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Campus Public Health Updates in Advance of Fall 2021 Semester

Dear Faculty and Staff,

We hope you have all enjoyed a restful and restorative summer. We’re sending this message to you today with great excitement that the Fall 2021 semester is just days away and our preparations for the new academic year are well underway. As activity on campus ramps up over the ensuing days, we would like to share several public health reminders and emphasize the importance this will play as we navigate the repopulation of campus and the launch of the upcoming semester. 

The Health and Safety Advisory Group continues to monitor the on-going impacts of the pandemic, particularly the local and national rise in COVID-19 cases primarily fueled by the spread of the Delta variant of the virus. On Friday, July 30, we made the proactive decision to reinstate our face covering protocols for indoor on-campus spaces for all individuals, regardless of vaccination status. Although we do not anticipate any changes to our campus opening plans for the fall semester, this increase in COVID-19 cases is a reminder of our collective responsibility to practice good public health habits to help ensure a vibrant and engaging IC community this year.

In particular, widespread participation in receiving the COVID-19 vaccine by members of our campus community continues to be the best way to mitigate the most severe impacts of the pandemic. As of the writing of this message, the vaccination rate among our student population stands at 96 percent with many more students expected to complete vaccine series over the coming days. It is expected that the vaccination rate of our student population will exceed 99 percent by the start of fall classes. We are so proud of the commitment and dedication our student body has shown in answering the call to fulfill their vaccine requirement and we want to share our sincere thanks to the large number of faculty and staff who have also documented their COVID-19 vaccine with the Office of Human Resources. For faculty and staff who have not yet received a COVID-19 vaccine or who may have received a vaccine but have yet to submit documentation to the Office of Human Resources, we strongly encourage you to do so as soon as you are able. The vaccine webpage is a great place to start to learn more about the COVID-19 vaccine, how to secure an appointment near you, as well as information on how to submit your completed COVID-19 vaccine documentation to Ithaca College.

Since we were last together during the Spring 2021 semester, we have endeavored to make informed modifications to our campus public health policies. Please let the following further clarify the public health guidance Ithaca College is currently employing.

Face Coverings and Physical Distancing
As mentioned above, Ithaca College has reinstated its mandatory face covering policy for all individuals, regardless of vaccination status, for indoor spaces on campus. There are certain instances where exceptions to the indoor face covering policy apply. These include:

  • When alone in an enclosed workspace or office
  • For students, when within their own residence hall room or apartment
  • While in the action of eating and/or drinking in designated dining areas

Individuals who are vaccinated have the option to remove their face coverings in outdoor settings, while individuals who are unvaccinated are required to wear face coverings while outdoors on campus where six feet of physical distancing cannot be maintained. All outside visitors to campus are also expected to wear face coverings at all times. Physical distancing, when possible, is strongly encouraged for all individuals.

Daily Health Screening
We will be continuing the practice of requiring that the Daily Health Screening is completed each day prior to arriving on campus. The Daily Health Screening is delivered to your IC Netpass email address. Please update your Daily Health Screening and Testing Registration form on IC Workflow to indicate the days that you will be on campus this upcoming semester, which will tailor the delivery of the screening to your email. This form also permits you to pause the screening temporarily if you will be taking sick or vacation time. If you come to campus on a day that you did not schedule, you can always complete your Daily Health Screening by accessing it via IC Workflow.

Surveillance Testing
Ithaca College will require EITHER proof of vaccination OR mandatory surveillance testing for all employees working on campus during the upcoming semester. Students who received a college-approved exemption to the student vaccine requirement will also be required to complete surveillance testing on campus at least once per week.
   
Employees who are unvaccinated or have not submitted vaccine documentation to the Office of Human Resources will be required to complete surveillance testing once per week in order to access campus, regardless of the frequency. Employees must complete this testing at the Cayuga Health System (CHS) test site located at the Shops at Ithaca Mall. Although Ithaca College will cover the cost of this testing during the 2021-2022 academic year, employees must use their own time or arrange for release time with their supervisors. Employees cannot use COVID-19 time away for testing purposes.

