HR News

COVID-19 Update: Vaccination | Testing | Important Reminders | Zoom Sessions

Dear Students, Faculty, Staff and Families:

The start of the spring semester is quickly approaching, and many in our community are working diligently to prepare for the return of our students and to safely resume in-person teaching and learning. We remain on track and ready to resume residential instruction on Feb. 8, subject to any additional local or state public health mandates. As it relates to our public health and safety planning, we have incorporated many lessons learned from our experiences throughout the fall semester—and new science related to COVID-19—into our preparation for the spring. I’m confident that we’re ready to deliver a meaningful academic and student experience, in a way that safeguards the health and well-being of our campus and the Central New York community.

As was the case in the fall semester, you will continue to receive frequent updates from me and other campus leaders. Today’s message addresses some very important information related to return-to-campus procedures, COVID-19 testing and vaccinations, and other important public health information, including:

For Our Community

  • Stadium Testing Center Closed Monday, Jan. 18
  • Spring Semester Testing Program
  • Contact Tracing Expansion
  • Flu Vaccination

For Students and Families

  • Check-In, Testing and Quarantining
  • Informational Zoom Sessions
  • Retrieving Belongings from Campus
  • For Students Who Have Received the COVID-19 Vaccine
  • Financial Support
  • Stay Safe Pledge

For Faculty and Staff

  • COVID-19 Vaccine
  • Dependent Testing

In addition to my ongoing updates, please be sure to bookmark and visit Syracuse.edu/staysafe regularly. There you will find the latest public health guidance, up-to-date frequently asked questions and a host of other pertinent information.

For Our Community

Stadium Testing Center Closed Monday, Jan. 18: In observance of the Martin Luther King Jr. Day holiday, the University’s Stadium Testing Center will be closed on Monday, Jan. 18. The Stadium Testing Center will resume its scheduled hours on Tuesday, Jan. 19: Monday-Friday, 10 a.m.-2 p.m.

Spring Semester Testing Program: Robust surveillance testing will be central to sustaining in-person teaching and learning in the spring and is an important strategy supporting the objective of keeping our campus community safe. While we conducted more than 100,000 COVID-19 surveillance tests last semester, our goal is to double or even triple that level of testing throughout the spring. The more we test, the more likely we are to quickly identify and isolate instances of infection on our campus. For that reason, we will routinely test all members of our campus community throughout the spring, based on surveillance testing developed by our public health professionals.

We will share additional details related to the testing protocol and testing frequency in a future message. However, residential students (undergraduate and graduate) should expect to be tested weekly. Compliance with this weekly testing requirement will be mandatory for all students, and students who do not participate in weekly surveillance should expect to have campus access and technology privileges immediately limited or suspended.

Faculty teaching in-person classes and staff engaging with students should be tested, at a minimum, once every 14 days. Faculty and staff accessing campus, but not routinely engaging students, should visit the Stadium Testing Center and be tested at least once every 30 days. Of course, the Stadium Testing Center will also continue to support on-demand testing for all members of our community, and their dependents, during regularly scheduled hours of operation.

Contact Tracing: Another example of where we are applying lessons learned from the fall semester to enhance our public health response relates to contact tracing. Specifically, we have taken steps over the break to expand our contact tracing program, to include:

  • Hiring four full-time employees to supplement the Barnes Center staff in support of contact tracing administration and coordination.
  • Expanding the current part-time student contact tracing team from 30 to 50.
  • Establishing and growing a contact tracing volunteer program that extends to all staff—essentially creating a “reserve force” of contact tracing volunteers who can be called into service as required. Several of our peer institutions, including Duke University, University of Notre Dame and Virginia Tech, have successfully deployed similar programs.

These enhancements will allow us to identify, trace and isolate potential COVID-19 exposures more efficiently and effectively, ultimately enhancing our ability to quickly undercut potential spread of the virus on our campus.

Get Your Flu Shot: If you haven’t received a flu shot, please do so as soon as possible. The majority of students, faculty and staff have been vaccinated against the flu, but we expect all members of the University community to get a flu shot—a critical way to stay healthy, especially during this pandemic.

Students who have not yet submitted proof of vaccination in the Barnes Center Patient Portal or a medical or religious waiver exemption must get a flu shot to attend in-person classes, participate in on-campus activities and use on-campus facilities. Faculty and staff are asked to complete a Flu Vaccine Status Attestation Questionnaire to confirm they’ve received a vaccine or to document a medical or religious exemption. To learn more, faculty and staff can visit the Wellness Initiative website and students and families can visit the Barnes Center website.

