Our first priority in planning the July 2022 Religious Worlds institute is the health and safety of our summer scholars, our faculty and staff, and the faith communities we will visit together.
In order to meet in person as safely as possible COVID vaccination is required for all summer scholars, with the exception of those who have documented medical conditions that preclude vaccination. If you are admitted to the institute, you will be required to show proof of vaccination in order to accept our offer of admission. If you cannot be vaccinated for specific medical reasons, you will be required to show proof of negative COVID tests conducted less than four days prior to the start of the institute, and twice weekly over the course of the institute.
At the moment, vaccine boosters are highly recommended for all summer scholars, but not required. This requirement may change, however, if the CDC changes its definition of “fully vaccinated” in response to the Omicron variant or other new developments.
All institute faculty, staff, and guest speakers will be subject to the same vaccination requirement. All visitors to Union Theological Seminary (including guests of summer scholars living on campus during the institute) will be required to follow Union’s “vaccinated campus” policy.
We will meet in a large, well-ventilated seminar room (seen here), with space for physical distancing. Summer scholars will be required to submit brief daily health screening questionnaires. If a summer scholar needs to self-isolate due to potential COVID symptoms, they will be able to participate in our seminars remotely thanks to a Meeting Owl Video Conferencing Camera.
Our masking policy will be determined closer to the date of the institute, based on CDC and NYC Department of Health recommendations. We very much hope that face masks will not be required in our seminar discussions, but this will depend on public health conditions in July.
When we visit houses of worship and religious sites throughout the city, we will follow any additional COVID safety protocols required by our host congregations. A large majority of New Yorkers have been vaccinated (click here for the latest vaccination data from the NYC Department of Health) but we cannot guarantee the vaccination status of every individual we may meet on our site visits.
While we understand that some people remain hesitant about vaccination and other COVID safety measures, we consider these essential steps to protect the health of our summer scholars and our fellow New Yorkers. Please contact us if you have any questions about our COVID safety policies.