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COVID-19 Update: Booster Shot Requirement | Vaccine Compliance for Employees | Spring Semester Return Planning and Procedures
Dear Students, Families, Faculty and Staff:
I am writing today with an important update related to the University’s ongoing efforts to safeguard the health and wellness of our campus community, and our plans to ensure a robust academic and student experience when we return to campus in January. Please review this message carefully, as it includes policy changes and other information relevant to all members of our residential campus community and other Syracuse University programs operating elsewhere.
The Syracuse University Public Health Team continues to monitor public health conditions locally and across the U.S., including data related to the new omicron variant. We are also closely following changes to public health policy recently announced by New York State and federal authorities that may impact our campus operations into the spring semester. Accordingly, this message will address the following topics:
1. COVID-19 Booster Shot Requirement for Eligible Students, Faculty and Staff
2. New Federal Contractor Vaccine Compliance/Verification Requirement for Employees
3. Spring Semester Return and Arrival Testing
4. Flu Vaccination Compliance
COVID-19 Booster Shot Requirement for Eligible Students, Faculty and Staff:
In April of 2020, Syracuse University was among the first U.S. academic institutions to announce a vaccination requirement for our residential campus community. That proactive decision proved central to our ability to safely resume campus activities, events and student services throughout the fall semester. For that reason, given data and counsel from public health experts indicating that booster shots are critical to enhancing immunity and public health, Syracuse University will require all eligible students, faculty and staff who routinely access any Syracuse University campus location or facility (to include Washington, D.C., New York City, Los Angeles and all study abroad locations) to receive a booster shot prior to the start of the spring semester, or as soon as they become eligible. Eligible individuals are those who:
- Received their second dose of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccination at least six months ago.
- Received the Janssen/Johnson & Johnson vaccination at least two months ago.
Individuals who previously received other World Health Organization-approved vaccinations should receive a Pfizer booster dose if they received their initial vaccine series at least six months ago, in accordance with CDC guidance.
- Students: Like for your initial COVID vaccine, once you receive a booster you should upload the relevant documentation via the student Patient Portal. In the coming days, you will receive an email from the Barnes Center with additional information related to how and when to upload your documentation. If you have not yet received a booster, visit Vaccines.gov to find a location to make an appointment.
- Faculty and Staff: Verification requirements associated with employee vaccinations are currently being updated given a recent change to federal guidance impacting any entity considered a federal contractor. The implications of this change for Syracuse University employees are described below.
New Federal Contractor Vaccine Compliance/Verification Requirement for Employees:
Recently the White House announced that federal contractors must comply with COVID-19 safety guidelines issued by the Safer Federal Workforce Task Force (SFWTF). These guidelines require that federal contractors mandate vaccines for covered employees (subject to medical or religious exemptions), and review proof of vaccine status in the form of a COVID-19 vaccination card or other official medical documentation. Syracuse University is considered a federal contractor and by law must comply with the vaccination and verification requirements of the SFWTF guidelines by Jan. 18, 2022.
Importantly, the University’s prior practice was to permit employees to attest to their vaccine status without providing supporting documentation. However, given the verification requirement now mandated for most of our workforce under the federal contractor mandate, Syracuse University will require that all faculty and staff submit proof of vaccine status to the University.
Human Resources (HR) is partnering with other University offices to establish a process and procedure to accept and review proof of vaccine status or medical and religious exemption status from employees. This will include verification of a vaccine booster dose for those currently eligible. Later this week, all employees will receive a message from HR detailing those procedures and a timeline related to compliance.
Spring Semester Return and Arrival Testing:
Although the COVID-19 vaccines continue to perform well in terms of limiting serious illness and hospitalizations, breakthrough cases continue to occur. In addition, the uncertainty associated with the omicron variant requires that the University act proactively to ensure a safe return to campus in January. One of the most effective COVID mitigation tools we have at our disposal is testing. For that reason, all students (undergraduate, graduate and law), regardless of vaccination status, will be required to participate in on-campus return to campus testing. Specifically,
- Resident advisors will be required to test no later than Jan. 10.
- Orientation leaders must test no later than Jan. 13.
- All students living on campus must test no later than Jan. 17.
- All students living off campus must test no later than Jan. 21.
Arrival testing will be held at the stadium and Kimmel Hall. A full schedule of testing hours will be made available the first week of January and communicated to the community ahead of our return to campus. You can also find more information on the testing page of Syracuse.edu/staysafe.
Flu Vaccination Compliance:
All members of the campus community are expected to be vaccinated against the flu to provide additional protection against the spread of illness this winter. Under the Stay Safe Pledge, all students accessing campus are required to have the flu vaccine prior to the start of the Spring 2022 semester. If you haven’t already done so, please get a flu vaccine at your earliest convenience. Here’s how:
- Students can book an appointment in the Patient Portal to receive their flu shot at the Barnes Center Pharmacy.
- You can also get the flu shot at a doctor’s office, pharmacy or anywhere else in the community offering the vaccine.
The only exceptions to this requirement are for those with religious or medical exemptions.
For individuals who receive the flu vaccine on campus, no further documentation is required. Students who did not receive the vaccine on campus can document their flu vaccine status (or exemption) in the Patient Portal. Faculty and staff who did not receive the vaccine on campus can document their flu vaccine status (or exemption) by logging in to MySlice, clicking on the Employee Resources tile and then the Flu Vaccine Status tile.
You will continue to receive regular updates over the coming weeks and during winter break to ensure our community is prepared for a safe, healthy and seamless return to campus.
Wishing you and your loved ones a very happy and healthy holiday season!
J. Michael Haynie
Vice Chancellor for Strategic Initiatives and Innovation