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: Exercise Vigilance | Vaccine Eligibility | Travel Reminder
Dear Students, Families, Faculty and Staff:
This time of year, as temperatures rise and the sun shines, there is always a palpable energy on our campus. Of course, this is Central New York. In other words, for those first-year students who might be thinking that winter is behind us after yesterday’s record-setting temperatures, you might want to think twice before packing away those winter boots.
That said, while it arrives at its own pace in Central New York, spring is on the way. This year, spring will arrive as our community and our nation make real progress toward returning to something resembling pre-COVID life. The flow and access to the COVID vaccine in our community has dramatically increased over the past few weeks. Further, yesterday’s guidance from New York State that any Syracuse University employee working in person on campus will soon be eligible for the vaccine was welcome news for many staff members who—since the onset of the pandemic—have been working tirelessly on the front lines to keep our students and community healthy and safe.
However, I must remind all of you that COVID is by no means behind us. All you need to do is look at the news and consider the implications of the large outbreaks that some of our peer colleges and universities are facing. Those outbreaks, and the necessary response on the part of those universities, offer a glimpse of what could be if we don’t remain committed to the behaviors that have kept us healthy, safe and open during this most challenging year. Be optimistic and hopeful about life after COVID. At the same time, commit to do your part to prove that optimism right and appropriate.
As for today’s update, I will address the following topics:
- Exercise Vigilance
- Vaccine Eligibility
- Clarifying Congregate Living Vaccine Eligibility
- Travel Reminder
- St. Patrick’s Day
Exercise Vigilance: Although we are grateful that more and more members of our community are receiving the COVID-19 vaccination, it is critical that everyone—even those who have been vaccinated—continue to exercise vigilance. We must remain committed to practicing good public health measures. Specifically, this means that all members of our community, including those who have been vaccinated, must continue to follow these precautions at all times:
- Wear a mask;
- Maintain social distance;
- Limit on- and off-campus gatherings to 10 individuals;
- Monitor for symptoms and complete the daily health screening;
- Do not travel outside of Central New York unless deemed essential and approved by the University;
- Participate in testing and contact tracing procedures immediately and honestly; and
- Adhere to all directives from state and local authorities and the University.
With 70 days left in the semester, I am confident that by continuing to take these easy steps, we can continue to enjoy the residential learning experience in a safe and healthy manner.
Expansion of Vaccine Eligibility Guidelines: Earlier this week, New York State announced expansions in vaccine eligibility that positively impact our community. As of March 10, individuals age 60 or older are eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. Beginning March 17, employees who are currently required to perform their job in person and on campus will be eligible under the designation of “In-person College Faculty or Essential In-person Staff.” The new guidance also extends eligibility to some student workers who have public-facing and in-person roles. Read more in my update from yesterday. As a reminder, those with certain comorbidities and underlying health conditions are also currently eligible for the vaccine. Visit the New York State eligibility tool website or call 1.833.697.4829 if you need assistance confirming your eligibility or making an appointment once eligible.
Clarifying Congregate Living Category for Vaccine Eligibility: As defined by New York State, the current prioritization of high-risk populations for the COVID-19 vaccine includes those living in congregate settings. New York State defines this eligibility category to include senior citizens living in nursing homes and assisted living facilities, long-term care facilities for people with disabilities, certain specialized care facilities, residential homeless shelters, assisted-care group homes and prisons.
Be advised that contrary to what some on our campus have asserted, at this time, state and county health officials have communicated to us that students living in residence halls, chapter houses and off-campus apartment complexes do not qualify under New York State’s “congregate living” eligibility category. Syracuse University students should not attempt to register for a vaccination appointment citing the “congregate living” category, asserting eligibility because you live in a residence hall, fraternity or sorority house, or off-campus apartment complex. Doing so is inconsistent with New York State’s intent for the congregate living category, which is to safeguard some of the most vulnerable and health-compromised citizens in our community.
Travel Reminder: As the traditional spring break period approaches, I want to remind you of the travel guidelines put in place by Syracuse University and New York State. The Stay Safe Pledge requires students to restrict all non-essential travel outside of the Central New York area. In addition, the pledge prohibits students from hosting visitors from outside of Central New York. Students identified to be in violation of the pledge may be referred to the Office of Student Rights and Responsibilities.
Be aware: Those individuals who opt to travel, despite our strong objections, must adhere to the New York State travel advisory. For any travel prior to April 1, the advisory requires individuals traveling back into the state to acquire a negative COVID-19 test within three days of departure, to quarantine upon arrival into New York and then acquire another test on the fourth day after arrival into the state. These steps will need to be completed at the traveler’s own expense. Students may not quarantine in their on-campus housing.
St. Patrick’s Day: Daylight savings time begins this weekend and, as the days get longer, it also brings the opportunity to gather outside with friends and celebrate such occasions as St. Patrick’s Day. Although some of you may look forward to the annual celebrations that accompany this holiday, I cannot stress enough the importance of refraining from participating in activities, particularly off-campus parties and gatherings, that put your health or the health of those around you at risk. I know this is yet another sacrifice we are asking of you, but the rewards far outweigh the risks.
I recognize and appreciate we are at a difficult moment in the arc of the COVID-19 pandemic. We cannot let our guard down. We must act together and continue to take the necessary steps to keep each other safe. As always, thanks for your patience, commitment and grace.
J. Michael Haynie
Vice Chancellor for Strategic Initiatives and Innovation