Dear Union College Community:
The activity level on campus is ramping up every day as we get closer to the start of the new academic year, and it is exciting to see students and employees arriving.
We welcomed 170 first-year students and their families for pre-orientation Monday and the rest of our first-years and transfer students will be arriving tomorrow, with upper-class students returning over the weekend. We are heartened that after more than 700 COVID-19 tests in the past two weeks for students who have returned to campus early we have had only four positive results.
We remain committed to providing in-person instruction and as close to a normal Union College campus environment as possible while safeguarding the health of our community. Here are a few important reminders as we prepare to begin classes:
The College instituted an indoor mask mandate in late August that will last at least through the first two weeks of the fall term. At that time, we will reassess the situation based on the current COVID conditions on campus and in the surrounding community, and make a determination on next steps. As a reminder:
- Masks are required to be worn in public indoor spaces, regardless of vaccination status. This includes major spaces such as the Reamer Student Center, Alumni Gym, Schaffer Library, the first-floor common space at College Park Hall and other gathering places.
- Parents and other visitors are required to wear a mask at all times while on campus during the move-in period, including residential spaces.
- Masks are not required for students in their residential spaces.
- Masks are not required while actively eating and drinking indoors.
- Masks are not required for employees while alone in their offices.
All our students and employees are required to test twice at the beginning of the academic year.
- The first round of employee testing is underway and will continue through Sept. 12.
- The second round of required testing will occur Sept. 16-17 and Sept. 20.
- Testing hours on all days are from 9 a.m. – noon and 1 p.m. – 4 p.m. Employees can schedule a test online.
- Students should get tested within 72 hours before returning to campus. Those who test positive must isolate at home before coming to campus and email a copy of their positive test results to email@example.com. Only those students who test positive need to share their pre-arrival results with the College.
- On-campus students will be tested upon arrival.
- Off-campus students must complete an initial test between Sept. 10 and 12.
- All students will be retested 5-8 days after their initial test, which will be the week of Sept. 13 for most.
- Student testing dates are Sept. 9 (first year students only); Sept. 10-12; Sept. 16-17 and Sept. 20.
As we have shared previously, all students and employees must be vaccinated or have been granted an accommodation on religious or medical grounds. We are in the final stages of verifying vaccination records for a few individuals and expect to have that process completed this week.
Those who have received accommodations, which represent approximately 1 percent of the employee and student populations, will be required to submit to weekly testing. We want to commend the entire College community for its positive response to the call for vaccinations, which will play a significant role in our ability to offer in-person instruction and a robust campus experience this fall.
Updated dashboard coming
We understand the desire for the community to have the latest information regarding COVID-19 cases, the number of tests being performed, quarantine/isolation space being used and more. We are in the process of reformatting and updating our dashboard, and expect to have the new one on our COVID-19 web site by the end of this week.
Additionally, the College has codified many of the actions and contingency plans that have been put into place during the pandemic in a response plan document, in accordance with requirements mandated by the NY HERO Act. We encourage you to read Union’s response plan for airborne infectious diseases.
In closing, we want to thank all our employees and students who have taken the COVID-19 protocols seriously in advance of the start of the new academic year. We are also deeply appreciative of all the hard work done by Union staff and faculty in preparing for the fall term – and to all those who have volunteered to staff our campus testing center.
The combined efforts of everyone are a reminder of the true Union spirit and give us confidence we can have a successful start to the academic year. As always, we will continue to provide regular updates and the latest information can be found on our COVID-19 site at any time.
Interim Dean of Faculty and Vice President for Academic Affairs
Vice President for Student Affairs and Dean of Students
Vice President for Administration and Finance