For Students and Families

Campus Check-In, Pre-Arrival Testing and Quarantine Requirements: All students, including those living off-campus, need to follow specific check-in and testing procedures to access campus, including attending in-person classes. There are different procedures for students based on where they reside. For students who live in New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania or Vermont, please review the check-in procedures and pre-arrival testing requirements based on public health guidance for your location. For students who live in any state outside of New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania or Vermont or in an international location, please review the check-in procedures and pre-arrival testing and quarantine requirements based on your location. I encourage students and families to visit our frequently asked questions page, which is updated regularly and can be found at syracuse.edu/staysafe/frequently-asked-questions.

Zoom Sessions for Students and Families: We recognize details and information impacting the return-to-campus process for students can be overwhelming—particularly during the time of COVID-19. To support our students and families, the University will hold a series of virtual information sessions to answer questions regarding the return to campus for the Spring 2021 semester. Like prior to the start of the fall semester, these sessions will feature University leaders and subject matter experts speaking on issues such as testing, quarantine policy, check-in, public health guidance, academic affairs, the student experience, residential life, and student and parent support mechanisms. Sessions will be held on the following dates and times (all times are ET): Jan. 19, 2:30 p.m. and 8 p.m.; Jan. 21, 8 p.m.; and Jan. 25, noon and 8 p.m. Each session will last 75 minutes, and questions can be submitted from students and families via the Q&A feature on Zoom. The link to the Zoom sessions will be posted on Syracuse.edu/staysafe on Monday, Jan. 18. For those unable to participate live, the link to the recorded session will be posted on Syracuse.edu/staysafe and on the University’s campus social media channels, including Facebook and Twitter.

Retrieving Belongings if Not Returning for Spring 2021: Students who have decided to participate in distance learning or take a leave of absence for the Spring 2021 semester, and who still have belongings in their on-campus residence, will have an opportunity to retrieve their possessions prior to the start of the semester.

The University will allow students to return beginning Friday, Jan. 22, and through Sunday, Jan. 24, from 9 a.m.-5 p.m., to retrieve belongings from their on-campus residence. Any student who plans to come to campus to retrieve their belongings should email housing@syr.edu to schedule a time to return to campus. All students and families will need to follow the applicable rules set out in the New York State travel advisory.

For Students Who Have Received the COVID-19 Vaccine: Students who have received the COVID-19 vaccination during winter break should notify the Barnes Center of their vaccination status. Students will be able to upload their vaccination record to the Student Patient Portal. Instructions on how to upload your vaccination record will be posted to the portal soon. Please note, your vaccination status has no bearing on student compliance with pre-arrival testing or quarantine requirements, or compliance with all other public health protocols required to access the Syracuse University campus.

Financial Assistance: The pandemic has imposed immeasurable challenges for many members of our community, including financial hardship. Be advised that there is support and assistance available to our students facing economic hardship. To learn more about resources, please review 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. Decisions are based on financial need and/or hardship. We will do everything we can to ensure our students, regardless of their economic circumstances, return safely to campus to continue their studies.

Affirming the Stay Safe Pledge: All students are expected to re-affirm their commitment to the Stay Safe Pledge before returning to campus. In addition, all students should understand that whether or not they have acknowledged this pledge, failure to comply with the directives may result in a referral to the Office of Student Rights and Responsibilities (OSRR) for violation of the Code of Student Conduct, which governs individual and group behavior on and off campus. Sanctions for violating the pledge may be found on the OSRR website.

For Faculty and Staff

COVID-19 Vaccination Process: Syracuse University has no authority or standing to make eligibility determinations related to the New York State COVID-19 vaccine distribution plan, nor do we have access to a supply of vaccine for distribution. We recognize that many members of our campus community are now eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccination while some have not yet been declared eligible. Please know: The vaccination distribution process is managed and overseen by the New York State Department of Health, and locally administered by the Onondaga County Health Department. Syracuse University does not have any supply of COVID-19 vaccine, and therefore all eligible employees must register for a vaccination appointment through Onondaga County or New York State. Please visit the Onondaga County vaccine website to learn more.

We will continue to keep our community updated with any new information we receive from local and state officials with respect to changes in guidelines and access to vaccines. We will also continue to advocate for expanded access to the vaccine for our most at-risk employees, currently not included in the state’s eligibility guidelines.

