COVID-19 Guidelines

Last updated: 04/03/23

The CUNY Graduate School of Public Health and Health Policy (SPH) is committed to providing a vibrant, safe and healthy environment for our students, faculty and staff. The school continues to follow CUNY’s, CDC’s and NYS guidance and requirements, making updates, as needed, in accordance with changing directives. The SPH leadership is deeply grateful to students, faculty and staff for their resilience and flexibility and for keeping the campus safe.

As public health champions, each of us is accountable for taking steps to protect our own health and that of our community. We ask everyone to be mindful that there are individuals on campus who are immunocompromised and who may be at risk for severe COVID-related illness due to their age and/or underlying health conditions. As such, we strongly encourage everyone to get tested before returning to campus, after having been away for long periods. In addition, if you are sick or have tested positive for COVID-19 please DO NOT come to campus. We urge you to get tested for COVID-19 with a real-time polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) test. If you come to campus with COVID-19, you may potentially expose others.

Vaccination remains the most effective tool for controlling the COVID-19 pandemic. We strongly encourage everyone who is medically able to get vaccinated. SPH follows CDC’s, which strongly recommends that everyone be up-to-date with vaccinations.

Student Vaccination Requirements:

CUNY requires that all students taking in-person and hybrid courses, or participating in any other on-campus activities are required to be fully vaccinated and submit proof of vaccination in CUNYfirst (See: Student Guide to Vaccine Verification) unless they have an approved religious exception or medical exemption. (If you have previously uploaded your proof of vaccination to CUNYfirst, you do not need to do so again.)

Students are strongly encouraged to get booster shots, once eligible. Students must upload proof of vaccination into CUNYfirst ten days prior to the start of classes. To upload your vaccination information, go to CUNYfirst, click on the “Vaccination Verification” link and indicate the type and date of your last vaccine, upload a copy of your vaccination card and, if vaccinated in New York State, a copy of your New York State Excelsior Pass.

The deadline to submit a request for a religious exception or medical exemption for the Spring 2023 semester was December 16, 2022. Late submissions will be considered, but the deadline is in place to ensure that anyone denied will have ample time to receive the vaccine before the start of the semester.

Students who are unvaccinated and have an approved religious exception or medical exemption are required to participate in CUNY’s COVID-19 Weekly Testing Program.

Questions regarding student vaccination requirements, medical exemptions and religious exceptions can be directed to the SPH Student Location Vaccine Authority (LVA), Robyn Gertner Doyno, Director of Academic Affairs via email at

SPH Faculty and Staff Vaccination Requirements:

All full and part-time faculty, and all non-teaching instructional staff (which includes, among others, employees in HEO series titles, NTAs and CLTS), and all personnel in the Executive Compensation Plan must be fully vaccinated and upload proof of vaccination into CUNYfirst, unless they have an approved religious exception or medical exemption. All other staff are strongly encouraged to be vaccinated and to upload their proof of vaccination into CUNYfirst.

Faculty and staff are strongly encouraged to get booster shots, once eligible. To provide your vaccination information, go to CUNYfirst, click on the “Vaccination Verification” link, and indicate whether you are fully vaccinated, unvaccinated or do not wish to disclose your vaccination status. (If you have previously uploaded your proof of vaccination to CUNYfirst, you do not need to do so again.) For a guide to submitting your information to CUNYfirst, please visit here or watch this video.)

All faculty and staff who are unvaccinated are required to participate in CUNY’s COVID-19 Weekly Testing Program.

Questions regarding faculty and staff vaccination requirements, medical exemptions and religious exceptions can be directed to the SPH Faculty and Staff Location Vaccine Authority (LVA), Director of Human Resources, Arthur McHugh via email at

RF employees

RF employees can upload their proof of vaccination by following these instructions:

  • Go to RF’s website at
  • Log in using your 6-digit RF-issued employee ID (EMP ID) and password.
  • Under the Electronic Tools tab, select Vaccine Verification.
  • Follow the prompts.
  • RFCUNY employees who are fully vaccinated will receive instructions for enrolling in VaxPass.
  • RFCUNY employees who are not fully vaccinated or wish not to disclose their status will receive instructions for enrolling in CUNY’s testing program.
  • If you do not know your RF EMP ID or password, send an email to If you have other questions, send an email to

Students who are also employees

For CUNY and RF employees who are also students at SPH or other CUNY schools: Student status supersedes employee status, and vaccination records will need to be approved by the Location Vaccine Authority (LVA) liaisons at the campus the individual is enrolled as a student. See the LVA roster here for a list of campus contracts.

To meet CUNY’s requirements, a person is considered fully vaccinated:

  • Two weeks after their second dose in a 2-dose series, such as Pfizer or Moderna or;
  • Two weeks after a single dose vaccine such as Johnson & Johnson (J&J), or;
  • At the time specified in either in the FDA licensure or World Health Organization (WHO) approval, after the final vaccination of any other vaccines

Students, faculty, and staff are strongly encouraged to receive boosters once eligible.

NOTE: Individuals who receive a World Health Organization (WHO) approved vaccination other than the three listed above must provide more information. Students faculty and staff can reach out to the Location Vaccination Authority (LVAs) for details.

  • PCR tests for COVID are available to all SPH students, faculty and staff at no cost at through the CUNY COVID-19 Testing Sites. Any SPH student, faculty or staff member who needs to be tested for any reason may walk into a site, present their CUNY ID (EMPL ID) or RF ID and get tested No appointments are required. Check the site for the most convenient location and hours of operation prior to your visit.
  • Students, faculty and staff who are unvaccinated are required to be tested weekly at a CUNY site.
  • CUNY will be continuing its random testing program of 5% of the on-campus population. Participation in the random surveillance testing is mandatory, occurs once a semester, and includes both vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals. Failure to participate will result in the removal of your Cleared4 access pass to CUNY spaces.

