RIT Safety Plan in Response to the COVID-19 Pandemic

Guiding Principles

Rochester Institute of Technology is actively preparing for a normalized fall semester. The health and safety of our students, faculty, staff, and visitors is the most important consideration as we plan to increase the number of people on campus. Our plans are aligned and consistent with applicable local, state, and federal laws. They recognize our shared responsibility for keeping the RIT community healthy and safe. Please visit RIT Ready for the latest policies and procedures related to implementing this Safety Plan.

Faculty, staff, students, visitors, and other invited guests (the “RIT community”) are expected to fully comply with the provisions of this RIT Safety Plan (the “Safety Plan”) and other policies, procedures, and guidelines designed to protect the health and safety of all individuals on the RIT campus. Accordingly, some areas and activities may need to be restricted and/or modified in accordance with government mandates and to support the health and safety of the RIT community. Failure to do so may result in corrective action including, but not limited to, termination of employment for employees, dismissal from the university for students, or removal from campus for visitors and invited guests. The expectation is that every individual will take the steps necessary to protect themselves and the community at large.

Requirements for All Members of the RIT Community

RIT is open for on-campus instruction, research, campus programs, and services. All faculty and staff not currently working on campus are encouraged to return to campus. RIT is no longer operating under reduced capacity guidelines from New York state. All employees working remotely must consult with their supervisors about commencing work back on campus. 

Divisional vice presidents shall designate Site Safety Monitor(s). A Site Safety Monitor shall be responsible for ensuring compliance with all aspects of this Safety Plan for their assigned areas. The number and areas of responsibility for Site Safety Monitors shall be determined by the appropriate divisional vice president. The current list of Site Safety Monitor(s) is maintained by the Office of Legal Affairs.

In-person meetings can occur at full capacity without physical distancing requirements for both vaccinated and unvaccinated members of the RIT community. Tele- or video-conferencing can be used for administrative functions and/or meetings. The scheduling of events shall utilize the existing Event Management System process. Any indoor event expected to have a capacity of 5,000 or more attendees shall prepare an event safety plan. The event safety plan shall be included as part of the Event Management System scheduling process.

All members of the RIT community are expected to self-monitor for any symptoms related to COVID-19 before coming to campus every day. These symptoms are based on CDC guidance and currently include:

  • Loss of taste, smell or appetite
  • Chills or fever higher than 100⁰ F (37.8⁰ C)
  • Sore throat
  • Unusual headache or eye pain
  • New cough or change in cough
  • Difficulty breathing/shortness of breath
  • Abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea

In addition, all members of the RIT community shall not have been:

  • Diagnosed with COVID-19 in the last ten (10) days
  • Advised to stay home by a medical professional due to COVID-19 concerns, or
  • Learned that they were a close contact of a confirmed case in the last week.

If at any point in time, prior to coming to campus or during the day while on campus, an individual begins showing signs of COVID-19 (or any illness), they should go to their home or residence immediately and contact the Student Health Center (students) or their personal physician (faculty/staff). 

RIT strongly encourages all community members to receive the COVID-19 vaccination. Vaccinations are readily available in our region and we are all now eligible. 

RIT students must show proof of full COVID-19 vaccination prior to coming to the Henrietta campus for Fall 2021. It is expected that all students will make every effort to complete a COVID-19 vaccine series and provide proof of full vaccination by August 1, 2021. Students must log into the RIT Wellness Portal to complete the COVID-19 Vaccine form and upload a photo or scanned copy of their vaccination card or receipt with their name, date of birth, name of the vaccine, and the date(s) of the shots. Acceptable vaccines include those approved for use in the U.S., accepted by the US Food and Drug Administration, or on the World Health Organization Emergency Use List (EUL).

Students who are unable to receive the vaccine for specific medical, religious, or philosophical reasons can follow the exemption process through the Student Health Center. If New York state mandates the COVID-19 vaccine for students, philosophical exemptions will not be allowed and those individuals granted such exemptions will then be expected to obtain the vaccine if they do not qualify for a medical or religious exemption.

