Updated COVID-19 Protocols

September 15, 2021

Dear All,

I am writing with updates after we have re-evaluated our various COVID-19 protocols.

We have crafted these guidelines based on guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), as well as current federal, state, and local public health guidelines. Equally important, we continue to be in constant discussions with public health professionals who know our campus and area well, including the number and pattern of COVID-19 cases on campus and the prevalence of COVID-19 throughout Dutchess County.

Finally, our updates are consistent with the College plan for fulfilling the NY HERO Act, state regulations governing employee health and safety protocols that were activated by the Governor last week.

Our approach is designed to protect the community from COVID-19 while simultaneously promoting health holistically including physical, emotional, and social health—as well as the ability to pursue our mission of providing the highest quality liberal arts education in a diverse and inclusive setting.

Currently, about 2% of the students and employees including faculty have an exemption from vaccination for medical or religious reasons. Of the remaining people who can be vaccinated, 97% are now fully vaccinated, and just about 100% are expected to be fully vaccinated within two weeks.

Nevertheless, given that Dutchess County is rated as having “high” prevalence by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Governor has activated the NY Hero Act, we will continue to be cautious and use evidence-based precautions. We will also continue to re-evaluate our policies regularly based on current epidemiologic evidence and public health guidance; you can find current policies at the VassarTogether website.

Testing Availability on Campus and Contact Tracing

Westchester Medical Center will set up testing at the Aula twice per week (Tuesdays and Fridays 1-5pm), beginning September 24. This testing (which is by appointment or walk in) will be available for students and employees, including faculty, who are contacted by Health Services and recommended for testing. In addition, the Aula is available for students and employees, including faculty who wish to be tested optionally.  Please note that the CDC does not recommend routine testing for asymptomatic, fully vaccinated people.  Please see this FAQ for information on contact tracing and how to access testing on campus.

Students who are symptomatic or who are unvaccinated close contacts should continue to test through Health Services by calling 845-437-5800.

Masking for Students and Employees, including Faculty

  • Students and faculty must continue to mask in classes. 
  • Employees including faculty must continue to wear masks indoors unless working alone and physical distance when possible. This is consistent with the NY HERO Act, now activated by the Governor of New York State. 
  • If you are not feeling well, wear a mask at all times, and get tested.
  • Students in dormitories who are vaccinated may be in groups of up to six people without masks while stationary if all students in the group are in agreement about unmasking. If moving around or singing together inside, all students must be masked.

Daily Health Attestation for Employees, including Faculty

As required by the NY HERO Act, employees will be required to complete a daily health assessment as was done last year.  All employees including faculty will receive an email daily to prompt the health attestation. Please complete it every day you receive this prompt.

Invited Events

Invited events are allowed, with the following guidance:

  • For all events (indoor or outdoor), the host must make clear in the invitation that vaccination or evidence of a negative PCR COVID-19 test taken within three days of the event or negative rapid antigen test the day of the event is required for speakers and the audience.
  • Events should be hosted outdoors whenever possible, and masks are not required for outdoor events.
  • Events hosted indoors should be limited to the seating capacity of the room, and masks are required for everyone at all times except when eating a meal. Guests may remove masks only when seated for a meal.

We remain in a global pandemic, which requires of each of us understanding, patience, and collective compassion for each other and our world. We at Vassar aspire to build a community of care.  Let us reinvest in the value Vassar lived by last year and I hope may become embedded in our community: “We precedes me.” Please keep this idea close, and I am sure we can live, work, learn, and play together in a healthy and safe community. 

Review the FAQ on Testing, Contact Tracing, and Information about Close Contacts document.

Elizabeth H. Bradley, President
Poughkeepsie, NY 12604