This message was sent to the Rockefeller community from the Office of the Executive Vice President on December 15, 2021 at 7:47 p.m.
Subject: Update on COVID-19 policies
Dear members of the Rockefeller community,
Since Monday we have had 18 new COVID cases diagnosed in our community. These include 11 in just the last 24 hours. Six of these cases are likely from on-campus transmission in three different laboratories, and infections have been documented across the campus. These numbers are unprecedented and are highly likely due to the Omicron variant, which is much more infectious than prior variants.
In light of this news, the University, following consultation with the Chairs of the Research Restart and Extended Emergency Preparedness and Response Committees (RRC and EPRC), is immediately implementing the following changes to University COVID policies and procedures.
- Remote work: Employees who can reasonably work remotely are asked to communicate with their supervisors about working fully remotely through December 23, 2021. Supervisors have full discretion in determining the ability of employees to work remotely. Do not come to campus unless it is deemed necessary.
- Due to the high rate of on-campus transmission of infection, all close contacts of any person diagnosed with infection should quarantine and not come to campus.
- Social and recreational activities are suspended or limited as described below:
- Bass Dining Commons is for pick-up only; no indoor dining is allowed until further notice. Outdoor dining with appropriate social distancing is allowed.
- Indoor fitness classes, including spin and yoga, are suspended until further notice.
- The Founder’s Hall Gym is closed until further notice.
- Employees and students may continue to reserve tennis courts for play by RU personnel only.
- Indoor food/drink receptions and indoor meetings with food or drink are suspended until further notice.
- On Campus Events: Meetings should all be virtual unless in-person meetings are essential. Essential in-person business meetings and presentations involving fully vaccinated people require masks and participants must maintain social distancing.
- University Access and Visitor Policy: Access to campus continues to be restricted to authorized and fully vaccinated University personnel. Rockefeller IDs must be used to enter (and re-enter) campus and must be displayed while on campus. Access for third-party service/support personnel and/or external collaborators must be for business purposes only and arranged and approved in advance of their arrival. Requests for campus access for non-RU personnel should be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Face Covering Policy is unchanged: Everyone is required to wear face covering while inside any building on campus, with exceptions for single-occupancy private offices, residences and breaks for eating/drinking. Non-RU personnel (service providers, guests, collaborators) are required to wear face covering at all times on campus, both indoors and outside.
- RU Strong testing: Any RU personnel on campus today (December 15th) or tomorrow (December 16th) must submit a testing sample to the RU Strong program by 9:30 am Thursday, December 16. Anyone on campus next week is expected to submit a testing sample by Tuesday, December 21st at 9:30 am. The RU Strong Lab will be closed for all testing during the University Holiday week (Friday, December 24th, through Sunday, January 3rd, inclusive). Testing will recommence on Tuesday, January 4th, in addition to the usual Thursday, January 6th, testing.
- Booster shots: Everyone is urged to obtain booster vaccinations as soon as possible, as evidence strongly supports their efficacy against all strains, including Omicron. There is a “booster blitz” with Pfizer booster shots available on-campus tomorrow, Thursday, December 16th. Many appointments are available for any eligible employee using the online scheduler.
- RU Healthy: All employees and students continue to be required to complete the RU Healthy self-health assessment prior to reporting to RU facilities for work. Note that the RU Healthy tool is designed to facilitate review and response from OHS in instances where symptoms, positive tests or contacts with people who tested positive are reported. OHS will provide follow up instructions as needed directly to the affected employee or student.
- Travel policy is unchanged: Non-essential travel, both domestic and international, continues to be discouraged at this time. Those considering essential travel should keep in mind their own individual risk factors and exposure to at-risk populations, such as those who are elderly, immunosuppressed, or live with serious underlying medical issues. All travelers must closely follow the CDC’s travel updates before and during travel. Employees are strongly encouraged to consult the CDC Travel Map when planning essential international travel. Vaccinated employees and students do not have to report travel to the University or to the New York State Department of Health. All Child and Family Center (CFC) students who travel domestically or internationally must report travel to the CFC.
The sweep of cases through our community in the last several days is undoubtedly disheartening and stressful. We will get back to a more normal state most quickly if we take appropriate measures now to prevent spreading of virus: get tested, get boosted, wear masks and maintain social distance. It is critical that we continue to support each other through these difficult times. The University is committed to continuing to provide a safe environment and your commitment and actions to keep everyone safe and healthy is most appreciated.
Please take care of yourselves and each other. Be well,
Timothy P. O’Connor, PhD
Executive Vice President
The Rockefeller University