Faculty and staff must report their vaccine status via the RIT Oracle Employee Self-Service portal. Overarching percentages will be shared on RIT’s COVID-19 dashboard and may also be used in managing expectations and messaging for students and families.

RIT is taking a multifaceted approach to testing at the start of the semester and throughout the year. A COVID-19 test prior to coming to campus in the fall is not required of faculty, staff, and students.

Students exhibiting symptoms of COVID-19 or or unvaccinated students who have been in close contact (as defined by the Monroe County Department of Health) with individuals who have tested positive for COVID-19 may be tested. In instances where wastewater samples or other surveillance methods indicate an increased risk of exposure, RIT may conduct follow up testing. Focused and surveillance testing for students will be overseen by the Student Health Center. Generally, sample collection will occur on campus. In those circumstances, sample collection may also be done off campus in accordance with protocols established by the Student Health Center. Faculty and staff will be directed to their personal physician to arrange for testing or to a NYS Department of Health testing site.

All employees should follow RIT’s normal process for reporting absences due to illness and RIT’s Short-term Disability process based on their employment category:

Employees (not including student employees) testing positive, or unvaccinated employees residing with, or having been designated as a close contact with someone testing positive for COVID-19 shall report this information using the RIT Employee Self-Serve. Positive test information will be automatically reported to the Director of Environmental, Health and Safety.

Members of the RIT community who are fully vaccinated are not required to wear face masks while indoors, nor are they required to maintain at least six (6) feet of distance from other individuals indoors or outdoors. Those members of the RIT community who are not fully vaccinated are required to wear face masks while indoors in the presence of others, indoors moving through space occupied by others, or outdoors in crowded outdoor settings. Unvaccinated members of the RIT community do not need to maintain at least six (6) feet of distance between themselves and others. Face masks and physical distancing are still required, regardless of vaccination status, in the Student Health Center and the NTID Audiology Clinic. In addition, face masks are still required while on public transportation. When face masks are required, RIT is requiring face masks with a minimum of two-ply cloth. Clear masks, those used for communication with our deaf and hard-of-hearing population, are acceptable. Bandanas, one-layer gaiters, and scarves do not provide enough protection and are not acceptable. U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention mask guidelines can be reviewed online.

Face masks must: (1) be a minimum of two-ply cloth, (2) cover the nose and mouth, (3) be cleaned or replaced after use or when damaged or soiled, (4) not be shared, and (5) be properly stored or discarded. Unvaccinated faculty shall wear a face mask in classrooms, but may wear a face shield that covers all sides of their face in lieu of a face mask, when behind a Plexiglas barrier in teaching settings.  Face shields are not a replacement for face masks. Unless otherwise provided as an accommodation to a disability, the only time a face shield may be worn without a face mask is when a faculty member is behind a Plexiglas barrier in teaching settings and is wearing a face shield that covers all sides of their face.

Unvaccinated students shall be required to wear face masks in classrooms. If an unvaccinated student does not wear a face mask, they may be asked to leave the classroom by the faculty member. If a student fails to leave the classroom when instructed to do so by the faculty member, that student shall be subject to disciplinary action, up to and including, proceedings under RIT’s Student Conduct Process (D18.0).

If an individual has concerns about wearing a face mask (whether opaque or clear), they can request accommodations in accordance with RIT’s Workplace Accommodations process for employees, and RIT’s Disability Services Office for students.

Hygiene and sanitation requirements from the CDC and the DOH shall be adhered to. These requirements include:

  • Wash hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds
  • Use hand sanitizer when you cannot use soap and water
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands
  • Cover your coughs and sneezes, and immediately wash or sanitize your hands
  • Avoid sharing of personal items

The RIT community is expected to support and comply with any contact tracing efforts required by local or state mandates. This may include utilizing personal electronic devices, RIT information systems to allow location tracking, and using specific web based applications.