For more information about CUNY’s COVID-19 testing program, please see the Testing FAQ. For general frequently asked questions, please refer to the Getting Back to Working in Person FAQ. If you still have questions, please contact your HR office.

While CUNY does not require face masks, SPH strongly encourages everyone to wear a well-fitting mask that covers the mouth and nose anytime they are in areas on-campus where there are other people, including, classrooms, shared work areas, meeting rooms and lounges. KN95 masks will continue to be available on campus at the Public Safety stations, located on each floor of the campus and surgical masks are available in classrooms, staff pantries and conference rooms, and in the student lounges.  Those who choose to wear a mask should continue to follow CDC guidance on acceptable face coverings. Faculty, staff, and students who are still not vaccinated are urged to continue to wear a mask at all times while on campus.

CUNY continues to follow the latest CDC guidance on isolation and exposure. Any students, staff or faculty who test positive with COVID-19 or are exposed to someone with COVID-19 must follow these guidelines, as outlined below, prior to returning to campus. If you are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19, we encourage you to visit a public testing site near your home or use an at-home test kit.

Isolation Guidelines if you test positive for COVID-19 or suspect that you have COVID-19 but do not yet have test results

People with COVID-19 can spread the virus to others. If you test positive with or show symptoms of COVID-19, you should isolate immediately, and not come to campus until you are cleared to do so. In addition, while in isolation, you should wear a well-fitting mask if you must be around others and avoid contact with people who are at high risk of getting very sick from COVID-19. If you are at high risk of getting very sick from COVID-19, you should seek guidance from a healthcare provider about treatments and medication options.  

For everyone who tests positive for COVID-19, regardless of vaccination status

  • Stay home for at least 5 days (day 0 is your first day of symptoms, or the day of your first positive test if you do not develop symptoms).
  • You may end isolation after five days, only when you are afebrile (without a fever) for ≥24 hours without the use of medication and all other symptoms have improved.
  • Continue to wear a well-fitting mask around others for 5 additional days; if you cannot wear a mask, continue to isolate for 5 days.
  • If you have a fever, continue isolation until you are fever-free for 24 hours without the use of fever-reducing medication.
  • If you are severely ill with COVID-19 you should isolate for at least 10 days and consult a healthcare provider before ending isolation.

For people who were exposed to someone with COVID-19 but have not tested positive with COVID-19 and do not have any symptoms:

High levels of vaccine- and infection-induced immunity and the availability of effective treatment and prevention tools, such as improved ventilation, masking, and testing, have substantially reduced the risk of severe COVID-19 illness, hospitalization and death. Accordingly, if you are exposed to someone with COVID-19 but have not tested positive and do not have any symptoms, you:

  • Do not need to quarantine.
  • Should wear a well-fitting mask any time they are around others for 10 days.
  • Monitor yourself for symptoms for up to 10 days, and isolate immediately and get tested if symptoms develop.
  • Get tested at least five full days after your last exposure. (The date of your exposure is considered day 0).
  • If your exposure is from a household member with whom you have close and ongoing contact, please contact the SPH Campus Coronavirus Liaison:

SPH will continue to aid in the identification of exposures, and notify close campus contacts, as appropriate, of exposure as soon as possible after being notified that someone in the campus has tested positive or been diagnosed with COVID-19.

  • If a member of the SPH Community tests positive for COVID-19 through a diagnostic test within ten days after leaving campus–
  • Students: Immediately notify Dean of Students and Alumni Affairs Lynn Roberts (
  • Faculty, Staff and Visitors: Immediately notify HR Director Arthur McHugh (
  • As soon as possible after Campus LVAs are notified that someone has tested positive for or been diagnosed with COVID-19, they will identify and notify close on-campus contacts of exposure, in accordance with applicable privacy and other laws.

Individuals who test positive for COVID-19 or have COVID-19 symptoms should isolate and notify their close contacts that they may have been exposed to COVID-19 and refer close contacts to the state or local health department website to learn about the steps they should take because of the exposure.

CUNY will no longer require visitors to provide proof of vaccine or recent negative test.

CUNY SPH faculty or staff members who wish to host a visitor, need to complete the Request to host a visitor form at least two business days in advance of the visit, and inform visitors to bring a photo ID while on campus. While not required by CUNY, SPH suggests that hosts recommend that visitors be vaccinated, take a COVID test prior to coming to campus and wear a well-fitting mask when around others on campus.

  • Visitors are also required to comply with all other University policies and codes of conduct, as well as government and/or campus-specific rules and protocols, applicable to individuals on campus that are intended to help prevent the spread of COVID-19, including such complying with any applicable federal, state or local quarantine rules.

Before coming to a CUNY campus, visitors are encouraged to consult the campus’ website to review the most current access rules and protocols.

Exception for short visits with no close contact

Visitors who are on campus for 30 minutes or less per visit, such as mail carriers and delivery workers, do not have to comply with COVID-19 vaccination or surveillance testing requirements unless the visitor expects during that time to be less than 6 feet distant of another person for a total of 15 minutes of more.

SPH will maintain many approaches to limit the spread of communicable diseases. These include regular and enhanced cleaning, safe disinfection when necessary, improved ventilation and maintaining healthy facilities.

Frequently Asked Questions

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Have questions about how COVID-19 will affect students, faculty, and staff? Check out our FAQ page.