Summer and Fall Guidance '21

Binghamton University continues to follow all public health and state guidelines for the COVID-19 pandemic. Our decisions are grounded in science and follow the expert guidance of our local, state and national public health leaders. The following guidance has been developed with the safety of our University community as our first priority.

Student Guidance
Employee Guidance

Student Guidance

Fall 2021 Operating Guidance

Purpose

The purpose of these guidelines is to explain the policies and procedures Binghamton University will operate under during the fall 2021 semester as they pertain to COVID-19 vaccination, testing and safety precautions designed to protect the health of the campus community and to promote student success.

Philosophy

The outstanding educational experience offered to all levels of Binghamton University students is anchored by in-person instruction, close and persistent contact among students, faculty and staff, and a residential campus that successfully promotes student engagement in co-curricular and extracurricular programs. By the very nature of the experience, population density on campus is high. That Binghamton residence halls were at more than 80% of capacity during the height of the pandemic is a clear testament to the value our students place upon campus life and its centrality to the Binghamton educational experience.

While Binghamton maintained compliance with all required safety precautions (e.g., masking, social distancing, density reduction) last academic year, our students have made clear that they want and expect as full a return to normal campus operations as possible in the forthcoming year. The procedures that follow are intended to support normal campus operations and the delivery of the distinctive Binghamton educational experience in a manner that accounts for the ongoing public health risks of the COVID-19 pandemic. Consistent with this philosophy, we expect that the Binghamton campus community will largely be one of vaccinated individuals.

Vaccination Requirements – General

This policy requires all Binghamton students who access campus facilities in person to be fully vaccinated before the start of the fall 2021 term (Aug. 24, 2021), with limited exceptions. For the purposes of this guidance, people are considered fully vaccinated for COVID-19 more than two weeks after they have received the second dose in a two-dose series (e.g., Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna), or more than two weeks after they have received a single-dose vaccine (Johnson & Johnson/Janssen).

While this requirement will not take full effect until at least one COVID-19 vaccination receives full FDA approval, all students are advised that Binghamton will require full compliance with this general policy requiring student vaccinations at the earliest possible date following full FDA approval. Students are further advised that Binghamton has adopted local campus regulations requiring vaccinations of all students to access residence halls and certain other programs and services effective Aug. 15, 2021, without regard to full FDA approval as more fully explained herein.

Though this policy requiring vaccination does not apply to faculty and staff, Binghamton faculty and staff are strongly encouraged to get vaccinated in accordance with the philosophy noted above.

Medical Exemptions

Students may be exempt from the vaccination requirement if a duly licensed healthcare provider certifies in writing that the student has a medical contraindication to the COVID-19 vaccine. Students requesting consideration for a medical exemption from vaccination requirements must submit a petition for exemption through the Decker Student Health Services Health Portal including the certification. As more particularly set forth in the Decker Student Health Services COVID-19 Vaccination Compliance and Exemption Process, requests for medical exemptions must contain the certification of a licensed healthcare provider, sufficient information for Health Services staff to understand the medical basis for the exemption, its necessary length and contact information for the healthcare provider. Decker Student Health Services medical staff will review exemption requests in the same manner as it considers requests for medical exemptions from MMR immunization requirements.

Religious Exemptions

Students who hold genuine and sincere religious beliefs that are contrary to COVID-19 vaccination may petition for exemption from the vaccination requirement by submitting a written statement to that effect through the Decker Student Health Services Health Portal. Such a statement should explain how receiving the COVID-19 vaccination conflicts with the student’s sincere religious belief or practice. Decker Student Health Services medical staff will review all exemption requests, as they do for MMR immunization exemption requests.

Students requesting medical or religious exemptions from the University should first consult with their academic program dean/director/principal investigator to confirm that the failure to be vaccinated does not prevent the student from otherwise fulfilling the programmatic or curricular requirements of their academic program.

Students granted a medical or religious exemption will be subjected to certain restrictions and COVID-19 testing responsibilities as set forth in this policy.