Individuals choosing to eat and drink in the dining facility must follow all posted rules regarding in-person dining. Dining Services will continue mobile ordering and food pickup options to ensure RIT can meet the demands of the RIT community.

Ridership of campus shuttles and buses will be at 100% capacity. All riders will be required to wear an acceptable face mask while on RIT shuttles and buses. Plexiglas shields have been installed by the driver’s seat and drivers will be required to wear PPE. Boarding and exiting of the bus will occur through the rear doors (except where accessibility issues require otherwise).

COVID-19 has altered many facets of life for members of the RIT community. These changes can take a toll on our emotional well-being and may result in stress, fear, and/or anxiety. Please be aware that the following resources and services are available to support you.

Requirements for Students

All students, whether residing on or off campus, must comply with RIT's posted requirements for each upcoming term. These protocols may include vaccination compliance, completion of compliance plans, attestations or other documentation regarding your status, quarantine, and COVID-19 screenings.

Nonresident restrictions in on-campus housing and common areas do not apply to personal aides, nurses, care givers, or any other reasonable accommodations provided to students with disabilities. Individuals assisting a student must comply with all RIT requirements for visitors.

Students who may require housing accommodations based on a disability or who have a health condition that places them at higher risk for COVID 19 shall utilize RIT’s Disability Services Office to request accommodations.

When in indoor common areas, all unvaccinated occupants shall wear face masks. Lounges (residence halls and campus buildings) will be open.

  • Guests are not permitted in on-campus housing prior to confirmation from RIT that a housing complex may be opened to guests. When permitted, guests must abide by the requirements of this Plan;
  • Any guests in the room/apartment must be agreed upon by room/suitemates or the visit must happen in a common area (e.g., lounge) of the residence hall, or in a private bedroom (one-person bedroom);
  • RIT will monitor compliance and infection rates, this guidance may be modified as a result;
  • Personal aides, nurses, care givers, or any other reasonable accommodations provided to students with disabilities shall not be considered guests for purposes of this section.

NCAA, state, and local governance guidelines will influence our ability to conduct fall athletic competitions. Safety protocols, if any, shall be identified for competitive sports. As part of RIT’s return to competition, in addition to satisfying campus plans, we will abide by the NCAA Core principles of resocialization of collegiate sport.

Indoor and outdoor recreational activities are permitted. This section does not apply to intercollegiate sports unless otherwise noted in this Plan. Club sport and intramural competitive tournaments requiring travel will operate in accordance with this Safety Plan and public transportation requirements.

In-person meetings can occur at full capacity without physical distancing requirements for both vaccinated and unvaccinated members of the RIT community. Tele- or video-conferencing can be used for administrative functions and/or meetings. The scheduling of events shall utilize the existing Event Management System process. Any indoor event expected to have a capacity of 5,000 or more attendees, shall prepare an event safety plan. The event safety plan shall be included as part of the Event Management System scheduling process.  

Students who require an academic accommodation, accommodations for their student life environment, or accommodations related to a stipend position shall utilize RIT’s Disability Services Office.

Students who require a workplace accommodation for their job at RIT shall use RIT’s Workplace Accommodation process.

Students who require an accommodation to any of the requirements of this Safety Plan based on religious beliefs shall use the COVID-19 Student Religious Accommodation Form and utilize the process established by the Associate Director for Spirituality and Religious Life.

Student employees shall follow the Safety Plan as it relates to the student’s RIT job. If a student leader will be returning to in-person work, that student’s staff advisor may create an on-campus work plan for the student leader, which may utilize the same or substantially similar provisions as any applicable safety plan for the area in which the student will be performing the leadership work. In addition, student leaders must comply with the requirements of this Safety Plan.

Students are required to follow all applicable CDC and/or state travel guidelines when traveling for personal reasons. Only essential RIT-sponsored international travel will be permitted and must be approved by the appropriate dean, vice president, or vice provost.

