Written By: Sydney Rodriguez
Governor Andrew Cuomo announced on Monday that COVID vaccinations will be mandatory for CUNY and SUNY students in order to return for in-person classes in the Fall.
In the virtual press conference, the governor encouraged students to get vaccinated right away if they haven’t already. Cuomo also encouraged the state’s private schools to require vaccination, stating it would make a global statement.
“Today, no excuses,” said Cuomo in the press conference. “SUNY and CUNY boards will require vaccinations for all in-person students coming back to school in the fall.”
CUNY reposted the governor’s announcement almost immediately and provided links on their social media accounts to vaccination sites across the city’s five boroughs.
“The sooner our community is vaccinated, the safer and more successful our Fall 2021 semester will be!” the University wrote.
Since early April, President Anderson has sent out letters to the campus body regarding return to campus in the Fall. Anderson’s seventh and latest email, sent out on Tuesday morning, did not expound on the state’s order.
“We do not have details about this requirement at this time, but when we do, I will share them with you,” Anderson wrote, going on to detail the COVID safety rules for students, faculty, and staff need to follow on campus in the fall.
CUNY students, as in the case of reopening in general, have a variety of opinions about the new mandate.
“Being that we are going back to non-virtual learning, I think it is imperative that we stay as safe as possible,” said Esther Chabbott, a second-year student at Brooklyn College. “I am sure some people will say that they should have the right to choose if they get vaccinated or not, but the reality of the situation is that when people’s health and well-being are at risk then we must adapt to the circumstances.”
Other students maintained that the state ordered policy for the University went too far.
“Students that take the vaccine are exercising their rights and I also believe it’s the same case for students who chose not to take the vaccine due to their concerns about how it might affect their health and immune system in the long run,” said USG Senator Dapo Ibrahim. “I think people should be encouraged to look towards the greater good and do what they believe is best for our college communities instead of coercing everyone to get the vaccine, which by all means appears to be tyrannical in nature.”
Public schools and universities have required students to get vaccinations for diseases like the smallpox and polio since the 19th century. According to the CDC, vaccinations are key to normalize a post-pandemic world.
“We’ve got to make sure that we get the overwhelming proportion of the population vaccinated,” top health advisor Anthony Fauci told ABC last week. “When that happens, the virus doesn’t really have any place to go.”
After acknowledging the governor’s announcement, Anderson’s most recent email reminded the BC community that everyone on campus must wear a mask. Goggles and face shields can be worn in addition to masks, but it is not a replacement for them. Contract tracing will also be used and an up-to-date dashboard with information regarding COVID-related reports is linked in Anderson’s letter.
Anderson also noted that everyone must follow the campus’ COVID safety rules, and failure to follow safety rules could result in removal from campus and other consequences. The campus’ safety rules will be announced regularly through emails, campus signage, formal attestations, and posted plans on campus.
Anderson’s sixth letter announced that student services will be operating either in remote, in-person (by appointment), or hybrid formats.
“Our plan is to offer the in-person support services necessary to sustain our students on campus, and continue to offer remote services online where they are a helpful option for our students,” wrote Anderson in the letter.
Anderson also announced that the administration is working on a plan to have student athletes play in the Fall.
However, it is yet unclear how the state mandate will affect the COVID safety requirements at Brooklyn College in the fall.