IC Health Badge
The IC Health Badge for students will remain in effect for this fall. We are requesting that faculty and staff require students to show a “green” IC Health Badge prior to participating in class, activities, or events, whenever possible and feasible as this will help with reinforcing the importance of self-screening for symptoms and surveillance testing (if applicable). 

Please note, there are times where the Health Badge system may not be functioning properly for a student. The Hammond Health Center is available to assist students with badging issues. However, this assistance is not immediate. Therefore, faculty and staff should use their best judgement with a student who may be expressing frustration or anxiety that their badge is not working properly (for example – “I have tried to complete my health screening as I’m not experiencing any COVID symptoms and haven’t been exposed but my badge is still yellow!”). It is acceptable to permit students to participate and request that they connect with Hammond Health at their earliest convenience for assistance with badge repair.

Capacity in On-Campus Spaces
On June 29, Ithaca College repealed all COVID-related capacity restrictions for on-campus spaces. This easement included classrooms, meeting rooms, dining halls, and other public-use spaces. These spaces can now be utilized to full capacity as dictated by public safety guidelines. The scheduling process for all spaces on campus has also reverted to previous parameters at this time. 

Departments and divisions who wish to resume in-person meetings may continue to do so; however, a virtual meeting option should remain available to accommodate individuals who have been granted flexible work arrangements or would otherwise be at risk. 

Travel Policy
Ithaca College has repealed its restriction on student, faculty and staff travel for the upcoming semester. We are reverting to the normal travel authorization and approval process. You do not need to seek special permission from the Provost or a Vice President to travel. Although travel outside of the Tompkins County area is permissible, the college continues to ask that individuals use their best judgement and pay particular attention to good public health practice when traveling, which includes delaying travel until fully vaccinated and forgoing travel to areas affected by high incidents of community spread of COVID-19. 

Visitor Policy
Ithaca College has relaxed its restrictions to the visitor policy. Outside visitors are permitted to enter campus and on-campus facilities; however, they must abide by all health and safety protocols, which includes mandatory face coverings at all times. As with travel, the college continues to ask individuals to use best judgement to be responsible when interacting with visitors outside of our IC community. Some clinical settings on campus may require proof of vaccination of outside visitors if deemed appropriate.
 
Quarantine and Isolation Plan
Ithaca College will continue to operate its quarantine and isolation plan for students, if needed, during the upcoming academic year. Emerson Hall will continue to be used as the designated on-campus residence for residential students who require quarantine and isolation. Residential students who need to enter quarantine and isolation will be supported with wrap-around care services while in Emerson. Off campus students must complete quarantine and isolation in their own living arrangements.

Employees who have provided proof of vaccination and who are placed in quarantine due to exposure to COVID-19 will continue to be able either work remotely, if their duties allow, or, if not, to subsidize their time away using the COVID-19 time type up to the two-week requirement for quarantine. Employees who choose not to be vaccinated and who do not have a valid exemption based on medical reasons or sincerely held religious beliefs will be required to utilize their own PTA balances if they are unable to report to work due to quarantine.

As the situation both locally and nationally continues to evolve, please note that any and all of these aforementioned policies may be revisited and are subject to change. The COVID-19 health and safety policies, including the COVID dashboard, are consolidated at this link and will be updated as needed. Ithaca College will continue to give clear and timely notice of any significant public health updates. We ask that all members of the IC community continue to respect one another’s personal comfort level with these public health related policies. We appreciate your continued cooperation in conducting your actions with the best intentions of our community’s collective public health in mind. 

Sincerely,

La Jerne Terry Cornish
Provost and Executive Vice President

Rosanna Ferro
Vice President for Student Affairs and Campus Life

Hayley Harris
Vice President for Human Resources and Planning

Samm Swarts
Assistant Director for Emergency Preparedness and Response