Westchester Community College’s COVID-19 plans were developed with recommendations from federal, state, and county health professionals to keep the community safe and prevent the spread of COVID-19. As the situation concerning the pandemic and the vaccine continue to be fluid, note that our plan will remain subject to change due to new information and updated guidance and/or direction from the State of New York and the Governor’s Office.
Latest Updates Summary:
- FDA approves Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine
- SUNY vaccine mandate automatically triggered by FDA approval
- WCC students must submit by September 27, 2021 proof of receiving their second vaccination dose or an approved medical or religious exemption in order to enter in or upon college property. Links to the exemption forms are provided below.
- Any WCC students who receives an approved exemption must be tested weekly at Westchester Medical Center’s Valhalla Campus
- Any student not planning to enter in or upon college property must sign an attestation so stating
STUDENT VACCINATION REQUIREMENT
August 23, 2021
Any student entering college property in fall 2021 to take an in-person class or for some other approved reason, must have one of the following on file with the College:
- Proof of a completed COVID-19 vaccination.
- A medical exemption for students who have had a duly licensed health care provider certify in writing that the COVID-19 Vaccination may be detrimental to the student’s health. The college shall provide reasonable accommodations to those students whose medical condition(s) contraindicates COVID-19 Vaccination so long as the failure to be vaccinated does not prevent the student from otherwise fulfilling the programmatic or curricular requirements of their academic program.
- A religious exemption for students who hold genuine and sincere religious beliefs which are contrary to COVID-19 Vaccination. Students requesting a religious exemption must submit a written statement that explains how receiving the COVID-19 Vaccination conflicts with the student’s sincere religious belief or practice and how not receiving the COVID-19 Vaccination will not otherwise prevent the student’s completion of their programmatic or curricular requirements of the academic program. General philosophical or moral objections to such vaccine shall not suffice as the basis for a religious exemption.
For Fall 2021, students must come into compliance with the vaccine requirement by Monday, September 27. Students must submit proof that they received the final dose in a vaccine series (i.e. the second dose of a Pfizer or Moderna vaccine) or have requested an approved exemption by the deadline.* Students who fail to comply with the requirement by the deadline will: (1) be withdrawn from all their in-person classes; (2) not be eligible for a refund for tuition or fees and; (3) no longer be permitted to access WCC property.
Students must use the Westchester Community College’s Castle Branch portal to submit their proof that they have received the final dose in a vaccine series (i.e. the second dose of a Pfizer or Moderna vaccine) or request an approved exemption. For directions about how to submit your proof of complete COVID vaccination or how to request an exemption to the vaccination requirement using Castle Branch, please click here.
If you need any assistance submitting your information with CastleBranch, please reach out to the CastleBranch User Experience Team by phone at 888-723-4263 or email email@example.com. Students may also contact Westchester Community College’s Health Service Office for help submitting their COVID-19 vaccination information at firstname.lastname@example.org 914-606-6610.
*NEW – Proof of a partial COVID-19 vaccination. You may present proof to the college of your partial vaccination by sending a copy of your vaccine card to Health Services at email@example.com. Students who submit proof of a partial COVID-19 vaccination by the September 27 deadline MUST complete their vaccination series and provide proof to the college within four weeks from the time of their first dose. Students who fail to do so will be considered non-compliant and be subject to the consequences listed below. You will also be required to take a weekly COVID-19 test at the Westchester Medical Center in Valhalla, NY until you provide proof to the College that you are completely vaccinated.
Student Vaccine Exemption Forms
In order for the College to consider a request for a religious or medical exemption to the COVID-19 Vaccine Requirement, a student must complete the appropriate form and submit it to firstname.lastname@example.org. Forms can be found below. Only forms completed in their entirety will be accepted and reviewed. Students taking an in-person class who are requesting an exemption must submit their completed forms by 5:00pm on September 27, 2021. Failure to meet this deadline will result in a student being non-compliant with the COVID-19 Vaccine Requirement.
It may take the college up to ten (10) business days to review a request for an exemption. Students will receive notification of the outcome of their exemption request in their MyWCC emails. For more information about accessing your MyWCC email, please click here.
