By Julia Ross-McGuire | October 4, 2021
As of Oct. 1, all students are required to be fully vaccinated and to have submitted proof of vaccination to the University at Albany. This requirement was installed following the Food and Drug Administration’s approval of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine. New medical and religious exemptions are no longer being accepted by the University.
This brings forward questions of how the University’s COVID Surveillance Testing Program will continue to operate.
For the fall semester, the program has continued to operate as it did the previous school year with pooled PCR saliva tests. As of Sept. 21, the University has conducted 161,132 tests in total with about 5,600 completed this fall, revealing 913 positives for the virus.
According to Kelsey Butz, UAlbany communications specialist for health, “Surveillance testing will continue to be required for all students who are exempt from vaccination and for those who have not yet reached the two-week point after their final vaccine dose.”
The University is also working on introducing a voluntary surveillance testing program for vaccinated students, says Ms. Butz, with the expectation being that more information will be available as the program becomes more concrete with the assurance that it will be completely voluntary.
Ms. Butz also expects that the upcoming holiday season will lead many students to visit their families and may encourage students to enroll themselves in voluntary testing despite being vaccinated.
According to the University’s website, “Students who fail to meet the SUNY vaccination requirements outlined above will not be allowed on any UAlbany campus or building for any reason — including to take classes, use UAlbany facilities or services, or participate in any UAlbany activity — during the 2021-2022 Academic Year.”
In regards to general COVID-19 guidelines, Ms. Butz does not expect any upcoming changes, but that the university “will continue to monitor the public health situation on campus and will adjust as conditions merit and external public health rules allow.”
Ms. Butz adds, “UAlbany is fortunate that a majority of our students saw the value in getting vaccinated even prior to the requirement going into effect, so we already had a high vaccination rate before this most recent vaccination deadline. And we are committed to assisting those students who have yet to receive their second shot to do so in a timely manner.”