Dependent Testing: Last week, we announced that the University has extended the eligibility for voluntary COVID-19 surveillance testing to the family members of our faculty and staff. This step serves to enhance our community’s ongoing efforts to combat the spread of COVID-19, and is consistent with the University’s ongoing commitment to safeguard the health and well-being of our faculty, staff and their loved ones. Here is everything you need to know:

  • Individuals eligible for this testing are family members/loved ones of faculty and staff who reside in the same household as a Syracuse University employee.
  • Dependent family members are eligible to be tested at the Stadium Testing Center once every 14 days, and participation is entirely voluntary.
  • Testing is a limited and valuable resource, and for that reason we request that family members utilize this new resource judiciously. Family members should only participate in routine surveillance testing if there is a reason to believe that their living or work situation puts them at risk of exposure.
  • Individuals experiencing COVID-like symptoms, or who have been formally directed to quarantine by a public health authority due to possible exposure, should not come to campus for testing. Instead, those individuals should contact their primary care provider.
  • Family members (who are not Syracuse University employees) must be accompanied by the faculty or staff member with whom they reside when visiting the Stadium Testing Center.
  • We ask faculty and staff to ensure that family members adhere to the guidelines above, so that we can maintain the continuity of this important service throughout the remainder of the COVID-19 health emergency.

We look forward to welcoming our community back to campus in early February with new and refined processes and programs in place to enhance safety and sustain health and well-being. We have learned much from our experiences last semester—and from the experiences of others. We are applying those lessons learned, along with the most up-to-date information available from public health experts, to ensure that Syracuse University delivers a fulfilling, successful and healthy spring semester.

Sincerely,

J. Michael Haynie
Vice Chancellor for Strategic Initiatives and Innovation

New York State Announces Eligibility for COVID-19 Vaccination

Dear Members of the Syracuse University Community:

We are writing with an important update related to the COVID-19 vaccination effort in New York State immediately impacting members of the Syracuse University community.

Earlier today the New York State Department of Health announced an important change in guidance related to those populations eligible to receive the COVID vaccine, as part of Phase 1B of the NYS vaccine distribution effort. This change is to include college and university faculty and instructors—specifically and only those teaching in-person classes during the spring semester—as a population eligible to be vaccinated during Phase 1B of the vaccine distribution effort. Phase 1B eligibility begins today, Jan. 11, 2021.

In addition to faculty teaching in-person classes in the spring, several additional Syracuse University populations are now immediately eligible to register for the COVID-19 vaccination. They include:

  • Instructors teaching in-person classes (including graduate assistants teaching an in-person course in the spring)
  • Staff employed at the Child Care Center and Pre-School
  • All staff of 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 Testing & COVID Response staff
  • Student teachers assigned to teach in a local school district during the spring semester
  • Any individual 75 years of age or older

All vaccinations are being managed and administered by the Onondaga County Department of Health. If you are a Syracuse University employee that qualifies for vaccination given the above listed populations, and who desires to receive the COVID vaccine, we encourage you to take the following steps:

  • Visit https://covid19.ongov.net/vaccine/ to confirm your eligibility and review frequently asked questions concerning the vaccine and vaccination process.
  • Register for the vaccination and attest to your eligibility by visiting https://covid19.ongov.net/vaccine/1st-dose-screening-form/.
  • Once you schedule your appointment, you will receive a “Submission ID.” Please bring this Submission ID and a government-issued identification card to your vaccination appointment.

Finally, be advised that New York State—not Syracuse University—makes all determinations related to vaccine eligibility. Eligibility determinations are assigned based a variety of factors including the risk associated with workplace exposure, and as a function of the availability of vaccine supplied to New York State by the federal government. Accordingly, the implementation of the New York State vaccination plan is inherently dynamic. For this reason, the Syracuse University Public Health team will continue to share new information, as we receive it, related to updates and changes impacting the vaccine eligibility and the availability of vaccination resources in our community.

Sincerely,

Andrew R. Gordon
Senior Vice President and Chief Human Resource Officer

J. Michael Haynie
Vice Chancellor for Strategic Initiatives and Innovation

John Liu
Interim Vice Chancellor and Provost

Spring Semester Update: In-Person, Residential Instruction to Resume on Feb. 8

Dear Students, Families, Faculty and Staff:

A new year is upon us, and soon the spring semester will be underway. Over the holiday break, we have been closely monitoring developments with COVID-19. It has become increasingly clear that the next several weeks will likely be among the most difficult our country and Central New York will experience since the onset of the pandemic. As a result, Syracuse University will begin the Spring 2021 semester and residential instruction on Monday, Feb. 8, and conclude on Friday, May 21. Move in for campus residence halls will take place the week of Feb. 1. This decision was made in consultation with the Onondaga County Health Department.

