I hope you are enjoying the summer and that you and your families are doing well amid the ongoing health emergency. We are looking forward to the start of the fall semester and have been working hard to make the reopening and move-in process a success despite considerable challenges.
I am writing to share important information about the return to campus and how we will help create as safe an environment as possible. An important part of our strategy is ensuring that people are healthy when they come to school, and modifying our facilities and procedures to mitigate risk. We had hoped to communicate on these matters sooner, but the situation continues to evolve and we are waiting on further guidance from New York state that has not yet been released.
For those of you who will be on campus this fall, it is critical that we work together to ensure the health and safety of our community. We must each do our part to protect ourselves and each other. Many students have shared a preference for as normal a campus experience as possible: whether we can deliver that experience will depend upon your cooperation. Every member of the community will enter into the Ram Pledge, a compact that formalizes our shared commitment to health and safety.
As we have conveyed in prior communications, all students, faculty, and staff who plan to return to campus for any reason or any length of time will be required to be tested for COVID-19 within the 7-day period before coming to campus or entering any Fordham property.
There are two ways to satisfy this requirement:
1. You are encouraged to get tested at home, at a site of your choosing (find a nearby testing site) within 7 days prior to coming to campus. You must submit proof of testing and clearance, i.e., a negative test result. Please go to the health portal at my.fordham.edu to submit test results. If you choose not to submit your documentation online, you will be required to provide hard-copy documentation upon arrival. If you test positive, you will not be allowed to enter the campus or any Fordham building until you are no longer symptomatic and you have been cleared to return by a physician.
2. You can be tested through the University on campus at Lincoln Center and Rose Hill. You are allowed to come to campus for the limited purpose of getting tested and then cannot return to campus until you have received results. Please note that although the University has arranged for testing through a private provider and should be able to get results more quickly than public testing sites, there may be delays in obtaining results. For this reason, we recommend getting tested early in the 7-day period. The University is developing a sign-up system for scheduling testing appointments. We will let you know when it is available.
In the spring, New York was the epicenter of COVID-19 activity, but the state’s strict lockdown and the community’s compliance has drastically reduced the infection rate in our state and city. New York is reopening gradually and cautiously to prevent a resurgence and has instituted a quarantine requirement for individuals entering from states with significant community spread of the virus. As of this writing, all individuals entering New York from restricted states and other countries are required to self-quarantine for 14 days. This mandatory quarantine applies to everyone, including those who have tested negative for COVID-19. For more information on New York state’s quarantine requirement, please read the state’s FAQ.
Given the testing requirements noted above, all students coming from restricted states and other countries should plan adequate time both to quarantine and to get tested. Students coming from these states and other countries will need to quarantine for 14 days in locations not on the list of restricted states. After the quarantine period is completed, students will, as described above, need to get tested, either off-site or at Fordham within the 7-day period before coming to the campus or any Fordham property. As noted above, please allow time to receive your test results.
There are three possible ways to satisfy this quarantine requirement, one of which is contingent upon further guidance from New York state on accommodation requirements:
The first option is to make alternative off-site plans for quarantining. We will be providing a list of hotels in the area for your planning and scheduling purposes. This listing will come in a separate communication from the Office of Residential Life on your respective campus. You may also use other hotels, including those outside of the metropolitan area that are in any state that is not on the list of restricted states. If you choose this option, you will be required to provide hard-copy documentation upon arrival (i.e., hotel receipts, air travel receipts, etc.). More information on submission of this documentation will be provided in upcoming communications.
The second option is to remain home and begin your classes online, until your state is removed from the restricted-state list. We understand that this may be a disappointing option for many to consider. Please be assured that we will be flexible in working with you on your plans to join Fordham’s on-campus community at whatever time in the semester this becomes a comfortable and viable option for you and your family. While we cannot guarantee a particular building or room assignment for those who choose this option, or choose to take a leave from campus housing for the fall, we will guarantee you on-campus housing, whenever you choose to return.
The third option is not yet available, as we wait on further guidance from New York state on accommodation requirements. However, if you are a student entering from a restricted state or another country and are planning to live in University housing, you may be able to quarantine in Fordham housing with assigned roommates and your room or suite will be considered a living unit under these circumstances. We understand that this option is not ideal, and is not available at this time, as it is contingent upon further guidance from New York state. Pending that decision, we must follow the instructions we have received from the New York State Department of Health, which does not allow on-campus quarantine in a way that we can accommodate at this time. We therefore encourage you to make contingency plans with one of the two options noted above that you are most comfortable with. If we receive further guidance from New York state and this situation changes, we will advise you accordingly.
A Safe Return to Campus
The health and safety of Fordham’s students, faculty, and staff remain the highest priority in our reopening plans. We have developed a series of health protocols to mitigate risk and promote the safety of the learning environment. These protocols include the following:
- Hazard elimination, which is aimed at eliminating risk via the universal testing requirements noted above; robust screening; and contact tracing to ensure that people carrying the virus and their close contacts do not come to campus. As part of this process, you will be required to participate in a daily VitalCheck screening. Please look for an email in the coming week to enroll in the screening.
- Personnel substitution, which focuses on limiting the number of students, faculty, and staff on the campus and in the classrooms, and accommodating vulnerable populations.
- Engineering controls, such as improvements to HVAC systems and air circulation, to mitigate risk.
- Administrative controls, which help protect our community with behavioral changes that promote social distancing and reshape the way we work and study.
- Personal protective equipment, such as face coverings, which will be provided to students as a critical component of risk mitigation. Everyone will be required to wear a face covering at all times in all common, public areas, except in areas designated for eating.
For more information about the steps the University is taking to promote health and safety, please see Fordham Forward.
The Ram Pledge
Making the Fordham campus safe is a shared commitment, and so we are requiring every member of our community to take the Ram Pledge, which demonstrates that we are all working together to protect one another from COVID-19.
As a member of the Fordham community:
- I will wear a face covering at all times on the Fordham campus, both indoors and outdoors, and when taking part in University activities off-campus (students can take face coverings off in their individual residence hall rooms);
- I will wash my hands frequently and thoroughly (for 20 seconds, minimum), especially after contact with surfaces and items in public areas, after eating, coughing, sneezing, or wiping one’s nose;
- I will self-monitor for COVID-19 symptoms and complete daily VitalCheck screenings;
- I will follow the directions of University officials regarding testing, screening, and quarantine (if necessary), and cooperate with the University’s contact tracing efforts, if called upon to do so;
- I will act in the spirit of people for others, knowing that I am helping to protect the campus community from illness.
All students who will come onto the campus must sign the Ram Pledge prior to coming to campus. Failure to adhere to it will be considered a violation of the code of student conduct. More information on how to sign this pledge will be included in upcoming communications. In addition, all students will be required to complete an online COVID training program before returning to campus (that information will be available soon). Please look for this in an upcoming communication.
We know you have many questions, and we will do our very best to answer them. Thank you for your patience and your commitment to keeping our community safe. I look forward to staying in contact as we approach the fall semester.
Jeffrey L. Gray
Senior Vice President for Student Affairs