Union Where You Are: Plans for 2020-21

Testing

To provide our community with the safest environment possible, Union College has committed to several health and safety protocols including regular testing. Students, faculty and staff on campus will be required to be tested regularly. Identifying those that test positive early and implementing subsequent isolation and quarantine protocols are important to minimize the spread of the illness on campus.

Union College Health Services runs our testing center on campus in Memorial Field House. The College has engaged The Broad Institute’s Safe for School program as our testing partner.

Student Testing

Union’s testing plan includes pre-arrival testing, initial testing upon return to campus, weekly surveillance testing and testing for symptomatic students.

  • Pre-Arrival Testing: To help reduce the number of initial positive cases on campus, all students have been asked to be tested for COVID-19 and submit their test results a week prior to their arrival. Students can submit results to Health Services by fax at (518) 388-6147 or by email to uchealthcenter@union.edu. Any student who tests positive should follow the directives of their local department of health and not arrive on campus until they have been cleared by their local department of health. Students testing positive should also notify Health Services. If you have any questions, please contact Health Services at (518) 388-6120. There are many ways to arrange for testing and we understand availability can vary by state. Some options include:
    • Contact your primary care provider to schedule a test.
    • Check with your local urgent care centers or pharmacy. For example, CVS has 1800 testing locations in 36 states and the average turnaround time is 3-7 days. Rite Aid offers testing in 15 states.
    • In New York, students can call the COVID-19 hotline at 1-888-364-3065 to schedule a test.
  • Initial testing upon return to campus: All students and employees will be screened and tested for the Sars-Cov-2 virus as they return to campus for the term. Faculty and staff already working on campus will also be tested prior to the start of the academic year. For those students living on campus, initial COVID-19 testing will be part of the move-in process and conducted centrally at Memorial Field House. Students living off campus who will be studying on campus will need to sign up for a time to have an initial test in Memorial Field House. That testing will be available September 1-3. More information has been sent to off-campus students in a separate email. Students will not be able to attend in-person classes or activities until they receive a negative test result.
    • Union has engaged the Broad Institute as our provider for our initial and regular screening testing. We expect results to take up to 48-72 hours to receive. This test is a self-administered nasal swab sample observed by a trained Union staff member. To learn more, watch this video
  • Ongoing testing: After the initial testing, students will be tested weekly. Staff and faculty will be tested periodically throughout the term (see below).
  • Testing for symptomatic students: In addition to the screening testing, Health Services will provide testing for symptomatic students.
    • Students will need to schedule an appointment in advance by calling (518) 388-6120. Students experiencing symptoms should not report to Memorial Field House for testing.
    • Testing for students experiencing symptoms will be conducted at the Wicker Wellness Center. Health Services has access to a Sophia2 by Quidel rapid test to help diagnose those with COVID-19 onsite.
    • Individuals testing negative onsite will be tested with another lab test to confirm the diagnosis per NYS guidance.
      • Health Services will initiate an isolation protocol for any student who tests positive or is presumed positive pending the result of a test in accordance with state Department of Health guidelines.

Employee Testing

Employees who will be on campus for any reason will need to be tested regularly. Faculty and staff members should consult with their department chair or supervisor to discuss the frequency of testing. Note that testing frequency for employees may change if an employee’s campus presence or level of engagement with others changes throughout the term. Please notify your supervisor or chair if you anticipate such changes.

  • Weekly Testing: Employees with regular close contact with students, faculty or staff for 15 minutes or more regardless of whether the individuals are wearing masks or in a high-exposure job (e.g. faculty with in-person instruction, Housekeeping, Dining Services and Health Services, etc).
  • Monthly Testing: Employees with occasional proximal contact with students, faculty or staff for less than 15 minutes at a time or not in a high-exposure job (e.g. employees who come to campus to pick up supplies, mail or work in an office setting alone).
  • No Testing: Employees who are remote and will not be on campus for any reason.

Union College does not perform testing for employees who are symptomatic. Please do not show up at the COVID-19 Testing Center without an appointment. Even if you do have an appointment, Union College does not perform testing for employees who are symptomatic. Employees who have symptoms consistent with COVID-19 should stay home and contact their primary care physician to obtain a test, and notify their supervisor. In addition, employees who have been in contact with someone who has tested positive should contact Human Resources, and the New York State or their home county Department of Health, and follow the guidance they provide.

Test Results

Students, faculty and staff should sign up in CareEvolve to review their test results. Test results will be negative, positive or indeterminate. Negative results will be emailed to students, faculty and staff. If an individual tests positive they will receive a call from Union College Health Services (students) or Human Resources (employees). Individuals testing positive will not receive an email indicating their results.

What to expect if you test positive
When an individual tests positive the health of the individual and the health and safety of our entire community are the College’s priorities. Union College Health Services, Environmental Health and Safety and Human Resources will work very closely with the Schenectady County Department of Health to implement isolation and quarantine protocols and to begin contact tracing. In addition, we will make every effort to be respectful and maintain the privacy of the individual.

Student testing positive
Union College Health Services will call students to inform them of the positive result. The Health Services staff member will discuss isolation options with the student. Students will be able to:

  • Isolate at home
  • Isolate in Union-provided space

The Health Services staff will work together with Residential Life and the Dean of Students Office to help the student retrieve any belongings they may need and transition a student to a safe, comfortable space. Additional information is available on the isolation and quarantine section of the Health and Safety Protocols.

Employee testing positive
When an employee tests positive, Human Resources will inform the employee of the result and will assist the employee in making plans to leave campus to begin their isolation. Human Resources and EHS will work closely with the employee and the Department of Health to begin contact tracing.

Human Resources will also assist the employee with any paperwork that needs to be completed for employees required to quarantine at home.

Confidentiality and Privacy

Your privacy is important to the College. Health Services and Human Resources will be able to access your testing records. These professionals commit to protecting the privacy of your information. Testing results will be shared with the Schenectady County Department of Health for the purposes of contact tracing (positive case). On campus, Health Services and Human Resources will only inform campus officials about positive cases and reporting on individuals that are not compliant with the testing regimen required for a particular position.

Employees with questions about the ways in which Human Resources will monitor this information are encouraged to reach out to:

  • Bonnie Mortensen-Szczerba, interim Human Resources associate, at mortensb@union.edu
  • Brittany Rapp, assistant director, Benefits & Employee Engagement, at rappb2@union.edu