Starting our semester two weeks later best positions us to resume residential instruction in a manner that safeguards the health and safety of our students, faculty, staff and the Central New York community. First, it provides some distance between the expected post-holiday surge of cases and our return to campus. Second, it increases the possibility that some of our campus’ frontline workers will be vaccinated prior to the start of the semester. This includes our health care staff in the Barnes Center, who administer medical care to our students. The delayed start also gets us closer to the time when vaccines will be more widely available across the country. As we have from the start of the pandemic, Syracuse University continues to make decisions based on science, data and public health guidance.

You will hear more in the coming days and weeks about move-in logistics, testing and quarantine requirements, and additional information as our students prepare to return to campus. Mask wearing, social distancing, reduced capacity and other public health precautions will continue to be in place when you return next month. Like last semester, it is on all of us to keep ourselves and those around us safe, healthy and together.

I thank the dedicated team that worked through the holidays to develop plans for us to return to campus safely. It is that same determination and Orange spirit that will carry us forward to better days ahead in 2021. I look forward to welcoming you back to campus next month.

Sincerely,
Chancellor Kent Syverud

COVID-19 Update: Important Information on Returning to Work on Jan. 4

Dear Faculty and Staff:

As 2020 comes to a close and with Orange Appreciation Days almost complete, many of you are beginning to think about your return to work on Jan. 4. At the same time, the prevalence of COVID-19 continues to increase at a troubling rate around the country and in Onondaga County. Further, public health officials are concerned holiday travel and gatherings will result in additional spread over the next several weeks.

With this in mind, and with our continued focus on the health and well-being of our campus and the broader Central New York communities, the University will continue operating in a similar manner as prior to Orange Appreciation Days. Here is everything you need to know as we begin the first work week of 2021:

  • Until directed otherwise, all functions that can be performed remotely should be done remotely. All deans, senior vice presidents and other leaders should continue encouraging their faculty and staff whose job functions do not require a physical presence on campus to continue their work from home. Staff working remotely should have a flexible work arrangement in place that has been approved by the dean or senior vice president of the division.
  • Individuals whose job function requires a physical presence on campus should continue reporting per their regular schedule. Personal protective equipment must always be worn, and other precautions will remain in place as guided by public health directives. If you are uncertain whether you should physically report to campus, please contact your supervisor directly to discuss.
  • Research and studio work that requires individuals to be physically on campus may continue with all appropriate public health precautions in place. We urge all researchers, studio personnel and graduate students to take the necessary steps to keep themselves and those around them safe. This includes mask wearing, monitoring for symptoms, hand-washing and regular testing.
  • As a reminder, until further notice all faculty and staff must use their SU I.D. to access buildings and facilities. Please keep your identification card on you if you plan to be on campus.
  • Finally, COVID-19 testing will resume at the University’s Stadium Testing Center on Monday, Jan. 4. Staff, faculty and students should keep the following in mind related to accessing the University’s Testing Center:
    • COVID testing on Jan. 4 and Jan. 5 will be reserved for those employees whose job function requires a physical presence on campus. The Testing Center will coordinate directly with supervisors, to schedule testing for those returning to campus beginning Jan. 4.
    • For those working remotely, the Testing Center will be accessible beginning Jan. 6.
    • Beginning Jan. 6, the hours of the Testing Center will be Monday through Friday, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
    • IMPORTANT: If you are experiencing COVID-like symptoms, or you have been directed to quarantine by a public health authority due to possible exposure, do not come to campus for testing. Instead, contact your primary care provider.

Next week, you can expect more details on the spring semester calendar and additional information on our return to campus. We appreciate your continued adherence to public health guidelines. And we wish you and your loved ones good health in the new year.

Sincerely,

Andrew R. Gordon
Senior Vice President and Chief Human Resource Officer

J. Michael Haynie
Vice Chancellor for Strategic Initiatives and Innovation

John Liu
Interim Vice Chancellor and Provost

COVID-19 Update: Spring 2021 Testing | Contact Tracing | Stay Safe Pledge

Dear Students, Faculty, Staff and Families:

Faculty and staff from across the University continue preparations to welcome students back to campus for the spring semester. As Chancellor Kent Syverud shared in a message yesterday, more details on our timeline and return to campus will be forthcoming in the first week of January. As part of this work, we are reflecting on our fall semester experience, and applying what we learned to improve and enhance our continued COVID response strategy.

