Message to the Campus Community: Return to Spring Classes

January 05, 2022

Welcome back! I hope you all enjoyed a well-deserved restful holiday break. As we are quickly approaching the upcoming spring semester, I wanted to take a moment to provide you with some very important updates at the College.

With the recent spike in COVID cases in our region, Governor Hochul has announced a mandate that all students at the SUNY and CUNY institutions be fully vaccinated, and they must also receive a booster shot prior to returning to in-person classes in January.

While the Governor did not include private institutions such as St. Joseph’s in her latest mandate, the state has typically required that state COVID guidelines become universal soon after their creation. This was one reason why St. Joseph’s announced it would mandate vaccinations for students, staff and faculty last summer — it was clear then that the state would require vaccinations for all as soon as classes started in the fall.

More importantly, St. Joseph’s College cares deeply about its students, faculty and staff. Keeping our campuses safe and open with in-person learning is our goal for this semester. In times such as these, it is more important than ever to move forward with our pursuit of learning, and to hold fast to our belief that education can transform the world around us for the better. For that reason, today I am announcing several important measures to ensure that we can move into the spring semester with confidence.

First, St. Joseph’s will not only continue all its current protective measures on both campuses and our off-campus sites, but all students, faculty and staff not previously exempt will now also be required to be fully vaccinated for the spring semester, as well as obtain a booster shot if they have not already done so. If you are already vaccinated, you must obtain your booster shot no later than Febr­uary 18, or when eligibility for the vaccine makes it possible. More information on how to submit proof of vaccination will be forthcoming.  
Second, on-campus courses scheduled to have their first meetings on Ja­nuary 19 through Janua­ry 23, will be held virtually or online. At this time, I ask that faculty provide either a zoom class or an online assignment and/or discussion for the impacted class periods. Students should check their course Canvas page for information on how each course will be held during those days. On-campus, in-person learning will resume on Monday, Janua­ry 24.

Third, the possibility of working from home for staff members, following the guidelines laid out in my message to staff last week, will be extended for one additional week, with the expectation that all staff will be returning to their regular on-campus duties Tuesday, Jan­uary 18.

I can assure all of you that making these types of decisions is not easy. I had hoped, as I am sure all of you did, for a gradual return to normalcy this spring. That is still possible, should the latest surge end as predicted, by February or March. Even so, keeping our campus safe and open is my top priority. While a worsening of the present situation might require a return to remote learning, St. Joseph’s will do everything possible to stay on-ground and in-person. The measures listed above should allow us to fulfill our educational mission in a safe environment, provide students with the quality instruction and services for which St. Joseph’s is so well known, and ensure that our excellent faculty and staff can do their work in a safe and secure environment.

St. Joseph’s College has persevered throughout this crisis, and our community has shown incredible resilience and bravery in the face of the pandemic. I am confident that, together, we will weather this latest challenge successfully and emerge an even stronger and more vibrant community than before.