Students who are rejected for an exemption will still need to become compliant with the COVID-19 Vaccine Requirement b the September 27, 2021 deadline. If students are rejected for an exemption after the September 27 deadline, they will be deemed non-compliant with the COVID Vaccine Requirement and (1) be withdrawn from all their in-person classes; (2) not be eligible for a refund for tuition or fees and; (3) no longer be permitted to access WCC property.
STUDENT COVID TESTING REQUIREMENT
Effective September 1, 2021, any student entering college property to take an in-person class or for some other approved reason who has not submitted proof of complete COVID-19 vaccination* (i.e. those who have received or requested an approved exemption to being vaccinated) will be required to complete a weekly COVID-19 test. Testing must occur at the Valhalla testing site of the Westchester Medical Center.
Students who have proof of a completed COVID-19 vaccination on file with the College are NOT required to take a weekly COVID-19 test. It may take up to seven (7) business days to process a student’s COVID-19 vaccination status in the college’s system. Students will still be required to test until their vaccination status has been updated by the College.
All students required to take a COVID-19 Test will need to contact the Westchester Medical Center at either (914) 909-6754 or COVID19CCOPS@wmchealth.org to make an appointment. Students must identify that they are a student with the Westchester Community College testing program when making their appointment. Westchester Medical Center may contact students to notify them of their requirement and/or schedule a student’s testing appointment. Students should not wait for this call but must be proactive and take responsibility for scheduling their test as ultimately it is the responsibility of the student to ensure they are meeting the testing requirement.
When going to Westchester Medical Center for your testing appointment, students should bring a signed consent form. This will identify a student as part of the College’s testing cohort and allow Westchester Medical Center to release testing results to the College. A copy of this form, along with complete information about testing at Westchester Medical Center can be found here under the Message from Westchester Medical Center header.
Students who fail to comply with a required weekly testing requirement will be restricted from accessing campus property. Students restricted from accessing campus property will not be eligible to attend in-person classes (though they may continue in remote coursework) and their parking privileges on campus will be temporarily revoked such that their car may be ticketed or towed if parked on campus. Student’s restricted from campus will be given a definite period of time they are not permitted on college property. During this period of restriction, students must complete a COVID-19 test at the Westchester Medical Center to regain their access to campus at the close of their period of restriction. Students will not be given excused absences for missing classes due to their non-compliance with the College’s COVID-19 testing requirement.
OTHER COVID 19 HEALTH & SAFETY REQUIREMENTS
All individuals, regardless of vaccination status, should maintain a six-foot social distance while on College property, where practicable.
All individuals, regardless of vaccination status, will be required to wear masks in all indoor College spaces. Exceptions include anyone:
- actively participating in athletic activities;
- drinking beverages or eating meals while social distanced;
- by themselves, including employees when alone in their offices or other spaces;
Students not in compliance with any COVID-19 policies or procedures may face disciplinary sanctions, up to suspension or expulsion, as determined through the process detailed in the Student Code of Conduct.
UPDATES & STUDENT COMMUNICATIONS
Students are required to regularly check their MyWCC college emails as this is the official method the college communicates with students. Students are responsible for all information sent to a student in their MyWCC email. Students are also encouraged to regularly check the College’s website and social media to remain current with the latest COVID-19 policies and requirements.
Modes of Instruction
Descriptions of Instructional Modalities
In-Person-Classroom Instruction with Limited Capacity
Course schedule will indicate the days and times you will meet in-person; Public Health and Security guidelines will be in place to ensure safety protocols.
ONLINE (OL) – Asynchronous (Anytime with Deadlines)
No scheduled meeting times; course learning/interaction takes place online via Blackboard. Activities include online discussion boards, readings and assignment submissions; assessments completed entirely online.
ONLINE (OS) – Synchronous (Real-Time)
Instruction takes place in real-time on scheduled days and times via Blackboard and Zoom. Students are expected to participate in class on the scheduled days and times; assignment submissions/assessments are online via Blackboard.
Online (OC) – Combined (Mix of Asynchronous & Synchronous)
Combination of synchronous and asynchronous methods (see above definitions) of instruction via Blackboard and Zoom. Instructor will tell students in advance what days and times they will virtually meet.