We write to you today to share changes in process and policy the University is adopting for the spring semester to ensure we are best positioned to support a safe and meaningful residential campus experience. In this message, we address process and policy changes impacting:

  1. COVID Surveillance Testing for Spring 2021
  2. On-Campus Contact Tracing
  3. Stay Safe Pledge

Our planning continues as millions of Americans are receiving their first doses of the recently approved COVID-19 vaccine, providing all of us much-needed optimism. However, widespread access to the vaccine will take several months, and many communities across the U.S.—here in Central New York—continue to report record-high levels of new infections and hospitalizations. This current reality must serve as a reminder to remain vigilant to ensure the safety and well-being of our families, friends and community. Changes to our approach for the spring semester reflect the current reality and our commitment to keeping our community safe.

COVID Surveillance Testing for Spring 2021

Robust COVID surveillance testing is key to our ability to safely resume residential campus operations in the new year. Throughout the fall, we benefited greatly from a tremendous testing partnership with SUNY Upstate Medical University that allowed us to process more than 100,000 COVID tests on campus between August and December. At the same time, given anticipated infection rates in New York and elsewhere throughout early 2021, our public health team is adjusting our surveillance testing program to ensure we can quickly and effectively identify and isolate instances of infection on our campus. Those adjustments are as follows:

  1. Expand Testing Capacity: We will expand our testing capacity and reduce the time from “test to result.” As compared to the more than the 100,000 COVID surveillance tests conducted in the fall, we anticipate collecting and processing between 250,000 and 300,000 samples from students, faculty and staff between January and May 2021. For this reason, over the past two months, Syracuse University has been working to create a fully autonomous, on-campus testing laboratory. We have invested in creating a testing infrastructure capable of processing up to 4,000 tests per day, and routinely returning results within 24-36 hours.
  2. New Testing Method: To support this expanded scale, we have also adopted a new scientific testing method. This spring, we will use a surveillance testing method developed by scientists at Yale University that has become widely adopted by many of our peer institutions. Like our prior testing method, the new approach utilizes a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) process to detect the virus—making it highly accurate. At the same time, this new method reduces the time required to process samples significantly, supporting our objective of expediting the time from “test to result.” For those being tested, the only difference you will notice relates to how the sample is collected. Instead of using a mouth swab to collect saliva, the new method requires that those being tested deposit a saliva sample directly into a sterile test tube.
  3. Standardized Testing Strategy: We will transition away from the random surveillance sampling model we used in the fall. Instead, we will use a standardized whole-of-campus population testing plan for the spring semester. All students, faculty and staff who routinely access campus can expect a more frequent and regular testing regimen. Residential students should expect that, beginning in January, they will be required to be tested every seven days as a condition of accessing the Syracuse University campus. We will share additional details in the coming weeks.
  4. Stadium Testing Center: To accommodate the expanded scale of the University’s surveillance testing program, we are also in the process of significantly expanding and transforming the Stadium Testing Center. The new configuration will allow for enhanced physical distancing, privacy during sample collection and increased speed and efficiency throughout the process.

Expanded Contact Tracing Capacity

Syracuse University is expanding our contact tracing capacity and engagement process for the spring semester. We are increasing the student contact tracing team from 30 to 50 students and hiring a cohort of full-time contact tracing employees to support the Barnes Center’s ability to expedite initial contact tracing data collection. We are confident these enhancements will allow us to trace and isolate quickly and effectively, ultimately resulting in fewer members of our campus community impacted by mandatory quarantine requirements.

Stay Safe Pledge

Our collective and ongoing commitment to the practices outlined in the Stay Safe Pledge proved to be an important part of our ability to maintain a safe living, learning and working environment throughout the fall semester. We thank our campus community for doing their part. Now it’s time to recommit to following, and encouraging others to follow, an enhanced Stay Safe Pledge once again this spring.

Based on feedback received from students, families and campus community members, we have made updates to the pledge that further define the public health measures that will keep us and those around us safe. This includes additional guidance on essential travel outside of Central New York and following health and safety procedures. In addition, conduct sanctions have been updated to address repeated violations of the pledge. We ask that before you return in the spring, please review the Stay Safe Pledge and sign on to show your commitment to protecting the health and well-being of every member of the Orange community. We are grateful that the majority of our students conscientiously and responsibly followed all public health guidelines this fall.

As we say goodbye to 2020, all of us at Syracuse University extend our deepest appreciation and gratitude to every member of our community for your patience, partnership and perseverance in the face of an extraordinarily challenging year. Please continue to visit Syracuse.edu/staysafe for the latest information and public health guidance.

We wish you and your loved ones good health, happiness and peace this holiday season.

Sincerely,
J. Michael Haynie
Vice Chancellor for Strategic Initiatives and Innovation

Robert D. Hradsky
Vice President for the Student Experience

Spring Semester Update

Dear Students, Families, Faculty and Staff:

Our preparations for the spring semester continue at a fast pace. At the same time, pandemic conditions are evolving around the country and across the globe. I write to you to share where we are in our decision making with our return to campus.

