CUNY removes COVID-19 testing option, enforcing vaccine mandate for in-person students


Iraj Zia | The Ticker

Jonathan Wu

CUNY Chancellor Félix Matos Rodríguez announced in an email on Sept. 3 that testing will no longer be an option for unvaccinated students who want to visit a CUNY campus, starting Oct. 7.

“I am amending the policy that permitted unvaccinated students to visit campuses if they showed proof of a negative COVID test,” Matos Rodríguez said. “Starting on October 7, all students taking remote-only classes who wish to visit a campus at any point this fall for any reason must be fully vaccinated.”

While CUNY’s reopening plan for the in-person fall 2021 semester initially allowed for remote- only students to provide proof of a negative COVID-19 test in order to visit campus, the latest announcement mandates vaccinations.

Unvaccinated students currently enrolled in hybrid or in-person courses now face a deadline of Sept. 23 to receive the single dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine, and must upload proof of vaccination to CUNYfirst by Sept. 27 in order to remain eligible to access campus.

“I agree with the policy,” freshman Steven Zheng told The Ticker in a Google survey shared on social media. “As far as I know, all my friends are also fully vaccinated and there hasn’t been any problems. Being vaccinated keeps myself and those around me safe. Unless there are religious or other specific reasons, I think the policy is reasonable.”

The announcement came after CUNY issued SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19) Supplemental Policy No. 3 on Aug. 23, detailing implementation of the vaccination mandate.

In line with the FDA’s full approval of the Pfizer vaccine for those 16 years of age and older, CUNY will begin enforcing its pre-existing mandate instituted under Policy 7.061 SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19) Vaccination Program.

According to the Supplemental Policy No. 3 announcement, students who do not comply with the new vaccine requirements will be subject to academic discipline by the school.

“Failure to provide such proof of vaccination to the campus LVA by such date could result in the suspension of such student’s participation in ‘in-person’ or ‘hybrid’ classes and limitation to access other University campus services,” the policy states.

In the same Sept. 3 email, Rodríguez released data from the CUNY COVID-19 Safety Tracker tracking testing efforts. It revealed how many positive cases there were during the week of Aug. 25 through Aug. 31.

Out of 1,040 tests administered at Baruch College during that seven-day period, only two resulted in positive cases, leading to a 0.2% testing positivity rate.

Compared to an average of 0.3% across all CUNY schools, Baruch is tied for the second lowest positivity rate.

As of Sept. 12, CUNY has administered 28,626 tests since the start of the semester on Aug. 25, with 95 returning as positive cases.

While the university-wide positivity rate has remained stable at 0.3%, the number of tests administered has been lowering steadily and will continue to lower as students get vaccinated.