these instructions closely, there is a chance that your sample can’t be analyzed. In such an instance, you will be notified to return to the Stadium Testing Center to provide a new sample. If you have questions, please ask a testing assistant for help. For more information, please watch this short video.
Student Community Reminders
Stay Safe Pledge: Now that the spring semester is underway and the vast majority of our community is back on campus, it’s important that we remind ourselves of and recommit to best health practices. For our students, the Stay Safe Pledge provides clear details regarding what’s expected this semester, including, but not limited to:
- Wear a mask;
- Maintain social distance;
- Get your flu shot;
- Limit gatherings;
- Monitor for symptoms and complete the Daily Health Screening;
- Do not travel outside of Central New York unless deemed essential;
- Participate in testing and contact tracing procedures immediately and honestly; and
- Adhere to all directives from state and local authorities and the University.
Student Daily Health Screening: As a reminder, in accordance with the Stay Safe Pledge, all students are required to complete the Daily Health Screening in the Patient Portal prior to accessing campus. Students receive a daily reminder email about completing the screening. For students living on campus, including on South Campus, the screening must be completed seven days a week. For students living off campus, you must complete the screening every day you plan to come onto campus, including attending in-person classes or activities, entering campus facilities or working on campus. The screening includes a few questions related to potential exposure and symptoms of COVID-19. The data collected is used to monitor the health of our campus community to minimize the risk of COVID-19 exposure on campus, as well as to provide students who may be experiencing symptoms with the necessary steps to seek care.
Schine Student Center Building Access and Usage: With the reopening of the transformed Schine Student Center, we understand that you are eager to visit and make use of the many enhanced features and spaces within the building. It is critical that we continue to adhere to all public health guidelines to ensure we can continue to use this space throughout the spring semester. This means:
- eating and drinking in the designated dining and café areas only;
- following all occupancy and seating limits as posted;
- adhering to directives provided by staff;
- limiting your visit to no more than two hours; and
- maintaining social distance, especially while in line for food.
Please review all health and safety protocols prior to accessing the building.
Access to the COVID Vaccine
Vaccine Eligibility and Requirements: As we have stated previously, New York State—not Syracuse University—makes all determinations related to vaccine eligibility. Eligibility determinations are assigned based on a variety of factors, including the risk associated with workplace exposure, and as a function of the availability of vaccine supplied to New York State by the federal government.
Recently, New York State announced that those with underlying medical conditions will be eligible beginning Feb. 15, 2021. The full list of qualifying comorbidities and underlying conditions is available on the New York State website. For those who may qualify, you can confirm your eligibility, review frequently asked questions and register for the vaccination (when appointments are available) on the New York State eligibility tool website.
The New York State vaccination plan is evolving as vaccines become more available. The Syracuse University Public Health Team will continue to share new information as we receive it, including updates and changes impacting the vaccine eligibility and the availability of vaccination resources in our community.
Resources for Responding to COVID-19 Exposure
COVID-19 Response Checklists: Quickly identifying, isolating and tracing instances of COVID-19 exposure is critical to mitigating the spread of the virus. As a reminder, the University developed a series of COVID-19 checklists for students, faculty and staff to provide direction in situations where a member of the Syracuse University community has tested positive for or suspects they have been exposed to the COVID-19 virus.
The checklists, including a downloadable and printable PDF, can be found on the Stay Safe website. The checklists cannot fully address the unique nature of every situation and are intended to provide general guidance related to the most appropriate and required actions in response to positive test results or suspected exposure to the virus. Members of the community should contact the Syracuse University COVID-19 Project Management Office (PMO) at 315.443.6180 or SUcovid@syr.edu with additional questions or concerns or to receive further guidance.
Information Hub: I encourage you to bookmark Syracuse.edu/staysafe. This site will continue to be the hub for information about campus operations, public health and safety, testing information and the Syracuse University COVID-19 Dashboard. The dashboard has also undergone some revisions based on feedback we have received from the community. I hope you find the updated dashboard helpful and easy to navigate.
There’s no doubt this semester will present us with challenges. I also have no doubt that we can overcome any challenge together. I look forward to the months ahead and wish you a safe, healthy and successful semester.
J. Michael Haynie
Vice Chancellor for Strategic Initiatives and Innovation