Messages to the Community

Our Approach to Health and Safety This Fall

A message from Stephanie Browner, Interim Provost and Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs; and Tokumbo Shobowale, Executive Vice President for Business and Operations

Preparations for our return to campus are well underway, and we are eager and excited about the prospect of being together in the fall. We write today to update you on our plans for a safe return to campus. On June 1st, we reaffirmed our plans for a full return to on-site teaching and learning, and as previously communicated, classes will be in person operating at or near normal capacities. Faculty and some staff will resume their on-campus roles this coming semester. This is an important moment for The New School as we welcome back students, faculty, and staff from around the world for the first time in more than a year.

The cornerstone of our safe return to campus will be the requirement for all university community members—students, faculty, and staff—to be vaccinated in order to access campus facilities. Widespread vaccination, along with proven measures such as wearing a mask, testing, and enhanced ventilation and cleaning, will help us maintain the health and safety of our community.

We will also remain vigilant to the continued presence of COVID-19 and realistic about protecting the well-being of our community. Over the past months, we have learned a great deal about the virus, its spread, and preventative measures; the attitudes of students, faculty, and staff about returning to campus; and the realities and limitations of making our vertical, urban campus as safe as possible. This knowledge–and our firm commitment to protecting community health and well-being–have guided our planning.

Our approach to the fall is rooted in the following principles:

  • Protecting the health and safety of the entire New School community—students, faculty, and staff—and the neighbors with whom we interact;
  • Maintaining the highest-quality teaching, learning, research, and cultural expression in every college, department, and specialty; and,
  • Ensuring equitable access to classes and other learning activities for all students.

Here are the steps we are taking to create a safe environment for everyone:

Vaccination, Testing, and Health Screening

Vaccination Requirement
Vaccination against COVID-19 is the most effective measure to ensure our community avoids serious illness; that is why we are requiring all students, faculty, and staff who are eligible for vaccination to be vaccinated prior to the start of the fall semester.

  • Proof of Vaccination Status
    • As shared in our June 15 message, students must submit an electronic copy of their COVID-19 vaccination documentation by August 1 via the Student Health Services (SHS) portal.
    • Faculty and staff must submit an electronic copy of their COVID-19 vaccination documentation to Human Resources by August 15.
    • Please refer to our FAQ for more information about submitting your vaccine documentation.
  • Vaccine Requirement Exemptions
    • Students, faculty, and staff who wish to request an exemption to the vaccine requirement for medical or religious reasons must submit their documentation by August 1. Please refer to our FAQ for information about how to request an exemption.
    • International students and U.S. students living abroad who are not able to be fully vaccinated before returning to campus for reasons beyond their control will be accommodated. These students will be required to follow the protocol outlined in the COVID-19 Vaccine Submission FAQ in order to access campus buildings and services.
    • In order to maintain a high level of health and safety for the entire community, those who are unvaccinated will need to follow additional safety protocols, which include more frequent testing, quarantining, and increased masking requirements. 

We encourage all members of our community to respect each other’s privacy and refrain from asking about any individual’s vaccination status.

Testing and Health Screening
The university will require extensive testing of everyone on campus—vaccinated or not, regardless of how often they will be on campus—during the early weeks of the semester, and of unvaccinated individuals throughout the semester. Should the infection rate remain low among our community and in New York City, the university may adjust the frequency of testing at a later date.

  • All members of the university community will be required to provide a negative result within seven days prior to initially accessing campus, including move-in to the residence halls.
  • Vaccinated individuals thereafter will be required to test every other week and provide a negative test result within 14 days prior to accessing campus.
  • Unvaccinated individuals, including those who are not yet fully vaccinated or exempt from the vaccination requirement, will be required to test twice a week and provide a negative test result within four days prior to accessing campus. The testing requirement for unvaccinated individuals will be in place throughout the fall semester.

Test kits will be available to all community members at no cost at locations around campus; you will receive your test results within two business days. The university will also accept tests from other providers for those community members who are unable to pick up a test kit on campus.

Proof of vaccination or exemption status and testing results will be linked to your New School ID card and allow you access to campus buildings and services.

Safety Protocols

With these safety measures in place, we will return to full capacity in all campus spaces, except for Student Health Services which will follow enhanced safety protocols. We will continue to monitor the trajectory of the pandemic, especially virus prevalence in New York City, and adjust our approach as needed moving forward based on vaccination and testing rates on campus, infection rates in New York City, and following guidance from New York City, New York State, and the CDC. Signage across university buildings will provide additional information about safety procedures on our campus.

