COVID protocols for fall term

Publication Date

Dear Union College Community Member:

We hope everyone is enjoying their summer and has been able to take some well-deserved time to relax and recharge.

As we look ahead to the fall, and welcome our first large group of students to campus this week, we wanted to provide an update on the College’s response to COVID-19, which – like the pandemic itself – continues to evolve.

It is important to remember that the health of our community is a shared responsibility. Please do your part to limit exposure and spread of illness by following common sense steps such as staying away from campus when you’re ill - whether it’s with COVID-19, the flu or another infectious illness - and getting tested when symptomatic for COVID-19.

Over time, the nature of COVID-19 has changed. Effective vaccines, boosters and treatments have limited the number of serious instances of illness, and the current variants of the virus – while highly transmissible – also aren’t as virulent as previous strains. Additionally, antigen testing is widely available, and often free for those with health insurance or through the federal government.

The current environment has allowed us to ease the prescriptive measures that place burdens on our community in their own ways. At the same time, we must recognize that a wide variance of comfort and risk tolerance exists among members of our community. As such, we expect every member of the community to respect the personal choices of others and exhibit good etiquette when it comes to COVID-19.

Here is the latest information related to COVID-19 for students and employees for the fall term. This information also can be found on our COVID-19 website.

Vaccinations and boosters

The College continues to require that all students, faculty and staff receive their initial schedule of COVID-19 vaccinations, along with at least one booster, unless granted a medical or religious exemption. We strongly encourage everyone to receive additional boosters as recommended by the CDC and their physician. If you have previously been granted an exemption by the College, you do not need to reapply.

Student arrival to campus

Students should take a rapid test before leaving home for campus. If positive, students are not to come to campus for at least five days from the date of their positive test or onset of symptoms. Students can come to campus after Day 5 if they have been fever-free for at least 24 hours without the aid of fever-reducing medication and their symptoms are improving.

Students who test positive need to submit a photo of their positive test result with the date written on it alongside their ID to Wicker Wellness Center at uchealthcenter@union.edu.

Testing

The College will not require or provide asymptomatic COVID-19 testing this fall. Students experiencing symptoms consistent with COVID-19 should visit the Wicker Wellness Center weekdays for evaluation, or take a rapid test or visit an urgent care facility on nights and weekends.

Employees should visit their health care provider or take a rapid test if experiencing symptoms. Information on how employees with Union health insurance can receive free rapid tests can be found at this link on our website.

Anyone who tests positive should isolate from campus for at least five days from their positive test or the onset of symptoms. After five days, an individual can return to campus if they have been fever-free for 24 hours without the aid of fever-reducing medication and their symptoms are improving. Masks need to be worn around others for an additional five days.

Students should inform the College of their positive test by contacting Campus Safety and asking to be connected to the on-call staff. The Dean of Students office will request faculty understanding and flexibility for students in isolation.

Employees should continue to inform their supervisor and Gwen Pulvirent in Human Resources if they test positive. In all cases, good COVID-19 etiquette calls for those who test positive to notify their close contacts of possible exposure as soon as possible.

Isolation for students who test positive

The College will continue to follow the current CDC guidance for isolation. Starting in the fall, however, the College will no longer provide isolation housing at area hotels as it did last academic year. Isolation protocols are as follows:

  • Students whose permanent address is within 250 miles of the College are expected to return home or otherwise make their own arrangements for isolation. Students need to have an isolation plan in place before they arrive on campus for the fall term.
  • Students who live in off-campus housing will be responsible for their own isolation.
  • Students who live in a single room will be allowed to isolate in their living space.
  • To handle other cases, the College expects to have a very limited number of isolation spaces available. Students in need of one of these spaces should contact Campus Safety and ask to be connected to the on-call staff.

Masking

The College will continue to be mask optional in the fall. Masks will not be required indoors, with the exception of those individuals just ending isolation who should mask around others for an additional five days, per CDC guidance.

Individuals – faculty, staff or students – should not require someone to wear a mask in their presence, including in classrooms, offices or living spaces. At the same time, anyone is welcome to wear a mask at any time and “mask shaming” is not appropriate.

We will continue to closely monitor the situation – including receiving regular input from our external public health advisor and reconstituting our COVID-19 advisory group this fall. Again, we urge everyone to remember that the health of our community is a shared responsibility. A healthy Union starts with U!

Sincerely,

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

Tye Deines - Chief Human Resources Officer

Scott Jones - Vice President for Administration and Finance

Ryan Keytack - Interim Vice President for Student Affairs and Dean of Students