Dear Union College community members:
As we end the first week of in-person winter term classes and on-campus living for our students, we would like to acknowledge and thank all those on the staff and faculty, as well as our students, who were instrumental in our return to campus.
The omicron variant of COVID-19 has provided yet another set of previously unforeseen challenges to a pandemic that is nearing the end of its second year, but individuals across our community continue to step up in ways big and small so that we can offer our students a quality college experience under very difficult circumstances. We are deeply appreciative of everyone’s efforts.
Booster deadline extended to January 24
As we have said, all members of the College community must receive a booster unless they have received a medical or religious exemption from vaccinations. We understand that some people have experienced difficulties scheduling a booster shot. In order to allow everyone time to take this important next step in safeguarding their health and that of the community, we have extended the deadline by one week to Jan. 24.
We will be offering two additional booster clinics next week on Jan. 20 and Jan. 21 from 1-4 p.m. at Memorial Chapel. Appointments can be made here.
Those not yet eligible to receive a booster – defined by the CDC as five months from a final dose of Moderna or Pfizer or two months out from the Johnson & Johnson dose – must receive a booster within two weeks of becoming eligible. As was the case with the original vaccination requirements, failure to meet these deadlines will result in disciplinary action.
Students: Please email a copy of your vaccination record to Health Services at email@example.com.
Employees: Due to ongoing technical issues some are experiencing with uploading vaccination information to the emocha app, we are now asking that you email a photo image of your vaccination cards showing that you have received your booster directly to firstname.lastname@example.org and write “vaccination” in the subject line of your email. If you have already uploaded your information to emocha, the College has a record of your status.
We are awaiting results from our second round of testing this week from yesterday and today, but when our COVID-19 dashboard refreshes late this afternoon it will show, we experienced 67 student positives and 18 employee positives from testing Sunday, Monday and Tuesday (results reported Monday-Thursday).
We expected to see a number of cases our first week back on campus, but fortunately we have received no reports of serious illness and most individuals who tested positive report only mild symptoms, if any. As has been the case throughout the pandemic, most of the cases we are seeing appear to be occurring among friend and family groups. We continue to see no signs of classroom transmission of COVID-19.
As a reminder, all students and all faculty and staff who are working primarily on campus next week need to be tested twice – once on either Jan. 17-18 and then again on Jan. 20-21. If you have tested positive for COVID-19 in the past 90 days, you should not test on campus.
Students: Please note you will be called by the College if you test positive. It is imperative that you answer your phone if you receive a call. You also should make sure the College has an up-to-date phone number on file. You can update your number here. Also, please remember that the Wicker Wellness Center will be closed next Monday for the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday. If you feel ill and need medical attention, please seek out a local urgent care facility or call Campus Safety at (518) 388-6911.
Employees: We are seeking volunteers to work the testing center next week, particularly Monday, Jan. 17, which is a staff holiday for Martin Luther King Jr. Day. Any employee who has Monday off and wishes to volunteer in the testing center will receive an additional floating holiday, and hourly employees will also receive time-and-a-half pay for hours worked in the testing center that day. You can sign up to volunteer here.
Please remember that cloth masks no longer meet our requirements unless worn with a surgical-style mask. Surgical masks and medical-style masks such as N95, KN95 and KF94s, are now required on campus.
Surgical masks are available for pick-up by students and employees at the testing center. In addition, Union has purchased N95 respirator masks that are available for employees who voluntarily decide to wear them during their work day. These will be available at the COVID testing center starting Monday, Jan. 17. The N95 mask should be worn for work purposes only and stored in a sealed plastic bag when not in use. We also have ordered KN95 masks and will provide details on distribution when they arrive.
We also want to stress the need to be especially diligent in wearing masks given that the omicron variant is highly contagious. Please keep your mask over your nose and mouth at all times, make sure it fits snugly against your face and lower it for the briefest length of time possible while eating and drinking.
Thanks for continuing to do your part to keep our community healthy.
Interim Vice President for Academic Affairs and Dean of the Faculty
Vice President for Student Affairs and Dean of Students
Chief Human Resources Officer
Vice President for Administration and Finance