COVID-19 Updates

Keeping our campus safe and open - new restrictions effective January 17

Publication Date

Message Revision RE: Off-Campus Students - Jan. 18
Campus access for off-campus students and commuters is limited to attending academic activities, getting meals from dining, and participating in outdoor activities consistent with mask and distancing policies. Like on-campus students, off-campus students and commuters are expected to avoid interactions with people outside the Union community (e.g., restaurants, gyms) and people who do not live in their residence, and minimize trips to grocery and convenience stores.

Dear Union College Community,

During this first week of the winter term, we recorded 27 COVID positive cases among students, and 7 among faculty and staff. We have evidence of community spread among our residential students--on and off campus. When our dashboard refreshes later today, it will report a total of 51 student positives since January 1. After consulting with public health officials and campus leaders, we have made the difficult decision to enact a two-week campus quarantine effective today January 17 at 5 p.m., through Sunday, January 31 at 5 p.m. To learn more about how we arrived at this decision, please view the video above. The following changes will be in effect during this two-week period:

Students:

  • On-campus students are not permitted to leave campus without permission. Do not go to restaurants, gyms, off-campus apartments of Union students, grocery stores, etc. Students found responsible for violating this policy will be converted to remote status, will need to leave campus immediately and may be subject to additional disciplinary action. Please email covid19@union.edu Monday - Friday 9 a.m. - 5 p.m. if you need to request permission to leave campus. For emergencies call Campus Safety at (518) 388-6911.
  • Twice-weekly testing will continue for the next two weeks (through Friday, January 29) for all students. As we have previously communicated, if you miss more than two tests you will be converted to remote status.
  • We continue to find that people are not contracting COVID-19 in classes, due to strict enforcement of mask and distancing policies. Classes can continue in person at the discretion of the faculty member. Faculty will notify students of any change in the mode of engagement for their courses for this two-week period.
  • Dining will continue to be grab and go during this two week period.
    • Students are permitted to order meals or groceries for delivery to the front door of their residence hall.
  • Residential Life:
    • Residence Halls continue to be closed to all off-campus visitors, including parents. As we have communicated, parents should not be visiting campus this term.
    • Access to residence halls is limited to residents. Please do not enter residence halls unless you live there.
    • Access to Minerva kitchens is available to house residents and Minerva House members only. Sign up required.
    • Every resident can have one guest in their room. If there are multiple residents in a room, the rule of one guest per resident will apply. A guest is defined as anyone not assigned to the residence hall room. All guests must live in the residence hall. Masks must be worn whenever guests are present and six feet of distance must be maintained.
    • Students MUST wear masks in the residence halls at all times except when in their own room without a guest.
    • Residence halls refers to traditional style buildings, theme houses, Greek houses, and other places where students live.
  • Library access remains limited for the next two weeks, as in week one.
  • All indoor athletic facilities including the Breazzano Fitness Center remain closed.
  • In-person indoor student group and athletics meetings will not be held.
  • Students are encouraged to spend time and exercise outside but must wear a mask and maintain 6 feet of social distance. Some ideas include: going for a walk or run on campus or on the perimeter, playing Frisbee golf on our on-campus course or spending time with friends properly distanced and masked at our newly installed on-campus fire pits.
  • Campus access for off-campus students and commuters is limited to attending academic activities, getting meals from dining, and participating in outdoor activities consistent with mask and distancing policies. Like on-campus students, off-campus students and commuters are expected to avoid interactions with people outside the Union community (e.g., restaurants, gyms) and people who do not live in their residence, and minimize trips to grocery and convenience stores.

Employees:

  • Employees who need to be on campus to do their job (dining, housekeeping, facilities, in-person instructors and researchers, etc.) must be tested twice a week for the next two weeks.
  • Everyone who can work remotely should do so. Please speak with your supervisor to discuss if periodic campus-based work (e.g. picking up the mail) may be delayed for this two-week period.
    • Please do not come to campus just to receive a COVID test during this period of time.
  • Faculty may, at their discretion, move their in-person classes online for weeks 2 and 3 of the term. Please contact students directly regarding any change in the mode of engagement for courses.

This situation is serious, but it is our firm belief, and that of our public health consultant, that with immediate, aggressive action and sacrifice by all, we can preserve an on-campus winter term. We are asking every member of the Union community to redouble their efforts over the next two weeks, so that we can have the best possible chance at a winter term that includes a return to more normal interactions and use of facilities.

To address student and parent questions about these new policies, we are hosting a webinar this afternoon at 3 p.m. Please click the link below to join the webinar:

Student/Parent Webinar

Click this link to join the webinar: https://union.zoom.us/j/91884084833
Phone one-tap: US: +16465588656,,91884084833#
Telephone: US: +1 646 558 8656
Webinar ID: 918 8408 4833
International numbers available: https://union.zoom.us/u/afq3EaaXV

In addition to the webinar, if you have questions, please email covid19@union.edu.

Thank you for your continued partnership and support of our health and safety protocols as we work together to significantly reduce the presence of the virus on our campus.

Be well,

David Harris
President

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

Beth R. Glassman
Interim Chief Human Resources Officer

Strom Thacker
Dean of Faculty and Vice President for Academic Affairs

Q&A

How will the administration identify all violations of these new policies?
We will strictly enforce these policies, but fear of sanctions cannot be the primary reason why students abide by these policies. At Union, we develop every student to lead, now and across multiple tomorrows. Being a leader means doing what is right, even when no one in authority is watching and you could probably get away with doing the wrong thing. We are implementing policies to keep our community safe and open. As leaders, we expect our students to do the right thing because they want to keep themselves and others safe (students, staff, faculty, neighbors, family members, friends), and because they want to return to more normal on-campus activities this term.

Does a campus quarantine mean that faculty and staff are not permitted on campus?
Only those faculty and staff who need to be on campus should be here. If you have any questions about whether you should be on campus, please speak to your supervisor. Faculty who are scheduled to teach in person can choose, at their discretion, to teach in person or temporarily move to remote learning for this two-week period.

Can I pick up my Union student and have them quarantine at home for the next two weeks?
No. This is a campus-based quarantine. If a student would like to remain on campus for winter term, they must remain on campus for this period of time. If a student would like to go home, they may switch their mode to remote learning and remain at home for the rest of winter term. If they do so, they will not be able to stay enrolled in any in-person-only classes and may therefore need to adjust their class schedule (in consultation with their academic advisor) to take only online or hybrid classes. The deadline to finalize winter class schedules is January 22, and instructor email permission will be required to add courses. Students should be mindful that they will have missed a considerable amount of course material from the beginning of the trimester for any new courses they add. Students opting to change their mode of instruction for the term at this time will be issued a pro-rated refund of room and board.

Can I get food delivered to my residence hall?
Yes. Students are permitted to order food or groceries to be delivered to their residence hall. Delivery drivers are not allowed inside of our buildings.

Are we allowed to spend time together outside?
Yes, we encourage you to get exercise outside and spend time socially distanced. Some ideas include: going for a walk or run on campus or on the perimeter, playing Frisbee golf on our on-campus course or spending time with your friends properly distanced and masked at our newly installed on-campus fire pits.

What are acceptable reasons for leaving campus?
Students will be granted permission to leave campus for medical appointments, to obtain medical supplies and for off-campus employment. Requests to visit family and friends will not be approved.

For permission to leave campus, please email covid19@union.edu Monday - Friday 9 a.m. - 5 p.m. For emergencies call Campus Safety at (518) 388-6911.