We hope this message finds you well as we have now officially completed the Fall 2021 semester and entered a very well-deserved time of rest and rejuvenation for the Winter Break. We would like to extend our sincere appreciation to the IC community for all your collective efforts in helping us navigate the final days of the semester amidst challenging circumstances, as our campus ultimately shifted to Orange: Moderate Risk operating status following a sharp rise in student COVID-19 cases resulting from the rapid spread and highly transmissible nature of the Omicron variant. While the final days of the semester were tough, we applaud our campus community for persevering through final exams. We also thank the numerous staff and faculty who helped provide unwavering crucial support for our students during this time.
We have already begun to turn our attention to the new year and next semester. Ithaca College’s Health and Safety Advisory Group continues to track the latest developments in the pandemic including the impacts of the Omicron variant.
In an effort to prioritize the health and well-being of both our Ithaca College and greater Ithaca communities, the college will be adopting the following policy recommendations from the Health and Safety Advisory Group for the Spring 2022 semester.
Required Vaccine Booster for Students for Spring 2022
Maintaining a high level of immunization against COVID-19 remains the single best way to mitigate severe illness as a result of the virus. While the Omicron variant has been noted for its ability to spread readily even among vaccinated populations, especially in non-structured social settings where public health protocols are not followed, recent studies have indicated that individuals who have received a booster dose – particularly of either the Moderna or Pfizer vaccine – have had a significant increase in their immunity directed towards the variant.
In light of this information, Ithaca College will REQUIRE a booster dose of the COVID-19 vaccine for all active students enrolled for the Spring 2022 semester by February 15, or within 30 days of becoming eligible for a booster if that date falls after the February 15 deadline. Students should follow the steps listed on Ithaca College’s vaccine webpage to submit proof of their booster dose to their MYICHealth Portal administrated by the Hammond Health Center. There can be a long wait time for booster dose appointments in the Ithaca area, so we STRONGLY ENCOURAGE that students complete their booster dose prior to returning to campus. Please visit this link to find vaccine opportunities near you.
Please note that students who have received a previous college-approved exemption due to medical reasons or sincerely held religious beliefs will continue to be exempt from this requirement. These unvaccinated students MUST continue abiding by all college health and safety protocols pertaining to unvaccinated individuals, including mandatory face coverings and regular surveillance testing throughout the Spring 2022 semester.
Currently, individuals are eligible for a booster vaccine dose if they are 18 years of age or older and at least six months after the final dose of their original vaccine series (Moderna and Pfizer) or two months after their single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine. The CDC has recently issued updated guidance encouraging individuals to receive an mRNA vaccine (Moderna or Pfizer), when possible. Eligible individuals can receive a booster vaccine that differs from their previous immunization (e.g., Pfizer vaccine with a Moderna booster).
Ithaca College continues to STRONGLY ENCOURAGE all employees of the college to be vaccinated and seek out booster dose opportunities if they are eligible to do so. Ithaca College has continued to see no incidence of significant spread in structured on-campus settings where public health protocols are adhered to and rigidly enforced. The college is not implementing a mandatory vaccine or booster requirement for this population at this time.
Unvaccinated employees who access campus MUST continue abiding by all college health and safety protocols pertaining to unvaccinated individuals, including mandatory face coverings at all times and regular weekly surveillance testing.
Spring Semester Opening Procedures – January 18-23
In order to de-densify move-in and adequately screen the campus population for incidence of COVID-19, Ithaca College will be initiating a six-day move-in process from Tuesday, January 18 – Sunday, January 23.
All students, whether they are living in on-campus or off-campus residences, will be REQUIRED to check in prior to the beginning of the Spring 2022 semester.
Students are REQUIRED to receive a PCR test (rapid-result antigen tests do not qualify) within 72 hours PRIOR to their arrival on campus and MUST be able to show proof of a negative test result in order to check in. We ask that all students please plan accordingly and schedule this PCR test in advance to ensure it occurs in the appropriate timeframe. All students will also be REQUIRED to submit to a COVID-19 test upon arrival at check-in.
Please note that this is a requirement for ALL students, even those who may be remaining on campus or in the Tompkins County area for part or all of the Winter Break.
More details on the arrival and move-in process, including how to sign up for a check-in time, will be shared in early January. Students who are involved in academic programs, intercollegiate athletics, and/or essential student workers who will require early arrival to campus should check their email regularly for additional updates regarding their early arrival process. The college will also be publishing a FAQs document based on common questions we are receiving in early January.
If you have urgent questions regarding the spring opening process we encourage you to direct inquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org. Please be aware that the college is officially closed from Thursday, December 23 - Sunday, January 2. Responses to any questions submitted during that time period may be delayed.
Ithaca College is continuing to monitor our current number of confirmed positive COVID-19 cases and will make appropriate updates to the college’s COVID-19 operating status. Based on current available data, the college will open the Winter 2022 and Spring 2022 terms at Yellow: Low to Moderate Risk operating status.
This status allows for much of the traditional Ithaca College experience to remain intact including face-to-face instruction, intercollegiate athletics, and normal operations for campus resources such as the Library, Fitness Center, and Wellness Clinic. Limitations will include continued restrictions on non-academic social functions and discouraging visitation between residence hall communities. Additionally, Ithaca College continues to STRONGLY DISCOURAGE outside visitors from coming to campus unless they are dropping off their student for move-in or participating in a structured campus tour through the Office of Admission.
Ithaca College will continue to adjust its operating status accordingly based on available data throughout the semester.
Save the Date
Ithaca College's Division of Student Affairs and Campus Life will be hosting a pre-semester Students and Families Virtual Gathering from 6:00-7:00 p.m. EST on Tuesday, January 11, 2022. We encourage all students and families to plan to attend this event to learn more about spring opening protocols and have the opportunity to ask questions. Students and families can expect an invitation email to this event during the first week of January.
Please note that we encourage students to be proactive in addressing any time sensitive items such as scheduling your vaccine booster and return to campus PCR test and DO NOT wait until after this virtual gathering.
We ask that our campus community continue to make their personal health a priority during this Winter Break period. Good public health practices and responsible behaviors during this time will be pivotal in helping us reduce our number of positive cases as we near the start of the spring semester. Proper use of face coverings, physical distancing, regular self-monitoring of potential virus symptoms, and frequent good hand hygiene are small actions that can have a large impact on our prospects for a successful spring.
Thank you for your commitment to keeping Ithaca College healthy and well.
Vice President for Human Resources and Planning
Dean of Students
Assistant Director of Emergency Preparedness and Response