HYBRID SYNCHRONOUS (HS) – Synchronous Online & In-Person
Combination of synchronous online and in-person instruction modes. Your course will take place remotely via Blackboard and Zoom on scheduled days and times; in addition, your instructor will meet with you on campus (in-person) on scheduled days and times.
HYBRID (HY) – Asynchronous Online & In-Person
Combination of asynchronous online and in-person instruction modes. Your course will take place asynchronously via Blackboard; in addition, your instructor will meet with you on campus (in-person) on scheduled days and times.
Coming to Campus
The WCC Pandemic Response Team has developed its plan for re-emergence following the guidance of state and local health and government authorities, as well as the extensive input provided by employees and students of the college through numerous town halls and surveys.
All students and employees coming to campus MUST report their proof of completed COVID vaccination or request an exemption by going to the Westchester Community College’s CastleBranch portal.
If you are vaccinated:
- You are not required to participate in the weekly COVID-19 PCR testing regimen.
- You must wear a mask at all times when indoors
- It is recommended that you practice social distancing whenever practicable
If you are not vaccinated:
- You must receive a weekly COVID-19 PCR test at Westchester Medical Center’s Valhalla Campus
- You must wear a mask at all times when indoors
- You must practice social distancing whenever practicable
Any student or employee who is not vaccinated and will be entering on or in the Valhalla campus or any extension locations is required to participate in the surveillance testing program. Students and employees who provide proof of vaccination are exempt from the surveillance testing program.
- PCR testing must occur weekly, even during weeks such campus visits do not occur
- PCR testing must be conducted at the Westchester Medical Center’s Valhalla Campus
- Students who receive PCR testing on a regular basis as a function of their employment or internship are exempt from this testing program, but must submit their test results to CovidReporting@sunywcc.edu
For more details on the required testing program, visit here
Safety Precautions on College Property
When on campus, you will observe the College has implemented several safety precautions:
- Limiting the overall number of people at or in any given location;
- New room occupancy limits for social distancing;
- New hand sanitizers installed in various high-traffic locations;
- New paper towel dispensers to augment air hand dryers;
- Available restrooms are single-occupancy;
- Single use occupancy limit for all elevators;
- Handicap entrances are motion operated;
- Hallways allow traffic to move in one direction;
- Daily and targeted deep cleaning of college facilities;
- Upgraded maintenance levels of air ventilation filters throughout campus; and
- Social distancing, hand washing and mask wearing reminder signs posted throughout College facilities.
COVID-19 Town Halls
Q and A from Town Halls
Will students who are in fieldwork have to be tested regularly? Different programs have different requirements.
Student who are in fieldwork placements will have to abide by any requirements set forth by those facilities. Each site may have their own policies and we will need to comply with those policies.
The FDA has not fully approved the vaccine. It is only approved for emergency use. Is requiring people to get a vaccination that does not have full FDA approval legal?
Vaccines will be required for students and employees, and exemptions will be considered for medical, religious, FDA approval (students), or personal (employees) reasons. The plan was fully reviewed by the county’s legal department.
The SUNY site states that the vaccine mandate was contingent on FDA approval. Has that changed?
Westchester Community College requires students to be vaccinated in order to attend in-person classes or participate in on-campus activities. Students may receive a personal exemption until the FDA fully approves a vaccine. Upon FDA approval, students may be prevented from entering upon college property until they are fully vaccinated or have an approved medical or religious exemption.
Just to make it clear, by what date must employees be fully vaccinated?
Employees should either provide proof of vaccination or receive approval for an exemption by their return to their worksites on August 16. Employees may update their status at any time. The instructions for taking these steps in a college-wide email on August 2, 2021.
If we are vaccinated, can we start to come on campus before August 16th without being tested weekly? When will weekly COVID testing stop for vaccinated employees that are currently going on campus?
Weekly COVID-19 testing continues until August 16. At that time, fully vaccinated individuals will not be subject to weekly testing but may be subject to less frequent and randomized testing.
What happens if someone refuses to get vaccinated?
Employees may seek an exemption for medical, religious, or personal reasons. Students may seek an exemption for medical, religious, or FDA approval reasons. Individuals who do not have an approved exemption and who do not provide proof of vaccination will be prevented from entering upon college property. All College employees, students and designated contractors that will enter upon College property for any reason during the fall semester and who are not verified to have been vaccinated and as such have a valid vaccine exemption are required to be PCR COVID-19 tested each and every week at the Westchester Medical Center in Valhalla.
