Dear Union College Community Members:
Welcome to the first week of classes for the fall term!
We are excited to see all our new students – and those who have returned to campus to continue their Union experience. It has been great fun to see the campus come to life with activity over the past few weeks.
As we begin to settle into our routines, we wanted to take this opportunity to remind everyone, but especially our students, about what it took for us to get to a place where we could offer an in-person experience this fall that looks much more like a typical Union environment. More importantly, we want to encourage everyone to remain diligent in taking common-sense precautions such as wearing your masks while indoors.
As you all know, our efforts to create a nearly entirely vaccinated community have been successful. Beyond that, our first round of mandatory testing revealed only a small number of COVID-19 cases – nine among students and four among employees as of yesterday. Testing data are updated daily on our COVID-19 dashboard.
Likewise, we are pleased to see that the vast majority of community members are adhering to our mask rules. Now is not the time to let our guard down, however.
Activities such as unmasked social gatherings have been, both at Union and at other colleges and universities, a primary means of COVID transmission. Students are encouraged to limit such activities, especially indoors, when possible.
A number of our peer residential institutions have seen a sharp increase in COVID cases in the first weeks of the academic year as students return to activity on their campuses and in their communities. As a result, some have had to call a temporary pause to in-person instruction. We want to avoid making a similar decision if at all possible.
Remember, masks are still required to be worn - in a manner that covers your nose and mouth - in all indoor spaces except residence halls or while actively eating or drinking.
Also, nothing precludes a student from wearing a mask in their residence should they want to take the additional precaution. Even if you tested negative to start the year, you still need to be mindful of your activities and the possibility of exposure as you go about your daily activities. Doing so will both protect your health and minimize the chance that you will need to go into isolation.
The second round of mandatory testing begins tomorrow.
- All first-year students should retest tomorrow at the field house from 9 a.m. – noon and 1 – 4 p.m. First-year students observing the Yom Kippur holiday can test on either Sept. 17 or 20.
- Returning students should test during the same hours on Friday, Sept. 17 or Monday, Sept. 20.
- Employees can test on any of the three testing days.
- Anyone who develops symptoms associated with COVID at any time should get tested, either at the Wicker Wellness Center for students or at a local health care provider for employees.
We continue to explore the best way to keep our community healthy while advancing our core mission, and will be sharing more information in the coming days about our future plans for testing, masking and other protocols. We will be engaging faculty, staff and student representatives in these discussions as we move forward.
A little bit of grace goes a long way
As we return for the fall, the College – like many other service-providing organizations – is experiencing some staffing and supply challenges, most notably in our dining operations. We are working hard to add staff and ensure that we have a full menu of food options for our students and employees, but would ask that everyone show an extra measure of patience. We thank and recognize our dining providers who are working extra hours at the start of the fall term under difficult circumstances.
Once again, welcome to the start of what we think is going to be a great year. We truly appreciate everyone’s commitment to keeping our community healthy. Let’s keep up the good work so we can continue to experience the type of campus life that makes Union such a special place.
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