Dear Union College Community,
We write today to follow up on the campus update from Nov. 3 with additional information on the Schenectady County Public Health Services (SCPHS) quarantine practices for positive cases on campus.
We are happy to share with you that SCPHS has developed a new approach that is expected to reduce the number of individuals required to quarantine when an individual in an in-person class tests positive for COVID-19. While the final decision on quarantines rests with the SCPHS, we expect that this new approach will introduce more flexibility.
What can I expect when an individual who was present in class tests positive?
Each situation will be evaluated individually to determine the risk to individuals in our community. Below is an example of what we expect a typical process to look like going forward. Like much in the time of COVID-19, state and local practices for testing and quarantine are subject to change.
- When we learn of an individual from an in-person class testing positive, we gather and share with SCPHS as much pertinent information as we can, including class size, location, number of individuals in attendance, seating arrangements, compliance with health and safety protocols, etc.
- Based on the information we provide and information gathered during contact tracing, SCPHS will determine if the individuals in the class are considered a low-risk or high-risk contact.
- Individuals determined to be a high risk contact will quarantine.
- Individuals determined to be a low risk contact:
- Will receive a message from the College letting them know they are a low-risk contact of a known positive and that they should monitor for symptoms.
- Should consider limiting unnecessary social gatherings.
- Will receive follow-up communication from SCPHS to check on any symptoms. Any individual that is, or becomes, symptomatic will need to quarantine.
- Will likely have to be tested 3-4 days after the last exposure to the COVID-19 positive individual. Additionally, they may be asked to test 7 days later. When possible, testing will take place with us on campus, but there may be circumstances when an individual may need to be tested at an off-site facility such as Mohawk Harbor Urgent Care.
- As is the case with all of our health and safety protocols, failure to comply with any directive from SCPHS or the College could result in disciplinary action.
When an individual tests positive, SCPHS will need the following:
- Information about any social activities they participated in for the past two weeks before they became sick or tested positive
- Names of close contacts they have had within or outside of the College
- Places they may have gone in the community (restaurants, bars, hair salons, etc.)
Giving SCPHS accurate and complete information is essential to helping us stop the spread of COVID-19. To help you remember the important details in your schedule, SCPHS recommends that you keep notes about where you are going so that you have a reference and can share information with them if you test positive. We understand that some may be concerned with sharing specific details about where you have been and with whom, for fear of disciplinary action. Our immediate concern is with the public health of our community. Please note that being dishonest to a College or public health official will likely result in disciplinary measures, up to and including suspension or separation from the College.
We remind everyone to do their part to ensure full compliance with all College protocols, for the health and safety of our community. You can reduce the risk of infection and of quarantining by following these classroom protocols:
- Maintaining at least six feet of distance, and leaving all classroom furniture in its designated place.
- Wearing of masks by everyone at all times. Note that this precludes eating or drinking in class.
- Checking of emocha badges at the beginning of class. As a reminder, any individual who has symptoms related to COVID-19 must report symptoms on the emocha app and should not attend classes in person until cleared to do so.
- Tracking daily class attendance
- Tracking daily student seating in the classroom
As a reminder, Friday, Nov. 6 is the last day for students to select their mode of engagement with campus for the winter term. If students need to make any changes to their selection, they can fill out this form.
Fran’Cee Brown-McClure, Vice President for Student Affairs and Dean of Students
Michele Gibson, Vice President for Administration and Finance
Strom Thacker, Dean of the Faculty and Vice President for Academic Affairs