Vaccination Requirement – On-Campus Students

Binghamton University is requiring all students living in campus-operated residence halls to be fully vaccinated prior to occupancy for the fall 2021 term, with limited medical and religious exemptions only as specified below and independent of the FDA approval process. For the purposes of this guidance, people are considered fully vaccinated for COVID-19 more than two weeks after they have received the second dose in a two-dose series (e.g., Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna), or more than two weeks after they have received a single-dose vaccine (Johnson & Johnson/Janssen). Subject to final NYS guidance, COVID-19 vaccines recognized by the World Health Organization (WHO) may now be accepted for purposes of determining vaccine status.

Binghamton will further require all students accessing residence hall dining facilities to be fully vaccinated. All students living on campus and exempt from being vaccinated must use take-out dining in the resident dining halls.

Medical and Religious Exemptions

Students intending to live in campus residence halls who wish to request an exemption from the vaccination requirement must submit a petition for exemption to Decker Student Health Services no later than Friday, July 23, 2021. The procedures for submitting exemption petitions are set forth in the Decker Student Health Services COVID-19 Vaccination Compliance and Exemption Process.

Obligations of Residential Students Exempted from Vaccination Requirement

Students who are granted an exemption from the SARS-CoV-2 vaccine requirement are subject to special obligations to enable them to remain on campus. Such students are required to:

  1. Provide proof of a negative COVID-19 test taken within 72 hours of the student’s move-in date or quarantine for 10 days upon arrival on campus, and have a negative COVID-19 test on the 10th day to be eligible for release.
  2. Comply with mandatory COVID-19 surveillance testing at least once a week.
  3. Maintain six feet of social distancing and wear a mask at all times the student is indoors except:
    • when the student is in their private residential or personal space;
    • when they are eating meals on campus while seated and social distancing is appropriately enforced; or
    • the student is by themself.
Housing Conditions for Residential Students Exempted from Vaccination Requirement

Binghamton University reserves the right to reassign exempted unvaccinated students from their current housing assignment. The purpose of such reassignment would be to avoid placing a mix of vaccinated and unvaccinated students in the same room or suite. If possible, reassigned students would be assigned to space in the same residential community as their current assignment; however, this may not always be possible given that the campus is expected to be at full residential occupancy. An exempted student reassigned to a different residential community and/or room type will be charged the lower of the two housing rates between the two assignments.

Unvaccinated individuals with an approved exemption from the vaccination requirement may request to remain in their assigned housing and share a room with their roommates and/or suitemates by gaining written consent from all roommates/suitemates. Unvaccinated students must initiate the process by disclosing their vaccination exemption status to their roommates/suitemates. Once written consent has been acquired in writing from all parties, they should provide these to Residential Life at reslife@binghamton.edu within five business days of notification that their exemption has been approved. 

Housing Cancellation for Unvaccinated Students

Students unwilling to comply with the vaccination requirement for on-campus housing may petition to cancel housing on or before Friday, July 23, 2021. Students who petition for medical or religious exemption who are denied such exemption must request housing cancellation within three business days of notification that their exemption has been denied. Students who fail to meet these deadlines will be subject to housing charges for the fall 2021 semester but are only permitted to occupy their space if they are fully vaccinated prior to occupancy.

Surveillance testing responsibility/consequences of non-compliance

Students living on campus and granted medical or religious exemptions from the vaccination requirement must participate in COVID-19 surveillance testing at least once a week at the University COVID-19 Testing Center in Room 111 of the University Union. It is the responsibility of the student to schedule and complete testing each week as long as they remain unvaccinated or are not yet fully vaccinated (less than two weeks post-completion of vaccination or vaccination series) and the Testing Center continues to operate. Students will be granted one warning for failure to comply. Upon a second missed test, the student will be subject to the Student Conduct process and possible removal from University housing.

