COVID-19 Updates

[Faculty & Staff] Community Commitment, Daily Health Screening and Testing - Updates

Publication Date

Dear Colleagues,

Fall term is fast approaching, with classes beginning Sept. 9. Last week, we welcomed a little more than 100 students back to campus, including pre-orientation leaders, RAs and international students, as well as those required to participate in the New York State 14-day quarantine. We look forward to welcoming more students each day.

As part of our plan to open campus safely, we are writing to share several important updates and actions. We need every staff and faculty member to take these actions in the coming week. We begin by listing them and then provide details.

Actions Staff and Faculty Need to Take

  1. Sign the Community Commitment no later than Sept. 4 (all employees).
  2. Download the emocha Health app (upon receiving the notification on 8/31) and use it every day before coming to campus.
  3. Employees returning to campus must complete the consent form required to schedule regular, mandatory testing in Memorial Field House.

1. Our Community Commitment

As part of our ongoing effort to protect the health and safety of the Union community, each member of our community—students, faculty and staff—must follow the health and safety protocols outlined as part of our Union Where You Are plan. Later today, you will receive an email to sign off on a community commitment document. Our students made this commitment in early July when opting for on-campus study, and now we ask all of you to do the same. By signing this commitment, you acknowledge our shared expectations and pledge to do your part to minimize risk on campus and keep one another safe. Please sign the Community Commitment no later than Sept. 4.

2. Daily Health Screening Tool

As noted in our Aug. 14 update, students, faculty and staff are required to complete a health screening every day they are on campus. This replaces the daily checklist and attestation form that employees currently working on campus use.

The emocha Health app and web portal help ensure on-campus students, faculty and staff are free of symptoms and known exposure, and they allow the college to monitor the information provided and follow up with appropriate support. The app does not record or store location data, nor is it a tool for contact tracing.

On Aug. 31, all employees will receive a link to download and enroll in the emocha Health app.

  • Those who have a mobile number on file will receive a text message from emocha that will guide you through the enrollment process. Please respond to the text message and download the required app within 24 hours. The link will not be operational after that time. If your link expires, contact emocha at (240) 343-9222 to reinstate the link.

  • If you have not shared a mobile number with the College, you will receive an email that will guide you through the registration and attestation process.

  • emocha staff will be available to answer your questions about the app or the web portal at (240) 343-9222. You can also view this instructional video to learn more about downloading and setting up the app.

Please review the Daily Health Screening page and FAQs on the Union Where You are site for detailed information on expectations regarding the use of this app.

3. Testing

Union has partnered with the Broad Institute for testing. The College has been testing our students as they arrive on campus, and we are pleased to report that we have not had any positive results to date. We are currently preparing a public dashboard that will provide aggregate data on our testing results. We expect it to go live by the first day of classes. Please stay tuned for details.

Employees who will be on campus for any reason will be required to be tested regularly. Faculty and staff members should consult with their department chair or supervisor to discuss the frequency of testing. Note that testing frequency for employees may change if an employee’s campus presence or level of engagement with others changes throughout the term. Please notify your supervisor or chair if you anticipate such changes.

  • Weekly testing: This is required for employees who have regular close contact with students, faculty or staff for 15 minutes or more, even if the individuals are wearing masks, and for those in jobs with high degrees of in-person interaction (e.g., faculty with in-person instruction, Housekeeping, Dining Services, Health Services, etc.).

  • Monthly testing: For employees with only occasional close contact with students, faculty or staff, for less than 15 minutes at a time, and for those not in jobs with high degrees of in-person interaction (e.g., employees who come on campus to pick up supplies or mail, or who work alone in an office setting).

  • No testing: For employees who are remote and will not be on campus for any reason.

Beginning Sept. 1, the COVID-19 Testing Center on campus, located in Memorial Field House, will be open for employee testing.

  • All employees requiring weekly testing should plan to be tested between Sept. 1 and Sept. 3.

  • Employees requiring monthly testing should plan to be tested starting the week of September 14.

Information about scheduling your initial test and recurring testing will be sent under separate cover within the next two days. Please do not go to the COVID-19 Testing Center without an appointment.

Please Note: Union College does not perform testing for employees who are symptomatic. Employees who have symptoms consistent with COVID-19 should stay home, contact their primary care physician to obtain a test, and notify their supervisor.

In order to be tested, employees must sign a Consent to COVID-19 testing form. Later today, you will receive an email to sign off on the consent form. This document will need to be submitted only once per term. A kiosk to complete this online consent form will be available in Memorial Field House, but we strongly recommend completing it prior to your first test.

To learn more about our testing process for students, faculty and staff, please review our testing page on the Union Where You Are site.

We look forward to a safe and healthy return to campus, and we thank each and every one of you for your personal commitment to our Union and broader community.

Best regards,

Michele Gibson, VP for Administration and Finance

Strom Thacker, Dean of Faculty and VP for Academic Affairs