Coronavirus / COVID-19 FAQ

Do I need to be vaccinated to return to campus for the fall semester?
Yes. The Cooper Union requires that all students, faculty, and staff, except for those with a medical or religious exemption, be vaccinated with an FDA-authorized or World Health Organization (WHO)-listed vaccine in order to be on campus, beginning in the fall semester. Proof of vaccination must be uploaded to CUSAFE by Aug. 23, 2021.

What is CUSAFE?
CUSAFE is Cooper Union’s free smartphone app, released last year, that is designed to address and promote personal safety on and off campus.  CUSAFE was developed by Cooper Union’s Safety and Security Department in partnership with the Office of Information Technology, using software from AppArmor Mobile. It uses the latest mobile and GPS technologies, with enhanced features that include important safety alerts, instant access to campus safety resources, and includes a news feed from Cooper Union’s Twitter account (@cooperunion). The CUSAFE app can be downloaded onto any android, iPhone, or iPad device. Students, faculty, and staff will need to upload proof of vaccination via our Vaccine Passport (also developed in collaboration with AppArmor) on the CUSAFE app. With CUSAFE, you can register your vaccination (or exemption) information in a secured and fully HIPAA-compliant portal.

How does the Vaccine Passport on CUSAFE work?
Once you launch the CUSAFE app, you will see the “Vaccine Passport” button.  Click or tap that button, complete the simple and short questionnaire, and upload an image of your vaccine card or exemption documentation. You can use the camera on your phone or tablet to take a picture of your vaccine card at that time.  After you’ve uploaded your documentation, which takes about two minutes, a registered nurse will review your submission and approve it. Please allow 1-2 business days for your submission to be approved.  Once your submission is approved, CUSAFE will indicate via a QR code that you are allowed on campus, and your ID card will be activated for campus entry. Should your ID card scan “red” at the security desk, please show the QR code on your CUSAFE app to security.

How do I know the app is secure and HIPPA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act) compliant?
Both the Vaccine Passport and CUSAFE have been developed by Cooper Union’s Safety and Security Department in partnership with the Office of Information Technology, using software from AppArmor Mobile, a leading technology company with a focus on safety apps in the higher education sector.

What if I am not able to get vaccinated?
For those with a medical or religious exemption, you can upload your exemption documentation to the Vaccine Passport on CUSAFE.  Following that, those with an approved exemption will be required to participate in weeklyCOVID-19 testing. A negative result will be required to gain access to campus. We anticipate testing will be available on campus for the first few weeks of the fall semester.

I need help with the app.  Who can I contact?
If you require assistance with installing or accessing the app, please reach out to

I don’t have a smartphone or tablet.  What should I do?
If you do not have a smartphone or tablet or require assistance with installing or accessing the app, please reach out to

Where can I get a vaccination?
The United States government is providing vaccines for free for all individuals who qualify to receive a vaccine with or without health insurance, regardless of immigration status. Vaccines are now available for anyone over the age of 12 (at this time, only Pfizer has EU approval for ages 12-17) at vaccine hubs, local pharmacies, and other distribution centers. The Cooper Union will be scheduling a vaccine day on our campus for anyone who might be interested in receiving a vaccine through our third-party testing vendor. Cooper will provide up to four hours of paid time off per vaccine appointment for all faculty and staff.

Are masks required on campus?
The Cooper Union requires that masks be worn inside all campus buildings.  This is aligned with the latest CDC recommendations that everyone wear masks indoors, even those who are vaccinated.

Do I still need to get tested?
Weekly tests are still required for campus access until further notice. 

What is the campus guest policy? 
All guests will be required to show proof of vaccination and wear a mask while indoors on campus

  • Residence Hall – Effective August 25, 2021, we will allow residential Cooper Union students to sign in guests to the residence hall who are members of the Cooper Union community already approved to be on-campus. No students may have non-Cooper Union guests in the Residence Hall. Residential Students should continue to follow policy and direction from the Office of Residence Life.  
  • Recurring Guests to the Academic Programs – Guests must be approved by a Dean or Department Head and follow Cooper Union’s policy for vaccinations and testing and must wear a mask.
  • Guest Speakers, Facilitators for Programs, Rentals, etc. – Attendees must show proof of vaccination and wear a mask indoors.
  • Admissions Tours and Meetings with prospective students and their families – Attendees must show proof of vaccination and wear a mask indoors.
  • Continuing Education – Attendees must show proof of vaccination and wear a mask indoors on campus.
  • STEM and Saturday Program Participants – All program participants must show proof of vaccination and wear a mask while indoors on campus. 
  • Contractors and Emergency Workers - We will make every attempt to require vaccinations for contractors and emergency workers on campus. All will be required to wear a mask at all times indoors.