Vaccination Requirement – Off-Campus Students

This policy requires all Binghamton students who access campus facilities in person to receive a COVID-19 vaccination beginning before the start of the fall 2021 term, with limited exceptions. While this requirement will not take full effect until at least one COVID-19 vaccination receives full FDA approval, all students are advised that Binghamton will require full compliance with this general policy requiring student vaccinations at the earliest possible date following full FDA approval. Pending FDA full approval, the following guidelines shall apply to all off-campus students having any on-campus presence.

Students are strongly encouraged to submit proof of vaccination in accordance with the Decker Student Health Services COVID-19 Vaccination Compliance and Exemption Process prior to arriving on campus for the fall 2021 academic term. Students submitting proof of vaccination are further encouraged to submit such proof by July 23, 2021, to ensure Binghamton can confirm their vaccination status prior to the start of the term.

Obligations of Unvaccinated/Vaccination Status Unknown Students

Students who do not submit proof of vaccination or who are granted an exemption from the vaccination requirement in accordance with these guidelines are subject to special obligations to enable them to have a physical presence on campus. Such students are required to:

  1. Provide proof of a negative COVID-19 test taken within 72 hours of the first day of classes or quarantine for 10 days prior to the first day of class and have a negative COVID-19 test on the 10th day to be eligible for release
  2. Comply with mandatory COVID-19 surveillance testing at least once a week.
  3. Maintain six feet of social distancing and wear a mask at all times the student is indoors on campus except when they are eating meals on campus while seated and social distancing is appropriately enforced, or the student is by themselves. On-campus dining is restricted to take-out only in resident dining halls for non-vaccinated students.
  4. Comply with all additional restrictions applying to campus instructional, work and research spaces as set forth in these guidelines.
  5. Off-campus students who fail to meet weekly testing obligations or otherwise fail to comply with these requirements and obligations will be granted one warning. Thereafter, non-compliant students will be referred to the Office of Student Conduct. Those found responsible for violations of these requirements are subject to separation from the campus for the balance of the fall 2021 semester.
Medical and Religious Exemptions

Off-campus residing students who wish to request an exemption from the vaccination requirement must submit a petition for exemption to Decker Student Health Services no later than Friday, July 23, 2021. The procedures for submitting exemption petitions are set forth in the Decker Student Health Services COVID-19 Vaccination Compliance and Exemption Process.

International Students 

The CDC and New York State Department of Health have recommended that completing a WHO-approved vaccine series is acceptable as proof of being fully vaccinated. 

The current list of WHO-approved vaccines is available online. A vaccine is approved if "Finalized" appears in the column called "Status of Assessment."

All health information requirements must be presented in English or accompanied by a translation. Students who require the translation of documents can use one of the many translation services available on the internet. 

Vaccination Requirement - Special Programs and Services

Campus Recreation: Depending upon vaccination rates of students and employees, Campus Recreation may require proof of vaccination to enter indoor recreation spaces and may limit participation in certain programs and access to indoor recreation spaces to fully vaccinated patrons only. Potentially restricted programs and spaces are intramurals, club sports, the East Gym pool, Fitspace, East Gym locker rooms and East Gym multipurpose spaces. The campus will issue further guidance once there is a fuller understanding of the campus vaccination rate.

Special Guidelines for Instructional and Research Environments

It is the responsibility of students who are not fully vaccinated to wear a mask in all learning spaces. 

Students entering lab spaces are required to follow the campus COVID safety guidelines. Those who are vaccinated are not required to wear a facial covering unless it is a requirement of the lab due to the research being conducted. Students who are not fully vaccinated are to wear facial coverings and maintain social distancing in labs at all times. The Principal Investigator in charge of the lab space(s) will ensure all safety requirements are followed and may impose additional safety measures for all (vaccinated and unvaccinated) who enter the lab space(s) at their discretion.  

Monitoring of Campus / Community Infection and Vaccination Measures

According to the CDC, multiple factors should be considered for managing environments where 100% of the population is not fully vaccinated. Ideally, consideration would be given to both the direct campus population as well as the surrounding community. The primary factors to consider include: (1) level of community transmission of COVID-19; (2) COVID-19 vaccination coverage, including among students, faculty and staff; (3) implementation of a robust, frequent SARS-CoV-2 screening testing program with high participation from the unvaccinated campus population; and (4) any local COVID-19 outbreaks or increasing trends.

