FAQ: Student Vaccination + Testing Policy
Updated Jan. 4, 2022
Does Stephens require students to be vaccinated?
Not at this time.
Why should I get vaccinated and boosted?
The Omicron variant of COVID-19 is the most contagious of any variant to date. That means many more people are contracting the virus, and it’s happening much more quickly. The nation recorded 488,000 cases in a single day on Dec. 29, more than doubling the highest single-day record reported all last winter; more than 2 million cases were recorded nationwide between Dec. 22 and Dec. 29. The science is clear: The best protection against serious COVID illness is vaccination, including boosters.
Can I still get COVID, even if I am vaccinated and boosted?
“Breakthrough” cases of the Omicron variant are occurring more frequently than with prior variants like Delta. Even so, vaccinated and boosted people are much less likely to become seriously sick with the virus; about 98 percent of those admitted to hospitals in December were unvaccinated. Additionally, the New York Times reported on December 27 that unvaccinated individuals were contracting the virus five times more frequently than those who were vaccinated/boosted.
Can Stephens College require me to report my vaccination status?
Yes. Requiring that you submit your vaccination status information in the midst of a pandemic is not a violation of your privacy rights. If you are not vaccinated, the College cannot request that you submit medical information about why that is the case.
What happens when/if I do get vaccinated and/or boosted?
- You will need to upload an image of your vaccination card to the Stephens Health Portal. (We encourage you to take a picture of the front of your card so you have it with you at all times.) This will allow us to develop an accurate understanding of the vaccination rates on campus and to effectively safeguard our community’s health and well-being.
- You will not be required to quarantine if you are exposed to someone with COVID unless you begin to exhibit symptoms. You will be required to be tested within 3 to 5 days of the exposure, and to isolate if you test positive (see updated CDC guidance on Omicron below).
- You will be required to wear a mask in campus classrooms and meeting rooms, but you will not be required to wear a mask in other campus spaces (although we strongly encourage you to do so). Meeting rooms are defined as any public space in which more than two people gather and cannot socially distance.
What if I lost my vaccination card?
If you misplaced your card, you will need to contact the local healthcare provider or site that gave you your shot to receive another one. It’s a good idea to take a photo of your vaccination card to keep a record with you at all times.
What do I need to do if I am not vaccinated and/or boosted?
- You will need to be tested weekly, either at a local pharmacy or clinic, or on campus at a regularly scheduled testing event every Tuesday. Tests administered at home will not meet this requirement. Results of tests taken off campus must be uploaded by 7 p.m. Tuesdays to the Stephens Health Portal.
- You will be required to wear a tightly fitting mask covering your nose and mouth at all times indoors and at outdoor gatherings when social distancing is not possible, with limited exceptions:
- When you are alone in a workspace. This may include an office with a closed door or a cubicle that provides barriers between you and others.
- When you are eating or drinking and are socially distancing. You will need to continue to wear a mask in the dining hall and in other environments in which food is present; you may take your mask down only long enough to take a bite or a drink before replacing it again.
Who has access to my vaccination records?
Vaccination status is not public information, but it may be released on a need-to-know basis to limited members of the campus community to assist the College in creating a safe and healthy campus environment.
Will Stephens continue to require people on campus to wear masks?
- Yes. All faculty, staff, students and visitors are required to wear a tightly fitted mask in all indoor classrooms and meeting rooms at all times. (Meeting rooms are defined as any indoor spaces in which more than two people gather and cannot socially distance.)
- Vaccinated faculty, staff, students and visitors are not required to wear a mask in other campus spaces, though in light of the contagious nature of Omicron, they are strongly encouraged to do so.
- Unvaccinated faculty, staff, students and visitors are required to wear a mask in all indoor locations at all times, with the following limited exceptions:
- When you are alone in a workspace. This may include an office with a closed door or a cubicle that provides barriers between you and others
- When you are eating or drinking and are socially distancing. Please note that this does not mean you may remove your mask for the duration of an event at which people are eating and drinking. It means you may remove your mask just long enough to take a bite or a drink before replacing it again.
- When you are with your suitemates in your living space.
- The CDC strongly recommends replacing cloth masks with standard surgical masks (blue and white, disposable) or N-95 or KN-95 masks (without valves) that fit tightly to the face. Research confirms that these options provide significantly greater protection against the virus.
Classrooms and Instruction
Stephens is determined to continue to teach in-seat as long as conditions allow. To ensure the safety and health of our students and faculty, all individuals in all indoor classrooms will be required to wear tightly fitting masks at all times.
Additionally, classrooms will be organized to:
- Provide at least six feet of space between the instructor and students
- Provide at least three feet of space between students
- Where possible, provide some socially distanced student seating spaced six feet apart
If health conditions require the College to return to online instruction, students will be required to choose a single delivery system/learning experience (in-seat or online) for the remainder of the term. All students attending class online will be required to remain on camera during the entire class period, to be situated at a desk or table (as one would expect in a physical classroom) for every class session, and to participate fully in the class discussion.
In light of the highly contagious and virulent nature of the Omicron variant, all residential students will be required to continue to live in single residence-hall rooms during the spring 2022 term, but will be charged the double-room rate.
Students arriving on campus for the Spring 2022 semester:
Prior to arrival on campus, all vaccinated students will be required to have uploaded vaccination cards to the Stephens Health Portal.
All students will be tested upon arrival on campus and prior to moving into their residence halls. More details on that will be forthcoming from the Office of Student Development.
Will the College continue to require weekly testing for unvaccinated employees and students?
Yes. The College will continue to offer free testing clinics once a week.
Will the College provide that kind of free testing to vaccinated/boosted employees and students, given the contagion levels of Omicron?
Yes. In the best interests of our entire community, the College — at least for the month of January — will provide voluntary free weekly testing for all employees and students who wish to remain informed about their own health status. Details on time and location will be forthcoming.
What if I test positive for Covid?
If you test positive for Covid, regardless of your vaccination status, you must isolate for 5 days. If no symptoms emerge during that period, you can leave your residence hall/home, but only if you continue to wear a tightly fitted mask for an additional 5 days.
What if I am identified through contact tracing as a close contact of someone who tested positive for COVID-19?
If you have been boosted OR completed the primary series of Pfizer or Moderna vaccine within the last 6 months OR completed the primary series of J&J vaccine within the last 2 months, you do not need to quarantine, but you must wear a mask around others for 10 days, and be tested on days 3 and 5. The Office of Student Development will administer those tests for you free of charge.
If you completed the primary series of Pfizer or Moderna vaccine over 6 months ago and are not boosted OR you completed the primary series of J&J over 2 months ago and are not boosted OR you are unvaccinated, you must stay in your home for 5 days and then continue to wear a mask around others for 5 additional days, and be tested on days 3 and 5. You will need to submit the results of those tests to the Stephens Health Portal by taking a photo of the result with your name and date of testing on it.
What is the difference between quarantine and isolation?
- Isolation separates sick people with a contagious disease from people who are not sick.
- Quarantine separates and restricts the movement of people who were exposed to a contagious disease to see if they become sick.
These policies apply to all members of the Stephens College community, though some programs — including our Nursing program, MFA program in Los Angeles, our athletics programs, our Children’s School, the stables, and our Physician Assistant program, among others — may establish additional requirements and policies specific to their disciplines and environments.
Does this policy include graduate, continuing and part-time students?
It includes all students who attend classes in person on any Stephens College campus or program location.