Dear Union College Community:
Throughout the pandemic, the College has worked to safeguard the health of our community members while also promoting in-person education and activities to the greatest extent possible. Our combined efforts have helped community members to escape the most serious effects of COVID-19.
The most important piece of our pandemic defense is being a fully vaccinated and boosted community, which has protected students, faculty and staff against serious illness and death associated with COVID-19. That will continue to be the standard for employees and students this summer and when we return to classes in the fall.
At the same time, it is important to note that the nature of the pandemic has changed and that more than two years of COVID-19 restrictions – while helpful – have taken their own toll on community members and our operations. While we will continue to use CDC guidelines to inform our decisions related to our COVID-19 protocols, it also is important to note that each of us has a role to play in staying healthy, regardless of the College’s protocols.
As such, we strongly encourage individuals to take whatever precautions they deem necessary for themselves - such as one-way masking - just as they would with other infectious illnesses, as the College transitions to being less prescriptive in its COVID-19 protocols.
Effective immediately, the following protocols and guidelines are in place for the summer:
All students, faculty and staff are required to be vaccinated and to have had an initial booster when eligible, unless granted an exception on religious or medical grounds. This requirement ensures that close contacts of COVID-19 positive individuals do not need to isolate, consistent with CDC guidance, thus minimizing disruption in the College community. We encourage individuals to consult their health care providers and CDC guidance when making decisions around whether to receive additional booster vaccines.
Masks will not be required indoors or outdoors. As always, we continue to support each individual’s choice to wear a mask, or not, and expect members of our community to respect one another’s choice.
The College will no longer conduct asymptomatic testing. Employees with symptoms should take a rapid test at home or go to their medical provider. Free rapid tests are available through the U.S. government, or at a number of local pharmacies for those on Union’s health insurance. Details for receiving free tests can be found on our COVID-19 update site.
Students on campus this summer should conduct a rapid test or visit a local health care provider if experiencing COVID-19 symptoms, as the Wicker Wellness Center is closed for the summer. Since we are no longer conducting screening testing, we have sunset our testing dashboard.
Union will continue to follow current CDC and Schenectady County Public Health Services guidance that requires COVID-19 positive individuals to isolate for five days from the onset of symptoms or the date of a positive test result if asymptomatic. Any employee who tests positive should inform Gwen Pulvirent in HR and remain away from campus for the duration of their isolation period. Residential summer students will receive specific information regarding the College’s COVID-19 isolation protocols. Masks are required indoors for five days following the end of an individual’s isolation period.
As of now, we expect the summer protocols to remain in effect this fall, with a few modifications:
When Wicker Wellness Center re-opens for the academic year in the fall, masks will be required while in the facility.
The College will not guarantee isolation space for all students who test positive for COVID-19 starting in the fall. This is a change from the previous two years.
Those whose permanent residence is within 200 miles of Union’s campus - or who choose to live off-campus - will have to make their own isolation arrangements. While exceptions will be considered for those with significant extenuating circumstances, these students should have an isolation plan when they arrive on campus in the fall. We will continue to work with all other students to identify isolation space should they need it.
Please know that we continue to monitor the pandemic closely and consult with our outside public health advisor. Should circumstances around the pandemic change in any significant way, we are prepared to adjust our protocols accordingly.
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