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Student Return to Campus Plan


Back on Campus - Fall 2021

Read the complete Fall 2021 Back to Campus Plan

These guidelines are subject to change based on recommendations and guidance from the CDC, New York State Department of Health, and SUNY, or in the event of a community or campus outbreak.

College community members and visitors are required to continue following the College’s most recent health and safety protocols. Please see specific guidelines below.

Campus/Building Access

What entrances will be open this fall?

Beginning Monday, August 23, all campus points of entry and exit will be in place for use by students, employees, and visitors. Individuals entering campus buildings will be advised of the health and safety precautions and self-screening through posters at each entrance. Please remember, if you are not feeling well, please do not come to campus.

Hand sanitizing stations will be located at all points of entry/exit.

Face coverings will be provided at campus points of entry to all individuals needing one.


What are the current mask-wearing requirements for students, employees and visitors?

Masks must be worn in all areas of campus including instructional spaces regardless of a person’s vaccination status.

Face coverings will be provided at campus points of entry to all individuals needing one.


What are the current COVID testing requirements for students?

Students will receive a link from Calendly, a software scheduling system used by academic advisement. Every week students will choose their appointment time spanning a 15-minute interval up to maximum of 15 students. Once the cap has been reached, their desired 15-minute interval will no longer be available forcing them to choose another time. The invite will include instruction on pool testing along with a rescheduling feature. The invites will be received in a special email address which will be used to verify that pool-testing requirements have been met. We encourage you to register for the Upstate Medical University COVID account prior to your initial test day.

Students who have questions may contact the Office of Student Affairs at 518-381-1365 or via email at  

This will be enforced by the Interim Dean of Student Affairs. Students who do not comply with pool-testing or mask-wearing will be subject to the provisions of the College’s Code of Conduct.

What is pool testing?

Pool testing allows SUNY Schenectady to test our students and staff with a more rapid timeline. We pool up to 12 samples, from 12 different people. That sample is tested. If the Pool comes back negative, then the assumption is everyone in the pool is negative for COVID-19. If a pool sample comes back positive, then at least one person in the pool is positive. The 12 individual tests will then each be tested to determine who is positive in the pool.

How is the test administered?

When you come to the testing site, you will enter a bar code, specific to your individual test. This allows us to track your test if needed. You will swab your own mouth and place your swab into your test kit. You will shake your test kit to incorporate your saliva into the chemical mixture already in the tube. Once the tube has been shaken, the contents inside are no longer potentially infectious. We will then take your individual test and pour the liquid contents into a pool tube with the other liquid contents from the other people in your pool.

How long does the test take?

The actual test takes less 30 seconds.

Who needs to be tested?

All students coming to campus for classes or any services (even if you are coming to campus only once, you need to be tested). This also applies to students who have a medical and/or religious waiver for vaccinations.

COVID pool testing will continue to be required forunvaccinated students taking in-person courses on campus and those who come to campus to access College services such as the College Store, Food Pantry, etc. and all employees.

How often must students complete testing?

Students who are unvaccinated, partially vaccinated or have not disclosed vaccination status for the Fall 2021 semester are required to complete pool-testing each week. Vaccinated students are required to complete COVID pool-testing monthly.

What should I NOT to do prior to being tested?

    • Do not brush your teeth or use mouthwash 30 minutes before the test
    • Do not eat or drink anything, including mints, gum, or lozenges 30 minutes before the test
    • Do not smoke or use smokeless tobacco products 30 minutes before the test

What should I bring when I get my COVID pool test?

Please bring your SUNY Schenectady Photo Identification card and your cellphone when you come for testing. College IDs can be obtained in the College Store in Elston Hall. Please also take a moment to review this helpful video on the testing process.

What are the current testing requirements for employees?

All employees, regardless of vaccination status, will be required to completed COVID pool testing.

Unvaccinated employees or those who have not disclosed their vaccination status will complete testing weekly and vaccinated employees who have disclosed their vaccination status will test on a monthly basis.

Is the test mandated?

SUNY has mandated that all students taking face-to-face classes must be tested regularly. The intention is to potentially catch a case before it becomes an outbreak. As a result, each student will be tested once every other week.

If I'm fully vaccinated do I have to continue testing?

Yes. Vaccinated individuals who have disclosed their vaccination status will test on a monthly basis.