Mask Requirement
As we begin the semester, masks will be required in campus buildings regardless of vaccination status. This requirement applies to all academic and administrative spaces including classrooms, studio and other workspaces, conference rooms and common areas such as hallways, lobbies, and elevators.

  • Students will be required to wear a mask in common areas of the residence halls including hallways, elevators, lounges, and other shared spaces. Masks will not be required in dorm rooms and suites, however unvaccinated individuals must continue to wear a mask in these spaces when others are present.
  • Members of the community will be able to remove their masks to eat and drink in the dining hall and other designated areas on campus.
  • Masks will be available at no cost from vending machines in most academic buildings and residence halls.
  • Any member of the community can voluntarily choose to wear a mask in any setting at any time and for any reason (including personal and community protection against seasonal flu and colds), should the university adjust the mask requirement in the future. This personal choice should be respected.

Cleaning and Sanitization
The university’s safety and sanitization protocols for the fall semester will include nightly cleaning, disinfecting, and ventilation of all on-campus spaces. Hand sanitizer dispensers and disinfectant wipe dispensers have been installed in every building lobby and elevator lobbies on all floors, as well as near offices, classrooms, research and making facilities, and computer labs.

Ventilation and Air Quality
All heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) units across the university have been increased to the highest filtration level rating, based on system design specifications. In preparation for our safe return to campus, a detailed study of the ventilation in every space on campus has been conducted by industry experts in HVAC design and filtration. All spaces have either already met appropriate standards or are in the process of being adjusted per the recommendations of the experts who conducted the study. The results will be available on our website in early August when this work concludes.

Housing and Dining

Residence Halls

  • The residence halls will be open for those who would like to reside on campus, and we anticipate operating near capacity.
  • Students will be required to wear a mask in common areas of the residence halls including hallways, elevators, lounges, and other shared spaces. Masks will not be required in dorm rooms and suites, however unvaccinated individuals must continue to wear a mask in these spaces when others are present.
  • Masks will be available at no cost from vending machines in residence halls and select other spaces.
  • Building amenities including gyms, music practice rooms, art studios, and lounges will be open for use. Masks will be required.
  • Guests will be limited to residential students only. Please refer to our FAQ for more information about our residence hall guest policy.
  • Please visit the Housing page for more information about the residence halls.

Dining Services

  • Dining services will resume full operation, including in-person and grab-and-go options.

Campus Gatherings, Visitors, and Public Programs

We are prioritizing campus spaces for a safe in-person teaching and learning environment for students, faculty, and staff. As we begin the semester, only community members will be allowed on campus and must follow university health and safety protocols. We will continue to monitor the trajectory of the pandemic and adjust our approach as needed moving forward.

As previously communicated, we anticipate that all events that are not necessary as part of a course or program requirement will be online for the fall 2021 semester. Department-sponsored events such as lectures will be online while performances and other events that are part of the curriculum will be in-person, safety regulations permitting. In-person gatherings, such as study groups, club meetings, faculty and staff meetings, and working groups will be allowed on campus and must follow campus safety protocols.

We plan for the Welcome Center to reopen in the fall when in-person classes resume, at which time we will offer limited pre-scheduled admission counseling appointments and single-family campus tours. Please visit our Admissions site for more information.

Looking Ahead

The university’s COVID Coordination Group will continue to monitor the trajectory of the pandemic, especially virus prevalence in New York City, and we will share an update about our health and safety protocols by October 15, including our policies regarding campus visitors and masking for those who are vaccinated.

We will host a series of webinars in the coming weeks to answer your questions about COVID-related policies and protocols. More information about the webinars will be shared soon. In the meantime, you can stay informed by visiting our COVID-19 Community Guide, where we have posted an updated FAQ with further information.

After such a difficult year, we are fortunate to have had remarkably little transmission of COVID-19 in our community. Thank you to all of the on-campus community members for your dedication and sustained efforts over the past 15 months. Your commitment to the university enabled approximately 1,000 students to access our residence halls, libraries, and specialized making and creating facilities despite the numerous challenges.

Continuing to adhere to the safety measures outlined above is the right thing to do for our community at this time, and we’re counting on everyone to do their part. By remaining diligent and by taking a thoughtful, inclusive, and data-informed approach, we can keep everyone safe while enjoying the rich in-person experience that awaits us this fall.

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