Unvaccinated students to comply with additional COVID-19 restrictions

Restrictions include more frequent testing, wearing a mask at outdoor events, and following special dining hours, if so imposed.

Assistant Vice President for Student Life and Dean of Students Travis Apgar presented rules in place for unvaccinated students on campus in front of the Student Senate last week. Before arriving on campus, unvaccinated students were sent a form outlining the additional restrictions for them. Few students have been exempted from the vaccination requirement, but they are expected to comply with these restrictions in order to retain their exemptions.

The additional restrictions, as stated on the form, are listed as follows:

  1. More frequent testing: Unvaccinated students will be required to submit to on-campus COVID testing twice per week.
  2. No participation in organized athletics (both NCAA as well as club/intramural) or student organizations which participate in similar travel and interactions, such as conferences or competitions.
  3. Continuing to wear a mask in class and all other indoor facilities (note: this is currently a requirement of all students).
  4. Wearing a mask at outdoor events and gatherings where more than [30] persons are in attendance.
  5. Not attending any campus events (indoor or outdoor), other than classes, where more than 100 persons in attendance.
  6. Following special dining hours, if so imposed, to limit clusters of unvaccinated students.

Students were notified that Rensselaer reserves the right to withdraw their vaccination exemptions if they do not follow restrictions. According to the form, even if students are in compliance with these restrictions, their vaccination exemptions may still be revoked "if circumstances warrant." If a student decides to get vaccinated, the agreement is valid until they are considered fully vaccinated depending on the specific vaccine they receive. The Institute will not provide vaccines to students.

Class of 2023 Senator Alex Patterson questioned the ability to enforce these restrictions off campus or at student-planned events. Apgar responded that there would be limited ability to enforce off campus, but that if Rensselaer found a violation, there would be a response.

Class of 2024 Senator Talulah Patch had concerns about the exclusion of unvaccinated students from participation in sports. They asked about the possibility of assessing students in managerial positions and specific sports as lower risk. Patch offered to put together a student committee to work with Mueller Center and Health Center staff, as well as coaches, to assess the risk level of each sport so that more specific decisions could be made. Apgar said he would be open to reconsidering specific restrictions based on their report. He also clarified that RPI sports teams will not be playing against any unvaccinated players from other schools.

Repercussions for violations of restrictions by unvaccinated students will be the same as for violations committed by vaccinated students. Since unvaccinated students must get tested for COVID-19 twice a week, an unvaccinated student will be disenrolled for missing a week’s worth of tests. Apgar said that responses to violations would be proportional to the egregiousness of the action, and he would try not to penalize students for unintentional violations.

Editor's Note: The subdeck of this article has been edited to clarify that special dining hours are yet to be imposed, and are not a current regulation for unvaccinated students.