Vaccinated Students to be Exempted from COVID Tests and Masks in Class

By Meghan Brink | July 15, 2021

Photo Credit: Brian Musher: UAlbany Digital Media

Previously required testing, quarantining, and some mask wearing protocol will not be required for fully vaccinated students in the coming Fall semester, according to a vaccine update released by the university last week.


However, unvaccinated students will be required to submit proof of a negative COVID-19 test prior to arriving to campus, to participate in the university’s weekly testing surveillance program, to quarantine as a result of contact with a positive individual, and to follow NYS mask wearing guidelines for unvaccinated individuals.


Fully vaccinated students will still be required to don masks inside Student Health Services, Counseling and Psychological Services, and buses, following NYS mask wearing requirements, according to university spokesperson Kelsey Butz.


Although the vaccination mandate has not yet gone into effect, the university and the SUNY system are strongly encouraging students to schedule their vaccination appointments as soon as possible. With students moving in as soon as August 16, students are being asked to receive their second dose by the first week of August so that they will be considered fully vaccinated by their return to campus.


A student is considered fully vaccinated two weeks after they have received the second dose of either the Pfizer or Moderna two-shot vaccine or two weeks after receiving the one-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine.


In an article in “USA Today Network lohud”, SUNY Chancellor Jim Malatras urged students to get vaccinated in an effort to restore the traditional college experience.


...with ample vaccine supply, students have a real shot to truly take back control, and for good,” Malatras wrote for USA Today. “A shot to erase the uncertainty. To bring back the full college experience. Unmasked classrooms. Packed sporting events. Full concert halls. A night out with friends. It’s all within our reach. Don’t find yourself stuck in your dorm room, while your friends meet up at a campus sporting event or live music performance.”


On July 9, SUNY released its #30DayVaxChallenge, urging members of the SUNY community to receive their vaccine. The challenge runs from July 12 to August 10. As part of the challenge, SUNY has included on their website a range of information on vaccines, including a “Get the facts about the COVID-19 Vaccine” Youtube playlist and a search tool for finding the nearest vaccination site.


Vaccination mandates for SUNY students returning to campus this fall is still contingent upon full federal approval by the Food and Drug Administration. Currently the FDA has approved the Pfizer, Moderna, and Johnson & Johnson vaccinations for emergency use. The state does not have authority to require vaccines that do not have full FDA approval.


According to Butz, the university has begun the process of collecting data on the number of vaccinated students and staff. However, with the mandate still awaiting approval from the FDA and students are still enrolling in classes, the university is not yet able to get a full scope of this data.


“The denominator to determine percentage vaccinated will be fluid up until the first week of classes,” said Butz.


The university is currently pulling data from the New York State and New York City Departments of Health vaccination databases, which Butz said is a process that has already been used for MMR vaccination student data in the past. Student Affairs is to distribute information when a portal to upload proof of vaccination becomes available.


“Along the same lines of how there was a portal to upload proof of a negative test, there will be a portal to upload proof of vaccination,” said Butz. “This will use our existing Student Health Services system, so students will be able to see their status.”


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