January 2022 Return to Campus

December 23, 2021
Shirley Ann Jackson, Ph.D., President, Institute Professor, Professor of Physics, Applied Physics, and Astronomy, Professor of Engineering Sciences

As we prepare for the holiday winter break, I wish to thank you for your flexibility and cooperation during the Fall academic semester. Due to the fast-moving, highly infectious COVID-19 Omicron variant, there has been a dramatic uptick in COVID-19 infections in the Capital Region, across the country, and around the world. Given this recent surge, we are strengthening our Return to Campus-Based Operations by implementing the following protocols to ensure the health and safety of the students, faculty, staff, and guests. The revised protocols are necessary to continue in-person instructions, research, and extracurricular activities.



  • Students will begin the Spring academic semester with online classes during the week of January 10, 2022.

  • Students are asked to return to campus for testing beginning Monday, January 17 – Friday, January 21.  

  • Residential students will receive additional arrival guidance from their Arrival Ambassador by Friday, January 7.  

  • New and re-entering students starting in January will receive additional information from Student Life to address their transition to campus.

  • Graduate students who need access to research facilities on campus will be able to access campus starting January 3 and the Principal Investigator of the research group must ensure that their research groups follow the distancing guidelines previously established in the Stage 3 Return to Research plans:  

    • Maximum occupancy of two occupants at a given time for an enclosed laboratory and social distancing of at least six-feet separation.  

    • Individual access times should be staggered as necessary, including for new graduates students arriving since Stage 3 plans were submitted, to meet these requirements.  

    • These conditions will remain in force until the university returns to in-person instruction for classes.

  • Assuming the infection rate for Rensselaer County is low, in-person classes will begin Monday, January 24. 

  • Regular COVID-19 protocols will resume Monday, January 31.

Booster Vaccines and Testing

  • All students eligible for a booster (i.e., six months since the second Moderna or Pfizer vaccination or two months since the Johnson & Johnson vaccination) must get a booster by January 7. Students who are ineligible for a booster must get a booster within seven days of becoming eligible. Booster documentation should be loaded into the DIAL app, and booster compliance will be confirmed at your first in-person test on campus.

  • Residential students will test twice per week during the weeks of January 17 and January 24. 

  • Off-campus students will test once per week beginning January 17. Off-campus students who do not need access to research facilities must remain off campus until the start of in-person classes on January 24.

  • All residential students must pre-test 48 hours before returning to campus. Anyone who tests positive during that time or is sick or has symptoms despite a negative test result must stay home and contact their Class Dean to arrange for a transition back to campus after they feel well and/or have received notification that they are free of the virus.

  • Upon arrival, residential students will be antigen and PCR tested. A building quarantine will exist until students receive their first negative PCR results.  

  • Testing will return to once-a-week January 31, as conditions allow, except for in-season athletes and unvaccinated students who will continue testing twice a week.

  • All positive students will remain in isolation for 10 days in accordance with Institute COVID-19 protocols and in accordance with State and County health guidelines. On-campus isolation housing will be provided for residential students. Student Life staff will continue to stay in touch with students daily while in isolation, or quarantine. Students will be able to leave isolation after 10 days and two negative test results.


  • When students return on January 17, they will quarantine in residential halls with drop-and-go meals. 

  • While in quarantine in residence halls, all students will have access to enhanced support. Additional online services, including residential initiatives and counseling services, will be available during the period before classes resume in-person to address community building, stress management, and resiliency. In-person medical services will be available as needed through the Health Center.

  • Residential students and parents will receive additional details, including an arrival schedule, from their Arrival Ambassadors by January 7. 

Events and Gatherings

  • There are no events or gatherings over 10 people permitted until after the start of in-person classes.

  • Until the campus reopens for in-person classes, most academic and administrative buildings will remain closed, including the Library, Union, and Mueller Center. Academy Hall will be open for access to the Health Center. 

  • Research labs will be open for researchers (graduate students and research staff) following Stage 3 procedures. 

  • A schedule will be developed for mail and packages, and for book purchases.


  • Student-athletes involved in winter sports will receive additional details from Athletics. 


  • All staff and faculty are expected to return to campus on January 3, 2022.  

  • All staff and faculty must obtain booster vaccines before returning to campus on January 3, 2022. Booster status will be verified during your first on-campus test in January, and booster proof will need to be uploaded to the DIAL app.

  • The Health Center will coordinate a Booster Clinic for a limited number of faculty and staff who have been unable to receive their booster before returning to campus. Those who are ineligible for a booster must obtain a booster shot within seven days of becoming eligible. Please follow CDC recommendations on boosters, and note that CDC recommendations may change over the next few weeks.

  • All staff and faculty are required to test once per week. 

  • Any staff or faculty member who tests positive will be required to go into isolation off campus and must notify Lou Padula in Human Resources at (518) 276-6164 or padull@rpi.edu

For More Information

  • We will continue to update the COVID-19 website. In addition, following the end of the Institute holiday on Monday, January 3, students can email success@rpi.edu and their Class Dean will provide individual answers. Employees may contact Lou Padula in Human Resources at (518) 276-6164 or padull@rpi.edu if they have any questions. 

Thank you for your shared commitment to maintaining the health and safety of the entire Rensselaer community. We look forward to welcoming you back in January.    

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