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 vaccine allergies or other 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. At the moment, vaccine boosters are highly recommended for all summer scholars, but not required. This requirement may change, however, based on guidance from the CDC or the NYC Department of Health, in response to the Omicron variant or other new developments. If you cannot be vaccinated for specific medical reasons, you will be required to show proof of negative PCR COVID tests conducted less than four days prior to the start of the institute, and twice weekly over the course of the institute.
Depending on COVID rates in our summer scholars’ home communities in July, we may also require screening tests for fully vaccinated summer scholars prior to the start of the institute. And depending on COVID rates in New York in July, we may require weekly screening tests over the course of the institute. If we need to do so, the institute will provide at-home rapid COVID tests for all summer scholars – we don’t want testing to be a burden for you!
All institute faculty, staff, and guest speakers will be subject to the same vaccination requirement as our summer scholars. 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 not be permitted to attend in-person seminars if they have potential COVID symptoms, or a positive rapid or PCR test. If a summer scholar needs to self-isolate, they will still 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 seminars, but there’s a reasonable chance they will be. It will depend on COVID rates in New York 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, masking, 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.