GC Forward - Issue # 9

GC Forward

Dear Graduate Center staff,

We look forward to the safe reopening of the Graduate Center next week. To that end, we are happy to announce that our Fall 2021 Safe Campus Reopening Plan has been approved by CUNY and is now available on the GC website. Please read the plan before returning. You will see that there are many measures in place to keep employees and our entire community protected from potential exposure to COVID-19.

Additionally, the Graduate Center, in partnership with CUNY, is taking the following steps to make returning to in-person operations as safe, comfortable, and efficient as possible.

New Entry Requirements and Procedures: To access any CUNY facility, individuals will need to show proof that they have been fully vaccinated (defined as 14 days beyond the last vaccination shot). If they have not been, or do not want to show proof, they will need to show a negative COVID-19 test result from within the prior seven days.

Earlier today, the chancellor sent a letter describing the new entry requirements and mask mandate. Please read that letter, which is posted here [cuny.edu]. Below, are some important points:

How to Show Proof of Vaccination:
1. In CUNYfirst [cuny.edu], click on the “Vaccination Verification” link to check your approval status. If your vaccination records have been approved, download or refresh your Everbridge application on your smartphone to access the VaxPass [cunyithelp.cuny.edu]. Follow the detailed instructions. Have the VaxPass Access Approved confirmation open on your smartphone and ready for review by the CUNY screener when entering the Graduate Center or any CUNY location. You will also need your CUNY ID card. (Find a helpful VaxPass Q&A here [cunyithelp.cuny.edu].)

2. It is recommended that you take a photo of your vaccination card and/or sign up for the New York State Excelsior Pass (for those vaccinated in New York State) as backups.

3. NOTE: If you are registered as a CUNY student at the Graduate Center or another CUNY school, your student status supersedes your employee status, and your vaccination records will need to be approved by the Location Vaccine Authority (LVA) liaisons at the campus where you are enrolled. You can reach out the LVA at the campus where you are a student. See the LVA roster here [cuny.edu].

If you are not vaccinated, or if you have not uploaded your vaccination records to CUNYfirst, you will need to get a COVID-19 test at one of the 20 CUNY testing sites. See below for details on testing.

CUNY COVID-19 Testing: We encourage everyone to get vaccinated, but for those who are not, CUNY has retained Applied DNA Clinical Labs LLC (ADCL) to provide COVID-19 testing at 20 sites throughout the University.

• Starting on Monday, August 9, all faculty and staff who did not provide proof of vaccination in CUNYfirst were sent an email from CLEARED4 (The health verification management system retained by ADCL), with the subject line “Welcome to safeCircle at CUNY,” describing how to enroll in the testing program. Be sure to check all your email accounts, including personal ones, that may be linked to CUNYfirst. Once registered, participants receive an overview of the program and instructions on how to proceed with making an appointment for an available time at the most convenient CUNY testing site. Appointment scheduling, test results, and other communications will flow through the CLEARED4 platform.

• ADCL uses a PCR test with a nasal swab that is less invasive than the longer-stemmed swabs used elsewhere, but that is still highly sensitive and designed to detect the virus before a person becomes symptomatic and can begin spreading it.

• Test results will be processed within 24 hours (48 hours on weekends). Test results will be sent via email.

• For more information about CUNY’s COVID-19 testing program, please see the Testing FAQ [cuny.edu].

Indoor Masking and PPE Supplies: As indicated in the letter from the chancellor [cuny.edu], CUNY has enacted a new mask mandate as of Monday, August 16. Everyone, regardless of vaccination status, must:
• Wear a face mask inside all CUNY campuses and office buildings.

• Wear a mask outdoors on campus when unable to maintain physical distance from others (for example, while attending a CUNY gathering or sporting event).

• The only exception to wearing a mask inside is if a fully vaccinated person is in a classroom, dorm room, office, or other enclosed space, or is at a workspace/desk and is socially distanced from any other occupied workspace/desk.

Anyone who is not yet fully vaccinated must wear a mask indoors and outdoors at all times while on campus, including in enclosed spaces, except when eating (in which case they must maintain strict social distancing from other individuals).

The Graduate Center has procured a supply of personal protective equipment (PPE), including masks, gloves, hand sanitizer, disinfectant wipes, disposable gowns, and safety glasses.

• Face coverings will be available at the lobby desk and at the loading dock safety command post.

• The Office of Facilities Services will ensure that hand sanitizer and disinfectant wipes are deployed throughout public spaces and at shared workstations.

• Divisions and departments can contact the Office of Facilities Services and Campus Planning at facilities@gc.cuny.edu to request PPE, including additional sanitizer or wipes.

• The PPE inventory is reviewed on a weekly basis. A minimum of a 90-day supply of PPE will be maintained on campus.

Physical Distancing: We are entering Phase 3 of the Campus Reopening Plan. At this time, there is no physical distancing requirement. If conditions warrant, we will implement either a 3-foot or 6-foot distancing requirement. We encourage everyone in the community to respect the personal space of others.

Occupancy signs have been posted in rooms throughout the building. They list the normal occupancy (as determined by the fire code) and the occupancy if a 3-foot or 6-foot distancing requirement is in place. If we implement a distancing requirement, that requirement will be posted at the building entrance and in other locations and will be announced to people entering the building.

The same approach applies to restrooms, which will have signs indicating the capacity limits per the distancing guidance in place at a given time.

Air Quality: Two independent engineering firms hired by CUNY to provide an environmental assessment of all buildings have certified that the Graduate Center building, 365 Fifth Avenue, and the residence hall at 118th Street are safe for reopening and in-person learning. They are classified as tier one buildings and rated as meeting relevant CDC recommendations for ventilation in schools and child care programs. We want to remind people that the air handling system at 365 Fifth Avenue is designed to operate most efficiently when windows are closed. Opening windows will diminish the filtration efficacy and efficiency. Please keep windows in your office or shared work area closed.

Detailed information about the 365 Fifth Avenue HVAC system is available on the Graduate Center website, under facilities information. According to the recent environmental assessment, our HVAC system meets or exceeds recommended requirements.

Respecting individual decisions: It is understandable that people may want to know the vaccination status of individuals they encounter or students in their classes. You may not ask students or employees about their vaccination status. If students or employees are on campus, they have gone through the appropriate university protocols, providing proof of vaccination or a negative test result within the previous seven days.

Communication: We will continue to keep you updated on COVID-19 planning through the GC Forward newsletter (archived online here) and the COVID-19 Information and Safe Campus Reopening website.

Next week, we will meet with executive officers, assistant program officers, center directors, and directors and managers of administrative offices to review the reopening plan and how to safely welcome back students and faculty.

We are committed to the health and safety of everyone at the Graduate Center. Our reopening plan has been thoroughly vetted and is nimble, allowing us to adjust building occupancy based on the priorities of health, safety, and supporting academic success.

As always, the reactivation team is available at reactivation@gc.cuny.edu to answer your questions about reopening. For general frequently asked questions, please refer to the Getting Back to Working in Person FAQ [cuny.edu].

Thank you for doing your part and welcome back!

Submitted on: AUG 12, 2021

Category: COVID-19 | GCstories | General GC News | President's Office - Community Message