COVID-19 Update: Answering Your Frequently Asked Questions

Dear Students, Faculty, Staff and Families:

Over the last several weeks, the University has provided a lot of information about return to campus, including related to move-in, testing, quarantining, campus life, etc. We recognize that all this information can be overwhelming. And so today, instead of providing new information, I am going to use this message to provide answers to some of the most frequently asked questions my colleagues and I have received from students, parents, faculty and staff over the past few weeks. The questions have come to us directly via email from members of our community, and from student/family Zoom sessions we have hosted over the past few days.

In addition, please know that we are updating daily, including a page that is solely dedicated to answering your questions. As I have done since the beginning of our COVID-related communications, this message is organized based on constituency group, in the following order:

  • Campus Community
  • Students and Families
  • Faculty and Staff

Campus Community

Last semester, classes and activities were held outside to accommodate social distancing. With winter here and the ground covered by snow, what steps are being taken by the University to create space for academic and social activities?

We have worked very hard over the break to create new, indoor gathering spaces that can be utilized by students and staff throughout the winter months. First, the transformed Schine Student Center will reopen on Feb. 8, providing significant space for studying, gathering and social activities. Additionally, the University is finalizing a plan to leverage spaces throughout the Syracuse University stadium for classes, extracurricular activities and social events. We will share more on this plan in the weeks ahead.

Do students, faculty and staff who were previously diagnosed with COVID-19 and are now recovered (prior positive) need to wear masks when they return to campus?

Yes. All members of our community are required to wear a mask or face covering when on our campus. There are no exceptions based on prior COVID positive status.

Who is eligible for the COVID vaccine in Onondaga County?

Consistent with phase 1A/1B of the New York State Department of Health’s vaccination plan, the Onondaga County Health Department is managing and administering vaccine distribution. At this time, the following groups eligible to receive the vaccine include:

  • individuals 65 or older;
  • instructors teaching in-person classes in the spring (including graduate student instructors);
  • clinical staff in the Barnes Center;
  • staff employed at the Early Education Child Care Center;
  • staff with the Department of Public Safety;
  • staff performing responsibilities specific to fire and life safety;
  • medical transport staff and SU Ambulance;
  • staff in Parking and Transit Services;
  • Syracuse University COVID Testing and Response staff; and
  • student teachers and supervisors assigned to teach in a local school district during the spring semester.

Individuals under the age of 65 who are not teaching in person this semester, or who do not meet one of the above requirements, are not yet eligible to receive the vaccine. To register for a vaccination appointment through Onondaga County or New York State, please visit the Onondaga County vaccine website to learn more.

Students and Families

Do all students have to be tested prior to returning to campus?

Yes. To protect the health and safety of our campus and community, all students must participate in pre-arrival testing. Students may not move into campus housing without a negative pre-arrival test and students who live in off-campus housing cannot access campus (including classrooms, libraries and fitness centers) without a negative pre-arrival test. Be advised that the pre-arrival testing requirements vary based on the origin of your travel to New York State. Specifically, if you are traveling to New York State from a location subject to the New York State COVID-19 travel advisory, please be sure to review and comply with the pre-arrival testing requirements prescribed by the New York State Department of Health.

Do students who were previously diagnosed with COVID-19 and are now recovered (prior positive) have to receive a COVID test before returning to campus?

The answer to this question depends on the origin of your travel to New York State. Specifically:

  1. For students returning to campus from within New York State or from a contiguous state (New Jersey, Massachusetts, Vermont, Pennsylvania or Connecticut): If you have tested positive for COVID-19 within 90 days, you satisfy the University’s pre-arrival testing requirement by submitting documentation of your prior positive result via the Student Patient Portal.
  2. For students returning to campus from a non-contiguous state or from outside the U.S., you are subject to the pre-arrival testing requirements detailed in the New York State COVID-19 travel advisory. New York State requires all travelers from non-contiguous states and international locations, including those who have tested positive for COVID-19 within 90 days, be tested within three days of arrival in New York State. If you have recently tested positive, please contact the Barnes Center at if you have questions about your compliance with this requirement or need additional guidance.

I got a COVID-19 test within three days of my arrival in New York State, but I haven’t received the result. What should I do?

  • You should come to campus for your scheduled check-in and present documentation that you have taken a pre-arrival test, administered within three days of your arrival in New York State.
  • When you arrive at the check-in center, you will provide a saliva sample.
  • If your check-in is before noon on Jan. 30 and 31, your move-in will be delayed until approximately 5 p.m., pending a negative saliva polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test result.
  • If your check-in is after noon on Jan. 30 or 31, your move-in will be deferred overnight. You will be referred to University-provided temporary housing overnight until your negative saliva PCR test result is received.
  • Once moved in, you will join the required travel quarantine.

I am subject to the New York State travel advisory and tried everything and I couldn’t get a test before I came to New York. What do I do?

