COVID-19 Updates

Initial COVID-19 protocols for winter term

Publication Date

Dear Union College Community:

Our final week of mandatory COVID-19 testing for the fall term is complete. Seven students and two employees tested positive this week. Full test result data will be uploaded to our COVID-19 dashboard later today and can be viewed any time.

Our ability to return to a more normal way of operating this fall term is a testament to our decision to require vaccinations for members of our community and to the diligence of everyone in observing our COVID-19 protocols. As President Harris shared in his State of Union presentation this week, we anticipate taking similar measures to start the winter term. Specifically:

  • We will require mandatory testing for everyone the first two weeks of the winter term. The testing location will be moved to Old Chapel/Hale House to allow Memorial Fieldhouse to be used for winter sports and activities. We will offer testing on Tuesday and Wednesday in each of the first two weeks.

  • After the first two weeks of the term, we plan to move to a bi-weekly testing regimen with approximately half our population being expected to test each week. Specifics on the testing regimen are being finalized.

  • We intend to begin the winter term operating under our current rules related to mask-wearing. While masks have proven to be one of the most effective ways to slow the spread of COVID-19, we also are mindful that for some members of our community, the need to wear a mask most or all of the time while they are on campus is becoming burdensome. We will continue to monitor COVID-19 transmission on campus and the surrounding community with an eye toward relaxing masking rules if conditions improve.

It is important to note that conditions associated with the pandemic continue to change. Senior leadership, working closely with our outside health consultant and the COVID-19 advisory group, will continue to closely monitor the situation and we won’t hesitate to change course should conditions warrant.

Boosters to be required
As booster vaccines become more widely available we expect to require members of our community to receive a booster once they are eligible. The medical guidance on the timing of boosters for those who are already vaccinated continues to evolve, but we will provide firm guidance for our community as soon as possible. As a general rule, however, we encourage everyone to get a booster when they are eligible regardless of whether we have issued final guidelines on the subject. Also, we encourage anyone who has not already gotten a flu vaccine to do so over the winter break.

IMPORTANT: If you feel sick, do something about it
In addition to following the established COVID-19 protocols, one of the most important actions you can take to prevent the spread of COVID is to pay attention to your body and take swift action if you feel yourself getting ill.

If you have any of the classic symptoms of COVID-19 – including fever, cough, congestion, sore throat, runny nose, loss of taste or smell, extreme fatigue or body aches – don’t come to work or to class. Get tested as quickly as possible and keep your distance from others until you have received a negative test result and are symptom-free. If you test positive for COVID-19 off-site, contact the Wellness Center (students) or your supervisor (employees) and follow the prescribed isolation guidelines diligently.

Winter break testing reminder
During the winter holiday break, voluntary testing will be offered to any student, faculty or staff member who wishes to get tested. Testing dates for the week of Thanksgiving and winter break are: Monday, Nov. 22, and Tuesdays Nov. 30, Dec. 7 and Dec. 14. Again, testing is not required but is encouraged for those engaged with campus. Testing will move to Hale House beginning Nov. 30.

Weekly COVID updates to resume in January
This will be the final weekly update of the calendar year. We will, however, continue to reach out to members of the community during winter break as we have important information to share and will share information on our return-to-campus protocols in late December. We intend to resume our regular messaging when winter term begins.

Once again, thanks to everyone for making the fall term a success under challenging circumstances. Best of luck to our students on final exams and very best wishes for a wonderful Thanksgiving and year-end holiday season.

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