Navigating COVID

Dear Students, Families, Faculty and Staff:

This weekend, many of our students will begin arriving on campus for the start of a new semester. Even before move-in begins, our community has already achieved a significant milestone. In April, I asked that everyone on our campus be vaccinated by June 1 for summer sessions, and before the start of the 2021 academic year for all others. As of today, more than 96% of our students, faculty and staff are fully or partially vaccinated or have received a medical or religious exemption. Syracuse University is one of the most vaccinated universities in the country. I am proud of how our community continues to follow the science in fighting COVID. The science tells us that while some vaccinated individuals may get COVID, their symptoms are far less severe, and hospitalizations are rare.

This is a positive way to begin this academic year. Over the summer, our faculty and staff have been working to ensure the University is prepared for a robust in-person learning experience for all of our residential students. Our campus is ready. Our people are ready. Our students are ready.

Still, conditions remain fluid with variants and other factors that we can’t control. Last year, public health guidance and conditions in Central New York changed less frequently than we expect this fall. For the foreseeable future, we anticipate the public health landscape may change often. With guidance from the Syracuse University Public Health Team and public health officials from Onondaga County and New York State, the University is constantly monitoring conditions. As we have done from the beginning of the pandemic, I, along with other University leaders, will continue to make decisions based on data, science and public health guidance. These decisions may not always be popular nor will they please everyone. But I assure you that our decisions and actions will always prioritize the health and well-being of our students, faculty, staff, neighbors and our Central New York community.

We will not come out of COVID overnight. However, the University is returning to more pre-pandemic operations inside and outside the classroom, especially related to in-person experiences. This semester will require all of us to get comfortable with changing policies and advice. This will require all of us to be nimble, flexible and patient with one another. As we all navigate these changes together, the University is committed to timely and transparent communication with our community, so you know what is happening and what to expect.

In the meantime, please continue to embody all the things that make being Orange special. Show each other grace, kindness and compassion. Treat others with respect. And lend a hand when you see someone in need. Our community did this last year under the most difficult circumstances; I have no doubt we will be successful again.

Let’s continue to persevere and show the world what it means to be Orange in the semester ahead.


Chancellor Kent Syverud