The University’s new COVID-19 guidance has drawn back accommodations for students without “risk factors for severe diseases” and ended both the tiered masking guideline system and all COVID-19 reporting requirements, as announced in a Tuesday email.
Sent by Provost David Figlio and co-signed by Chief Financial Officer Liz Milavec, the announcement comes after New York Governor Kathy Hochul allowed her COVID-19 state of emergency declaration to expire Monday and at the start of a flu season the administration anticipates being “particularly active,” according to the email.
It also comes as Monroe County, like most counties in the state, maintains a Medium “Community Level” assigned by the CDC based on hospital beds being used, hospital admissions, and the total number of new COVID-19 cases in the county.
“This reassessment […] follows an examination of the health and safety practices at our peer institutions and our neighboring colleges and universities,” the email stated. “After surveying and speaking with key representatives at over 20 peer schools, we determined it was time to revise some of our COVID-related practices, and to treat the virus like we do other illnesses.”
Here is a list of the policy changes announced in the email, all effective immediately:
- The tiered system for determining indoor face masking requirements is being discontinued.
- Masks will no longer be required on University shuttles. As has been the case for some time, masking is also not required on the University’s campuses — aside from University Health Service (UHS) buildings and medical, patient-facing facilities designated as “Blue Zone” spaces, which will continue to require masks.
- Students are no longer required to “report symptoms or positive COVID-19 tests to UHS.”
- Students who test positive are still advised to isolate and mask in their rooms, leaving only to use the bathroom and pick up food. However, roommates without “risk factors for severe diseases” will no longer be offered hotel accommodations in the case that a roommate tests positive. Students “with high-risk health conditions” are advised to contact UHS in the case of a roommate testing positive, and UHS will then “determine on a case-by-case basis any special housing needs” for the caller. The UHS number to call in these cases is (585) 275-2662.
The announcement continues the administration’s tendency to match COVID-19 updates issued by the governor. In March, UR followed Hochul’s easing of the state’s public school mask mandate by announcing the end of the campus’ indoor mask mandate one day later. The policy was later updated on June 7 to follow the CDC’s “Community Level” tiering system, which the CDC adopted on March 3, to allow for guidelines to change systematically.
UHS still has bivalent booster shots available for students who are interested, as the email stated. These booster shots are not currently required, unlike the last round.
The email also noted that these updated guidelines are subject to adjustment.
“The face of COVID is changing, and we need to change with it,” the announcement reads. “Of course, if infection rates rise, or if there is a significantly greater risk of spread in our community or on our campuses, we will revisit these policies and revise them as needed.