Union Where You Are: Plans for 2020-21

Positive COVID-19 Test Results - Updates and Expectations

Publication Date

Dear Students,

As we welcome new and returning students, faculty and staff members to Union, it’s been wonderful to see the eagerness and excitement around campus. We are all looking forward to a productive term.

As of this evening, we will have completed our initial COVID-19 testing of students. We currently have six confirmed cases among our student population. These individuals are asymptomatic and in isolation; county health officials are completing contact tracing. We were prepared for this situation, and our initial testing has provided us the opportunity to quickly identify the individuals affected and manage exposure on campus.

Case counts are posted on our dashboard. As we have shared, we will not communicate about every case. However, as we all adapt to the reality of life with the virus in our community, I wanted to share more about expectations including:

  • Importance of doing your part - health and safety protocols

  • When we have positive cases in our community

  • Preparing for a positive test result or required quarantine

  • Addressing the rumor mill

This is a lengthy email, but it contains critical information that I strongly encourage you to read multiple times and save in a place you can reference.

Importance of doing your part - health and safety protocols

We have seen many in our community leading by example. Unfortunately, we have also had several students violate the health and safety protocols that are critical to our ability to complete our term on campus. Those that put others at risk will face serious consequences at Union. Today we issued our first interim student suspensions, that are in effect until conduct hearings can be completed. We will continue to hold community members accountable. To ensure you continue to have the information you need regarding expectations, we offer the following reminders and clarifications.

  • It is critical that we all follow the established health and safety protocols. This means wear a mask at all times indoors unless you are in your room. When you're outdoors you should have your mask with you and on any time you come within six feet of another person. Not sure if you are six feet apart? Wear your mask. We understand that everyone isn’t walking around with a measuring tape, and we would rather err on the side of being cautious.

  • Be vigilant about washing and sanitizing your hands, cleaning your phone and other commonly touched surfaces.

  • Complete your daily health screening on the emocha app every day. Know your normal. If you have migraine headaches on a regular basis, you do not have to select yes about headaches. If you know that you have seasonal allergies you do not have to note that you have been sneezing.

  • Avoid large gatherings and maintain social distancing. We have received reports of students gathering in local establishments and not following our health and safety protocols. Please be mindful of the expectations that we have set for our community and that the expectations extend beyond the campus boundaries. Our actions can have a significant impact on our entire community in both positive and negative ways.

  • If you feel unwell at any time please call Health Services at (518) 388-6120 to schedule an appointment. Do not show up to Health Services in the Wicker Wellness Center if you believe that you are symptomatic. If it is after 5 p.m., please alert campus safety.

  • Please consult our community standards site if you have any questions about expectations and the consequences of not abiding by those expectations.

When we have additional positive cases in our community

  • The College will partner with the Schenectady Department of Health to initiate our isolation procedures and will begin initial contact tracing. Individuals identified as close contacts (e.g., roommates, significant others) may be asked to quarantine.

  • We will identify if there are spaces that will need to be closed for cleaning and disinfecting. Each positive case will have a specific set of circumstances and we will consider CDC protocols for cleaning and disinfection. Not all spaces that an individual has occupied will need to be cleaned.

  • When we identify a space that needs to be cleaned due to possible exposure, the staff or contractors cleaning may have on full PPE dress. This is standard, so do not be alarmed. If we believe that a closure will take longer than a couple of hours we will notify the impacted individuals.

  • We regularly clean our spaces, and have enhanced our cleaning protocols and the cleaning frequency. For more information, please review the enhanced cleaning protocols page.

Preparing for a positive test result or required quarantine

  • Receiving a positive result can be stressful. Have a conversation now (as soon as you finish reading this email) with your family about the information provided below to help you make the decisions that are best for you and your family regarding a positive test result.

  • Prepare your COVID-19 quarantine/isolation packing list. If you need to move to isolation or quarantine space, you’ll need to move quickly and preparing ahead can reduce stress. If possible, pack some items away and then you can add everyday items such as medication, laptops, etc. before you leave. Once you leave your room you will not be able to return until your isolation/quarantine period is complete. We also cannot go into your room and retrieve items that you may have forgotten.

If you test positive for COVID-19 or are a close-contact required to quarantine

  • On- and off-campus students: If you test positive, someone from Student Affairs will call you. This call will happen as soon as we get the test results, and could be any day of the week. You will not receive this information via email. It is vitally important that you answer your phone at all times and check your text messages. During this call we will let you know what to expect and ask preliminary contact tracing questions to help determine next steps, which will include moving you to an isolation space. The Department of Health will conduct official contact tracing when they contact you. Please make sure that you are being honest and accurate with the information that you are reporting to them. This is vital to the public health and well-being of all community members.

  • On- and off-campus students: If you are a close-contact required to quarantine, someone from Student Affairs or the Department of Health will call you. You will not receive this information via email. It is vitally important that you answer your phone at all times and check your text messages. During this call we will let you know what to expect and help determine next steps, including your quarantine location.

  • If you are required to isolate or quarantine, you can either:

    • Choose to isolate/quarantine at home or with a family member or

    • Stay in Union’s designated isolation or quarantine space

It is helpful to have a plan in advance rather than trying to navigate this in the moment. Regardless of your decision, you will have to go into isolation or quarantine immediately until your family member arrives.

  • Wherever you are when you are notified, we will ask you to head immediately to your room and stay there until campus safety calls you to coordinate your escort to the isolation or quarantine space. It is critically important that you do this and not make any detours.

  • While in isolation or quarantine, a few different people from Union will be checking in to see how you are doing. The Department of Health will also follow up with you within 24 hours, and they will be your primary point of contact.

  • If you use the College’s designated space, Dining Services will deliver meals to you. If you have certain dietary needs we will ensure that those needs are met.

  • You cannot leave the designated space unless you have a medical need (medical appointment). This means you cannot go for a run, walk outside, meet a delivery driver, etc. The Department of Health is the only agency that can clear you to leave isolation or quarantine. We must hear from the Department of Health before you can return to in-person classes. More detail about the procedure for returning to campus after isolation or quarantine will be shared with those affected.

  • Your professors will be notified that you may need flexibility with class for a period of time. They will not be told why. If you choose to tell them that is up to you.

Addressing the rumor mill

  • We understand that it is concerning when we hear that any member of our community has been affected. However, we need your help to ensure that our community is receiving correct information.

  • If you hear that someone has tested positive please keep that information to yourself. It is a private medical situation.

  • If you believe that you may have come in contact with an individual who has tested positive please wait to hear from the Department of Health. It takes time for them to gather a list of contacts and connect with all of them. If you have questions please feel free to call the Schenectady Department of Health at 518-836-2400, Monday - Friday 9 a.m. - 4 p.m. or the 24hr N.Y. State hotline at: 1-888-364-3065. We will not be able to provide you with information about someone who has tested positive. We will direct you back to the Department of Health.

  • The Department of Health defines who qualifies as a close contact in these situations. This is important because you may believe that you are a contact when in fact you are not, according to the Department of Health. Anyone who is designated as a close contact will self-quarantine off site for the designated time set forth by the Department of Health.

Thank you for reviewing and following this important information and for your help in ensuring a successful start and continuation of our academic year.


Best,

Fran’Cee Brown-McClure
Vice-President for Student Affairs and Dean of Students
Vice President for Student Affairs and
Dean of Students Office