COVID-19 Updates

New mask and testing protocols; vaccination update

Publication Date

Dear Union College Community Members:

Signs that another academic year is close at hand are all around us. A number of our student-athletes already have returned to campus and we’re looking forward to most employees returning to their workspaces next week in advance of the start of fall term on Sept. 13.

As part of the College’s ongoing efforts to ensure a successful and safe academic year, we continue to finalize our COVID-19 protocols for the fall. Here are key pieces of new information you need to know now. Additional information related to the College’s COVID-19 protocols and response can be found on the College’s website.

Vaccination update

As you know, all students, faculty and staff are required to be vaccinated prior to the start of fall term, with exceptions only being made for approved medical or religious exemptions.

We are extremely pleased to report that 99 percent of employees who will be working on campus this fall have been vaccinated and we expect a similar percentage of students to be vaccinated prior to their arrival on campus. The very small number of individuals who have been granted exemptions will be tested for COVID-19 weekly throughout the fall term, and possibly beyond.

Mask update

Given the increasing rate of COVID-19 occurrence in our region, and the high transmission rate of the Delta variant, masks will be required in most indoor spaces on campus effective immediately - regardless of an individual’s vaccination status. This requirement, which will be re-evaluated approximately two weeks after the start of the fall term, includes classrooms, meeting rooms, the Reamer Campus Center, the Schaffer Library and other spaces where individuals congregate.

Students will not be required to wear masks in their residence halls, including in the lounges. Employees will not be required to wear a mask while in their individual offices but should be prepared to wear a mask should someone enter their workspace.

Testing update

Union will conduct re-entry testing of all students and employees at the beginning of the fall term.

Surveillance testing will be made available throughout the fall and is highly encouraged. Details will be shared shortly. Any individual with symptoms consistent with COVID-19 will be required to be tested immediately.

Student testing:

  • Pre-arrival:
    • All students are expected to take a COVID-19 test before traveling to Union to minimize the chance they might carry the virus with them to campus, and be forced to immediately isolate.
    • Anyone who receives a positive test prior to their planned arrival at the College should not travel to campus, should isolate at home for 10 days and email a copy of the result to uchealthcenter@union.edu. Only students who test positive need to share their results with the College.
    • Anyone who has tested positive in the past 90 days should immediately send a copy of their test result to uchealthcenter@union.edu and are not required to test upon arrival.

  • Arrival and start-of-term testing
    • All students will be tested upon their arrival to campus.
      • On-campus student residents will be tested upon check in.
      • Off-campus students will soon receive a message telling them when they can get tested.
      • Not testing on the appropriate day will result in suspension of housing and disconnection of access to buildings and dining facilities, and may result in removal from classes.
    • Students should expect to test again 5 to 8 days after their initial test – the week of Sept. 13 for most students.

Employee testing:

  • All faculty and staff are required to be tested on campus Sept. 6 or Sept. 8-12 between the hours of 9 a.m. - noon and 1 p.m. - 4 p.m.
  • Follow-up testing will be offered Sept. 16-17 and Sept. 20 between 9 a.m. - noon and 1 p.m. - 4 p.m.
  • New employees will be required to test as part of their on-boarding process.
  • Non-compliance will result in access to campus facilities being revoked and possibly other disciplinary measures.
  • Employees who test positive or display symptoms should not come to campus.

Move-in update

We welcome families on campus with their students and look forward to greeting them. Family members will be able to drop students off at their residence halls, help them move in and attend the parents’ reception, but they must be masked indoors at all times. We advise that families limit the number of people traveling to campus to the extent it is practical. Only two family members will be allowed in a student residence at a time, and we ask that families limit their time in the residence halls as much as possible.

Contact tracing and quarantine/isolation update Union, with assistance from Schenectady County Public Health Services, will once again conduct contact tracing of close contacts to individuals who test positive for COVID-19. Anyone who tests positive for COVID-19 will be required to isolate for 10 days and students who test positive will be encouraged to go home to isolate if possible. Close contacts of COVID-positive individuals who are fully vaccinated do not need to quarantine as long as they are symptom-free, but need to get tested 3-5 days after exposure and wear a mask at all times while indoors.

The College is finalizing plans to provide local isolation space, food service, medical support and other services for those students who test positive and are unable to go home. More details will be available soon.

Upcoming Communications The pandemic remains a fluid situation and we realize many of you have questions. We will continue to provide regular updates – including webinars for students/parents and faculty/staff. A webinar for students and parents has been scheduled for Aug. 30 at 6 p.m., and sign-up information will be coming in the next day. A similar question-and-answer session is planned for faculty and staff later next week.

As always, we appreciate the precautions the entire Union community continues to take in the pandemic. Your efforts, along with protocols such as those outlined in this message, give us the greatest chance to return to as close to a normal Union College experience as possible in these challenging times.

Best regards,

Michele Angrist
Interim Dean of Faculty and Vice President for Academic Affairs

Fran’Cee Brown-McClure
Vice President for Student Affairs

Beth R. Glassman
Interim Chief Human Resources Officer

Scott Jones
Vice President for Finance and Administration