Will outside vendors like Security officers; Cleaning Vendors; Construction vendors be required to submit Vaccination status or do weekly COVID testing?
Security officers and cleaning vendors will be required to submit vaccination status or do weekly COVID testing. Construction vendors will not be so required.
Is there a list of vaccines that are used outside the US that we will accept?
It is anticipated that we will have a list of acceptable vaccines that were given outside of the U.S. We will update this information as soon as the list is available.
Will Castle Branch keep our info safe? What security measures are in place so our identities do not get stolen? Information Technology has a rigorous vetting process for all vendors that store or interact with College data.
How much of our personal information must be provided to the third-party Castle Branch site?
Westchester Community College is extending its contract with Castle Branch, which already tracks critical data on our students who participate in clinical field experiences, in order to verify compliance with the college’s vaccination policy. Castle Branch will require uploading a government-issued photo ID. It will not be necessary to enter your social security number.
HR is responsible for collecting and asking for vaccination status, not managers. Correct?
Westchester Community College is using Castle Branch to verify compliance with the college’s vaccination policy. Only relevant vaccination data will be shared with security and a select few who need to know this information in order to ensure compliance. In accordance with HIPAA and other privacy policies, no individual personal or health information will be shared with anyone for any other purpose.
Is there a mechanism by which I could bring my proof of vaccination card to campus for a notation in my employment record?
You will be able to upload your proof of vaccination status to the Castle Branch system.
Do credit and non-credit students submit information for vaccination in the same way?
Answers to these questions will be provided with an announcement on how to access the Castle Branch system and upload your proof of vaccination or application for exemption.
Will we be told if there is a positive case?
Data on COVID-19 rates are always available at the SUNY COVID-19 Tracker here: https://www.suny.edu/covid19-tracker/.
Will classroom size be reduced? What will the maximum number of students in a classroom be?
Yes, in-person class sizes are limited to a maximum of 20 students. Some classes, including labs, have much smaller capacities.
Will in-person class caps be raised back to room capacity and will we maintain the same number of remote classes since students have already started registering?
Will the percentage of in-person courses offered be increasing for the fall?
About 30% of classes will be offered in-person for fall 2021.
Will faculty know if someone in our class is not vaccinated? Will we know who?
In accordance with HIPAA, student health information will not be shared. Only authorized personnel in the Student Health Office and Security Office will have access to this information for purposes of ensuring compliance with the college’s vaccination requirement and corresponding exemptions.
How are students submitting their proof of vaccination? Will there be a block on registering for on campus classes if students have not submitted vaccination?
Students will submit their proof of vaccination in the Castle Branch system. Students who are not vaccinated will need to declare the reason for their exemption and will be tested weekly. Everyone must wear a mask while indoors.
Will classrooms be set up in a way where desks are 6ft apart?
In accordance with information from SUNY and other educational institutions, social distancing in instructional settings is not required if masks are worn by everyone. Masks are required during classes indoors, except for an instructor or speaker who is at least 6 feet away from others in the class.
I know we are first and foremost dealing with the fall, but are there any discussions regarding keeping the remote modality as an option going forward?
There are lessons that we are learning about being an agile, innovative institution. We will be exploring those lessons, but separately from PRT, which has been tasked exclusively with guiding the college through the pandemic.
Masks and Testing
If I am vaccinated, do I still have to wear a mask?
Yes, masks are required indoors unless you are in a room by yourself.
If someone is in their cubicle or office and are more than 6 feet away from others, do I still have to wear a mask?
Individuals who are by themselves at their workstations and 6 feet away from others do not need to wear a mask.
What will be the policy for masks outdoors, including classes conducted outdoors?
Masks are optional outdoors. Individuals should still observe social distancing as much as practicable.
Will public safety be enforcing the mask policy in public spaces like the library and student center?
Security Officers will remind individuals to wear masks where required. Individuals not following the policy will be referred to the Office of Human Resources (employees) or Dean of Students (students) for possible disciplinary action.
