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Coming Back Safe and Strong Update (Feb. 25, 2021)

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What You Need to Know, When You Need to Know It

Coming Back Safe and StrongSPECIAL NOTE ON VACCINES: With vaccines considered one of our best defenses against the spread of COVID-19, please remember to regularly visit the New York State Department of Health (NYSDOH) Eligibility website to check your eligibility and sign up for an appointment. Appointment sites are updated regularly, with appointments added as vaccines are allocated to us from New York State, so it’s important to check frequently. We will also be doing our best to alert you to opportunities as supplies and distribution from NYS allow.
With spring semester really just kicking off, and March 1 – Phase 5 Return to Work – right around the corner (it’s this Monday), here are some things you should know …

We’re Remaining Open for In-Person Learning

Thanks to our well-conceived and executed COVID-19 strategies – and the cooperation of everyone around campus – we’ve been able to keep Stony Brook University open for in-person learning opportunities throughout the pandemic. We’re planning for a similar successful outcome this spring and summer, and even more of a fully in-person experience for the fall. Here’s why we fully expect to be able to achieve these objectives:
  • While infection rates have recently increased in our surrounding region, Stony Brook’s seven-day average positivity rate of 0.5 percent is well below Suffolk County’s, which stands at 4.3 percent (as of 2/22/21).
  • Thanks in large part to the diligence of our community and efforts of our experts, our estimates indicate that we have consistently maintained a running average positivity rate well below that of our neighboring regions throughout the pandemic.
  • We anticipated an increase in positive cases as students returned to campus from winter break. That’s why we ramped up our mandatory and frequent testing of resident students to twice a week (two times the New York State requirement), with commuter students, faculty and staff testing once per week.
  • We have ample contact tracing, quarantine and isolation space to address positive student cases and identify potential exposures promptly and effectively. These protocols allow us to respond to positive cases quickly, limiting the spread of the virus.
  • Cases should continue to fall if we all act safely and responsibly to protect ourselves and each other.
Recently updated guidance from Governor Cuomo on infection rates and testing protocols on college campuses also supports our plans to remain open for in-person learning and return to work. Last Friday, February 19, the Governor’s Office announced that “colleges and universities testing at least 25 percent of total on-campus students, faculty and staff weekly will not be required to go on pause unless their positivity rate exceeds 5 percent during a rolling 14-day period.” See the full media release here.
We meet that 25 percent testing requirement and, as stated above, we are well below the 5 percent positivity rate. We also expect things to only improve in the weeks ahead, with all of our collective efforts to stop the spread, keep cases down and school open for learning. Please help us all stay Stony Brook Strong!

Return to Work Reminders for West Campus Employees

With the final phase (5) in our Return to Work happening this Monday, March 1, please remember:
  • Employees who have been working fully remote from campus must have conducted a daily health self-screening using the CampusClear app for 14 consecutive days before returning to campus.
  • Once back to campus, this daily screening should continue on the days you work on campus (not the days you may work remotely).
  • All employees on campus are required to participate in weekly mandatory surveillance COVID-19 testing. This pooled saliva testing is free and is available in several locations. Appointment times and locations can be selected through the Testing Scheduler.
  • As per the COVID-19 Pandemic Health and Safety Policy, face coverings must be worn at all times in all buildings and when using campus transit.
  • Social distancing requires that employees remain six feet apart from one another. The Returning Remote Workers to Campus document outlines different physical separation and social distancing measures to help ensure employees’ safe return.

Expanded Pooled Testing

As you may have noticed or experienced, we are testing a new pilot program for COVID pooled testing in the SAC A Ballroom, with regular saliva pooled testing continuing to take place in SAC B. This quick, easy testing alternative involves collecting saliva in a straw, rather than swabbing. There is no pre-registration required and we’re encouraging employees and commuter students to try it and provide their feedback through a short survey so we can evaluate this and other new methods as we look to expand our testing options. We will be running this pilot for the next week or two so please help us by participating.

Start the Semester Right and Keep Us Going Strong by …

  • Washing your hands or using sanitizer when soap and water aren’t available.
  • Maintaing a physical distance of at least six feet from other people.
  • Wearing a mask at all times, including in classrooms, conference rooms and other spaces, even when six feet social distancing exists.
  • Covering coughs and sneezes and avoiding touching your eyes, nose and mouth.
  • Cleaning and disinfecting frequently touched surfaces in your workplace every day.
  • Not using other people’s phones, desks, offices, tools and equipment.
  • Staying home if you’re sick
  • Avoiding large gatherings.

Have an Idea? Need an Answer?

Visit our continuously updated return to the workplace FAQs on our Coming Back Safe and Strong website, or send your questions to comingback@stonybrook.edu.

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