Are people who have tested positive for COVID-19 exempt from the weekly testing requirement?

 If you have already tested positive for COVID-19, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommends that you not be re-tested for 90 days after your positive test.

Do students in quarantine or isolation need to participate in weekly testing?

If you are on quarantine or isolation, you are exempt from mandatory weekly testing. If you are getting emails saying you are out of compliance with mandatory weekly testing, that means the College does not know you are ordered to quarantine or isolate.

What if I do not take the test?

If a student misses a test or refuses to take a test, they will not be permitted to return to their on-campus class until they have completed their mandated testing.

What will happen if the pool I am in comes back positive?

All members of a pool will be contacted and instructed to quarantine to ensure that their exposure does not lead to further cases. We will be testing students grouped by classes, as your classmates would be in close contact with the individual who may be ill. If someone in your class were to test positive outside of the College testing, you would still be required to quarantine, as you would be considered having been in close contact with an infected individual and be mandated to quarantine by the Department of Health.

What happens if my class has to quarantine?

Your faculty are prepared to continue your class remotely if your class pool comes back positive. There will be a continuation of your learning during this time.

The registration form asks for my insurance information. Why do they ask?

If your pool comes back positive, the need to test each kit individually. That secondary test is billed to your health insurance. If your health insurance refuses to pay for the test or pays only part of the test, the additional cost DOES NOT get billed to you. You will never see a bill for this test.

What if I do not have health insurance?

If you do not have health insurance, on the registration form place “no” in each items and use the school telephone number 518-381-1200 for the insurance telephone number. You will not be charged for this test.


Are vaccines required for students and employees?

With the FDA’s full approval of the Pfizer COVID vaccine on Aug. 23, 2021, the State mandated all students to be vaccinated. This is now in place for all SUNY campuses. Students have the option to submit a COVID-19 Medical Exemption or COVID-19 Religious Exemption for review. If this applies to you, please email the Student Affairs Office at or call the Interim Dean of Student Affairs at 518-381-1378.

As has been the case from the very start, we are confident our students will continue to do the right thing to protect themselves, their families, and their campus community. We urge faculty and staff to continue to be vaccinated as well. We welcome the FDA approval and are now yet another step closer to beating this virus and ensuring our campuses provide a safe learning environment for all our students. 

Do ALL students need to get the vaccination?

Yes, all students taking at least one on campus class and any student coming to campus for any reason must be vaccinated or have a campus approved medical or religious waiver on file with the College. For the purposes of this policy, “students” are defined as any individual matriculated or otherwise enrolled full-time or part-time at SUNY Schenectady as well as visiting, auditing, exchange, continuing education, and international students taking in-person courses at SUNY.

What if I take all online classes?

Students whose course of study is fully remote may be exempted from this vaccine requirement. For this exemption to apply, the student must have no physical presence on campus nor reasonably anticipate using on-campus services for the entirety of the academic term. Such students must submit an attestation to the campus that states they understand they will not be allowed to use any SUNY Schenectady facility unless they submit proof of vaccination as indicated above or are granted an exemption.

Will the College share information about where I can get the vaccination?

All students attending a SUNY institution in the Fall 2021 term and thereafter will be provided with information about the COVID-19 vaccination and must either: (i) receive a COVID-19 Vaccination; or iii) obtain an approved exemption as further described below. Search for a COVID-19 vaccination location.

What if I already received the vaccination?

Students who plan to attend in-person classes and/or utilize in-person services at  SUNY Schenectady shall provide evidence of receiving the full vaccination series (i.e., both doses of a two-dose series) of any COVID-19 vaccination. 

How do I submit my proof of vaccination?


Log into the SUNY Vaccination Verification Application using your student log in credentials and enter your vaccination information as prompted. If you are unable to use the online application, bring a copy of your vaccination card or NYS Excelsior Pass to the Office of Student Affairs located in Elston Hall, Room 222 or email a clear, easily viewable image of your completed vaccination card or NYS Excelsior Pass, as an attachment or within the body of the email to You can sign up online for the free NYS Excelsior Pass.


Employees have been invited to disclose their vaccination status to the Office of Human Resources.  As of now the disclosure is voluntary. To make this disclosure, the employee provides Human Resources with a copy of their Vaccination Record or their Excelsior Pass. To do this, employees should email a copy of the document to or bring a copy to the Human Resources Office in Elston Hall, Room 511.

