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Monkeypox Information

What students, faculty, staff, and families need to know about monkeypox.

Monkeypox has been declared a public health emergency globally and by New York City’s Department of Health due to the large number of cases in the city. Currently, Westchester County has the second highest case load in New York State.

Anyone can become infected with monkeypox, regardless of age, sex, gender identity, or sexual orientation. The virus is most commonly transmitted through close, personal, often skin-to-skin contact with an infected person or animal.

If you suspect that you might have monkeypox or have been exposed, students should contact Health Services and faculty/staff should contact their primary care provider and stay in your residence until a risk assessment has been done by a medical practitioner.

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.

How Can I Find Out More About Monkeypox?

Please access one or more of the following websites for accurate information on the disease, the mode of transmission, symptoms, treatment and prevention (including vaccination eligibility and sites in the surrounding area).

Preventing the Spread

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.

What To Do If You Develop Symptoms

Symptoms associated with monkeypox include rash, fever, chills, exhaustion and aches, among others. These symptoms may be nonspecific and require input from a healthcare professional to determine if they are related to monkeypox.

Purchase students who develop these symptoms should contact the Student Health Service at (914) 251-7925 or hse@purchase.edu.

Purchase 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.

Anyone Who Tests Positive Must Isolate Off Campus For Up To Four Weeks

Per CDC and New York Department of Health guidance, anyone who tests positive for monkeypox must isolate until cleared by a physician.

All Purchase students, faculty and staff should be prepared to isolate off campus for up to four weeks or longer if they test positive.

Students must be cleared by contacting Student Health Services before returning to campus at (914) 251-7925 or hse@purchase.edu.

If a residential student tests positive, their roommates will be temporarily relocated and Facilities staff will disinfect the area.

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 Student Health Services. They should NOT provide faculty with any paperwork describing a diagnosis. Student Health Services can provide faculty with separate documentation of required absence, and clearance to return to class, as needed.
  • Students who miss class(es) for an extended amount of time and cannot complete coursework may need to consider taking a medical leave of absence for the semester.

Faculty and Staff Who Test Positive Should Communicate with Human Resources and Their Supervisor

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 Human Resources. Supervisors should direct employees to contact Human Resources 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, Human Resources 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 director in advance of absences, and work with their director to ensure proper coverage and/or alternative content delivery.

Because the isolation period for monkeypox is more than four days, employees should work with their healthcare provider to obtain documentation that indicates the date of diagnosis. This documentation should be sent directly HRM.covid19.testing@purchase.edu. Supervisors should not accept any documentation directly and should wait for Human Resources to confirm the return of an employee.