|Dear Members of the Campus Community,
I know that many of you are already back to work—in person or virtually—in preparation for the spring semester. I imagine all of you are wondering what that semester will look like on campus. Though there are a number of uncertainties around the rollout of the vaccine, I can share with you the following outline of Fordham’s plan.
1. The guidelines informing our efforts and plan:
a. Some members of University Health Services and FUEMS have already received the first dose of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine, and will receive their second doses shortly after classes resume on February 1. As of today (Monday, 11 Jan.), the state has added “in-person college faculty or instructor” to the list of populations who are eligible to vaccinated, as an option under the Additional Information section. (The option only appears once you choose a response to the question above it.) Individuals seeking vaccination may be asked to prove their eligibility via employee ID card, a letter from their employer, or a pay stub. This will likely vary by vaccination location. Faculty teaching in person should complete this screening form. (Note that faculty teaching online are not yet eligible for vaccinations.) For those located in New York City, there is a separate scheduling tool, available here. Those who live outside of New York should check their state's website for eligibility.
b. It will likely be some months before the vaccines are universally available, and the bulk of the campus community has been vaccinated. For at least that duration, the University will continue to keep COVID-19 precautions in place, including mandatory testing, the wearing of face coverings in public areas, and maintaining social distancing in all areas on campus, as recommended by the CDC.
c. We urge you all to be vaccinated at the earliest opportunity to build immunity on our campus and in the communities to which we belong, including our families, neighborhoods, cities, and towns. (Wide adoption of the vaccine among members of the University community will mean a quicker return to in-person teaching, learning, and extracurricular activity.) Obviously the University and the members of the community must follow the vaccination protocols adopted and promulgated by the states, counties, and cities in which we live and work.
d. Regarding the above, you may be aware that the New York state has identified a number of categories to which the vaccines will be made available in phases. The first to receive the vaccines will be front-line healthcare workers, those residing in care homes, other front-line and uniformed workers, and those over the age of 75. The second (or 1B) category will include teachers, with K-12 teachers receiving the vaccines first, followed by college/universities teachers and others who work on college/university campuses. Students will be among the last to receive the vaccines unless they have underlying health conditions.
2. The Present Plan:
a. Fordham will continue to follow the protocols for universal daily screening, periodic universal testing, social distancing and masking that we used in the Fall Semester. (To assist our testing efforts, we have ordered 40,000 tests from the Broad Institute. As was the case last semester, Broad Institute tests will be administered on both the Lincoln Center and Rose Hill campuses.)
b. Fordham has entered into an agreement with the New York City DOH to serve as a designated vaccination site for the members of its own community. Under the terms of the agreement, we have ordered sufficient doses for the first round of vaccinations for the faculty, students, staff and administration. (These will be followed by a similar number to ensure that those who receive the initial vaccination are able to receive the second dose necessary to ensure as full an immunity as the present vaccines are able to provide—you will be given an appointment for your second vaccination when you receive the first one.) We do not yet know when we will receive those doses.
c. Preparations for the Administration of the Vaccines:
As you know, the protocols that the state is mandating (and the vaccination schedules that it is following) are evolving quite rapidly. Therefore, while we are not entirely sure when we will receive the doses that we have contracted for, we will begin the process of registering people for their vaccination appointments as soon as we receive firm word from the state.
In the meantime, if you wish to receive a free vaccination at one of the sites that the City of New York has established, here is a link to the New York City vaccine location finder that the Department of Education sent to teachers. Only those who fall into the categories that the state and city are focusing on at the moment should make an appointment through it and other links.
Though there are still a number of questions to be resolved, I hope this gives you some hope that we are making progress on restoring the nation to health, and our campuses to normalcy. Again, I stress that much of the information herein is provisional—the city and state’s plans are evolving rapidly. We will be writing to you with additional information as soon as it becomes available, including links to sign up for vaccination appointments. Check your email for updates.
I applaud all of you for your hard work and diligence under the trying conditions of the Fall semester, and know that you share our desire to return to the usual academic experience we have missed since last March.
You are all in my thoughts and prayers.
Joseph M. McShane, S.J.