Dear Union College Community:
We are well into our second week of the fall term, and so far we are encouraged by the response of our community to the College’s COVID-19 protocols, which are working. As of yesterday evening, only 14 community members had tested positive for COVID since Aug. 1, out of more than 4,700 tests administered and currently we have only four students and one employee in isolation as a result of COVID. More details can be found at our COVID-19 dashboard.Still, we need to remain vigilant if we are to stay on track for a fully residential Union experience this fall. In that spirit, President Harris has invited a group of faculty, staff and student leaders to serve as a COVID advisory group as he and the senior staff explore next steps in our COVID response. The group, made up of four faculty members, four staff members and four students, comprises individuals serving in the following leadership roles:
- Members of the College’s Conference Group, as delineated in the Faculty Manual
- Chair of the Faculty Executive Committee
- Secretary of the Faculty
- Chair of the Academic Affairs Council
- Chair of the Student Affairs Council
- President of the Student Forum
- Vice President of the Student Forum
- Additional student and staff representatives to reflect the fact that, because the pandemic affects all aspects of operations at Union, it is critical to include a range of perspectives:
- Both co-chairs of the Union Staff Council
- The two staff representatives on the College’s Planning and Priorities Committee
- The two student representatives on the College’s Planning and Priorities Committee
These 12 individuals will join President Harris and members of the College’s senior staff for an initial meeting Friday morning to discuss, among other topics, our future approach to testing and mask usage. We are looking forward to having the input of leaders representing all parts of the College community as we continue to navigate the pandemic, and we will continue to communicate with the entire community on a regular basis.
Our second round of mandatory testing ended Monday. As of now, we remain on schedule to begin weekly voluntary testing Wednesday, Sept. 29 and testing is scheduled for each Wednesday thereafter for the rest of the fall term. As a reminder, testing center hours are 9 a.m. - noon and 1-4 p.m. Anyone who is not fully vaccinated needs to test weekly at the campus testing center.
Students who are a close contact of someone known to have COVID-19 will receive information via email from the Dean of Students office about when to get a test and should monitor closely for symptoms. Employees who are close contacts of a COVID-19 positive individual will receive a message from Human Resources instructing them to be tested 3-5 days after their exposure - either on campus if the testing center is operating or at a local health care facility. If testing occurs off-campus, employees should forward their results to HR.
Any changes to the testing protocols that come as a result of the upcoming meetings with the COVID-19 advisory group will be communicated in a timely fashion.
If you are symptomatic for COVID-19 it is important that you take steps to protect yourself and the community. Students who feel ill should remain in their room and contact Health Services to schedule an appointment immediately or go to urgent care on the weekend. Faculty and staff should remain at home and contact their physician, and inform their supervisor and Human Resources. It is especially important to take any symptoms seriously if you are a close contact of someone who has tested positive for COVID-19.
The requirement to wear masks in most indoor spaces remains in place. We had previously indicated the requirement would be revisited after the first two weeks of the fall term, and this will be an important part of the discussions with the COVID advisory group on Friday. We ask that everyone remain diligent in adhering to this commonsense precaution, which has proven effective in slowing the spread of COVID in our community and elsewhere.
As we said last week, the entire community is to be commended for taking our COVID protocols seriously, but now is not the time to let our guard down. Please continue to wear your masks indoors and don’t come to work or class if you are feeling ill.
We all have a role to play in keeping Union healthy. Thanks to everyone for doing their part.
Interim Dean of Faculty and Vice President for Academic Affairs
Vice President for Student Affairs and Dean of Students
Chief Human Resources Officer
Vice President for Administration and Finance