Union Where You Are: Plans for 2020-21

A Healthy Union Starts with U

Publication Date

Dear Union College Community,

Welcome to the first day of classes and the official start of our winter term. The new year brings renewed commitment and hope to all of us each year, but perhaps it symbolizes a bit more for most, if not all of us, this year. Despite the extremely disturbing events in Washington last week, 2021 must be a new chapter for the world as we continue to work together to remain healthy, a new chapter for the country as we prepare for a new administration and work toward understanding and healing, and a new chapter for Union College as we continue to advance our academic mission while addressing our challenges.

This past week, as we welcomed back our students, we conducted over 2,300 COVID-19 tests across students, staff, and faculty members. As of the completion of our initial testing, we had 25 positive cases on campus. Given our experience in the fall, we knew to anticipate a number of cases as we welcomed members of our community back to campus. We also know that we will have more cases to come as the incubation period from exposure during holiday visits and travel remains a concern. As I noted in a video message, the key is to quickly identify positive cases, and effectively implement isolation and quarantine procedures.

To ensure we are identifying and isolating as many of these cases as soon as possible, I remind you that:

  • All weekly testers (employees and students) will be tested two times a week from Jan.11-22.

  • All individuals engaging on campus must carefully follow all health and safety protocols.

  • Access to facilities, including in-person dining, Alumni Gym, and Schaffer Library, will be limited during this initial period to reduce the likelihood of spreading the virus. Students are also strongly discouraged from going into town or otherwise interacting with people who are not part of the Union community, and are therefore unlikely to be tested regularly. We will ease restrictions as the on-campus positivity rate declines.

  • Each member of the campus community has an obligation to stay at home or stay in their residence if they are displaying symptoms. Anyone experiencing symptoms should not go to work on campus or attend in-person classes or activities.

In addition to renewed commitment to testing and safety measures, we start the term announcing more ways to connect and communicate this term.

  • Weekly COVID-19 Update - we will publish any highlights from the week in a new COVID-19 section of the Union College Chronicle published on Fridays.

  • Community Conversations - we have planned a series of community conversations by constituency to ensure we have planned time to share updates and address questions you may have related to COVID-19 or other important matters. Save the date for the following sessions, details will be sent in advance.

    • Students - Hosted by Fran’Cee Brown-McClure, Michele Angrist & Matt Toy, Student Forum President

      • Jan. 12, 6:00 p.m.

      • Feb. 10, 6:00 p.m.

      • Mar. 11, 6:00 p.m.

    • Faculty - Hosted by Strom Thacker and Michele Gibson

      • Jan. 28, 1:20 p.m.

      • Feb. 23, 1:20 p.m.

      • Mar. 16, 1:20 p.m.

    • Staff - Hosted by Michele Gibson and Beth Glassman

      • Jan. 22, 11:00 a.m.

      • Feb. 18, 3:00 p.m.

      • Mar. 9, 9:00 a.m.

    • Parents - Hosted by the Class Deans

      • Feb. 2, 7:00 p.m.

      • Mar. 4, 7:00 p.m.

      • Mar. 15, 7:00 p.m.

  • covid19@union.edu - Please use this email address for any COVID-19-related questions you may have outside of these updates.

Thank you for your continued commitment to the health and safety of our community. Together we can ensure a successful 2021. Best wishes for a healthy and productive term.

David