Multiple changes have been implemented on the St. John’s Queens campus for the fall semester. Ranging from shifting COVID-19 mandates to dining changes along with other customs typical to the St. John’s student, the fall semester will look like none that any St. John’s student has experienced.
COVID-19 Mandates and Guidance
With more students in-person and less behind a computer screen, it is not surprising that the University has implemented new safety measures to try and protect the St. John’s community. There are similar policies to that of last year. Isolation protocols will be followed based on guidelines from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and the contact tracing protocol of last year is still in place, according to University spokesperson Brian Browne.
However, unlike last year, vaccinations are now required of all in the St. John’s community, as well as masks indoors regardless of vaccination status. Those vaccinated in New York should already be in the University’s system. Students from outside of New York State must submit a copy of their vaccination card to the St. John’s Health Portal, or Medicat after signing into the University portal.
“All St. John’s non-degree, undergraduate, graduate, and professional students must present proof of vaccination against COVID-19 in order to attend in-person classes, visit campus, be employed as a student worker, and participate in campus activities this fall,” according to a letter from student affairs sent via email on Aug. 25. Proof of vaccination was due by Aug. 1.
If a student has only one dose of the Pfizer/Moderna vaccination, they will be able to attend classes and orientation until they receive their second dose. However, resident students cannot move into University housing until their second dose has been received.
The mask mandate was updated in late August. The University requires all persons “regardless of vaccination status to wear masks inside all campus buildings,” the letter from Student Affair said. “Students in their own residence hall rooms and faculty, administrators, and staff working alone in their own offices are not required to wear masks. Fully vaccinated persons may choose to not wear masks outdoors.”
Acceptable face coverings include cloth masks that contain two layers of fabric that provide “acceptable level of protection” and block light when held up to a light source, or surgical masks according to the letter from Student Affairs. Bandanas and gaiters are not to be worn because they “do not provide effective layers of coverage.”
All St. John’s employees are required to be fully vaccinated by Sept. 30, according to Browne. This is an update to the announcement on July 19 that stated all employees, both full and part-time, were required to be fully vaccinated by the start of the fall semester. Proof of vaccination for both students and employees must be uploaded to the Medicat Health Portal.
If an employee fails to upload vaccination by Sept. 30, they “may be placed on an unpaid leave of absence, effective Oct. 1, subject to applicable collective bargaining agreements,” according to Browne. If they continually fail to upload vaccination, they may face “disciplinary action, up to and including termination.”
Employees that receive an exemption from the vaccination due to medical or religious reasons must undergo weekly COVID-19 testing, along with other additional safety restrictions. Students who have been granted medical or religious exemptions “will be required to complete daily symptom monitoring, report for regular testing, wear masks indoor and outdoors on University properties and comply with other protocols applicable to those who have not been vaccinated,” according to the letter from Student Affairs.
Also, following NYC law, “unvaccinated individuals are prohibited from using campus dining facilities and the fitness center, Taffner Field House, and other athletic facilities,” according to Browne. The same rule applies to students.
“The University is required to follow the NYC Executive Order issued on Aug. 16 requiring COVID-19 Vaccination for Indoor Entertainment, Recreation, Dining, and Fitness Settings,” according to Browne. “Therefore, only students who are vaccinated will be allowed in the fitness center as noted in the communication to all students. Students are required to wear a mask at all times while in the fitness center.”
All academic gatherings have no capacity thresholds, according to the letter from Student Affairs. Any social and extracurricular gathering that is held outdoors has no capacity threshold.
“Events with food should be held outdoors,” the email says. “When this is not possible, no more than four people should be seated at each table to allow for social distancing. This is subject to change as required by changing conditions and/or guidance.”
Last semester, students were quarantined in St. Vincent Hall. However, at the end of Spring 2021 the residence hall was torn down to be replaced with a new health sciences building. According to Browne, there have been “spaces in other areas [that] have been taken off-line to accommodate students that need to quarantine.” These spaces were not specified.
“We recognize that some members of the St. John’s community may be disappointed by these policy changes,” the letter from Student Affairs stated. “However, we must make decisions to protect the health and safety of our community.”
Food on campus
Multiple on-campus dining options are available for the fall as of publication. Montgoris Dining Hall, Marillac Food Court, Marillac and Montgoris Markets, Dunkin’ Donuts, D’Angelo Center Starbucks, Law School Café & Sidebar, and Einstein Bros. Bagels will all be opened this fall, according to Scott Lemperle, Executive Director of Auxiliary and Conference Services. However, the D’Angelo Center Food Court is currently being repurposed, and will be closed for the foreseeable future. More information on dining can be found here.
With the closing of the Red Storm Diner due to the destruction of St. Vincent Hall, late night dining is instead being offered until 1 a.m. at Montgoris Dining Hall every evening, according to Lemperle. It will serve late-night menu options, which were not specified.
Students must be vaccinated to use “which include Montgoris Dining Hall and the Faculty Club,” according to the Letter from Student Affairs. “Take-out options will be available for unvaccinated individuals or those in process of achieving full vaccination status.”
Montgoris Hall will be opened at normal capacity to vaccinated diners, according to Lemperle. “Individuals should wear masks inside the dining hall except when sitting at a table and eating,” he said. “Masks should be replaced once individuals have completed their meals.”