COVID-19 Update: Monitoring the New Variant, Taking New Action

Dear Students, Families, Faculty and Staff:

As we return from Thanksgiving break and prepare for the final days of the semester, the University’s Public Health Team remains focused on the health and wellness of our campus community and neighbors.

Over the holiday, news spread of a newly identified COVID variant, the impact of which is currently being studied across the globe. Syracuse University continues to closely monitor campus and local public health conditions, including issues and concerns related to this new variant. As we have from the onset of the pandemic, our public health experts are regularly assessing the landscape and recommending new action as appropriate to safeguard the well-being of our students, faculty, staff, visitors and neighbors.

Prior to the Thanksgiving holiday, despite the University’s very low level of COVID transmission and infection within our campus community, the Public Health Team considered several scenarios to support a safe return to campus. With that scenario planning in mind, today the University implemented several proactive actions to identify and respond to any changes in COVID transmission levels on campus attributable to the holiday break. Those actions include:

·       Beginning this week, conducting enhanced wastewater testing of our on-campus residence halls and select other buildings.

·       Expanding the percentage of the campus population (in all categories, including students, staff and faculty) selected for random testing. This action, combined with enhanced wastewater testing, will give us increased insight into the level of infection in the University community, and, if necessary, inform the best response.

·       Preparing to expand testing capacity if early data suggests a more aggressive community testing protocol is warranted.

·       Remaining at the RED level of the masking framework, which requires wearing masks indoors at all times and outdoors when in the presence of others or in a group.

·       Encouraging community members who have not done so yet to get a COVID booster vaccine.

We will continue to communicate regularly with our community about what our data is showing and what, if any, new actions need to be taken. And, of course, we encourage our community to visit regularly for up-to-date information.

Like all of you, I am looking forward to finishing off this semester strong. I wish you the very best of luck as you prepare for finals and as we wrap up 2021.

J. Michael Haynie
Vice Chancellor for Strategic Initiatives and Innovation