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University Message

President Armstrong: Masking, Testing and Vaccination Guidance for Fall Quarter

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This message originally appeared as an email to the campus community that was sent out on Monday, August 9, 2021.

To the Campus Community,

As the start of classes gets closer, there is important information about fall quarter that everyone in our community needs to know. I understand that some of you may have concerns about recent news regarding the Delta variant of the COVID-19 virus. I am concerned, too, and our team is watching developments closely.

Our goal, as always, is to deliver the highest-quality education we can, consistent with the health and safety of the entire Cal Poly community. Our plan has been and remains to hold most classes in person and to return to our traditional level of occupancy in University Housing.

As you already know, the CSU will require that students, faculty and staff on campus for any reason either fully vaccinate or declare a medical or religious exemption. Unvaccinated students will be required to test regularly. I continue to believe that this approach will allow us to safely deliver the highest-quality education. This note explains some further steps we are taking to reduce the risk of coronavirus illness in our community.

Keeping Ourselves and Each Other Safe

The foundation of reducing risk of COVID-19 is the combination of: (1) vaccination; (2) masking for everyone when indoors; (3) practicing good hygiene (washing hands, using hand sanitizer, using additional personal protective equipment (PPE) when appropriate); and (4) testing.

Vaccination: Under the CSU policy mentioned above, everyone at Cal Poly—faculty, staff, and students—must either fully vaccinate and inform Cal Poly of their vaccination status or declare a medical or religious exemption. All students must inform the university of their vaccination status.  For students who already know their vaccination status, it would be helpful if you record your status before August 23 to give the university time to plan accordingly. Details about how students can do this have already been communicated by the vice president for student affairs last week, and similar details will be provided for faculty and staff in the coming days.

For students living on campus, the deadline to be compliant with CSU / Cal Poly policy is September 14 or the day you return to campus, whichever is earlier. For students living off-campus, the deadline is September 20. All students must inform the university of your vaccination status; click here to record your status before August 23 to give the university time to plan accordingly. If you have already completed that process, you do not need to do anything else..

For faculty and staff the deadline is September 20. The CSU is developing a self-service module, different than the student process, for employees to submit their vaccination status or to claim a medical or religious exemption. Those few employees that were hired into fully-remote work assignment that do not physically access CSU facilities or activities may select this category on the vaccine form if approved by their manager with the awareness that if they are later required to come to any CSU facilities the vaccine requirement will apply. We are currently assessing the timeline for implementation.

Masking: Everyone on campus will be required to mask while indoors, effective immediately and until further notice. This requirement includes classrooms, where both faculty and students will need to be masked (except under some unusual circumstances where masking would be unsafe or impractical). Please note that these masking guidelines are subject to future change if and as the public health situation changes.

Hygiene: Everyone will need to continue following good pandemic hygiene, including regularly washing or sanitizing hands and wearing PPE as appropriate.

Testing: On-campus testing (mandatory for unvaccinated students) will be available free of charge for asymptomatic, unvaccinated students, faculty, and staff. Symptomatic students can get tested with no charge through Campus Health and Wellbeing. Symptomatic faculty and staff should test through one of the local testing sites or their healthcare provider. Consistent with the safety measures listed in the CSU COVID-19 Vaccination Interim Policy, the CSU is in the process of meeting and conferring with the labor unions to consider COVID-19 employee testing programs for unvaccinated employees.

Please note that, as was the practice last spring, we will require testing twice per week for all students who are not vaccinated. Vaccinated students will not be required to test unless exposed to COVID-19 or showing symptoms. Testing requirements may be modified as public health conditions change.

It is important to note that procedures following exposure to COVID-19 will be significantly different for vaccinated and non-vaccinated individuals. While we will provide more details in the future, unvaccinated students exposed to COVID-19 will be required to quarantine for 10 days. This will not be the case for vaccinated individuals with no symptoms.  This is yet another good reason to be vaccinated.

Employees Returning to On-Campus Work

In general, employees who are currently working remotely will return to campus in a phased manner, based upon operational needs. Since this varies by employee and division, managers have been and will be communicating directly with employees to schedule their return-to-campus dates. Should you have any questions, please consult with your department head/manager.

Staying Informed

As during last academic year, the Cal Poly coronavirus web page remains the central resource for staying informed about the latest developments. I encourage everyone to check it regularly.

Finally, as always, thank you for everything you have done and are doing to keep yourselves and each other safe.


Jeffrey D. Armstrong