It remains our intention to begin classes on Jan. 25. As we have done throughout the pandemic, our decisions will prioritize the health and safety of our entire community. Over the holidays, we will be monitoring conditions closely, with guidance from the New York State Department of Health, Onondaga County Health Department, the Syracuse University Public Health Team and other public health officials.

You will hear from me during the first week of January with more details on how we will proceed with the spring semester. Until then, you will continue to receive updates from University leaders and the Public Health Team. Please continue to visit Syracuse.edu/staysafe for the most up-to-date information about our COVID-19 response and planning.

I recognize that for our students and their families, uncertainty is stressful. As a community, we rallied together through uncertainty for a successful fall semester. I know that same Orange spirit will lead us into the spring, no matter what obstacles we face. You will hear more from us soon. Until then, I wish you a happy and healthy holiday season.

Sincerely,

Chancellor Kent Syverud

New Measures Regarding Paid Sick Time, Unused Vacation Take Effect on Jan. 1, 2021

Two new measures will go into effect Friday, Jan. 1, 2021, including New York State’s new paid sick leave law and revisions to how the University handles the payout of unused vacation time.

New York State Paid Sick Leave Law Goes Into Effect

In accordance with new legislation passed earlier this year by the New York State Legislature, the University will expand its benefits to provide paid sick time to all employees, including faculty, staff, student workers, temporary employees and graduate assistants.

The new legislation, which is effective Jan. 1, 2021, increases the amount of sick time provided under the University’s prior policy for most non-exempt benefits-eligible staff. It also represents the first time paid sick time will be provided to student workers and temporary employees.

Sick time generally covers time away from work for personal injury, illness, health or safety reasons, or to care for an eligible family member due to their injury, illness or health condition.

Beginning in January and subject to collective bargaining agreements, non-exempt employees will be provided with up to 56 hours of accrued paid sick time for use in a calendar year. Non-exempt employees will be able to view their available sick time on their paycheck beginning in January. The balance of available time will be the greater of either the unused time under the University’s prior sick time policy, or time accrued under the new sick time policy since Sept. 30, 2020.

Sick time that remains unused at the end of the calendar year will be maintained as carryover to the next calendar year and will not be paid out. The carryover will provide the benefit of being able to use sick time as early as needed in the new year without having to wait for the accrual of new sick time.

Exempt employees will also be eligible to take sick time in accordance with the law, with no change to the sick time currently available to exempt benefits-eligible staff.

To learn more, review the Sick Time webpage, which includes FAQ and the updated sick time policies, on the Office of Human Resources website.

Unused Vacation Time Payout Change

The University continues to take steps to achieve cost savings in a manner that safeguards the benefits and resources currently in place for its employees. One of the new cost-savings measures will eliminate the practice of paying out unused vacation time upon separation from employment. This will apply to benefits-eligible staff who elect to leave employment, including those who retire or resign.

Questions about these changes should be directed to HR Shared Services at 315.443.4042.

COVID-19 Update: Virus Transmission | Staying Healthy | Testing | Flu Vaccine

Dear Students, Faculty, Staff and Families:

Three weeks from today we will ring in the new year. We remain hopeful that 2021 will bring continued scientific progress that helps us overcome the COVID-19 pandemic. Until then, we will continue to reflect on lessons learned over the past year, to inform collectively our approach to addressing the challenges of COVID-19 in the year ahead.

Today, I’d like to share some important updates on staying healthy during the holidays; some actions the University is taking to support students, faculty and staff, and our community; and findings from new research that offers helpful insight as you plan for a healthy new year.

Updates today include:

  1. Virus Transmission Research
  2. Staying Healthy
  3. COVID-19 Testing Update
  4. Flu Vaccination Reminder

New Research Explores Virus Transmission: We are nearly a year into this pandemic, and new research is giving us a better understanding of how and where the virus is transmitted. I’d like to highlight one of those recent studies, as I found the findings both insightful and personally actionable. Specifically, a new study published in the journal Nature identifies important considerations as we think about our own behaviors and that of our families in terms of health and safety practices. In this study, researchers were able to link 80 percent of all the COVID infections in the 10 largest U.S. municipalities to individuals visiting specific public venues and while at those venues either 1) being infected by another or 2) infecting another. In other words, the researchers found that 80 percent of all the COVID infections in the 10 largest U.S. municipalities could be accounted for based on exposures that occurred at the following locations/settings (in this order):

  • Full-service restaurants (dine-in)
  • Gyms
  • Hotels
  • Cafés/bars (dine-in)
  • Churches/religious services
  • Limited-service restaurants (take-out)

I call this study to your attention not to frighten you, nor should you interpret my sharing of this research as assuming a particular position or judgement (mine, or that of the University) related to the choices individuals make to visit the venues identified by the researchers. Instead, my only purpose related to sharing this research is to uphold our continued commitment to disseminate research and scientific findings positioned to inform our collective efforts to safeguard the health and well-being of our families and our community.

