Félix V. Matos Rodríguez
Dear CUNY Community,
In response to revised guidance issued by the CDC last week, we are lifting the temporary mask mandate that has been in place since August 2021 and required all CUNY students, faculty, staff, and visitors to wear masks inside University campuses, office buildings, classrooms, and other non-enclosed spaces. This policy change, which takes effect on Monday, March 7, follows recent announcements by Governor Hochul and Mayor Adams that ended mask mandates for pre-K through 12th-grade schools across New York State and City.
Anyone who would like to continue wearing masks in any setting is welcome to do so at any time. Masks will continue to be available on campus and in offices for people who want them. The CDC is not requiring people to wear a mask in communities that have low or medium COVID-19 levels like New York City's boroughs, but I urge the small number of faculty, staff, and students who are still not vaccinated, or those who have been or will be granted a medical exemption or religious exception, to wear a mask.
We are very hopeful for the coming weeks and months, but as we all know by now, the pandemic has taught us that public health conditions can change rapidly. CUNY will continue to monitor CDC guidelines and consult with our State and City health officials and should the evolving circumstances require a reconsideration of this or any policy, we will make the necessary changes to keep the CUNY community safe. I ask you to remain vigilant to ensure the safety of our campus communities. You can check our campus-by-campus positivity rates on our COVID-19 Safety Tracker, which has been posted on our website since September 2021.
Masks After an Exposure
The University's quarantine guidance will remain unchanged. A reminder that if you are fully vaccinated and have received a booster shot, or if you tested positive for COVID-19 within the last 90 days, and you come into close contact with someone with COVID-19 you do not need to quarantine and can return to work or class. But you need to wear a mask for 10 days from the date of your last close contact and get tested at least 5 days after the close contact.
Vaccines and Boosters
The suspension of mandatory masking does not affect the student booster requirement for those enrolled in hybrid or fully in-person courses. Students must upload proof of their booster within 30 days of the date they first become eligible to receive the booster. A reminder that all full- and part-time faculty, non-teaching instructional staff, and ECPs are required to be fully vaccinated and their proof of vaccination uploaded into CUNYfirst by April 1. Requests for medical exemptions or religious exceptions will be considered and the employee process for submitting such requests will be communicated in the near future.
Testing and Random Testing
To monitor COVID-19 moving forward, CUNY's mandatory testing for anyone with medical exemptions or religious exceptions and the random testing program for vaccinated individuals will continue to operate without change. Free PCR testing continues to be available for students, faculty, and staff at CUNY testing sites and I encourage you to take advantage of this service for any reason you might need it.
The upgrade and maintenance of our campus ventilation systems have been a priority since the early stages of the pandemic. In the last two years, we have injected $150 million in capital funds into our HVAC systems, and we requested additional capital dollars in our current budget request to continue these upgrades.
Since the peak of the omicron surge, the rate of positivity detected on our campuses has drastically and steadily declined. I want to thank each of you for the diligence, cooperation, and care that have been so very critical to CUNY's safe progression through the stages of the pandemic. We've arrived at this point because of the effort that we all have put forth to protect one another as we looked out for ourselves and our loved ones.
Félix V. Matos Rodríguez, Ph.D.