Important COVID-19 Update - Final Exams

December 16, 2021
Shirley Ann Jackson, Ph.D., President, Institute Professor, Professor of Physics, Applied Physics, and Astronomy, Professor of Engineering Sciences

As we approach winter recess, I want to take a moment to thank you for your hard work and continued efforts to follow our COVID-19 policies and protocols during the pandemic. Staying vigilant has not been easy, but the Rensselaer spirit continues to shine through. 

Recent news reports indicate that many universities and colleges have moved to remote learning due to an increase in COVID-19 cases, and the Centers for Disease Control has indicated that the COVID-19 Omicron variant is highly transmissible. At Rensselaer, the fall semester began with a relatively low incidence of COVID-19 cases compared to other higher education institutions. The continuous review of our COVID-19 testing program data has indicated a significant acceleration of the rate of new cases in our community that is approaching our established triggers. It is not a cause for alarm, but it is a cause for concern, caution, and appropriate actions.

Out of an abundance of caution, we are implementing the following steps:  


  1. All final exams will pivot online as of Friday morning. Please depart campus immediately after your last final exam and remember to take essential items (i.e., identification, medications, laptop, charger, etc.) with you when you leave for break.

  2. Undergraduate residential meals will be grab and go starting with dinner tonight.

  3. The following facilities are closed as of 3 p.m. today:

    • East Campus Athletic Village (ECAV)

    • Mueller Center 

    • Rensselaer Union 

    • Curtis R. Priem Experimental Media and Performing Arts Center (EMPAC)

    • Voorhees Computing Center (VCC)

  4. The libraries will close as of midnight tonight, and social distancing is mandatory. Up until closing, seating will be limited to one student per table.

  5. Graduate students are to adhere to the protocols set forth in this correspondence unless they have been designated as “Essential” by their PI and approved by the Division of Human Resources.

  6. All in-person social gatherings and events are canceled until further notice.

  7. All COVID-19 social distancing protocols should be followed.

  8. Please do not congregate in a group of 10 or more, wear your mask properly indoors, maintain social distancing, and get your final on-campus COVID-19 test before departing.

  9. The on-campus testing center will be open for COVID-19 tests on Friday, December 17, from 9 a.m. – 12:45 p.m., and on Saturday, December 18, from 9 a.m. – 12 p.m. As exams move online, we have added these additional days/times for you to test prior to your departure so you and your family and friends will be safe over the break.

We understand that this news comes at an already stressful time during finals and other scheduled end-of-semester activities. We appreciate your continued adherence to our other health and safety protocols while you are on campus, and when you head home for a break, to protect the health and safety of our community.

Anyone exposed to the virus or showing symptoms should contact Student Health Services at (518) 276-6287 and report their exposure and symptoms in the DIAL app. 

Faculty and Staff

All faculty and staff will continue their normal duties and responsibilities as currently assigned. Please contact your immediate supervisor and/or portfolio leader if you have any questions. Faculty and staff will continue to test weekly for COVID-19. 

Spring Semester

At this time, we have not made any changes regarding the spring semester. We will continue to monitor COVID-19 transmission among our community members and in the region and will update you with more information soon.

Good luck with your final exams. Please stay safe and have a wonderful winter recess and holiday season.


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