COVID-19 Vaccination Requirement
A Message From President Casamento
Dear Utica College Students, Families, Faculty, and Staff,
I have some important news to share about changes we have made in the College’s pandemic response plan. As we prepare for the Fall semester, we are taking steps that will, I believe, hasten our return to the kind of campus life we have so greatly missed over the past 16 months while continuing to protect the health and safety of the entire Utica College community.
The changes are as follows:
- Effective as of the opening of the Fall 2021 semester, Utica College is adding the COVID-19 vaccination to the list of required immunizations for students as recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the American College Health Association, and other public health agencies, subject to medical and religious exemptions. New and returning students enrolled in campus-based programs in New York state will be required to submit proof of full vaccination for COVID-19 to the Student Health and Wellness Center (firstname.lastname@example.org) no later than Friday, August 6. (Those who have already submitted proof do not need to do so again.) Physician-approved medical exemptions and requests for approved religious exemptions should be e-mailed to email@example.com no later than Friday, July 30. Further details are available at www.utica.edu/covid-immunization.
- All full- and part-time employees of the College based in New York state are required to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19. This includes faculty, staff, and auxiliary services employees. Those who have not already submitted documentation of full vaccination to the Office of Human Resources (firstname.lastname@example.org) must do so by Friday, August 6. Physician-approved medical exemptions and requests for approved religious exemptions should be e-mailed to email@example.com no later than Friday, July 30.
- Effective immediately, members of the UC community who are fully vaccinated and have submitted the necessary immunization documentation to the College are no longer required to wear masks or observe social distancing while on campus. If you remain unvaccinated for any reason, masks are still required, in accordance with CDC guidelines.
- Until further notice, all individuals must continue to submit the daily health screening.
I ask that you be respectful of anyone who will continue to wear a mask, whether because they have not yet received vaccination or because they are wearing a face covering due to their own comfort level.
We are making these changes because community-wide vaccination represents our best path back to the highly engaging, interactive, and personal campus experience UC has long been known for. With the new vaccination protocols in place, consistent with current guidance from the CDC, we can look forward to a Fall semester free of social distancing and weekly testing, as well as a return to a full slate of student activities, social gatherings, internships and other real-world learning opportunities, and large crowds at athletic events.
While some may question the decision to require vaccinations given some recently-lifted state mandates, we know that the vaccination rate among traditional college-age students nationwide is not yet keeping pace with the vaccination rate for the overall adult population. By most reports, only 35 percent of traditional college-age students have been fully vaccinated. Requiring vaccinations will help greatly mitigate the risks associated with an anticipated rise in infections this fall and winter, particularly among unvaccinated individuals, as more infectious variants become more prevalent. It should also be noted here that college campuses are much like other congregate, high-risk settings.
I recognize that there may be differences of opinion regarding the new vaccination requirement, however, I believe that it is the right decision. To that end, I am grateful to the AAUP-UC and the Utica College Board of Trustees for their endorsement of this policy. As a community, we have been through a great deal over the course of this pandemic. I know that everyone reading this shares a deep desire to be free of the many restrictions COVID has placed on our lives. I am confident that community-wide vaccination represents our best opportunity to reclaim in full the richness of UC’s uniquely personal campus experience while keeping the health and safety of our students, faculty, staff, and families as our top priority.
We are fortunate that multiple vaccine options are immediately available in all parts of the country. To find out where you can get a vaccine, visit covid19vaccine.health.ny.gov or vaccines.gov. We will continue to actively assist anyone in need of help locating available vaccine options over the summer. I also encourage anyone who has questions or hesitancy about vaccination, to visit www.utica.edu/covid-forward, where we will continue to provide links to timely articles and other resources.
We are finally in the home stretch. If you haven’t already done so, get your vaccinations in the coming weeks. Take this important step now so that, together, we can move forward as a community this fall.
Laura M. Casamento, President
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