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University Message

Campus Update on COVID-19 Vaccine Requirements and Winter Quarter Testing

A photo of the Cal Poly campus with Cerro San Luis and Bishop Peak in the background.

This message originally appeared as an email to students on December 22, 2021.

To the Student Body:

I’m sure that you have been following news reports about the Omicron variant of the COVID-19 virus. Based on the evidence we have seen so far; this new version of the coronavirus is a major concern based on how easily it is transmitted. Cal Poly will take new steps to protect individuals and the community from infection and an overburdened healthcare system. Taking these steps will allow our campus to continue to offer Learn by Doing in a “near normal” manner.

The major message of this note is simple: get a COVID-19 booster as soon as you can!

Here is an executive summary of the steps we are taking for a safe Winter Quarter:

  • Cal Poly still plans to return in person on January 3 and to hold classes as scheduled during winter quarter.
  • Consistent with the CSU Announcement we are changing our definition of “fully vaccinated” to require a booster for booster-eligible students effective January 20.
  • We are requiring all students, regardless of vaccination status, to test for COVID-19 during the first week of winter quarter.
  • Students who are considered not-fully-vaccinated under the new definition below must participate in the ongoing testing program.

 The details are as follows:

1) First Week Student Testing

All students will be required to test for coronavirus infection during the first week of the winter quarter, preferably at our on-campus testing site. Only students who are fully virtual and have declared that they are not accessing campus in any way during winter quarter are exempt - everyone else must test. No pre-arrival tests will be accepted.

Please see the student testing webpage for important information about how to test, especially if you did not test during fall quarter. There are required steps that you must complete before you arrive at the University Union testing site.

To keep lines as short as possible, please follow this testing schedule:

Unvaccinated students

  • January 2-3: Unvaccinated students (those with medical or religious exemptions)

Vaccinated students (regardless of booster status)

  • January 2-3: All first-year students and new transfer students who live in residence halls
  • January 4-5: Students who live in campus apartments (NOTE: all students living on campus must be tested by January 5)
  • January 6-9: Off-Campus students by Last Name
  • January 6: Last Names A-G
  • January 7: Last Names H-M
  • January 8: Last Names N-R
  • January 9: Last Names S-Z

If a student’s class/work schedule prevents them from testing on their scheduled day, they should follow the steps to sign up and access the testing site the day before their scheduled day to ensure that they are tested on time.

Students will be permitted to attend their in-person classes, even if their scheduled test date is after their first in-person class.

Note: the university will hire a large number of students to help with both the testing site and the test-processing lab. If you are interested in one of these paid positions, please contact our testing site manger directly at

2) Change in the definition of “fully vaccinated.”

Cal Poly, in alignment with the CSU, is changing our definition of “fully vaccinated” to require a booster for booster-eligible students. This change is effective January 20, 2022.

If you have received the full basic COVID-19 vaccination AND a booster by January 20, 2022, you are considered fully vaccinated for the entire winter quarter.

If you have received the full basic COVID-19 vaccination BUT will not be eligible for a booster until after January 20, 2022, you will be considered fully vaccinated until the date you become booster-eligible. You must either (a) receive the booster on that date to remain fully vaccinated, or (b) request an exemption and follow the requirements for not-fully-vaccinated persons until you receive the booster.

The current recommendation from the CDC is that people become eligible for boosters two months after the one-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccination, and six months after the second dose of Pfizer or Moderna. The CDC is also currently recommending that people who received any of the three basic vaccines receive a Pfizer or Moderna booster, and we encourage everyone to follow the CDC guidance. Please note that the CDC’s recommendations may change at any time.

If you have already received your booster, please do not attempt to upload confirmation through the portal COVID-19 Info Tab at this time. We will provide further instruction on the process to upload booster vaccination records later in Winter Quarter.

SUMMARY – To avoid testing every three days after January 20 or your eligible booster date, please get your booster ASAP!  Over 80% of all vaccinated students are eligible now for the booster!

3) Ongoing Testing

Anyone who is considered not fully vaccinated must request a medical or religious exemption (unless you have already done so for this academic year) and must test for coronavirus infection every three days during winter quarter. Information about ongoing testing is available here.

As of today, we do not expect to require regular, broader testing of the campus community beyond not-fully-vaccinated students, but please note that all requirements are subject to change as the public health situation evolves.

If at any time during the quarter you are experiencing symptoms consistent with coronavirus infection, please limit your exposure to other people and contact Campus Health & Wellbeing at 805-756-1211 to arrange symptomatic testing.

Further details about winter operations will be sent out before you return to campus, including additional information about testing, campus pass and how to inform the university of your vaccination and booster status.

Complexities aside, the basic message is simple: get the COVID-19 booster as soon as you can. Research shows that this step is essential to protecting yourself, your loved ones, and those in our community (and their families) who are vulnerable to coronavirus and may not be able to be vaccinated. Fighting a pandemic is a group effort. I have been very proud of how well our community has done so far, and I ask you to keep doing the right thing, for everyone’s sake.


Jeffrey D. Armstrong