Telehealth is the preferred mode for office visits at the Student Health Center where a hands-on exam is not needed. In the Student Health Center, safety glass barriers will be installed in reception areas; waiting rooms will be configured to allow physical distancing; and appointment times staggered to reduce overall occupancy. Patients and staff will be required to wear face masks for in-person treatment. Nurses are available by phone to help students determine if an in-person appointment is needed if otherwise unclear.

Any student reporting symptoms related to COVID-19 will be directed to contact the Student Health Center to be assessed. Assessment will include a review of symptoms and their health history. If students do not reach out directly, a staff member in the Student Health Center  will contact students. If testing is recommended and/or symptoms are of sufficient concern, students will be placed in precautionary quarantine. Testing will be available on campus at the Student Health Center.

In the event of a suspected or confirmed case of COVID-19, whether ordered by the Student Health Center or outside provider, RIT contact tracers, in collaboration with the Student Health Center and local health department, will interview the student and determine if there are additional individuals who need to be placed in quarantine. 

Students with any health concerns are always encouraged to contact the Student Health Center. Telephone, secure messaging or PyraMED chat are contact options.

Any student who has been informed by a contact tracer that they have been in close contact, less than six (6) feet, with anyone for more than ten (10) minutes who has confirmed or suspected COVID-19, shall notify the Student Health Center immediately.

Upon finding that a student has a confirmed or suspected case of COVID-19, notifications will be made to appropriate RIT departments, which may include the Registrar, Facilities Management Services, Residence Life, and RIT Auxiliary Services, detailing the facilities used, or potentially used, by the student. Information about a student will be disclosed only to those individuals on a need-to-know basis, consistent with applicable policies (e.g., RIT Privacy Policy, FERPA).

Isolation will be mandated for anyone who tests positive and quarantine will be mandated for anyone who is unvaccinated and deemed to have been in close contact with a confirmed case. Decisions regarding isolation and quarantine are made in accordance with County Department of Public Health guidance regarding risk based on proximity of contact, ventilation in the space where contact occurred, whether masks were worn, the duration of contact and vaccination status.

  • Any individual who has tested positive for COVID-19 should not come to campus and should self-isolate for 10 days from the positive COVID-19 test result or onset of COVID-19 related symptoms.
  • If a member of an RIT employee’s or student’s household (roommate, suitemate, housemate, etc.) shows symptoms of COVID-19, that person should be tested. While awaiting test results, that employee or student, if unvaccinated should not go to work or class and instead, should self-quarantine for a period of 10 days. 

Students

  • During any period of isolation or quarantine, students will undergo active monitoring by the Student Health Center and will self-monitor for symptom development, check temperature twice daily, and keep a log of the results.
  • An adequate number of rooms have been set aside for isolation for students residing on campus who test positive.
  • For students residing in campus housing who test positive or have a suspected case of COVID-19, in addition to the requirements above, RIT will provide alternative housing if necessary to ensure adequate separation from the community for the duration of any isolation or quarantine period.
  • Students who are required to isolate or quarantine will have access to telehealth and student health services. Faculty will work with students in isolation or quarantine to allow them to make academic progress.  
  • Students residing on campus will also be supported by meal delivery for their applicable on-campus meal plans, trash pickup, and laundry support.

 

Upon information that an individual has a confirmed or suspected case of COVID-19, notifications will be made to appropriate RIT departments—which may include the Registrar, Facilities Management Services, Residence Life, and Student Auxiliary Services—detailing the facilities used, or potentially used, by that individual.

COVID-19 has altered many facets of life for students. These changes can take a toll on our emotional well-being and may result in stress, fear, and/or anxiety. Please be aware that the following resources and services are available to support you:

Academic Considerations

Classrooms and labs shall operate at full capacity. Unvaccinated individuals shall wear facemasks when in class and/or labs. In the event it becomes necessary for RIT to close physical facilities, all courses and other academic activities will transition to a remote-only format. In addition, faculty will work with students who are unable to attend class in person due to illness, an order of isolation or quarantine, or an accommodation documented by the Disability Services Office.

