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Potsdam Prepared: COVID-19 Updates

Potsdam Prepared

Important Information

Fall 2021

Our face-to-face classes and applied learning experiences are the highlight of every student’s journey at SUNY Potsdam—and we are so excited to be able to safely phase back to in-person instruction for the vast majority of our courses heading into the next academic year.  

We are looking forward to welcoming students back to campus for the Fall 2021 semester—and into our classrooms, laboratories, studios and performance halls. Our faculty are hard at work planning for a fall semester focused on in-person instruction and educational experiences as much as possible—while still ensuring we follow all current public health guidelines as required.   

Safety overview

SUNY Potsdam will continue to work with our public health partners to ensure that our academic and campus preparations meet all the latest federal and state guidelines.

Vaccination

The vast majority of our classes and campus life activities for the Fall 2021 semester will be in person. In order to do this as safely as possible, all SUNY/CUNY campuses, including SUNY Potsdam, will require full immunization for COVID-19 for students, as soon as one or more of the vaccines are authorized by the Food and Drug Administration for regular use.  

Additionally, while we wait for full FDA approval, students must be vaccinated if they are participating in activities or programs with a high degree of interpersonal interaction, starting this semester. This requirement will go into effect immediately for student participation in the following programs or activities, with limited exceptions: 

  • Most classes, studios and ensembles within The Crane School of Music 

  • Most performance-related classes and ensembles within the Department of Theatre and Dance 

  • Most classes with a lab or studio 

  • Any academically-related travel or field trips 

  • Law Enforcement Training Institute 

  • Intercollegiate athletics and club sports 

  • Fitness Center use 

  • Performance-based clubs and organizations 

  • Clubs or organizations with significant social or philanthropic functions that involve interacting in person with non-SUNY Potsdam students and/or the local community 

  • Any student event/activity that includes travel from the campus 

  • Any student event/activity deemed to be high risk for COVID-19 transmission, due to close contact of participants and/or physical activity 

Many applied learning experiences, including practica, student teaching, internships and field experiences, may also require vaccinations. Students participating in these experiences will be required to follow the protocols of their host organization/school district. 

Students at our extension site in Watertown will also be expected to follow the same vaccination protocols. 

The bottom line is, the sooner you get vaccinated to protect yourself and your community, the better. If you haven’t already, you can find a vaccination location near you and get answers to any questions you have at https://www.suny.edu/knowyourvax. SUNY Potsdam will also be offering free vaccines on campus this semester. 

Health Requirements and Exemption Requests

  • We will soon be sending out an important message to all students, with reminders regarding all health requirements for attendance. It is important for out-of-state students to provide Student Health Services with a record of your COVID vaccination status, via mail or fax.  

  • Similar to our existing process for the measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine requirement, students who wish to apply for an exemption due to a medical condition and/or sincerely held religious belief will be able to do so by submitting specific forms to Student Health Services. More information on this process will be forthcoming. 

Residence Life

Students will be able to view their room assignments on BearPAWS on August 1. Questions or concerns can be emailed to reslife@potsdam.edu. Specific steps for moving on campus will be coming shortly. 

COVID-19 Testing

  • Vaccination and testing protocols apply to all students who are participating in face-to-face experiences, including at our main campus in Potsdam and our extension site in Watertown

  • All returning students must be tested either in advance of or upon their arrival to Potsdam for the Fall 2021 semester. 

  • As always, testing is available at Student Health Services and local healthcare providers for anyone experiencing symptoms consistent with COVID. 

  • Vaccinated students will be tested upon arrival, using the self-administered saliva swab pooled testing system through Upstate Medical University. Going forward, vaccinated students will only be required to be tested periodically, and will also be offered optional testing in advance of breaks, so they have their results before traveling.  

  • Unvaccinated students (including those who cannot show proof of full vaccination, those who are only partially immunized or those with a medical/religious exemption) will be asked to provide proof of a negative PCR test for COVID taken within five days of their return to campus. Going forward, unvaccinated students must take part in mandatory weekly surveillance testing. 

  • Vaccinated employees are not required to participate in weekly testing at this time. 

  • Unvaccinated employees must complete mandatory weekly testing. 

What to Expect...

 Unvaccinated students 
  • Unvaccinated students (including those who cannot show proof of full vaccination, those who are only partially immunized or those with a medical/religious exemption) will be asked to provide proof of a negative PCR test for COVID taken within five days of their return to campus. 

  • Unvaccinated students will also be expected to continue to wear face coverings in all public spaces on campus (including in all classes), to maintain social distancing, and to take part in mandatory weekly surveillance testing for COVID-19.  

  • There will be a temporary exemption form for unvaccinated students, advising them of the campus expectations and the steps the College may take in the event of an outbreak in order to protect their health. 

 

Vaccinated students 
  • Vaccinated students will be tested upon arrival to campus using the self-administered saliva swab pooled testing system from Upstate Medical University.  

  • Going forward, vaccinated students will only be required to be tested periodically, and will also be offered optional testing in advance of breaks, so they have their results before traveling.  

Contact Tracing

  • The St. Lawrence County Public Health Department will conduct contact tracing related to our students or employees as needed. 

  • SUNY Potsdam has certified contact tracers on campus. 

  • The NYS Contact Tracing Program works with confirmed positive COVID-19 people to determine who they have been in contact with. Trained specialists reach out to those contacts about possible exposure. If you have been identified as a contact you will get a call from “NYS Contact Tracing” (518-387-9993). Because the disease can be transmitted without symptoms, notifying people about a possible exposure is critical to stop the spread. So, if you get a call from “NYS Contact Tracing” (518-387-9993) please answer. It is confidential and private. View Flyer (PDF) 
    More information on the New York State contact tracing protocols and processes can be found online.   

  • SUNY Potsdam is committed to assisting Public Health with this process, as appropriate. 

 

Our commitment to each other

The North Country has one of the lowest incidences of COVID-19 in New York State. By taking responsibility to protect ourselves and each other, we can keep it that way.

Every SUNY Potsdam student and employee returning to campus will be asked to adhere to strict protocols recommended by public health. Inspired by our Potsdam Pledge, we will commit to protect each other’s health and safety by:

  • Getting vaccinated for COVID-19 if required, to protect ourselves and each other (see above for details).
  • If unvaccinated, wearing a face covering in all public spaces, complying with weekly testing, and maintaining social (physical) distancing in the presence of others in all campus spaces.
  • Paying attention to our health, and getting tested for COVID if we start experiencing any symptoms.
  • Agreeing to complete quarantine or isolation periods when required. Violations of these requirements would be taken very seriously and would be handled under the student conduct system.
  • Practicing good hygiene, through frequent handwashing and disinfection of shared surfaces.
  • Being considerate of others, especially those at high risk.
     

Questions?