Town Hall Follow Up and FAQs
January 13, 2022
Dear Students, Faculty and Staff,
Thank you to everyone who attended this week’s town hall. I appreciated your questions and your candor. I understand that the decision to move to remote learning on January 18 before returning to in-person learning on January 24 is stressful for a number of different reasons.
I ask you to believe that we are doing all we can to keep our community safe while simultaneously delivering the best possible educational experience for our students. Circumstances are changing rapidly and we are making decisions as quickly as possible while ensuring that we are using care to do the best we can for our campus community.
Below are some of the commonly asked questions from the town hall including some that we did not have time to answer. Please email our Director of Communications, Tom Torello (email@example.com) if you have further questions.
If you were unable to attend the town hall and would like to watch a recording, you can find it here.
Thank you again for your patience and your trust throughout this challenging time.
All my best,
President and Dean
Frequently Asked Questions
Can you give us a timeline of events and responsibilities for the next several weeks?
- January 11 – 24 - Buildings will be open to all students, faculty, and staff provided they have uploaded booster shot to Share My Health, received an approved exemption, or are not yet eligible.
- January 18 – 21 - Classes will be offered remotely. Faculty, staff, and students should get tested and upload result to Share My Health.
- January 24 and beyond - Classes will be offered in-person. Booster shots (for those eligible) and a negative COVID test taken between 1/17 and 1/23 will be required to come to campus.
Who needs to be tested before the 24th?
All staff, faculty, and students who work or study on campus need to be tested before the 24th unless they have notified HR of a positive case of COVID-19 within the last 90 days. Results must be uploaded to Share My Health.
I have recently recovered from COVID. Do I need to submit a negative test?
Once you’ve tested positive for the virus, you do not need to be tested again for 90 days from symptom onset, if you became ill, or from the date of your positive test, if you remained asymptomatic.
To get exempted from pre-arrival testing due to a recent case of COVID, post your positive test to ShareMyHealth, or notify HR (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Please note that if you develop symptoms of COVID-19 during the 90-day period, and if clinicians cannot identify another cause for these symptoms, you may need to be retested at that time.
What happens if I test positive for COVID?
Report the positive test to HR and go to https://www.albanylaw.edu/COVID19 for a step-by-step procedure. Under our protocols, you will need to remain off campus for 10 days, even if you are vaccinated. Students will be given access to zoom classes or recordings during the isolation period.
Where can I get tested?
Sign up for testing through New York State’s website: https://coronavirus.health.ny.gov/COVID-19-testing
Or find another location near you on gogettested.com.
You can also self-test with an at home testing kit.
Who needs to be boosted?
Everyone who is eligible for a booster needs a booster. Eligibility criteria are here.
Are there exceptions to the booster requirement?
Individuals with approved medical and religious exemptions to vaccines are exempted from the booster requirement. In addition, individuals who recently recovered from COVID may also be exempted for 6 weeks following the positive test result.
I recently had COVID. Do I need a booster to come on campus?
Individuals who have tested positive for COVID are encouraged to get boosted as soon as possible but will have 6 weeks from the date of the positive test to provide proof of the booster.
We note that CDC guidelines say you can get a booster after you are no longer having symptoms and have completed your isolation period. We also note that some individual physicians are advising patients to wait 30-45 days. For that reason, the Law School is encouraging infected individuals to consult with their own health care provider and allowing 6 weeks from the date of the positive test to get boosted. Should your provider advise a longer waiting period, you will need to supply medical documentation.
What do I do if I am not eligible for a booster?
If you are ineligible for a booster because it has not been long enough since you got your second vaccination shot, you don’t need to do anything as long as your vaccine information is uploaded in Share My Health. If you are ineligible for a different reason, students should email email@example.com, faculty and staff should email firstname.lastname@example.org.
It hasn’t been 5 months since my second vaccination shot. What should I do?
You don’t need to do anything as long as your vaccination information is up to date in the Share My Health System. You will be expected to get your booster within two weeks of becoming eligible.
Monitoring, surveillance, and future plans
How will the law school monitor the number of positive cases?
Every week the law school keeps a close eye on testing numbers through our partners at the Albany College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences, through testing results reported to human resources, and through reports of absence made to the Academic Affairs Office.
Will we be notified if there is a positive case on campus?
The Law School posts numbers of positive cases on its dashboard, but does not send out campus-wide notification of positive cases. Instead, the law school notifies those individuals identified as close contacts of infected individuals.
Is there a protocol for shifting back to virtual if the number of positive cases continues to be high?
The Law School closely monitors the incidents of COVID on campus to determine whether an individual person, class, section, or the entire campus needs to move to remote learning, working, or teaching for a defined period. At this time, there is not a defined number of cases that will trigger remote learning, working, or teaching. However, if the law school identifies evidence of on-campus spread, it will act swiftly to address by shifting to remote, as necessary, for some or all classes and departments.
Will we continue to be virtual if the testing center at Pharmacy continues to have staffing issues after this first week?
We expect that the testing center will be open by January 24th. If that situation changes we will re-evaluate our decision and inform the community as swiftly as possible.
How often are we going to have to be tested if we are both fully vaccinated and boosted?
Vaccinated and boosted individuals may be randomly selected for surveillance testing, which we plan to continue this semester.
Unvaccinated individuals are tested weekly.
Read More: https://www.albanylaw.edu/COVID19
Is there a plan to increase the number of individuals selected for random testing?
Last semester, we tested approximately 10% of our population a week. We plan to continue that pattern this semester, but could change that number depending on conditions.
There have been cases where people have tested negative initially only to be exposed later or test positive after the initial test. Why is the school accepting tests from more than two days before school starts?
In an effort to set a baseline of the results of our community population we are gathering as much data as practically possible as close to the start of classes as possible. Unfortunately, no perfect measure exists, and people need time to get tested and receive results. While imperfect, the measure provides a point in time layer of protection giving us information about the incidence of COVID in our community.
We note that pre-arrival testing is not our only safety measure. The law school has improved its ventilation systems, upgraded its air filters, requires masks, limits guests, and requires vaccines including boosters.
Should we wear a certain kind of mask?
The law school is requiring everyone on campus to be masked. We strongly recommend that you use an N95, KN95, or KF94 mask as they offer the highest level of protection against the spread of the Omicron variant.
If you need one of these masks, contact the Business Office, the Office of Student Services, or your supervisor.
What should students do if they experience COVID symptoms or are notified they have been in close contact with someone who has COVID?
Students who are symptomatic, have been exposed, or have tested positive should stay home and access zoom classes or recordings. Go to https://www.albanylaw.edu/COVID19 for a step-by-step protocol.
If you are a student and need to report classroom absences due to COVID more information is here: https://www.albanylaw.edu/about/new-system-tracking-COVID-related-student-absences
We are predominantly young, healthy, vaccinated and boosted students at a small campus where there are next to zero in-school transmissions. Why should the young and healthy students have to go online?
The decision to put classes online is not taken lightly, but is one we stand by when necessary to protect our community.
Our population includes faculty, staff, and students who are medically vulnerable and who live with and care for people who are medically vulnerable.
We need and value all of our faculty, staff, and students, and could not function as an in-person educational institution without all of them.
To protect all members of our community, including the young and healthy, we have put in place a multi-layered safety plan. In this particular case, a key component of our safety plan, ready testing, was disrupted by forces outside our control. While a week of remote learning may feel disruptive, the pause is necessary to confidently resume in-person learning and teaching.
President and Dean