Therefore, the following guidance applies:

  • Vaccinated individuals: Fully vaccinated individuals are not required to wear a mask or socially distance on campus. Pursuant to CDC guidance, nothing herein prohibits fully vaccinated individuals from continuing the use of masks.
  • Unvaccinated or partially vaccinated individuals: Individuals who are not vaccinated or fully vaccinated are responsible for continuing to wear masks on campus and should, where practicable, continue to observe social distancing in indoor settings, such as instructional space (e.g., classrooms, laboratories, studios).
  • Campus discretion: Campuses may impose additional mask-wearing requirements and additional terms or restrictions within the instructional setting (e.g., no eating or drinking) above and beyond the CDC guidance. If so, the campus must work with campus stakeholders in the development of any additional changes and broadly communicate the policy to the entire college community.
  • Special consideration: Pursuant to the CDC, “A person with a disability who cannot wear a mask, or cannot safely wear a mask, because of a disability as defined by the Americans with Disabilities Act (42 U.S.C. 12101 et seq.)” may submit a request to the campus for consideration of an exemption from mask-wearing based on a medical accommodation, regardless of vaccination status.
  • Community transmission: Additional requirements may be imposed by the campus or System Administration based upon the increasing COVID-19 transmission rates on campus.

Diagnostic Testing and Surveillance Testing

On-campus and off-campus residing students who have any symptoms of COVID-19 should contact the Decker Student Health Services Center (DSHSC) during the first day they are ill, even if symptoms are mild. This applies to vaccinated and unvaccinated students. These students can be tested on campus, free of charge, at the DSHSC. They should isolate until tested. Because DSHSC only performs diagnostic testing, it is critical that only students with symptoms, or students who have been told by the Health Department that they have been exposed to COVID-19, request a test through the DSHSC.

Symptomatic students will receive a rapid molecular (PCR) test, which is a nasal (short) swab test. Any individual who tests positive, whether vaccinated or unvaccinated, will be required to isolate for 10 days. Specific details on isolation can be found below.

Likewise, symptomatic employees should not report to work, and should seek testing through their primary care provider or another testing resource in the community. Isolation is required until an appropriate medical evaluation has been completed.

Mandatory surveillance testing at least once a week will continue to be required for any person who has a physical presence on campus and who has not been fully vaccinated or who has not shown proof of vaccination. Fully vaccinated students and employees (including auxiliary workers and vendors with a regular on-campus presence) may opt out of mandatory weekly testing upon the submission of documentation showing completion of a full vaccination series (definition subject to change based on final recommendations from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and CDC on booster shots). Students can submit their documentation via the secure portal through Decker Student Health Services Center and employees can submit their documentation to Sara DeClemente-Hammoud in Human Resources at declemen@binghamton.edu. The campus may decide to require more frequent surveillance testing of all individuals, regardless of vaccination status, upon consultation with the local health department in response to changes in community health and infection rates.

Isolation and Quarantine Responsibilities

Symptomatic students are expected to isolate until their test results are known, at which time they will be instructed on next steps. Students living on campus who test positive are required to isolate either at home or in designated spaces on campus, following all instructions and guidelines issued by the University and Broome County Health Department until they are cleared to resume usual activities. COVID-19 positive individuals will be required to isolate for 10 days.

Off-campus students testing positive will isolate either at home or in their off-campus residence for the 10-day period.

Vaccinated individuals exposed to COVID-19 positive individuals do not need to quarantine as long as they remain asymptomatic. These individuals should self-monitor for symptoms over the next 14 days, with appropriate follow up should symptoms develop.

Unvaccinated individuals with recent COVID-19 exposure must quarantine for 10 days or may leave quarantine after day seven, following receipt of a negative test result (test must occur on day five or later).