  • When you arrive at check-in you will provide a saliva sample for a PCR test. However, you will not be cleared to move in or begin quarantine on campus.
  • Because you traveled to New York State without documentation of a pre-travel test, you will be required to quarantine at an off-campus location for a mandatory period of 10 days. The University is unable to waive this requirement, as the New York State Department of Health mandates a 10-day quarantine for anyone who travels to the state without documentation of a pending pre-arrival test.
  • During this period, you must abide by New York State’s precautionary quarantine requirements.
  • You will be provided a list of local hotels with pre-negotiated rates, where you may complete your 10-day quarantine at your expense.
  • Upon completion of a 10-day quarantine and a negative saliva PCR test result from the University, you may move into your residence hall.

Do all students have to quarantine when returning to campus?

No. New York State requires a mandatory quarantine period for any individuals traveling from non-contiguous states or international locations. Students from New York or a contiguous state (New Jersey, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania or Vermont) are exempt from quarantine under the New York State travel advisory.

For individuals traveling from international locations or non-contiguous states, how long is the required quarantine?

The duration of the quarantine period is four days. Individuals can conclude their quarantine on the fourth day upon receiving a negative COVID test result. For those completing their quarantine on campus, Syracuse University will provide testing on the fourth day of the quarantine period.

Can students from non-contiguous states or international locations who live on campus quarantine in a dorm room or an on-campus apartment?

Yes. In coordination with local public health authorities, the University is hosting an on-campus quarantine for students impacted by the New York travel advisory.

  • These students will arrive on Jan. 30/31 and begin quarantine in their on-campus housing as soon as all check-in requirements have been met.
  • On Feb. 3, all quarantined students will be tested again at the Stadium Testing Center.
  • Upon receiving a negative test result, they will be released from quarantine on Feb. 4.
  • During the quarantine period, students will generally be restricted to their residence halls, and asked to abide by strict social distancing protocols. Students will be allowed outside for exercise and for grab-and-go food service, under limited and controlled circumstances. Additional quarantine details will be provided at check-in.

Can students who live off campus quarantine in their residence?

Students living off campus and subject to the New York State travel advisory must comply with the mandatory quarantine requirement upon arrival in New York State. Specifically:

  • Upon arrival to New York State, off-campus students will need to quarantine in their off-campus residence for four days. Please refer to the New York State travel advisory for quarantine requirements.
  • On the fourth day, these students can visit the Stadium Testing Center, where the University will provide the testing required by New York State, to allow students to exit quarantine status.
  • Upon receiving a negative test result, students may exit quarantine.
  • Please note, students will not have access to campus facilities (beyond the Stadium Testing Center and the Barnes Center Health Care facility) prior to exiting quarantine status.

When can students move into the residence halls and South Campus apartments?

  • For students arriving on campus from non-contiguous states or from international locations, move-in dates are Jan. 30-31, 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Students must register for a designated move-in time on the MySlice Housing Portal. This group of students is moving in first to allow for on-campus quarantining.
  •  For students arriving on campus from New York or a contiguous state (New Jersey, Massachusetts, Vermont, Pennsylvania or Connecticut), move-in dates are Feb. 5, noon to 8 p.m., and Feb. 6-7, 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Students must register for a designated move-in time on the MySlice Housing Portal.

Are students facing financial hardship as a result of the pandemic eligible for any kind of financial support from the University?

If you are experiencing financial hardship, support and assistance may be available. Please review the information about emergency funding and complete the financial appeal for U.S. citizens/permanent residents or financial appeal for international students to apply. These requests will be reviewed quickly and based on financial need or hardship.

Faculty and Staff

How do faculty who are eligible for the COVID vaccine prove eligibility?

To support eligible instructors to access a COVID vaccine, the University has established the following process in consultation with the Onondaga County Health Department.

  • All eligible instructors (those teaching in person during the spring) are required to schedule an appointment through the county website.
  • If you are 65 or older, no additional verification is required. Bring your valid identification card to your appointment.
  • Individuals under the age of 65 who are eligible because they are teaching in person this semester should follow these steps:
    • Once you secure an appointment and receive your confirmation email from Onondaga County or New York State, forward that confirmation email to Human Resources at
    •  Human Resources will then reply to you with a letter confirming you are a University employee and are teaching in person this semester.
    • You must print this letter and bring it with you to your confirmed vaccination appointment. You will be asked to present a physical copy of this letter upon arrival.

Can faculty and staff get tested as needed?

Faculty and staff may be tested at the Stadium Testing Center at their convenience; no appointment is necessary. Faculty and staff can also find one of the many testing sites in Onondaga County that is most convenient for them by visiting the New York State COVID-19 Test Site Finder. The faculty and staff health plan covers COVID-19 testing conducted at other testing sites.

Can my family get tested on campus?

Yes, family members or loved ones who reside in the same household as a Syracuse University employee are eligible for testing at the Stadium Testing Center. Learn more.

What do I do if a student in my class or someone who reports to me tells me that they have been exposed to or tested positive for COVID-19?

We’ve developed step-by-step checklists for employees, supervisors, students, faculty and staff that walk you through exactly what to do in these cases. You can review and download these checklists on the Stay Safe site.

I hope you find this information helpful. You will continue to receive these updates from me and other University leaders as we continue to work toward our return to campus.


J. Michael Haynie
Vice Chancellor for Strategic Initiatives and Innovation