I write at the end of this semester to share important information about the University’s public health planning for the spring semester and new requirements for booster vaccinations, pre-arrival testing, and on-campus testing.
The Task Force on Reopening and the Emergency Operations Center have met throughout the semester to remain focused on the University’s pandemic response in light of ever-changing conditions. With the emergence of the omicron variant, data about booster efficacy, and guidance from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the New York State Department of Health, Colgate will require all eligible students, faculty, and staff to provide proof of receiving a SARS-CoV-2 vaccine booster.
We do not expect students to receive a booster during finals week or even next week; however, if you have not already done so, please make plans for receiving a booster during winter recess. Ideally, all students should have received their booster by Jan. 7, so that the dose will be fully effective when residence halls open again on Jan. 22. The deadline for receiving a vaccine booster is Feb. 1, 2022.
As with our initial vaccination requirement, students will be able to apply for religious and medical exemption consideration. Students who have already reaffirmed their religious or medical exemption remain exempt. Contact Student Health Services if you have medical concerns related to the booster. Also, please note that any of the currently available booster vaccines (Pfizer/BnT, Moderna, or J&J/Janssen) will qualify for this requirement.
Preliminary data on the effectiveness of current vaccine regimens prior to boosting, either at preventing severe disease or infection by the omicron variant, are limited; however, these studies support that vaccine boosters, with any of the FDA-licensed vaccines, significantly increase levels of neutralizing antibodies, especially against the omicron variant. The Task Force acknowledges that boosters may not eliminate the possibility of SARS- CoV-2 transmission at the start of the spring semester, but requiring booster doses will provide the best chance to limit the spread of the omicron variant in the Colgate population as we return to campus in January.
Proof of booster vaccination can be uploaded to the myColgateHealth Patient Portal, faxed to 315-228-6823, or emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org (please be aware that email is not a secure way of sending information and confidentiality can not be guaranteed). Proof of vaccination includes a legible copy of your vaccine card.
In recognition of the pernicious global spread of the omicron variant, the University will also require all students to provide proof of a negative PCR test taken no more than 72 hours prior to arrival for the spring semester. Students will need to secure these tests on their own and bring proof of the negative test to arrival check-in. To find a local testing site, you may contact your health care provider or go to your state or local health department’s website.
In addition, Colgate will require and provide both PCR and antigen tests to all students upon arrival to campus, and all students will be tested again three to five days later. This required testing regime gives the University the best chance at supporting the health and safety of our students, faculty, staff, and community, and it will also help to preserve the limited amount of quarantine and isolation space available to the campus in the spring. Once again this spring, students who live within 300 miles to campus, will be asked to return home to isolate should they test positive during on-campus tests this spring semester.
We acknowledge that students will have additional responsibilities and challenges this semester to obtain COVID-19 testing on their own. While Colgate will continue to provide for testing on campus throughout the semester, it is important for students to become familiar with the process of acquiring their own tests prior to arrival, as navigating free testing or utilizing insurance are skills that students will likely be called upon to do for some time to come.
Please keep an eye on your email throughout January as the University will continue to share additional updates prior to the start of the spring semester.
Thank you for your patience and continued assistance as we navigate this challenging time. I wish you all a happy and safe winter break, and all of us hope you have an opportunity to take time for a well-deserved rest. Happy holidays.
Paul J. McLoughlin II
Vice President and Dean of the College