Can teachers use their own discretion about wearing masks while they teach? And can they tell students who are making a presentation that they do not have to wear masks?
Instructors or presenters who are at least six feet away from others in an instructional setting may remove their masks when speaking.
What about staff and students with PTSD or some other serious medical condition? Do they have to wear masks?
Yes, everyone who comes onto college property will be required to wear masks indoors.
When can employees on campus stop the weekly COVID testing?
Weekly COVID-19 testing continues until August 16. At that time, fully vaccinated individuals will not be subject to weekly testing but may be subject to less frequent and randomized testing.
All College employees, students and designated contractors that will enter upon College property for any reason during the Fall Semester and who are not verified to have been vaccinated and as such have a valid vaccine exemption are required to be PCR COVID-19 tested each and every week at the Westchester Medical Center in Valhalla.
Are there protocols for the event that someone is vaccinated but still gets infected with COVID (new variant)? What are the rules for staff/students/ school as a whole?
Anyone (student or employee) who tests positive for COVID 19 whether they are fully vaccinated, partially vaccinated or not vaccinated will be advised to isolate for 10 days. They will be advised not to come to campus during that time period. They may return on Day 11 if they are asymptomatic. WCC will assist the WCDOH or other Health Department with Contact Tracing and anyone who fits the criteria as a contact will need to quarantine off campus for 10 days.
What will be the policy for individuals with known contact to those with COVID?
Those individuals who have been identified as meeting the criteria as a contact of a COVID Positive individual will be notified and will be advised that they must quarantine off campus for 10 days. They may return to campus on Day 11 if they are asymptomatic.
Is there an infection rate in NY that would cause another shutdown?
The Pandemic Response Team monitors myriad data points and adjusts plans according to current conditions. For example, one key data point is the COVID-19 positivity rate at Westchester Community College, and if that reaches 5%, the college will initiate a transition to remote teaching, learning, and work.
Will the college be providing employees with N95 masks for use within the office?
The college has a supply of cloth masks that are available upon request to the Security Office.
Will the cafeteria or any of the cafes be open as of August 16th?
Current plan is to have Crema Café and Siegel Café open September 1. We are exploring the possibility to open Siegel Café with limited hours and offerings for August 16 but no final decision has been made.
Will maskless space be set aside for inside dining?
Masks are permitted to be removed while eating if social distancing is observed.
Will open swim and the workout room be available to employees in August?
Starting what date, will visitors be permitted on-campus and registering at the Gateway building?
Will there be a limit on people in the elevators?
Yes. Single use is recommended and there is signage at each elevator stating so.
Can we keep our office door (to the lobby) locked to prevent individuals who do not work there from entering?
For safety and security purposes, we cannot lock office suites. However, we can post signage with information for visitors to call or email to reduce the need for visitor entry.
How will the guest check-in procedures be disbursed/enforced?
Any Valhalla Campus employee expecting a visitor will need to verify their guest with Security. Upon arrival, the guest will check in at the Gateway Building. There will be signage on campus directing the guest.
Who do we email to request updated parking decal or ID? Can we request if not yet expired?
You may request your parking decal or ID by emailing SECURITY@SUNYWCC.EDU. You may do so before the expiration these expire.
If an adjunct is not working because of low enrollment, does she need a current car sticker and I.D.?
If the adjunct is employed by the college, the answer is Yes. If not, the answer is No.
Can we come to campus before 8/16 to update our ID's and pick up new parking permits?
Yes, but under the Sub-Level A protocols which include being pre-scheduled through your division and testing the week you come to campus, regardless of vaccine status.
Will all shared offices have Plexiglass partitions?
The facilities department has installed Plexiglass partitions at all office desks in shared spaces with partitions under 5 feet. Please see the photos here of room 227.
Will plexiglass be placed in small classrooms for the instructor?
No, students must wear face masks during class times and practice social distancing as practicable.
Some of our classrooms have large tables. Will those be replaced with desks to allow more students per room?
No furniture changes have been made, only accommodations to existing furniture where necessary as per CDC guidance.
If classrooms run out of wipes, where do they get new ones?
The professor or dean may put a work order in the system for a replacement bin.
Will masks be available in the classrooms?
Mask will not be available in classrooms. An individual must request a mask at the security office located in the Student Center.
