CUNY Implements Testing Program and Mask Mandate, Even for Vaccinated Students, Ahead of Fall Reopening

Vaccinated students attending on-campus classes this fall will be subject to periodic, random testing and have to wear masks for the time being, CUNY Chancellor Félix V. Matos Rodríguez announced on Thursday.

Vaccinated individuals selected for testing will undergo a PCR test via a self-collected nasal swab sample. The testing will take place in Hunter College’s North Building at the 69th Street entrance, or at another CUNY-affiliated location of the individual’s choice, Hunter President Jennifer Raab stated in an email to students earlier this month. 

Students should expect to receive test results within 24 to 48 hours. Hunter will only accept tests administered at a CUNY-affiliated site.

Unvaccinated faculty, staff and students on campus will be tested through CUNY’s newly-implemented weekly testing program.  

In light of growing concerns over the COVID-19 delta variant, which now accounts for 94% of positive cases tested in New York City, CUNY is also tightening its policy on masking. 

All students, regardless of vaccination status, will be required to wear a mask inside CUNY campuses and office buildings until further notice. This includes while students are attending class or working in a non-enclosed space, such as the library. Students will also be expected to mask outdoors on campus when they cannot physically distance themselves from others.

Students can take off their masks indoors if they are alone in an enclosed space, such as a conference room, or if they want to briefly eat or drink, provided they still follow social distancing guidelines.

Currently, students attending on-site classes this fall must be vaccinated by Sept. 14, unless they are granted a medical or religious exemption. Students attending in-person or hybrid classes before then must submit proof of vaccination via CUNYfirst or, if unvaccinated yet, weekly negative test results when coming to campus.

With the Food and Drug Administration expected to fully approve a COVID-19 vaccine as early as Labor Day, unvaccinated students will have just 45 days to get fully vaccinated and show proof of verification –  in other words, the 45-day deadline will override the Sept. 14 deadline originally set by CUNY.

In order to meet the deadline, unvaccinated students must get their first dose of Moderna within three days of the FDA’s announcement, their first dose of Pfizer within 10 days or their single dose of Johnson & Johnson within 30 days of the announcement. Those who fail to meet the deadline will face potential academic withdrawal, which may also impact their financial aid.

“These safety measures are crucial to achieving a successful and rewarding reopening this Fall and we need you to help by doing your part and following the guidelines that we have established,” Rodríguez said.

“As always, the primary objective governing our decisions is to protect the health and safety of every member of our community.”

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