What steps must I take if I have a religious or medical exemption?
To request a medical exemption, individuals will need to submit proof of a medical condition that is a contraindication to the vaccination and the date the qualifying medical condition exemption ends (if applicable). This documentation must be signed by a medical provider. The medical exemption request:

  • May be granted if a licensed physician, licensed nurse practitioner, or licensed midwife (caring for a pregnant person) certifies in writing that such vaccination may be detrimental to the individual’s health or is otherwise medically contraindicated.
  • Must include a statement indicating which vaccine may be detrimental, including a detailed explanation of the valid medical basis for such determination, and the length of time for which it may be detrimental.
  • Should be based on the most recent guidelines of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and its Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices.
  • Will be granted on a temporary basis up to the point when the condition supporting an exemption is expected to resolve or expire; if related to a permanent condition, will be granted for no more than one calendar year.
  • Must be resubmitted annually.

Religious exemption requests:

  • May be granted if a student, faculty, staff, or a minor student’s parent or guardian certifies in writing that they hold genuine and sincere religious beliefs which are contrary to such immunization.
  • Must describe with specificity the religious principles that guide the objection to such immunization.
  • Will not be granted when opposition to such immunization is scientific, political, philosophical, or otherwise secular rather than religious in nature.
  • May require additional supporting documentation.
  • Must be submitted for renewal on an annual basis.

All medical and religious exemption requests must be submitted on the CUSAFE Vaccine Portal by Aug. 19, 2021. Students, faculty, and staff requesting exemptions will be notified by email if their exemption has been approved.
Individuals who are approved for vaccine exemptions will be required to follow  protocols for unvaccinated individuals, as informed by CDC recommendations and state and local requirements (including wearing face coverings and physically distancing, as may be required by applicable CDC guidance). Currently, these protocols include weekly COVID-19 testing and other safety protocols outlined by public health guidelines and Cooper policies.

What if I am not fully vaccinated by the time the semester begins?
You are considered to be “fully vaccinated” two weeks after your last dose of the vaccine. If you have only received one dose of a two-dose regimen (for example, Moderna or Pfizer) or fewer than two weeks have elapsed since your last dose (or only dose such as  Johnson & Johnson), you are not fully vaccinated. You are still required to submit your incomplete vaccination record to CUSAFE. Until you are fully vaccinated, you will be subject to the same requirements as those who are religiously or medically exempt.

What are the requirements for international students?
Cooper Union will accept FDA-authorized or WHO-listed vaccines. If one is available to you now in your home country, we highly urge you to get vaccinated and upload proof of your vaccine by no later than Aug. 19, 2021.

What if I am an international student and don't have access to any COVID-19 vaccines prior to arriving on campus?
Residential Students: If you are moving into Residence Hall, you will be expected to get your first vaccine dose within 24 hours of your move-in and, depending on which vaccine you receive, that you get any required follow-up doses as soon as you become eligible.

Students Who Live Off-Campus: If you are able, you should try to arrive in New York City early so that you can be fully vaccinated before the start of the semester. You should get your first dose upon arrival. Depending on which vaccine you receive, you must get any required follow-up doses as soon as you become eligible.

Quarantine Requirements: Students who are not fully vaccinated but have received their first Pfizer or Moderna dose or single J&J dose prior to the start of class will not be required to quarantine 24 hours.  However, they will be required to provide weekly COVID-19 negative testing results and follow other public health guidelines (including wearing face coverings and physically distancing, as may be required by applicable CDC guidance) until they are fully vaccinated (two weeks after the second vaccine dose of Pfizer or Moderna or two weeks after the one dose requirement of the J&J vaccine).

Should there be New York State Travel Quarantine/Restrictions for any country outside the United States, Cooper Union will follow the mandates in place at that time. 

Procedure Regarding COVID-19 Exposures on Campus

What should I do if I have tested positive for COVID-19?

