COVID-19 Updates

Union Where You Are: Winter and Spring Terms

Publication Date

Dear students,

Midway through the fall term, we write to share our current plans for the winter and spring terms. Though these plans are, as always, subject to change with state and regional conditions, we remain steadfast in our goal of protecting the health of our community while pursuing our educational mission. Below we share details of our current plans. In addition to this email, on Oct. 20, 7- 8 p.m., President Harris and members of the senior staff will host a webinar via Zoom for students and parents to learn more about our plans for 2021. We invite you to submit questions when you register.

Winter and Spring Term: Key Dates

  • Oct. 26: Students elect mode of engagement for winter term

  • Oct. 26: Last day for students to sign the revised COVID-19 Policy Agreement

  • Nov. 2: Email sent to students regarding selecting initial COVID testing day

  • Nov. 6: Last day for students to make a change in mode of engagement (on-campus or remote) for winter term

  • Jan. 2: Move-in date for students returning from international travel and students required to quarantine per the New York state travel guidelines and using college quarantine hotel

  • Jan. 7-9: Student testing and move in begins. Employee testing begins. (See testing section below for information about pre-arrival testing and on-campus testing.)

  • Jan. 11: First day of classes

  • March 25-28: Modified spring break

  • March 29: First day of spring term

  • June 13: In-person Commencement for the Class of 2021, conditions permitting

Academic Calendar

After consultation with the Academic Affairs Council, Faculty Executive Committee, Planning and Priorities Group and others, we have revised the academic calendar for winter and spring terms. Winter term will begin one week later than previously planned. The first day of classes will be Jan. 11. This will enable our phased move-in and testing plans (see below) and help to accommodate those required to adhere to the New York state 14-day quarantine.

  • Spring break will be shortened to four days (March 25-28). While we appreciate the need for a break between terms, we must limit the flow of people in order to reduce the risk of an outbreak that could jeopardize a successful spring term.

  • We strongly encourage students to remain on campus between winter and spring terms. As we have communicated previously, anyone who travels to a state that is on the New York state quarantine list (which is subject to change at any time) during a term or for spring break will be required to self-quarantine. Union will not provide quarantine accommodations for student personal travel; per the Department of Health, students are not permitted to quarantine in their rooms.

  • We will have two mid-week wellness days during the spring term to give our community short breaks.

  • Spring term classes will end on June 4, as originally scheduled.

  • An on-campus Commencement for the Class of 2021 is still planned for June 13. This and all events must follow state and College guidelines. We will continue to monitor conditions to determine whether we can safely host these celebrations. We will continue to keep the Union community apprised of these plans.

Modes of Instruction

As in the fall, our winter term Union Where You Are plan includes three broad modes of course instruction: in-person, hybrid (available both in-person and remotely) and online. Our listing of courses denotes their modes of delivery (see the Location and Meeting Time column). As a reminder, the course petition process began Oct. 17 and runs through Oct. 20. Course registration begins the week of Nov. 2.

  • Engaging Experiences for Remote Students: Following the success of our fall programs, Union will offer a variety of compelling remote courses and internships this winter for students (excluding first years) who choose to study remotely (i.e., not on campus). Minervas Online courses will offer interdisciplinary opportunities to explore major societal challenges such as climate change, sustainability, criminal justice and mass incarceration, and global citizenship. We will also offer Experiential Education virtual internship opportunities in education, health care and social innovation; remote political internships in Washington, D.C.; student-arranged internship courses based on individual interests; and Global Virtual Internship Courses given in collaboration with the College’s study abroad partners.

  • Remote students who complete the remote experiential courses will receive a Robert J. Moser ’99 Experiential Learning Award of $2,000 to help offset any related expenses.

Community Standards

Protecting the health and safety of our faculty, staff, and students, and maintaining a rigorous learning environment, continue to be of utmost importance to Union. We all have a shared responsibility to understand both the risks of COVID-19 transmission and the actions we all must take to keep ourselves, our community, and the surrounding area healthy.

If you will be on campus in any capacity, you are responsible for complying with the rules, policies and regulations contained within our Community Standards, as well as this supplemental section pertaining to COVID-19. In addition, you are required to follow any laws or ordinances not listed here. Failure to comply with policies, department of health directives or campus expectations will lead to disciplinary action up to and including suspension or expulsion.

  • ACTION REQUIRED: Students, if you are changing your mode of engagement for winter term (e.g., you were remote or withdrew for the fall term and want to be on campus for the upcoming term, or vice versa), you must fill out this form by Monday, Oct. 26. Changes made after Nov. 6 will be subject to a $1,000 change fee.


  • Students in assigned campus housing may remain in their residence for winter term if they are returning to in-person study.

  • Students who are remote or withdrew for the fall term and would like to return to campus in the winter will be entered into a housing lottery.

  • Because we have limited campus housing, we are seeking off-campus residential space, most of which will require shuttle transportation. In some cases, these options may include locations outside of Schenectady up to 15 miles away. We will be sharing more details about housing options during our webinar on Tuesday, Oct. 20, as well as after the deadline for students to select their winter term mode of engagement.

Travel Quarantine Reminder

  • New York state has issued a travel advisory for anyone entering the state from states or territories that are experiencing recent, significant, community-wide spread of COVID-19. This includes students, faculty and staff.

  • We are following the CDC recommendation that anyone returning to the U.S. from another country quarantine for 14 days.

  • Students affected by the quarantine requirements can either move into College-provided quarantine space on Jan. 2 or arrange their own quarantine that fulfills the New York state requirements. We will send out a form to register for college-provided quarantine space before the term ends.


  • Pre-arrival testing: To help reduce the number of initial positive cases on campus, all students are required to have a COVID-19 test within 10 days prior to arrival on campus and must submit their negative test results at check-in. Any student arriving without a test will have to find their own, non-College housing and will not be permitted on campus until they can produce a negative test result and then participate in our initial campus testing. Any student who tests positive should follow the directives of their local department of health and should not arrive on campus until they have been cleared by their department of health. Students testing positive must also notify Union’s Health Services at

Options for testing include:

  • Contact your primary care provider to schedule a test.

  • Check with your local urgent care centers or pharmacy.

  • In New York, students can call the COVID-19 hotline at (888) 364-3065 to schedule a test.

  • Students who have exhausted all options in their area may reach out to to discuss an alternative means of securing a test.

  • Initial testing upon return to campus: All students and employees will be tested for COVID-19 as they return to campus. For those students living on campus, initial COVID-19 testing will be part of the move-in process and conducted centrally at the testing center. Students living off campus who will have access to campus will need to sign up for a time to have an initial test administered by Health Services. Student, faculty and staff testing will be available Jan. 7-9. Students must have a test on campus before moving into their residence. Students will be required to self-quarantine in their room until they receive a negative result. Any student found violating this will have their housing and in-person class privileges revoked immediately and may be subject to additional sanctions. On Nov. 2, you will receive correspondence allowing you to register for an initial testing date and time.

We will continue to communicate with the community as plans and details evolve. Should you have any questions, please register and join us for the webinar on Oct. 20, 7- 8 p.m., via Zoom.

The steps all of us have taken over the past seven months are responsible for the relatively small number of COVID-19 cases at Union this term. As the weather turns colder, rates rise locally and globally, and we all long for normalcy, we will have to be even more vigilant if we are to complete this academic year on campus. We thank you for your partnership.


David Harris

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

Strom Thacker
Dean of Faculty and Vice President for Academic Affairs