COVID-19 Updates

Testing results and a reminder: Testing is mandatory

Publication Date

Dear Union Community Members:

As you all know, we completed our first week of mandatory COVID-19 testing for the fall term this week. Of the nearly 2,400 people who tested this week, only 12 were positive – 11 students and one employee. Most of the student cases were clustered in a single residential area along with a student organization. Testing data is updated daily on our COVID-19 dashboard.

While these data suggest that we are not experiencing broad community spread of COVID-19 , we are concerned by the fact that a considerable number of students and employees did not get tested as required this week. As a reminder to students: The Wicker Wellness Center cannot be used as a back-up testing center for those who miss the regular testing window.

Everyone on campus is required to be tested weekly until further notice, unless they are exempt from testing as result of having been positive for COVID-19 in the past 90 days or have an excused absence from the Dean of Students Office or Human Resources.

Failure to test two more times between now and the end of the term will result in punitive action.

  • For students this will be a suspension for the term regardless of what week we are in.

  • For employees disciplinary action will be determined by the responsibility center head in consultation with Human Resources.

Reducing wait times a priority

We also are aware of long wait times during certain periods of the testing sessions that made it difficult for some people to get tested. Our experience this week suggests the longest lines occurred at the beginning and end of each session (for example, there was no, or little, wait time Tuesday afternoon from 1:45 – 3:45 p.m.)

We are exploring ways to speed the process given the limitations we face with an all-volunteer staffing model, and hope to be implementing some changes in the coming weeks. Your patience and flexibility are very much appreciated.

Isolation and quarantine details

Students

  • Individuals who test positive for COVID-19 will be required to isolate for at least 10 days from the date of their test - or from the onset of symptoms. This date will be confirmed by the Wicker Wellness Center or the Department of Health.

  • We encourage students to return home to isolate if they can. If that is not possible, the College will provide off-campus isolation space at a local hotel along with meals.

  • Students who test positive will receive a phone call from the College with detailed instructions regarding their isolation options and next steps. Test results often come in late in the evening and a student may receive a text message notification from the State before hearing from the College. If that happens please immediately notify campus safety so we can assist you with beginning your isolation process.

  • Positive students will be contact-traced by the College and by the Department of Health. The College does contact tracing to ensure that we can quickly identify contacts.

  • Students who are isolating in space provided by the College will receive regular check-in calls to monitor any symptoms and answer any questions you may have. Any worsening of symptoms should be reported immediately to Wicker Wellness Center at (518) 388-6120. If you feel ill over the weekend, you should go to an urgent care center, or contact Fonemed at 1-888-409-1063 or call Campus Safety.

  • It is important to note that close contacts of COVID-19 positive individuals who are vaccinated and asymptomatic do not need to isolate. Those individuals will receive an email from the College within a few hours of the positive student being notified. This email will contain information about what to do in terms of testing and masking. It is extremely important that you look for that email.

Employees

  • COVID-19 positive individuals will be contacted by a physician at Saratoga Hospital and then Human Resources with details about their result and isolation protocols. You may receive a text message from NYSDOH or a representative from SCPHS also may contact you with news of your test result.

  • Employees who test positive for COVID-19 will be required to isolate for at least 10 days from the date of their test or the onset of symptoms. You will not be allowed to return to campus until you have been cleared by your county’s department of health.

  • Employees will receive regular check-in calls from SCPHS to monitor any symptoms and answer any questions you may have. Seek medical attention from your physician or another medical provider should you experience worsening symptoms.

  • Vaccinated, close contacts of a COVID-19 individual who are asymptomatic do not need to quarantine, but must wear a mask at all times while indoors on campus and should get tested within 3-5 days of notification of their exposure. If your testing window doesn’t fall on the College’s regular schedule, employees should get a PCR test (not a rapid test) off-site and email the results to pulvireg@union.edu.

These instructions can be found any time on the home page of our COVID-19 site.

A word on masking

Our rules around mask-wearing haven’t changed: They are still required in most indoor spaces and need to be worn over your nose and mouth. Still, we recognize that wearing masks for extended periods of time can be uncomfortable. This was a topic of significant discussion at this week’s meeting of the COVID-19 advisory board with a range of perspectives shared.

We continue to think carefully about the best way to balance public health while offering the best campus experience for our students, faculty and staff. We do know that wearing masks indoors makes a positive difference in COVID-19 transmission and we encourage everyone to remain vigilant.

As always, thanks to everyone for your cooperation and patience as we continue to deal with the pandemic. Know that your efforts are making a difference.

Sincerely,

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

Fran’Cee Brown-McClure
Vice President for Student Affairs and Dean of Students

Tye Deines
Chief Human Resources Officer

Scott Jones
Vice President for Administration and Finance