What about offices with no windows?
All campus buildings are equipped with Central air circulation systems with the enhanced MERV13 filters as recommended by the CDC.
Will all computer labs be open to students?
Will all entrances to all buildings be open?
Will all offices be provided with hand sanitizers?
We have furnished all office suites with hand sanitizing units. If an office requires the installation of a unit, please submit a work order for installation.
What are the cleaning protocols going to be?
Each building will receive deep sanitization twice per day as per SUNY recommendations. With touch-up of high contact areas throughout the day such as elevators, door handles, restrooms, etc.
Have the in-office air conditioners in Hartford Hall had their filters upgraded?The Hartford Hall units are room-specific, and all filters have been thoroughly cleaned.
Westchester Community College professionals are working to continue to give you the quality educational experience you expect and deserve! Below you will find the links to resources that can help you get the most of your classes. If you have any questions or need additional information, please do not hesitate to email us at email@example.com.
List of Student Resources
Online Learning Resources
- Academic Counseling
- Disability Services
- Emergency Student Fund
- Financial Aid
- Mental Health Task Force
For a comprehensive list of student services, support services, support & programming, click here.
Do you have more questions? Visit our FAQs here.
We have resources available to assist you, our valued employees, in providing the high levels of service our students and community have come to expect. Faculty and staff/administrators can access the resources listed below. Please do not hesitate to email us at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any questions or need additional information.
List of Employee Resources
- Accessibility Considerations
- Blackboard Support Articles
- Blackboard Tutorials
- Instructional Continuity Plan
- Office 365 Transition
- Open SUNY Support
- Viking Success
- Mental Health Task Force
Do you have more questions? Visit our FAQs here. Frequently Asked Questions
If you need of physical or mental health resources, please review the resources listed below. If you have any questions or need additional information, please email us at email@example.com
List of Health Resources
- NYS Department of Health Vaccine Eligibility and Sign-up
- NYS COVID Alert App
- COVID-19 Testing through Westchester County
- SUNY COVID-19 Dashboard
- Safe Colleges
- Health Training by RISE (paid)
- Coronavirus (COVID-19) information (WHO)
- New York State Department of Health
- Westchester County Department of Health
- Managing mental health (CDC)
- Mental Health Task Force
- Strategies & Tips to deal with Anxiety and Depression
- Travel Guidelines (CDC)
- WCC Department of Mental Health and Counseling Services
There are several resources that can help you during this period of economic uncertainty. Links to these resources are provided below. Please do not hesitate to email us at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any questions or need additional information.
List of Financial Resources
Stay informed at www.sunywcc.edu and stay healthy!
Pandemic Recovery Plan
Pandemic Preparedness Plan 2020
Pandemic Response Team
A Westchester Community College Preparedness Response Team is working closely with the relevant areas of the college to respond to this evolving situation including updating the College’s Pandemic Preparedness Plan, and Pandemic Recovery Plan. The team members are as follows.
- President - Dr. Belinda Miles
- Provost and Vice President of Academic Affairs - Dr. Vanessa Morest
- VP and Dean, Continuing Education and Workforce Development and Interim VP of Student Access, Involvement and Success – Teresita Wisell
- Vice President of Administrative Services - Brian Murphy
- Chief of Staff and Vice President of Strategic Operations - Dr. Shawn Brown
- Vice President of Information Technology - Anthony Scordino
- Coordinator of Health Services - Janice Gilroy
- Director of Marketing and Communications - Mark Stollar
- Director of Human Resources - Aurora Workman
- Director of Physical Plant - Robert Cirillo
- Director of Campus Security - Scott Sullivan
- Executive Director of the Faculty/Student Association - Joe Poppa
- Manager of Creative Communications – Edward Tatton III
- Associate Dean and Director, EOC Yonkers – Gina Gaines
The team is working across all college divisions to update division specific contingency plans for managing operations during a potential disruption in normal activities. Key objectives of the plan are to (1) minimize the risks of exposure among faculty, staff, and students; (2) maintain and/or restore the student-learning environment; and (3) maintain a reduced level of key campus operations through remote or online interaction in the event social distancing measures and/or a campus closure are invoked. Employees with questions on these plans should contact their supervisor or division vice president.