Dear Faculty and Staff: As we prepare for the start of the spring semester, I am writing today to remind you of the University’s vaccine requirements and how we are supporting our employees in achieving a healthy and safe environment…
COVID-19 Update: Important Information About the Spring 2022 Semester
Dear Students, Families, Faculty and Staff:
Earlier today, you received a message from Chancellor Syverud regarding the University’s decision to delay the start of the spring semester. We are taking this action based on the counsel we’ve received from many experts, given projections that transmission of the COVID-19 virus, and in particular the omicron variant, will intensify and likely surge following the holiday break.
As we look ahead to the spring semester, we are fortunate that more than 98% of our campus community is vaccinated. At the same time, the omicron variant has proven to be highly transmissible and now accounts for 73% of COVID cases in the U.S. We experienced firsthand the highly transmissible nature of the omicron variant on campus over the past week. All this is to say that we will continue to closely monitor the pandemic conditions and remain nimble and flexible with regard to planning for the spring semester.
With that in mind, and given Chancellor Syverud’s earlier message, I am writing to share with you some additional information and other important updates that include:
- Spring Semester Schedule
- Booster Requirement
- Pre-Arrival Testing Requirement
Spring Semester Schedule
As shared in the Chancellor’s message, public health experts are warning the first several weeks of January will be among the most difficult of the COVID case surge occurring now as a result of this quick spread of the omicron variant. With the semester starting later, there are additional key dates you need to be aware of, including:
- The first day of classes will be Monday, Jan. 24, with the exception of the College of Law, which will begin its semester online on Jan. 10. Law students will receive additional information about their on-time, online start from College of Law Dean Craig M. Boise.
- International students can begin moving into their on-campus residence halls and apartments on Thursday, Jan. 20; all other students can move in on Friday, Jan. 21.
- Spring break will occur as scheduled from March 13-20.
- The last day of instruction will be Wednesday, May 4.
- Final exams will take place May 6, 9, 11 and 12.
- Commencement 2022 will now be held on Sunday, May 15; all other activities, including Convocations, will occur that weekend as well.
We will continue to evaluate conditions in the coming weeks and communicate any additional changes should they become necessary.
As previously announced, all students, faculty and staff who routinely access any Syracuse University campus location or facility are required to receive a COVID-19 booster shot (or have an approved medical or religious exemption on file) prior to the start of the spring semester. While breakthrough cases of COVID continue to occur, individuals who have received a booster of mRNA vaccines (Pfizer and Moderna) have significantly more antibodies than those who haven’t yet been boosted. The latest data shows the Pfizer booster provides a 25-fold increase in antibodies, while the Moderna booster provides a 37-fold increase. These increased antibody levels result in greater efficacy and a significantly reduced risk of serious illness. The decision to require boosters is informed by public health experts, the latest science and the most current data.
Given today’s announcement regarding the revised start of the spring semester to Jan. 24, 2022, we are also amending the date by which students, faculty and staff must be compliant with the booster shot requirement to Jan. 24.
For individuals who are not yet eligible to receive a booster by Jan. 24, you will be required to receive a booster shot during the academic semester, within one week of becoming eligible. Individuals who do not comply with this requirement will not be able to access campus during the spring semester. All students, faculty and staff are required to demonstrate proof of their booster compliance. To upload your information, including your booster and vaccination documentation, follow these steps:
- Students: Upload documentation of your COVID booster to the Patient Portal at your earliest convenience. Review step-by-step instructions for uploading proof of your COVID booster.
- Faculty/Staff: Document your COVID vaccine series (including your booster) or apply for a medical or religious exemption in MySlice by following these detailed instructions.
The University previously announced all students would have to participate in arrival testing when they return to campus. The schedule for arrival testing will be revised to accommodate the delayed start of the semester. In addition, given the anticipated post-holiday surge of the omicron variant, we are also announcing that returning students will be required to demonstrate a negative COVID-19 test prior to returning to campus. We recognize that in many communities, testing options are still limited. We are currently working to determine how to best support students who may have limited testing options in their own communities, with regard to complying with this requirement. You will receive an email in early January with more information on pre-arrival testing.
The pandemic continues to challenge us as individuals and as a community. Please know that we remain focused on one thing: safeguarding the health and well-being of our campus and neighboring communities, while at the same time ensuring a robust living, learning and working experience for our students, faculty and staff. Please continue to visit Syracuse.edu/staysafe for the most up-to-date public health guidance and stay tuned for additional communications from the University.
Please stay safe this holiday season and enjoy time with your families, friends and loved ones.
J. Michael Haynie
Vice Chancellor for Strategic Initiatives and Innovation