Student Exposure to Extraordinary Infectious or Environmental Hazards Policy


The purpose of this policy is to address student exposure to infectious and environmental hazards and to promote student health and safety during periods when extraordinary outbreaks of infectious disease or environmental hazards may affect the educational program for an individual student, group of students, or all students at SUNY Downstate. This policy specifically includes epidemics, pandemics or extraordinary environmental hazards that potentially threaten the health and safety of students in clinical environments. It does not include infectious or environmental exposure encountered in normal clinical activities. The latter policy regarding the effects of infectious diseases is also included in the policy guide.


Note: These policies mirror specific policies adopted by the College of Medicine which are located on this web page.

  1. The Dean of the individual school of college, working with the appropriate associate dean, program chair, or clinical coordinators, will determine the extent of student participation in academic and clinical activities when potential exposure to infectious or environmental hazards substantially exceeds expected standards. This may involve individual or small groups of students with potential exposure to a specific high risk environment or wide spread occurrences such as epidemics or pandemics.
  2. The decision of the Dean (or his/her designee) will be based on the following principles:
  3. While such situations may provide a unique learning experience the potential educational benefits must be weighed against student health and safety concerns, public health concerns and the objectives of the educational program. The first priority for students will be their health and safety.
  4. Students are in an educational role and should not be involved in clinical activities that go beyond the roles performed in the normal clinical environment. Students may participate in clinical activities during periods of significant risk according to the level of clinical competence of the student and the assessment of risk of the clinical environment.
  5. Academic education activities should continue wherever possible regardless of the cancellation of clinical education activities.
  6. Students are not permitted to volunteer for involvement in clinical activities during situations subject to this policy without the approval of the Dean of the school or college they are enrolled in (or their designee).
  7. As a matter of general course, all students will:
  8. Have their immunization record reviewed annually and updated as needed through the Student Health Service
  9. Be mask-fitted (if appropriate for their academic program) through the Student Health Service
  10. Be schooled in the concept of universal precautions and techniques for infection control before exposure to clinical activities
  11. It is the responsibility of faculty members, staff and students to notify the Dean in a timely manner of the existence of any hazardous environment that might affect students.
  12. Any decisions made under this policy will be communicated promptly to students, faculty, and healthcare organizations affected by the decision.
  13. The procedures for care and treatment of students after occupational exposure, and any secondary disability, would be addressed through Student Health Services at Downstate Health Sciences University.


Epidemic: epidemic is a classification of a disease that appears as new cases in a given human population, during a given period, at a rate that substantially exceeds what is "expected," based on recent experience

Pandemic: pandemic is an epidemic that spreads through human populations across a large region (for example a continent), or even worldwide.

Environmental Hazards: “Environmental hazard” is a generic term for any situation or state of events which poses a threat to the surrounding environment.

Approved by the Council of Deans, December 2015