Staying Healthy: Of course, while the vast majority of us continue to follow public health guidelines, particularly as it relates to travel, gatherings and other day-to-day activities, the fact remains that there are some places and activities we can’t avoid. This includes grocery shopping, doctor visits, testing, etc. As such, as we enter what is expected to be peak COVID-19 transmission season, I am reminding everyone in our community of what actions we can take to protect ourselves and those around us, including:

  • Get tested regularly: Many carriers of the virus are asymptomatic. Frequent testing is often the only way to detect the presence of the virus, absent any common symptoms.
  • Monitor your health: Keep an eye on how you’re feeling. Do you have any cold-like symptoms? Are you running a fever? If so, call your primary care physician immediately.
  • Take the simple steps: Wear your mask, always. Wash your hands regularly. Keep your distance. If you’re like me, you are probably experiencing some pandemic fatigue. I know it’s tough but taking these simple steps could be the difference between staying healthy and getting ill.
  • Limit your travel: Whether you make quick visits to a local store or a longer journey to visit family, the fact remains that being out and about increases your chances of becoming ill. So limit your travel as best you can.
  • Be responsive to contact tracers: If you receive a call from county, state or University COVID personnel, it’s likely they are reaching out to you to initiate contact tracing. Please, take the call and be forthcoming about with whom and where you’ve been. This process is critical to mitigating community spread.
  • Get a flu shot: If you haven’t already, please, I implore you to get a flu shot. As we are seeing in local media outlets, our health care resources are stretched extremely thin. Getting a flu shot is an important way to stay healthy but also to allow medical professionals to diagnose you if you’re feeling ill.

COVID-19 Testing Update: Syracuse University’s Testing Center remains open and available to all members of our campus community. The Testing Center’s hours of operation are Monday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Please be advised that the Testing Center will be closed from Dec. 19 through Jan. 3. Plan to be tested no later than Dec. 18 to ensure you receive a result before the holidays.

In addition, when you visit the Testing Center over the coming weeks, you may take note of a change to the Syracuse University surveillance testing program. Specifically, over the past month Syracuse University has been working to enhance the speed, scale and responsiveness of our testing protocol. These efforts include a transition from the mouth swab saliva collection method employed during the fall semester, to a sample collection method where saliva is deposited directly into a sterile plastic tube. This new saliva collection remains minimally invasive and will enhance the University’s ability to return timely results to those being tested. We will be sharing additional details on the University’s enhanced surveillance testing strategy in subsequent messages.

If you plan to get tested before the holidays, please keep in mind the following information:

  • Location: Enter the stadium through Gate N and follow the signs to the testing center.
  • Appointments: No appointments are necessary; simply bring your SU I.D. and show up at a time that is convenient for you.
  • Preparation: Do not eat, drink or brush your teeth for 30 minutes prior to testing.
  • Safety Reminder: You must wear a face mask or covering when you arrive at the testing site. If you are experiencing symptoms or suspect you have been exposed to the virus, do not go to the stadium; instead, contact the Barnes Center at 315.443.8000 (students) or your primary care doctor (faculty/staff).
  • Type of Test: The test is saliva-based, and the entire process takes just a few minutes.
  • Delivery of Results: You will receive confirmation via email if your surveillance test result indicates no requirement for a subsequent diagnostic test. Individuals whose result indicates the need for provider consultation and a subsequent diagnostic test will be notified by phone.

Flu Shot Update: We appreciate all students, faculty and staff who have received and submitted proof of their flu vaccination. At this time, nearly 80 percent of our students and 82 percent of our faculty and staff have been vaccinated. As a reminder, all members of the University community, including students, faculty and staff, are expected to get an influenza vaccine to retain campus privileges. Faculty and staff are asked to complete a Flu Vaccine Status Attestation Questionnaire to confirm they’ve received a vaccine or to document a medical or religious exemption. To learn more, faculty and staff can visit wellness.syr.edu and students/families can visit the Barnes Center website.

Thank you for reading this update. I hope that you will make time this holiday season to rest, reflect and find joy. And, above all, wishing you good health.