These individuals should self-monitor for symptoms over the next 14 days. If symptoms develop, self-isolation should occur with prompt follow-up with the local public health authority or a healthcare provider. Individuals who find themselves in this circumstance should wear a mask and remain socially distanced until medical evaluation and follow-up instruction has been provided.


Employee Guidance

The New York State Department of Health and the Governor's Office of Employee Relations have provided the following guidance:

New York State Department of Health

REVISED GUIDANCE FOR STATE AGENCIES AND AUTHORITIES DURING THE COVID-19 PUBLIC HEALTH EMERGENCY

As of June 18, 2021

Purpose

This Revised Guidance for State Agencies and Authorities during the COVID 19 Public Health Emergency was created to provide State agencies and authorities and their leaders, managers, employees contractors, vendors and the public with the appropriate health precautions as restrictions on public and private sector activities are lifted given New York’s significant progress in COVID 19 vaccinations and decline in new COVID 19 cases. Specifically, this revised guidance provides provisions that each agency and authority employee must follow as they return to normal operations and activities.

This revised guidance represents the minimum requirements necessary to operate in a manner that is consistent with the current public health situation but should not be considered exhaustive. State agencies and authorities may have different operational needs that require other protocols or policies to address their specific workplace and nature of work, particularly agencies that are involved in public transit, direct care/social services, corrections and detention, and health care delivery consistent with current federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines. State agencies involved in those activities must consult their respective Deputy Secretary for additional guidance.

Provisions

  • Capacity – State agency or authority workplace capacity is only limited by the space available for individuals to maintain social distancing based on vaccination status. For fully vaccinated individuals, no social distancing is required.At this time, agencies shall not require proof of vaccination status from employees. However, all employees must affirm below that they have read this guidance, understand its provisions, and will adhere to its requirements. Pursuant to the Governor’s Office of Employee Relations (GOER) memorandum, “State Agency In-Person Presence & Telecommuting Program,” issued June 18, 2021, a copy of all employee affirmations must be kept on file with each agency’s human resources (HR) office by July 9, 2021, or no later than three (3) business days after an employee returns to in-person work.
  • Distancing – Fully vaccinated individuals do not need to be socially distanced and unvaccinated/unknown vaccination status individuals need to maintain six feet of social distance, in accordance with federal CDC guidelines. In lieu of six feet of social distance, appropriate physical barriers may be used so long as they do not present a health or safety hazard.
  • Masks – Fully vaccinated individuals do not need to wear masks and unvaccinated/unknown vaccination status individuals need to wear masks, in accordance with federal CDC guidelines. Unvaccinated/unknown vaccination status individuals may remove their mask indoors while socially distanced, seated, and eating/drinking or while working at their workstation. Unvaccinated/unknown may remove their mask outdoors unless they are in a gathering or crowded event where they are unable to maintain six feet of social distancing.
  • Hand Hygiene – State agencies and authorities must provide hand hygiene stations or supplies within workplaces for individuals to use; specifically, hand washing, such as soap, running water or disposable towels or hand sanitizing, such as alcohol-based sanitizer with 60 percent or more alcohol where hand washing may not be available or practical.
  • Cleaning and Disinfection – State agencies and authorities must clean and disinfect high-touch surfaces at least once a day, such as common areas and shared workstations, and regularly clean and disinfect other surfaces as necessary given the level of traffic and type of individuals who use the space and general risk of community transmission of COVID-19.
  • Communication – State agencies and authorities must clearly communicate to individuals through signage, markers, or other applicable methods the health precautions that are in effect within the specific workplace setting based upon these provisions and any other restrictions that the agency or authority may choose to implement, such as capacity limits, social distancing, or masks.
  • Ventilation and Air Filtration – State agencies and authorities should increase outdoor airflow and ventilation rates in indoor settings to the extent compatible with individual comfort and safety and in accordance with building codes and standards, as well as applicable lease, contract, or other use agreement requirements; in indoor areas where air is recirculated, should consider higher rated filtration within HVAC systems as supported by the filter rack and air handling system so long as the system can perform to the level of heating and cooling that it was able to provide prior to the COVID-19 public health emergency; and consider other appropriate indoor air quality measures, such as portable fans, filters, and air cleaners.
  • Health Screening – State agencies and authorities may continue to health screen individuals for (1) COVID-19 symptoms, (2) recent close contacts, and (3) recent positive COVID-19 test result, prior to, or immediately upon, arrival to the workplace, regardless of individual vaccination status. Screening may be performed via signage, by e-mail/website, by telephone, or by electronic survey before individuals arrive to work. Temperature checks are no longer required as a part of health screening.
  • Contact Information – While not required by this guidance, State agencies may consider implementing ways to collect contact information for contractors, vendors, and visitors before or upon entering the agency workplace, providing their name, address, and phone number or e-mail address for use in potential contact tracing efforts. Information may be collected through any means, including but not limited to a digital application or paper form. Information should be maintained for a minimum period of 28 days and made available to state or local health departments upon request.