  • A student, faculty or staff member who has been on campus and receives a positive COVID-19 test should immediately notify Mary Ann Nissen at to ensure that the campus is alerted.
  • You may also contact a Manager within your School or Department after communicating with Mary Ann Nissen.
  • Mary Ann or her designee will guide you on COVID-19 protocols to follow.
  • You will be in isolation until released by NYC Test and Trace. You will be required to isolate for 10 days; you will be  released after 10 days of isolation if you have been fever free for at least 24 hours and if symptoms are beginning to be less severe. You will not need to test for ninety days as it is assumed that you may test positive during that timeframe although you are not considered contagious to others.

What happens next?

  • As soon as Mary Ann is notified of the positive test case she will communicate with the Manager/Dean/Department Leader, Facilities and Security and the internal contact tracer assigned to the area.
  • Mary Ann or her designee will be responsible for communicating with the student, faculty or staff member on procedures they should follow during their isolation. NYC Test and Trace will be providing directions as well.
  • Mary Ann and/or her designee will be responsible for collecting the names of possible exposed individuals on campus in addition to any names that may have been provided by NYC Test and Trace.
  • Once Mary Ann gathers the information on potentially exposed individuals, she will reach out to those individuals and provide them with procedures they should follow.
  • If you are vaccinated and exposed to a positive case, you are not required to quarantine. Like everyone else on campus you must continue to wear a mask at all times. You must get a PCR test five (5) days after being exposed to a positive case. If the test is negative no further action on your part is required. If the test is positive, contact Mary Ann Nissen or her designee and follow the steps outlined above, under "What should I do if I have tested positive for COVID-19"
  • The Manager/Dean will provide operational direction to students, faculty and staff members who have or wish to be on campus regarding any restrictions being imposed for safety purposes.
  • The space(s) that the positively tested individual was in will be deep cleaned out of precaution. The data has shown that hard surfaces do not retain the COVID-19 droplets. .
  • Facilities will be responsible to immediately provide a COVID-19 clean which includes misting, wiping down of all surfaces including door knobs and removing any trash.
  • Mary Ann Nissen will work with the Manager, Dean, Department Leader to be sure that daily instructions regarding space is communicated to impacted students, faculty and staff.
  • Mary Ann Nissen and/or her designee will provide direction to person(s) in isolation
  • The CDC no longer requires a shut-down of locations for positive cases.  However, the college facilities team is willing to provide an additional deep clean of any work area by request. The college will be monitoring building/campus shut-down procedures for any significant measure of positive cases in our buildings or our campus.  

What if I discovered I was potentially exposed? What do I do?

Any vaccinated student, faculty, or staff who may have been exposed because they were with an individual who received a positive test for COVID-19 should wear a mask at all times while in public for five days after the potential exposure . (Note that everyone is required to wear a mask inside Cooper buildings.) On the fifth day, the person should get a PCR test. If the test results are negative, the person may move about freely. People who are not yet fully vaccinated need to follow these quarantine guidelines: 

  • Stay home for 14 days after your last contact with a person who has COVID-19. 
  • Watch for fever (100.4◦F), cough, shortness of breath, or other symptoms of COVID-19. 
  • If possible, stay away from people you live with, especially people who are at higher risk for getting very sick from COVID-19. 

Who will be supporting Mary Ann Nissen?

Contact Tracers

  • Nori Perez – School of Engineering
  • Doug Thornhill – School of Engineering
  • Emmy Mikelson – School of Art
  • Robyn Fitzsimmons – School of Architecture
  • Cynthia Hartling – HSS
  • Thomas Tresselt – Campus Safety and Security
  • Grace Kendall – Student Affairs/Residence Hall
  • Hala Alkasm – Admissions/International Students
  • Robert Reinckens – IT
  • Brian Cusack - IT

All Deans, Department Managers, Managers


  • Natalie Brooks
  • Torey Boyd
  • Miguel Acevedo

Security & Safety

  • Tom Tresselt
  • Ruben Savizky
  • Founded by inventor, industrialist and philanthropist Peter Cooper in 1859, The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art offers education in art, architecture and engineering, as well as courses in the humanities and social sciences.

  • “My feelings, my desires, my hopes, embrace humanity throughout the world,” Peter Cooper proclaimed in a speech in 1853. He looked forward to a time when, “knowledge shall cover the earth as waters cover the great deep.”

  • From its beginnings, Cooper Union was a unique institution, dedicated to founder Peter Cooper's proposition that education is the key not only to personal prosperity but to civic virtue and harmony.

  • Peter Cooper wanted his graduates to acquire the technical mastery and entrepreneurial skills, enrich their intellects and spark their creativity, and develop a sense of social justice that would translate into action.