SUNY students will need to get COVID boosters for spring semester

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BROCKPORT, N.Y. (WHEC) — This spring semester, all SUNY students will be expected to come to campus with a COVID-19 booster shot as well as their backpacks.

As omicron continues to spread, Gov. Kathy Hochul Monday ordered all SUNY students to get the COVID booster shot before returning to campus. It’s up to individual campuses to develop monitoring and testing plans.

One of the big challenges, however, is keeping track of the rolling eligibility for booster shots, which of course, depends on when you became fully vaccinated. SUNY Brockport President Heidi Macpherson said her campus is ready to take on the New Year and new mandate.

“Ninety-six percent of our students are vaccinated, and 4% have religious or medical exemptions,” Macpherson said.

Now with the governor’s new orders, the college president is preparing for the next phase.

“What we’re doing now is making sure that we have booster clinics on campus to allow students to get their booster when they become eligible,” Macpherson said.

Macpherson said booster clinics will be available for a rolling period of time, and students are asked to upload their vaccination records for documentation. In addition to getting boosted, the governor is also requiring ongoing testing plans for the SUNY campuses.

“We’re doing everything we can to plan for testing of the students as they arrive back. We’re doing the work with Wegman’s to make sure we have a booster clinic ahead, and we’re makings sure all the areas are safe and we have our cleaning protocols in place,” Macpherson added.

She says they plan to make testing readily available for all students.

“We test every week — the students who are unvaccinated — and we also test anyone who is symptomatic every week. We’re working on a plan to figure out the percentage of vaccinated and fully boosted students and we will continue to test on a week or monthly basis,” Macpherson said.

The governor’s office says since the beginning of the fall 2020 semester, SUNY has administered nearly 3 million tests on campus with an average positivity rate of about .45%, which is far lower than the state and surrounding community rates.