Will the vaccination mandate be in place in future semesters?

Yes. For all subsequent terms, students must provide such evidence prior to coming to campus and show that such vaccine was received at least two weeks prior to arriving on campus.

Is there any specific information that international students who received the vaccination in the U.S. need to know?

International students who obtained a COVID-19 vaccination may provide documentation signed by a healthcare provider duly licensed to practice medicine in the United States or a foreign country, and such documentation must include the dates of vaccination and name of the COVID-19 vaccination given.

Is there any specific information that international students who received the vaccination outside of the U.S. need to know?

International students who have received COVID-19 vaccines not licensed or under anEUAA by the FDA in the United States, or not authorized for emergency use by the World Health Organization (WHO) (e.g.,AstraZenecaa/Oxford) may apply for a medical accommodation, as discussed below, which will be addressed in accordance with NYS guidance by each campus on a case-by-case basis.

If this applies to you, please email the Student Affairs Office at or call the Interim Dean of Student Affairs at 518-381-1378.

What if I am not fully vaccinated or received a vaccination that has not been authorized by the FDA or the World Health Organization (WHO)?

Students who are not yet fully vaccinated and international students who received a COVID-19 vaccine not authorized or approved by the FDA or the WHO may apply for a temporary medical accommodation to allow them time to become fully vaccinated.

What if I have a medical condition that prevents me from receiving the vaccination?

Students may be exempt from this vaccine requirement if a duly licensed health care provider certifies in writing that the COVID-19 Vaccination may be detrimental to the student’s health. COVID-19 Medical Exemption Request Form.

What if my religious beliefs prevent me from getting the vaccination?

Students who hold genuine and sincere religious beliefs which are contrary to COVID-19 Vaccination may be exempt after submitting a written statement to that effect as required by SUNY Schenectady. COVID-19 Religious Exemption Request Form. General philosophical or moral objections to such vaccine shall not suffice as the basis for a religious exemption. Any such requests will be reviewed and granted on a case-by-case basis by the campus.

What if I go past the 35-day period?

Per SUNY System policy any student who has not completed the vaccination will be dropped from all on-campus classes and will not be authorized to come to campus. Specifically, any student who has not shown that they have completed a full vaccine series or been granted an exemption will either be unenrolled or may revert to fully remote instruction if that is an available option based on the student’s course of study and is otherwise permitted by the campus. If this applies to you, please email the Student Affairs Office at or call the Interim Dean of Student Affairs at 518-381-1378.

What happens if I am granted a medical or religious exemption?

Students who are granted a Medical or Religious Exemption and who will be coming to campus without receiving the vaccination must do one of the following: (1) quarantine for at least ten (10) days prior to coming to campus; (2) submit an attestation to the campus that you completed a quarantine for at least ten (10) days prior to coming to campus; or, (3) provide evidence of a negative COVID-19 test within the (5) days prior to your coming to campus. All students with exemptions will be subject to mandatory weekly COVID-19 testing administered by the campus and will be required to adhere to all other campus COVID health and safety protocols.

Are vaccines available on campus?

Schenectady County offers free, walk in vaccination clinics in Elston Hall on Mondays from 5-7 p.m.

The Moderna, Pfizer, and Johnson & Johnson vaccines will be available.

Quarantine and Isolation

Do I still need to quarantine if I’m vaccinated?

Any individual testing positive will be instructed to quarantine for 10 days and communicate with the College each and to report possible symptoms.

When do I need to Isolate?

If you have tested positive for COVID-19, you should isolate yourself in your home and follow directions provided by the Department of Health. Please cooperate with the contact tracer who calls or emails you to find out who you may have been in contact with prior to isolation.


Free Resources, How-To Instructions, and Campus Supports

SUNY Schenectady remains committed to your success with virtual instruction. The Student Resource page includes information to help you to be successful as you take your courses.


Student Laptop Loan Program

SUNY Schenectady, through a US Department of Education Title III grant, is able to loan laptops to students to ensure full access to their coursework. To request a laptop, please complete the Laptop Loan Request form and return it to Appointments will be made for students to pick up a laptop.

Deans' Messages to Students about Fall

Division of Business, Criminal Justice and Law

School of Hotel, Culinary Arts and Tourism

Division of Liberal Arts

Division of Math, Science, Technology and Health

School of Music