COVID-19 Updates

[Student] Important Information regarding winter return

Publication Date

Welcome back Students,

We look forward to welcoming you back to campus for winter term. As we know from fall, our success this term will depend on all of us. As you make your final preparations to return to campus, please make sure that you read this email closely. There is a lot of information here that we want to make sure that you understand before you arrive on campus. If you have specific questions regarding winter term move in, please reference our most recent correspondence here.

Please note, as is the case with all of our guidance, plans are subject to change at any time to align with state or federal guidance

Winter term testing

  • Testing Center moving to Viniar Athletic Center - Beginning in January, the COVID-19 Testing Center will be moving to the Viniar Athletic Center. Individuals arriving for their test should report to the parking-lot side of the building and enter via the Viniar Athletic Center main entrance. This change will allow Memorial Field House, our largest facility on campus, to be used for socially-distanced activities for students.
  • Testing hours will be 8:30 a.m. -12:00 p.m. and 1:00-3:00 p.m.
  • We will continue to use the Broad Institute as our testing partner

Pre-arrival Testing

  • To help reduce the number of initial positive cases on campus, all students are required to be tested for COVID-19 prior to arrival on campus and must submit their negative test results at check-in. We understand that there may be a delay in receiving results. Please bring your proof that you took the test.

  • If you are from NY or a contiguous state and cannot obtain a pre-arrival test, we will test you on Jan. 7, 8 or 9 on campus. However, you will need to quarantine either in a hotel space provided by the College (we have a limited amount of rooms available) or a space on your own. You cannot quarantine in your on-campus housing assignment. The College is not providing transportation to and from the hotel or any meals during this period. You will be allowed to return to campus once your negative result has been received. Please fill out this form if you need a space to quarantine while you wait on your test result. This form needs to be completed by January 7th at 12:00pm.

  • If you are from a non-contiguous state you must obtain a test 3 days prior to arrival in the state. If you are unable to obtain a test within 3 days you are able to return but will need to quarantine for 10 days. This is per NY state guidelines.

Initial Testing - Jan. 7 - 9

  • All students will be tested upon arrival on campus. If you have not signed up for an initial test please log in to your student health portal and schedule one immediately.

  • Once your test is completed you must quarantine until you receive your negative test result. This means you do not leave your room unless you are going to the bathroom or to pick up a meal from the designated dining location. You should only have contact with the people who live in your room/suite. Anything outside of this is a violation of our quarantine procedures and will result in an automatic move to remote status or suspension depending on the nature of the situation.

  • You are not allowed in any campus facility without having completed the initial testing. Any student found to violate this will be automatically moved to remote status for the remainder of the term.

  • There is no testing on January 10th. For that reason, you will not be able to return to campus this day. You will need to move your date to the 7, 8, or 9th or to the 11th.

  • Students who are in college provided quarantine space will be tested at the hotel. Please check your email for information regarding that process.

Twice-a-week Testing Schedule - Jan.11 - 22

  • During this period of time, all students will be tested twice a week.

  • You will need to schedule through the student health portal one test between Monday and Wednesday and another for Thursday or Friday.

  • This will be important to ensure that we promptly identify and isolate as many cases as possible upon returning to campus.

  • Please note that students who miss more than 2 weekly tests throughout the term without expressed permission from Health Services will automatically be moved to remote status for the remainder of the term.

Weekly Testing Schedule - Beginning Jan. 25

  • Weekly testing appointments will be Monday through Wednesday beginning this week.

  • Please make sure to schedule your weekly tests through the student health portal. You can schedule for the entire term right now.

Health and Safety Protocols

  • Daily Health Screening - The College will continue using the emocha app and online portal to capture your daily health screenings. You must complete your emocha screening every day including weekends.

  • Classroom Safety

    • In order to facilitate contact tracing and reduce the probability of quarantine in the event of a positive case, instructors must use a seating chart and take attendance at all in-person class meetings.

    • No food or drink should be consumed in the classroom.

    • Instructors must check emocha badges at the beginning of each class.

    • Following guidance from the county health department, we can no longer consider face shields alone an acceptable face covering.

  • Visitors - Regular testing is critical to keeping our campus safe and open. As visitors are not part of our testing program, they will not be permitted in campus buildings.

  • Travel - We learned from the fall term that visits off campus, particularly visits home or to see friends, increase the risk of contracting COVID-19. Unlike members of the Union College community, family and friends are unlikely to be part of a regular testing program. As one important part of our effort to keep our community safe and our campus open, we are strongly discouraging all travel until further notice.

  • Limit Off-campus Activity - In addition, while the presence of the virus remains significant in the region, we strongly encourage students to remain on campus and we are discouraging spending time in off-campus locations such as restaurants, stores and bars. We encourage students to take advantage of delivery services instead to limit the exposure to others who are not tested regularly in our community.

  • Wear your masks at all times on campus unless you are in your own room or walking alone outside.

  • Large gatherings are not permitted - This is not the time to party. We have all heard time and time again, across the country, the negative effects that just one social gathering can have on a community. Individuals who are found to be hosting or attending social gatherings that are not compliant with our health and safety protocols and that put our community at risk will be immediately placed in a remote status or suspended depending on the circumstances of the situation.

  • NYS Contact Tracing App - New York State has developed a contact-tracing app that uses Bluetooth technology to notify users if they have had close contact with someone who reports (via the app) a positive test result. It does not track users’ locations or identities (and therefore will not be able to tell users where or with whom they had contact) but simply notifies the user if a Bluetooth connection determines that they have had close contact so that they can monitor symptoms and consult with their healthcare provider.

    • In order to enhance existing statewide contact-tracing efforts and further limit the spread of the virus, we are encouraging students to consider using this app.

    • The app also provides useful data on test results statewide and by county.

    • Our IT security consultants have reviewed the app for privacy and safety concerns and are comfortable with its use. The only issue identified is that the use of Bluetooth technology consumes some battery power.

    • Please contact NYS, rather than Union’s ITS, for any technical questions about this app, which was not developed by or for Union College.

Isolation and Quarantine -

  • The State of New York has changed its quarantine requirements to 10 days from the last point of contact with a known positive instead of 14 (if an individual remains asymptomatic). This term, if you are required to quarantine you will receive your quarantine information from Union College. The Schenectady County Department of Health has given the College permission to set quarantine dates based on their guidelines. The College will inform individuals required to quarantine of their specific quarantine period. The quarantine dates shared with individuals and quarantine processes determined by the College are non-negotiable. Students who are found to be out of compliance with quarantine guidance from the College or the Department of Health will be moved to remote status or suspended depending on the nature of the situation.

  • Students who test positive will move to isolation space provided by the College or will be able to isolate at their home. Students will isolate for 10 days from the onset of symptoms or their positive test date (if they are asymptomatic). It is critically important that any student who tests positive fully complies with all contact tracing and questions including providing an accurate and complete list of close contacts and spaces where the individual was present during the period of time defined by the College.

Winter Term Dining

  • Please see the attached document outlining the dining services plans for our first weeks on campus.

The success of our winter term depends on you! The plans and protocols outlined above were created to ensure the healthiest possible start to our term and to what we hope is another positive, albeit different, term on campus. Your adherence to all protocols and expectations is critical. While the vast majority of our students have done a fantastic job of following our guidance, as referenced several times above, students who are not following our guidance are subject to immediate consequences such as being placed in a remote status or a suspension.

Thank you for your continued commitment to the health and safety of our community. We are excited for a productive winter term!

Dean Fran'Cee