Classes will begin on Monday, August 23, 2021, and will end on Monday, December 6, 2021. Final exams will be held December 8, 9, 10, 13, 14, and 15.

2021 Fall Semester Calendar

August 23 First day of classes
December 6 Last day of classes
December 7 Reading Day
December 8-15 Final exams
December 17 Grades Due
Dec. 16 - Jan. 9 Break between Fall Semester and Spring Semester

This schedule is dependent upon the latest guidance and direction of local and state health officials, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, DOH, CDC, and OSHA.

Lecture-based classes will meet in person. Unvaccinated students shall be required to wear face masks in classrooms. If a student does not wear a face mask, they will be asked to leave the classroom by the faculty member. If a student fails to leave the classroom when instructed to do so by the faculty member, that student shall be subject to disciplinary action, up to and including proceedings under RIT’s Student Conduct Process (D18.0).

Appropriate face masks must be worn by unvaccinated individuals at all times when in classrooms, labs, lecture halls, and in offices where others may be present. Food and drink are permitted in classrooms, labs, and lecture halls at the sole discretion of the faculty member.

RIT will install shields at the front of classrooms for use as a physical barrier, if chosen by the faculty member, between instructors and students. Unvaccinated faculty must remain behind the physical barriers.  All student-serving offices will be open with staff present during normal business hours.

Requirements for Visitors

All visitors, contractors, and temporary employees (those hired through a temporary employment agency) are expected to comply with applicable laws, regulations, and guidelines relating to the COVID-19 pandemic, including the RIT Safety Plan.

Those businesses which provide ongoing goods and/or services to RIT shall be required to complete a form acknowledging that they and their employees have read and understood their obligations to operate in accordance with all applicable laws and guidelines including RIT specific guidelines, and this Safety Plan. Download the Safety Plan Acknowledgement Form and Waiver for visitors, invited guests, contractors, and/or licensees and vendors.

The business providing goods and services to RIT shall be responsible for ensuring that any employee, contractor, or agent it engages to provide those goods and services to RIT is fully vaccinated and free from symptoms of COVID-19. Any employee, contractor, or agent who is not fully vaccinated shall be required to wear a face mask while on campus. The waiver executed by the business shall be provided to the department engaging the business for services. That department shall maintain this information in accordance with RIT’s Record Management Policy (C22.0). 

All individuals on campus for a brief visit will ensure that they are free from symptoms of and exposure to COVID-19 and will follow RIT guidelines including this Safety Plan and any other specific requirements outlined by the department hosting their visit.  Unvaccinated visitors, invited guests, contractors and temporary employees shall be required to wear a face mask when on campus, regardless of the duration of their visit. Visitors, invited guests, contractors, and temporary employees failing to comply with applicable laws, regulations, guidelines, and/or this Safety Plan shall result in the removal of visitors, invited guests, contractors, and temporary employees until such time as assurances can be provided that compliance has been achieved.

Communications

Timely and accurate communication is central to the success of our plan. The latest information on academics; housing; testing, quarantine, and contact tracing; cleaning and upgrades; prevention; and other pandemic-related information can be found on the RIT Ready website. For further questions, RIT has established a Call Center: 585-475-3500 or 1-833-323-0002.

A weekly RIT Ready e-newsletter will be sent out every Monday that will focus on all-things related to fall semester planning and the pandemic, including information related to known prevalence of confirmed cases on campus. There will be regular communication and collaboration with county health officials, a public health education campaign including videos and signage, and communications relating to changes in the campus alert indicators with details outlining the steps that will be taken. RIT social media accounts will also be used to disseminate information.

Communication to parents or guardians about an individual student will be made in compliance with RIT’s Privacy Policy and Educational Records Policy (implementing the requirements of the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act “FERPA”). This means that, generally, RIT requires written consent of the student in order to discuss the student’s status (e.g., academic or physical) with parents. Students may provide this consent by using RIT’s FERPA Consent Form.

For additional information regarding these policies and procedures, please refer to the following: