COVID-19 Updates

COVID-19 Testing and Mask Usage Update

Publication Date

Dear Union College Community:

As we get closer to the start of a new academic year, we know that many of you have questions about the College’s preparedness in light of the continued challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic. In the ongoing spirit of transparency, we will be providing updates to our community on a regular basis for the foreseeable future. Additionally, more information and resources related to our response can be found at the COVID-19 Updates section of the College’s web site.

Testing update
Our requirement that students and employees be vaccinated before the start of the fall term, absent those very few individuals who will be exempt for verified medical or religious reasons, gives us confidence we can avoid an outbreak of serious illness related to COVID-19 among members of our community. Still, there is growing evidence that even vaccinated individuals can contract and spread the virus, although with far lower likelihood and far less personal risk than unvaccinated individuals.

As has been the case throughout the pandemic, we are closely monitoring the local and regional situation, and are doing our best to follow the science in order to keep our community as safe as possible. Here’s what has been decided at this point related to testing:

  • In order to minimize community exposure and spread of COVID-19, we will require that students be tested upon their arrival on campus.

  • All employees also will be tested at the beginning of the academic year.

  • We expect to conduct follow-up testing for all employees and students approximately a week after their arrival.

  • We are finalizing plans to conduct periodic surveillance testing throughout the term. We anticipate much less frequent testing than last year, given that we have a vaccinated community.

  • All individuals who are exempt from the vaccination requirement will be subject to weekly testing throughout the fall term, and perhaps beyond.

  • Details of the testing protocols are being finalized now and we will share them soon.

Current mask guidance
The requirements and guidance regarding mask usage provided early this month remain in place: Until further notice, all Union community members are strongly encouraged to wear masks when in indoor public spaces, regardless of vaccination status.

Members of our community who are not yet vaccinated are required to wear masks while indoors. Additionally, all visitors to campus, regardless of their vaccination status, must wear masks while indoors on campus.

We recognize the spread of the Delta variant is cause for concern among some in our community, and we have been in active discussions with Schenectady County Public Health Services regarding guidance on a range of COVID-19 safety protocols, including mask usage. It is possible we will update our rules regarding masks, based on evolving conditions, as we get closer to the start of the fall term.

Please know that our commitment to offering in-person education and a much more normal college experience this year has not wavered. At the same time, keeping our community safe in what continues to be a challenging and changing environment remains a top priority.

Thanks to everyone for taking this ongoing public health threat seriously and for doing your part to keep yourself, and those around you, safe.

Regards,

Fran’Cee Brown-McClure
Vice President for Student Affairs

Beth R. Glassman
Interim Chief Human Resources Officer

Scott Jones
Vice President for Administration and Finance