Dear Union College Community:
We hope everyone has enjoyed the beautiful fall weekend. This is just a quick update on the policy regarding mask usage on campus.
As you know, when we instituted the mask mandate in August, we said the decision would be revisited after the first two weeks of fall term.
We have done that, and after considering the current situation in our region regarding COVID-19 and seeking input from faculty, staff and student leaders, the decision has been made to extend the mask policy in its current form until further notice.
We have been extremely pleased with the compliance to these rules by the entire community, and are confident they have played a significant role in keeping the number of COVID-19 cases among Union students and employees at a low level so far this term. In particular, we have been impressed with the outstanding attitude displayed by our students.
Our experience has been different from some other colleges and universities in our region, which have experienced a spike in COVID cases in the first weeks of the academic year. We continue to believe that wearing masks in most indoor settings gives us the best chance for a robust student experience this fall, complete with in-person learning and a full schedule of campus events and activities.
While we have heard from many around campus who strongly favor keeping the mask rules in place, we also acknowledge that wearing a mask much of the time while indoors can be frustrating and uncomfortable. We very much appreciate everyone’s patience as we continue to balance the desire for normalcy with the very real public health concerns we still face.
As mentioned last week, President Harris has formed a COVID advisory committee comprising 12 campus leaders – four each from the faculty, staff and student body – to work with him and the senior staff as we consider our ongoing response to the pandemic. That group met for the first time Friday and offered wide-ranging views and considerable insight, and we will continue to meet with this group on a regular basis going forward.
One of the other topics discussed Friday was testing. At this point, we will continue with our plan to offer weekly voluntary testing on Wednesdays, beginning this Wednesday. We are, however, exploring options and logistics for a mandatory testing regimen, based in part on the feedback from the COVID advisory group. Testing hours this Wednesday will be from 9 a.m. – noon and 1 – 4 p.m.
We will continue to provide updates to the community on at least a weekly basis, and more often as necessary. As always, the most current information – including the portal to schedule your voluntary test if you are an employee – related to the College’s COVID response can be found on our COVID-19 web page.
Thanks, as always, to everyone for caring enough about yourselves and one another to follow our COVID-19 protocols.
Interim Dean of the 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