COVID-19 Vax Mandate At CUNY Rolls Back, Effective Summer ‘23

CUNY rolls back vaccine mandate./Gabriela Flores

By Gabriela Flores and Michela Arlia 


   CUNY has officially announced its end to the COVID-19 emergency vaccine mandate for all students, faculty, and staff, effective at the end of the current spring semester for most CUNY campuses. Students, regardless of vaccination status, can begin enrolling in classes for the summer 2023 sessions. 

   In a newsletter sent out to students on Apr. 11, the university announced the news in response to the many advances made against the three-year pandemic. 

   For 22 college campuses and central offices, the change goes into effect May 23, the last day of the spring semester. For CUNY’s community colleges, Kingsborough, Laguardia, and Guttman, which have shorter semesters that run on different schedules, the change will go into effect on Jun. 16.  

   “We are confident that this is the appropriate time for CUNY to lift the COVID vaccine requirement as a condition of enrollment or employment, though we continue to encourage all students, faculty and staff to stay up to date with vaccinations,” said CUNY Chancellor Félix V. Matos Rodríguez in the newsletter, noting that the university will continue consulting with public health experts, as well as city and state officials, for any policy modifications. 

   CUNY’s COVID-19 vaccination mandate was initially put into effect in fall 2021, requiring students to submit proof of vaccination in order to enroll for in-person and hybrid courses. The mandate lift has boded mixed reactions from students at Brooklyn College, with some supporting and others against the decision. 

    “I just look at vaccines as like – you’re not doing it for yourself necessarily, you’re doing it for the greater good,” said student TS Richards, explaining that her girlfriend is immunocompromised and susceptible to contracting COVID-19. “I think everyone should be getting their vaccines, not only for themselves. Unless you have a legitimate medical condition where it can make you sick, I think everyone should take the vaccine for the sake of the community.”

    Other students thought the move does not pose a threat to their safety or others given that positive cases for COVID-19 have decreased significantly. Recent data shows that the daily average number of reported cases is 284 in New York City for the past seven days, according to the Department of Health

   “It doesn’t bother me because I don’t feel ‘threatened’ by people who are unvaccinated, as a vaccinated person. Because it’s a personal choice, and it’s up to everybody to do what they want with whatever,” said student Amanda Worthy, noting that because of her vaccinated status, she feels safe to interact with anyone regardless if they have a COVID-19 jab or not. 

    The vaccine policy applied to all students, as well as faculty and employees who were enrolled into a random testing program every semester. The mandate allowed for any member of the CUNY community to apply for a religious or medical exemption. If approved for exemption, those who were unvaccinated were required to get tested weekly at a CUNY campus testing site, which was also announced to close by the end of June. For many students, the testing sites provide a convenience and resource for those who need it. 

   “People can still get COVID, it’s still a serious issue even though people aren’t getting affected as much,” said BC student Luis Flecha. “They should definitely keep it around – like why would you take it away?” 

    Campuses are allowed to resume their standard campus entry procedures, without the use of the Cleared4 pass, once the mandate officially ends. 

    The decision to end the vaccine mandate comes in accordance with the Apr. 10 news of President Joe Biden’s signing of a bipartisan congressional resolution to end the national emergency response to COVID-19. The federal government’s plan to end the public health emergency is set to expire this May. 

   For New York, the city has seen significant advances in its COVID-19 numbers. According to the CDC’s most recent reports, New York City’s COVID-19 rates are low across all boroughs, with declining infection rates and higher vaccination rates. In their latest report, CUNY’s testing sites administered 15,886 total tests during the week ending on Apr. 9, with only 0.80% confirmed positive for the virus. 

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