From the Governor's Office of Employee Relations

Consistent with Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s June 15, 2021 announcement that the state’s
COVID-19 restrictions for most commercial and social settings were lifted as 70% of adult New Yorkers had received the first dose of the COVID-19 vaccination, the Governor's Office of Employee Relations (GOER) issued a memorandum to provide updated guidance to all state agencies and authorities on in-person work and telecommuting.

In accordance with the memorandum, Binghamton University has been returning employees to work on campus at an increased frequency, and reminds everyone that, as of Aug. 1, all staff will be back to campus for full-time, on-campus work. Requests for a reasonable accommodation based on a specific individual health situation or disability should be directed to Human Resources. 

The following information comes directly from the GOER memorandum:

July 2, 2021 through September 7, 2021

  • Agencies and authorities must work toward returning employees to in-person work at an increased frequency (i.e., ideally, full time, but at a minimum several days per pay period). Increased in-person presence in the workplace will be governed by the attached Revised Guidance for State Agencies and Authorities during the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency.
  • Agencies and authorities will continually implement increased in-person workplace presence, in accordance with the State’s guidance and consistent with their GOER-reviewed agency-specific telecommuting programs.

September 7, 2021 through Remainder of 2021

  • Agencies and authorities will return to pre-pandemic, in-person workplace presence with limited exceptions that are consistent with their GOER-reviewed specific telecommuting program.
    • COVID-19 specific accommodations for employees (e.g., child or elder care) are expected to be removed from specific telecommuting programs following appropriate notice and engagement with affected employees. Reasonable accommodations will still be in effect, pursuant to ADA/HRLs.

Agencies and authorities shall maintain regular co ntact with their respective union representatives to keep them apprised of plans to increase frequency of in person work, as well as to evaluate and address concerns that are raised. This contact includes briefing union representatives on any ongoing or up dated health protocols that your agency or authority adopts consistent with the Revised Guidance for State Agencies and Authorities during the COVID 19 Public Health Emergency

As employees return to the workplace on a more frequent basis, agencies and authorities must remain mindful of keeping employees safe, in accordance with the revised guidance, and update any safety plans as needed, as well as any contractual requirements regarding schedule changes, split schedules, or alternative work schedules, in cluding any applicable hardship provisions, of the various collective bargaining agreements.

As agencies and authorities increasingly return employees to the workplace, they should also be aware of the following resource information for employees as it pertains to childcare. Information on childcare opportunities, which is not exhaustive, is available through the Office of Children and Families website at https://ocfs.ny.gov/programs/childcare/looking/. For those employees who work close to one, there are multiple NewYork State Network Child Care Centers, supported by the State and our publice mployee unions. A list of those centers is available at https://goer.ny.gov/system/files/documents/2021/01/network-child-care-center-flyer-12.21-accessible.pdf.

For additional information regarding increasing in-person workplace presence for your employees, contact your GOER representative or your Office of Human Resources. Thank you.