Push to get SUNY students, staff vaccinated ahead of fall return continues

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The subject tests will immediately end for U.S. students and will be phased out for international students by June. (Getty Images)

ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) – College students will be arriving back to schools across New York State in just a few weeks. And, SUNY is preparing to fully reopen all 64 of its campuses.

United University Professions President Fred Kowal, says the majority of its members in the union, which represents more than 35,000 workers at SUNY, are vaccinated. 

“Our own data is showing that about 90 percent of our members are vaccinated. That’s teaching faculty and professional staff, which is outstanding,” Kowal said.  

In a recent USA Today Op-Ed SUNY Chancellor Jim Malatras said that in a survey of more than 30,000 of its students, about 75 percent said they’d gotten at least one vaccine dose. 

Governor Cuomo has said that SUNY students will be required to get vaccinated to take in-person classes, but that depends on the FDA approval of a vaccine. 

“We think that SUNY at the campus level really needs to ensure that everyone’s safe in a classroom setting, in residence halls, where there’s a large number of people, in libraries, that everyone stay masked just to protect everyone at this point where the Delta variant is spreading pretty quickly among unvaccinated people,” Kowal said. 

SUNY is doing a ’30-Day Vaxx Challenge’ to boost its numbers and incentivize the community. 

“If you’re not vaccinated, you still have to wear your mask, and you still have to take it upon yourself to socially distance, in some cases you may not be able to live in dormitories unless you have a medical exemption, you may not be able to play athletics, you may not be able to go to the big games,” Malatras said.

Kowal says that there seems to be a small percentage of hybrid courses. Malatras says many campuses will offer online programs as a supplement to the in-person experience. 

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