January 7 Message from the Office of the President

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Dear Students, Faculty, and Staff,    

I write today to inform you of important changes to how we will start the spring terms, including the temporary use of remote instruction, a COVID-19 booster requirement, policy shifts resulting from new CDC guidance, and other critical updates to our operating status. A town hall will be held on Monday at 3 p.m. to discuss these changes and to answer your questions. To join the town hall webinar use the following information: https://mercy.zoom.us/j/97712972649?pwd=c2VtODdmemx6dWlqSkk4YzhSMEEyQT09, passcode 446327, or phone: 646.558.8656.

Recent data and science around COVID-19 requires that we adapt our plans for the spring, while we continue to maintain our focus on ensuring student success and returning to a safe, robust on-campus experience. Changes to initial plans are outlined below and will continue to evolve as the public health situation unfolds. 

Spring Term Classes to be Remote through January 30  

To ensure that as many students as possible have the opportunity to participate in the first days of classes, the College has made the following changes to the spring term schedule:  

  • Due to the high incidence of COVID-19 in our region, in-person classes will temporarily be held online from Wednesday, January 19 through Sunday, January 30.  
  • Limited exceptions, especially those courses with significant experiential components, will be communicated directly to students. 
  • On-campus facilities will remain open during this period, and on-campus services (offices, dining, bookstore, library, etc.) will be available, pending adequate staffing. 
  • Residential students will be allowed to move into the residence halls as scheduled. The Office of Residential Life will communicate separately to students about enhanced protocols to ensure a safe move-in and required pre-arrival and arrival testing.  
  • Loaner computers will be available to students who have difficulty accessing online course materials. Students should contact their PACT mentors to arrange for pickup. 
  • In-person classes are expected to resume on campus on Monday, January 31.  

Vaccination and Booster Requirement 

The College continues to require all students, faculty and staff to be vaccinated or to have an approved medical or religious exemption.  

In addition, all students, faculty and staff, except those with previously approved medical or religious exemptions, will be required to receive a vaccine booster 

Boosters are to be obtained on the following schedule:  

  • By January 31, 2022, for anyone eligible (between 2 and 6 months after the initial vaccine series is complete, depending on the type of vaccine received). 
  • Within one month of eligibility for those who are not yet eligible.   

Instructions about how to demonstrate proof of booster receipt are forthcoming. 

Updated Quarantine and Isolation Guidelines 

In accordance with the revised CDC guidelines, policies have shifted regarding isolation and quarantine.  

·       Individuals who test positive can end their isolation after 5 days – where day 0 is the first day of symptom onset and/or the day of a positive test result – if they are fever-free for 24 hours without the use of fever-reducing medication and their other symptoms have improved. Those individuals should continue to wear a well-fitting mask around others for an additional 5 days. Individuals who continue to be symptomatic after 5 days should remain in isolation.  

  • Individuals with boosters who are exposed to confirmed positive cases are not required to quarantine but should wear a well-fitting mask around others for 10 days.  
  • Individuals who are not vaccinated and those who are eligible for a booster but have not yet received one and who are exposed to a confirmed COVID case must now quarantine for 5 days – where day 0 is the first day of exposure – provided symptoms do not appear. Those individuals should continue to wear a well-fitting mask around others for an additional five days.  
  • DOH recommends, but does not require, that quarantined individuals obtain a PCR or antigen test on day 5 after their exposure. This is in line with recent updates the CDC made to their guidance that also recommend, but do not require, testing to end isolation or quarantine.  

These guidelines are subject to change based on shifts to CDC and NYDOH policies. 


We will continue to require on-campus masking when around others and in common spaces. 

  • The infectiousness of the Omicron variant has renewed discussions about the effectiveness of different types of masks in preventing transmission. N95 masks, KN95 masks, and surgical masks when tightly fitted to an individual’s face have been demonstrated to be most effective.  
  • Cloth masks may still be worn on campus, although we will continue to communicate to the community about the evolving research on effective masks. 

COVID-19 Testing 

At the end of the fall, we opened walk-in COVID test sites to any community member who wanted a rapid test. This spring, we will continue to operate open COVID testing sites on our campuses.  

  • Testing will be available to faculty and staff next Wednesday through Friday from 10am – 2pm at the following locations:  
    • Dobbs Ferry Campus: Main Hall G2
    • MercyManhattan:  Room 434 
    • Bronx Campus: Room 4180 
  • Testing is limited to one visit per week. 
  • Beginning Wednesday, January 19, required testing for those with exemptions, residential students, and athletes will resume. Hours of operation will be:  
    • Monday – Friday: 10am – 6pm 
    • Saturday:  9am - 2pm 
  • Tests must be completed on site and cannot be given to visitors to take home. 

Employee Flexibility 

Even in our community, with its high vaccination rates, the effects of the pandemic are still causing significant disruptions to daily life. The challenges are many: some K-12 schools have been forced to make abrupt closures, others of us are caring for family members who test positive, and we have all watched COVID rates climb around us.  

When these types of challenges arise, we encourage you to engage with your manager to identify whether temporarily working from home is practical. Human Resources also stands ready to assist you. 

We hope this latest update is helpful. As we have throughout the pandemic, we will continue to provide information—and to be prepared to adjust course—in real time.  

Wishing you a happy and healthy new year and thank you for your cooperation in remaining vigilant and safe. 

Tim Hall