Stony Brook University is requiring students, staff and faculty to wear masks indoors regardless of vaccination status until at least Sept. 7th.
Vice president of Human Resources Lynn Johnson and vice president for Enterprise Security Management Lawrence Zacarese released the new policy in a joint statement on Aug. 2. The change comes after the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) updated advice that vaccinated people should wear masks indoors to “maximize protection from the Delta variant.” This overturned a previous Coming Back Safe & Strong email in June that made masks optional indoors for anyone vaccinated.
The update also reinformed the public of the university’s COVID-19 protection plan. Zacarese and Johnson said reopening and safety plans rely on scientific data and medical recommendations, monitoring local data like Suffolk County’s daily COVID-19 tracker, vaccine mandates and “aggressive” testing requirements.
“In planning for the fall semester, we’ve drawn upon the knowledge and expertise of our working groups that include faculty, staff and healthcare experts,” the statement said. “Working closely with administrative leadership, we’ve followed the guidance of New York State (NYS) and local health agencies, and all of our planning efforts have been in line with State guidelines and timing.”
Stony Brook University requires all residential students to be fully vaccinated and test negatively by the time of their move-in. Residential students must take a monthly COVID-19 PCR test. Students with vaccination exemptions will be tested two times a week.
According to an Aug. 6 Stronger Together update, 95% of residents and 72% of commuters submitted COVID-19 vaccination documents. Only 61% of faculty have done the same.
The update did not mention if social distancing measurements will be put back in place. Currently, only those who are unvaccinated must continue to practice social distancing. Visitors to any Stony Brook Medicine building, the Long Island State Veteran Home, Student Health Services or any COVID-19 testing center must also remain six feet apart from others, regardless of vaccination status.
Vaccinated commuter students, faculty and staff will be able to opt-out of weekly testing for random monthly testing. Unvaccinated commuters and employees must continue to get tested weekly and will need to fill out the CampusClear daily self-screening app before coming to campus.
All COVID-19 vaccinations and PCR tests on campus remain free for students, faculty and staff. Stony Brook will host 85% of classes in-person and around 10,000 students are planning to move back to campus in August.
In Suffolk County, the COVID case rate has increased 157% over two weeks and the hospitalization rate to 28%, according to The New York Times. Fifty-eight percent of people, including children, in New York State, are currently vaccinated.