What students, faculty, staff and families need to know about Monkeypox
The College has developed a set of policies for how we will manage potential monkeypox infections in our campus community. These policies include mandatory, off-campus isolation for those who are infected. Read more details about that below.
Our approach is informed by federal guidance and our ongoing collaboration with state and local health departments; by our experiences with COVID-19 over the last two years; and by our institutional mission of providing an exceptional educational experience for our students.
Monkeypox is a rare disease caused by infection with the monkeypox virus.
Experts agree that the form of monkeypox that spread in the U.S. beginning in 2022 is highly preventable and has a very low mortality rate.
The Centers for Disease Control & Prevention is the authoritative source for up-to-date information about monkeypox. Their “What You Need to Know” page and list of Frequently Asked Questions provide in-depth discussion of transmission, prevention, symptoms, vaccination and much more.
The New York State Department of Health has created a monkeypox resource website with case statistics and information about state resources, including an option to receive text alerts about the virus.
Monkeypox spreads primarily through close intimate contact, including but not limited to sexual contact. Anyone can get monkeypox.
The Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) recommend steps to prevent monkeypox that include avoiding skin-to-skin contact and avoiding contact with objects and materials (including clothing, bedsheets, etc.) that a person with monkeypox may have used. The CDC is also recommending practices to lower risk during sex.
Additionally, there are vaccines that may be used for the prevention of monkeypox. Supply and eligibility may vary by region. Refer to the NYS Department of Health for the most current information about vaccine availability.
Symptoms associated with monkeypox include rash, fever, chills, exhaustion and aches, among others. These symptoms are nonspecific and require input from a healthcare professional to determine if they are related to monkeypox.
New Paltz students who develop these symptoms should contact the Student Health Service at (845) 257-3400.
New Paltz faculty and staff who develop symptoms should contact their healthcare provider.
While the illness is rarely fatal, the CDC warns that people with weakened immune systems, children under 8 years of age, people with a history of eczema, and people who are pregnant or breastfeeding may be more likely to get seriously ill. If you meet any of these criteria and are experiencing monkeypox symptoms, contact your healthcare provider immediately.
Per CDC and New York Department of Health guidance, anyone who tests positive for monkeypox must isolate until cleared by a physician.
All New Paltz students, faculty and staff should be prepared to isolate off campus for up to three weeks (21 days) if they test positive.
Students must be cleared by contacting the Student Health Center before returning to campus.
If a residential student tests positive, their roommate will be temporarily relocated and Custodial staff will disinfect the area.
Students in isolation will be assigned a Psychological Counseling Center liaison for mental health support and should work with their primary care provider to monitor symptoms.
Students who test positive cannot attend in-person classes during isolation
Students diagnosed with monkeypox will be unable to attend any in-person classes during their isolation. We ask students and faculty to review existing guidance regarding student medical absences. In particular, please note the following:
- We encourage faculty to support students and show empathy for their situations. However, students are ultimately responsible for the coursework for which they registered.
- Students absent from class for any reason are expected to complete all assigned work in the course and should consult the professor about make-up policies.
- Students who test positive for monkeypox should alert the Student Health Service. They should NOT provide faculty with any paperwork describing a diagnosis. The Student Health Service can provide faculty with separate documentation of required absence, and clearance to return to class, as needed.
Faculty and staff who test positive should communicate with their supervisor and with HRDI
Employees should always communicate with their supervisor about any illness that impedes their ability to report to campus or prevents them from working remotely (if approved to do so).
Faculty and staff who are confirmed positive for monkeypox are expected to notify the Office of Human Resources, Diversity & Inclusion (HRDI) so the College can support you during isolation. Supervisors should direct employees to contact HRDI if a case of monkeypox is reported to them.
Employees who are approved to work from home during isolation and are well enough to work, should do so. If an employee is unable to work from home or is too sick to work, HRDI will work with you and your supervisor to determine appropriate recording on your time record.
If teaching faculty must isolate, or if they must care for a family member who is in isolation due to monkeypox, they should notify their department chair in advance of absences, and work with their department chair to ensure proper coverage and/or alternative content delivery. For more guidance, please refer to the section of the Faculty Handbook that addresses short-term absences from in-person classes.
Because the isolation period for monkeypox is more than four days, employees should work with their healthcare provider to obtain documentation that indicates the dates of isolation. This documentation should be sent directly to Benefits at firstname.lastname@example.org. Supervisors should not accept any documentation directly and should wait for HRDI to confirm the return of an employee.