Baruch administration works with students who missed vaccination deadline

Amanda Salazar, Editor-in-Chief

In the month following the CUNY-wide COVID-19 vaccination mandate, the Baruch College administration is looking for ways to support students who were not compliant with the mandate.

As The Ticker reported previously, Sept. 27 was the deadline for CUNY students to upload proof of their full COVID-19 vaccination to CUNYfirst. This proof then needed a time period of 10 days to be manually approved by CUNY Central staff, with the deadline for such approval being Oct. 7.

Hybrid or in-person students who missed these deadlines were at risk of being dropped from their courses or remaining enrolled in classes but not being allowed on campus to actually attend them.

This came after former New York State Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced in May that all CUNY and SUNY students would have to be fully vaccinated in order to return to campus this fall.

At Baruch, however, the majority of students met the Sept. 27 deadline — more than 95% of them, according to President S. David Wu in an email blast sent to students on Oct. 7. The email, titled “Supporting Our Students: Vaccination Compliance,” was then re-sent out on Oct. 8 with a correction.

It stated that the school’s administration was planning to find ways to help non-compliant students still complete their courses.

“We, nonetheless, want to help all students stay in their classes,” the email from Wu read in part. “These strategies include developing a way for students who have found it challenging to get vaccinated to do so in a timely fashion and remain in their hybrid and in-person classes. These students have been personally contacted and given an opportunity to discuss their path forward with the Office of the Dean of Students. To exercise a culture of care, these cases are being assessed and addressed on an individual basis, student- by-student.”

The Ticker reached out to the administration to gather more information on the strategies it is taking to support students despite non-compliance.

The process is being handled by the Office of the Dean of Students, campus Location Vaccination Authorities and staff from offices like the honors programs. The Search for Education, Elevation and Knowledge, or SEEK, program and Black and Latinx Success Amplified programming are involved when applicable.

According to Vice President for Student Affairs and Dean of Students Art King, the first step in the process was notifying students who missed the deadline that they weren’t in compliance with the university’s mandate.

This notification included instructions for the students to reach out to the Office of the Dean of Students, along with an explanation of the possible consequences of missing the deadline, including “loss of academic momentum, potential non-refunding of tuition and potential adverse financial aid outcomes.”

“In working with said students, we discovered several reasons for non-compliance, which included students having to wait 14 days after receiving their final dose of the COVID-19 vaccine before they could present proof of being fully vaccinated; other students indicated they were registered for hybrid or in-person classes, but not vaccinated because they were of the belief that those classes would be taught online only; other students expressed extenuating circumstances,” King told The Ticker in an email interview. “In working through the aforementioned circumstances with students, case by case, we were able to assist many students to come into compliance with the policy.”

Some of the paths forward for affected students included educating them about the mandate and the reasons for the deadline, as well as working with professors to make modality exceptions for these students.

“Solutions include providing our students with better understanding of medical exemption and religious exception processes, both options of which are now closed or no longer offered to students, providing documentation from the instructor/department/academic dean on the format of courses, providing contact information for others based on specific student situations, course refund policies, impact of financial aid and so forth,” King said.

This situation doesn’t affect many students at Baruch.

King said that the school sent emails to approximately 2,000 students just before the Sept. 27 deadline to notify them that they were not yet compliant with the mandate. About 748 students responded, he said.

“Many of these students were able to come into compliance after our outreach and discussions, and we continue to work with a few other students to bring them into compliance,” King said.

There are less than 100 students who are non-compliant and did not reach out to the Office of the Dean of Students to work out a solution. Those students remain enrolled in their in-person and hybrid classes.