Sincerely,
J. Michael Haynie
Vice Chancellor for Strategic Initiatives and Innovation

2020-21 Winter Break/Orange Appreciation Days Operating Schedule

The University will operate under its holiday schedule and Orange Appreciation Days format for the Winter Break period from 5 p.m. on Wednesday, Dec. 23, 2020, through Friday, Jan. 1, 2021.

During the Holiday/Orange Appreciation Days Period:

  • All academic and administrative buildings will be locked or closed.
  • Building temperatures will be lowered to 60 degrees, unless prior arrangements have been made.

Request for Building Access:

If you require your building to be open over the Winter Break/Orange Appreciation Days period, please submit a request to your building coordinator, noting the specific dates and times. Requests should be made by 5 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 16. (Note that faculty and staff will be able to access all buildings, as usual, by swiping their SU I.D. cards, even when the buildings are locked.)

Request for Adjustments to Temperature and Lighting:

Deans, directors and department heads may submit a detailed request for adjustments to temperature and lighting during the Winter Break/Orange Appreciation Days period. Please review the University’s temperature guidelines. We ask that requests be made using the online form by 5 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 16. Requests will be reviewed and approved by either the vice president and chief facilities officer or the provost.

Important: Buildings Not Included in Winter Break Reduced Occupancy Schedule

The following buildings will be excluded from the temperature setback, and will remain on normal access, temperature and lighting settings:

  • Heroy Geology Laboratory
  • Bowne Hall – Fourth Floor
  • Lyman Hall – Fourth Floor
  • Sims Hall – Department of Public Safety
  • Center for Science and Technology
  • Bird Library
  • Life Sciences Complex
  • Link Hall
  • Physics Building
  • Ensley Athletic Center
  • South Campus Library Facility
  • Manley Field House
  • Carmelo Anthony Center
  • Tennity Ice Rink
  • Crouse-Hinds Hall

Additional information regarding Winter Break/Orange Appreciation Days services and resources may be found at the following links:

Questions on building occupancy can be directed to the Department of Energy Systems and Sustainability Management at 315.443.1535 or energy@syr.edu.

New Action Underway to Combat COVID-19 Spread

Dear Faculty and Staff:

The resurgence of the COVID-19 virus around our country is intensifying on the heels of holiday travel and gatherings. Here in Onondaga County, we are experiencing rising infection rates and an uptick in hospitalizations. In response, Syracuse University is taking additional steps to further assist the broader community in combatting the virus while also maintaining healthy and safe academic and business operations.

Here is everything you need to know:

  • At this time, all functions that can be performed remotely should be done remotely. This approach will remain in place through the conclusion of Orange Appreciation Days, which begin on Thursday, Dec. 24.
  • All deans, senior vice presidents and other leaders have been advised to urge their faculty and staff, whose job functions do not require a physical presence on campus, to conduct their business from home. For staff, everyone who is working remotely should receive approval from their supervisor and have a flexible work agreement that is approved by the dean or senior vice president of the division.
  • Individuals who must be on campus to perform their duties, including but not limited to food services, facilities management, public safety, libraries, etc., should continue reporting per their regular schedule. Some staff in the libraries system will continue to work remotely, while others will report in-person. Any questions regarding libraries should be directed to libref@syr.edu. Personal protective equipment must always be worn, and other precautions will remain in place as guided by public health directives. If you are uncertain if your position requires you to be on campus, please contact your supervisor directly to discuss.
  • Research that requires faculty, staff and graduate students to be on campus, in the field or in a laboratory may continue. Similarly, studio space and work that cannot be replicated outside the studio may continue with all appropriate public health precautions in place. We urge all researchers, studio personnel and graduate students to take the necessary steps to keep themselves and those around them safe. This includes mask wearing, monitoring for symptoms, hand washing and regular testing.
  • COVID-19 testing will continue at the University’s Stadium Testing Center, Monday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. To learn more about our testing program, please review this message, which was shared with our community on Thursday, Dec. 3. However, if you are experiencing COVID-like symptoms, please do not come to campus for testing. Instead, call your primary care provider.
  • At this time, and continuing through the beginning of the spring semester, all faculty and staff must use their SU I.D. to access buildings and facilities. Please keep your identification card on you if you plan to be on campus.

We will continue to communicate regularly with you regarding our operational status. We are grateful for the continued efforts of our faculty and staff colleagues to maintain a safe and healthy living, learning and working environment.

Thank you for everything you have done and continue to do. We wish you and your loved ones a safe and healthy holiday season.

Sincerely,

John Liu
Interim Vice Chancellor and Provost

Andrew R. Gordon
Senior Vice President and Chief Human Resource Officer