December 9, 2021
I am writing with updates related to COVID-19.
First, we continued testing extensively yesterday. Many of you were caught in the testing back up. As you know, staffing shortages in Dutchess County and the country overall limit the number of people we have to conduct the testing, and I am so sorry that we too have been affected. I am also so very grateful to Health Services for doing everything they can to meet these challenges. Testing will continue to be available this week both today and tomorrow as well as next week on Tuesday and Friday from 1:00 - 4:30 pm at the Aula.
Second, fewer people tested positive yesterday than on Tuesday. We are hopeful that with continued attention to masking and distancing, we will soon see new cases level off. Thankfully, as concerning as all this is, symptoms continue to be largely mild. Please get tested if you have any symptoms.
Third, we have an update on Vassar’s vaccination policy. Due to the increased transmissibility of COVID-19 variants and the recommendations of the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), we will require all students and employees, including faculty, to receive a COVID-19 booster by January 17 or within thirty days of becoming eligible in accordance with CDC guidelines–whichever is later.
When we instituted our universal COVID-19 vaccine policy in August, we noted that it might become necessary for all students and employees to receive a booster. In accordance with the CDC’s latest guidance that everyone aged 18 years and older should get a booster, we are exercising this requirement as the most effective way to stop the spread of COVID-19 and allow campus activities to proceed safely in person.
All students and employees including faculty who are eligible must receive their booster by January 17, 2022. Anyone who is not eligible (e.g., for whom it has been less than six months since their second dose of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine or less than two months since their Johnson & Johnson vaccine) will have 30 days after becoming eligible to fulfill the vaccination booster requirement. Booster shots are free and widely available, including at many pharmacies; the CDC's COVID-19 vaccine site has information on how to find a COVID-19 booster provider. The same religious and medical exemptions apply to the booster that applied to the original vaccination.
To upload booster information, students upload into Medicat here. On a rolling basis, Human Resources (HR) will notify employees (including faculty) via email at least two weeks in advance of eligibility, and HR will provide instructions for uploading booster information at that time. If you have questions about how this policy may affect you, reach out to Dean Alamo (students), Dean Hoynes (faculty), or Human Resources (non-faculty employees).
I understand that this is a stressful time for us all. Please make time to take care of your physical and mental health and take care of each other. Know that many resources and friends are here to support you. Getting your booster shot is crucial to the safety of our community and your well-being.
After enjoying a successful Fall Semester, this is an important step in helping ensure we have a healthy and safe campus for the Spring Semester. Please be on the lookout for additional communications regarding the return from winter break. Thank you all for your dedication and hard work this semester.
In the meantime, enjoy your time off with friends and family in the coming weeks.
Elizabeth H. Bradley, President
Poughkeepsie, NY 12604