Union Where You Are: Plans for 2020-21


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 [Nov. 17]

Please see community updates page for information regarding travel dates, testing dates and quarantine requirements for returning this winter.

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 are required to have a COVID-19 test prior to arrival on campus and must submit their negative test results at check-in. Any student arriving without a test will have to find their own, non-College housing and will not be permitted on campus until they can produce a negative test result and then participate in our initial campus testing. Any student who tests positive should follow the directives of their local department of health and should not arrive on campus until they have been cleared by their department of health. Students testing positive must also notify Union’s Health Services at uchealthcenter@union.edu.
    • Options for testing include:
      • Contact your primary care provider to schedule a test.
      • Check with your local urgent care centers or pharmacy.
      • In New York, students can call the COVID-19 hotline at (888) 364-3065 to schedule a test.
      • Students who have exhausted all options in their area may reach out to dos_office@union.edu to discuss an alternative means of securing a test.
  • Initial testing upon return to campus: All students and employees will be tested for COVID-19 as they return to campus. Students must have a test on campus before moving into their residence. Students will be required to self-quarantine in their room until they receive a negative result. Any student found violating this will have their housing and in-person class privileges revoked immediately and may be subject to additional sanctions.
    • Union has engaged the Broad Institute as our provider for our initial and regular screening testing. Results are typically received within 24-36 hours. 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 [Updated Jan. 27]

Jan. 27 Update - "contact" is defined as being within 6 feet of a person for a cumulative total of 15 minutes or more over a 24-hour period

Employee testing protocols for COVID-19 were updated on Jan. 25 based on lessons learned from our fall term. Based on these new guidelines, if you think your current testing frequency needs to be modified, speak with your supervisor. For instance, if you come into contact with students or employees on a regular basis and you are currently being tested monthly, you should speak with your supervisor about changing your testing schedule so that you are tested weekly. Employees need the approval of their supervisor prior to making any change to their testing schedule. Supervisors should notify Jennifer Blessing of these changes at blessinj@union.edu and copy their Senior Staff member so that we can accurately track compliance with testing schedules.

  1. Weekly Testing - Employees who work on campus daily, or who frequently come to campus and have the potential to come into contact with students and/or other employees (e.g., dining, campus safety, professors teaching an in-person class or otherwise working in-person with students and/or colleagues, admissions, student health employees, facilities, etc.), will continue to be tested weekly to minimize the risk that these individuals could expose others on campus to COVID-19 if they are infectious.

    These employees will be tested twice weekly through February 4. The Testing Center will be open Monday - Thursday next week. Individuals should try to test Monday and Wednesday or Tuesday and Thursday to ensure we balance out testing throughout the week. Schedule your appointments.
  2. Periodic Testing - Employees who come to campus on a periodic basis or who are returning to campus after a period of time and have the potential to come into contact with others while on campus must have a negative test result within one week before their first scheduled day on campus. It is preferential that you plan your test as close to but no less than 48 hours prior to when you plan to be on campus. You should use the testing center on campus for your test and plan for a 48-hour turnaround time for test results. Sign up for your test.
  3. Other - Employees who either do not come to campus or who come infrequently and do not typically come into contact with other employees or students will no longer be required to be tested on a regular (monthly) basis. These employees will still be required to report on the emocha app that they are symptom-free and have not been in contact with someone with COVID, before they come to campus - even briefly. As are all employees, these individuals will be required to follow all campus health and safety guidelines, including masking and social distancing.
  4. Voluntary Testing - Union will provide testing to asymptomatic employees who desire to be tested because they are concerned about exposure to individuals with COVID-19. We are also exploring resources to support drive-up testing for symptomatic employees in the near future. 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