Syracuse University Sets Stricter COVID-19 Rules for Spring 2021
Ricky Sayer, SYRACUSE, N.Y. – Syracuse University has updated its “Stay Safe Pledge” ahead of the 2021 Spring Semester, putting in place stricter rules aimed at preventing another surge of COVID-19 cases like the one that shut down the Syracuse University campus late in the fall semester.
The new rules prevent students from leaving Central New York for the entire spring semester, require students to wear masks when they are off-campus and around anyone who they don’t live with, and require students to notify the university if they test positive for COVID-19 using a test the university hasn’t administered, among other changes.
Students can receive sanctions if they are found to have violated the rules.
The rules were made after receiving feedback from students, families and campus community members, according to a letter from Syracuse University Vice-Chancellor Mike Haynie and Dean of Students Rob Hradsky, which also announced changes to SU’s testing strategy.
Under the updated pledge, a student can only leave Central New York if their travel is “deemed by the University to be essential.” Students must register with SU’s travel registry if they want to leave CNY and the reason must be a family, medical and personal emergencies, the updated pledge says.
Previously, the fall 2020 pledge only asked students to “avoid” traveling outside of Central New York while also not specifying what they consider to be the boundaries of Central New York are.
The updated pledge includes the clarification that Central New York is considered the counties of Onondaga, Cayuga, Cortland, Madison and Oswego.
The new pledge also requires students to wear masks more often while they are off-campus. Under the updated pledge, students must wear a mask anytime they are off-campus and around another person they do not live with.
Under the fall rules, students only needed to wear a mask off-campus if social distancing was not being maintained. It’s unclear how SU plans to enforce the new off-campus mask rules.
In both the old and new pledges, SU makes no note of what to do when people are eating food and drinking, both times when students must remove their masks (unless they are using a straw to drink.) SU’s dining halls and food courts were open at times last semester, both places where mask-wearing was infrequent as most students were eating.
Students are no longer allowed to host people who are from outside of Central New York, under the new rules. SU also changed one word in their requirement to “fully and honestly participate in contact tracing.” The word “fully” was replaced with “immediately.”
Syracuse University will also now require students to notify SU’s Barnes Center of any positive COVID-19 test that were not administered by the University.
In the fall semester, some students chose to get tested for COVID-19 outside of the university out of a fear of the restrictions SU could place on them. Some feared they could be sanctioned if SU investigated where they could have caught COVID-19 and found that they attended an off-campus party or gathered with more students than the university considered permissible at the time.
SU officials in the past have stressed the importance of students being honest in the contact tracing process.
SU has lifted regulations preventing people from gathering in groups larger than 5 people, reverting back to the fall’s original rules which places that number at 25.
More than 800 individuals at Syracuse University caught COVID-19 during the fall semester, according to SU’s COVID-19 dashboard.