Union Where You Are: Plans for 2020-21

Key Elements for Preventing COVID

Protective Equipment [updated 5/04/21]

An illustration showing a face mask

Masks and Face Coverings

Wearing a mask is a key method to reducing the spread of infection. Masks work by both reducing the amount of respiratory droplets and aerosols that are exhaled by infected wearers, and by protecting others from being exposed to these particles.

The type of material is important, and the quality of fit is essential. There are also enhancements that you can make to your mask to make it even more protective. In addition to other independent studies, CDC recently showed that wearing a cloth mask over a medical procedure mask (disposable mask) improves the fit, making it 92.5% protective – more than double the level of protection of either mask alone.

Choose a mask based upon the setting you will be in and the potential level of exposure. A cloth mask or disposable mask may be acceptable outdoors, especially if you are able to maintain a safe distance from others.

However, if you will be in an indoor gathering or using a shared method of transportation, or if your occupation causes you to have frequent interaction with members of the public, a higher level of protection is warranted.

Union will continue to evaluate its policy for masking as the CDC and NYS update guidance. As recently as April 27, 2021 the CDC updated the guidance on masking for vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals. As such, Union has relaxed masking requirements for certain situations. In all other situations, the policy below remains in place.

Students:

  • Students who are not fully vaccinated* are strongly encouraged to double mask with a cloth mask over a disposable mask when in all interior public spaces on campus and outdoors when six feet of social distancing cannot be maintained.
  • In classrooms, students who are not fully vaccinated* are also strongly encouraged to double mask, even if social distancing exceeds six feet.
  • In certain situations, students who are not fully vaccinated* will be required to double mask where close contact with others cannot be prevented, and when using transportation to events sponsored by the College.
  • Students with medical conditions that may make double masking difficult can contact Health Services to review possible accommodations.
  • Students who are participating in intercollegiate athletics may be approved to temporarily forego wearing masks during competition for certain events or for competitions where the exertion or respiration rates are so high that face masks could present a greater risk than benefit. These include certain events and competitions that require continuous high exertion rates from participants, or potentially all outdoor sports on a day when the temperature and humidity combine to create severe conditions. The Head Athletic Trainer is authorized on the day of competition to determine if a team or certain athletes are approved to forego mask use. All student-athletes will be required to resume mask use on the sidelines and in dugouts while not in active competition.

Employees:

  • Employees who are not fully vaccinated* in certain departments whose job either makes it difficult to maintain six feet of distance from others or who have contact with many other individuals over the course of their shift, are required to double mask with a cloth mask over a disposable mask while at work.
  • In classrooms, instructors who are not fully vaccinated* are also strongly encouraged to double mask, even if social distancing exceeds six feet.
  • Employees with medical conditions that may make double masking difficult can contact Human Resources to review possible accommodations.
  • Employees may request additional guidance pertaining to their individual role or workspaces.

Specific guidance for employees on masks in the workplace:

  • Employees must wear face coverings at their work area if the space is shared with one or more people, regardless of distance between desks. However, face coverings will not be required if a physical barrier (cubicle walls or plexiglass) is present between employees. Physical barriers cannot affect air flow, heating or cooling.
  • If an employee’s role requires a different type of face covering, they should speak with a supervisor or department chair to discuss that option.
  • Employees with medical conditions that may make wearing a face covering difficult can contact Human Resources to review possible accommodations.
  • Employees may request additional guidance pertaining to their individual role or work spaces. Employees who have a medical contraindication to wearing a mask should notify their supervisor.

Specific guidance for vaccinated individuals
On April 27, the CDC released new mask guidelines for vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals. Based on these new guidelines, we are providing the following updates to our on-campus protocols.

  • Outside
    • If you are fully vaccinated* and with others who are fully vaccinated you can gather in small groups outside without a mask and without social distancing.
    • As a reminder, regardless of vaccination status, if you are outdoors and at least 6 feet from others, you do not need to wear your mask.
  • Inside
    • If you are fully vaccinated* and with others who are fully vaccinated you can gather in small groups inside private spaces (residence hall room, private office) without a mask and without social distancing. Classrooms, hallways and other public spaces cannot be used for this purpose even with the door shut.
    • While the CDC did not define small groups, we recommend that you consider the size of your space. For example, we continue to believe that a small group in a residence hall room should be approximately 4 people. Groups of fully vaccinated individuals gathering in groups should follow our current capacity guidelines and event guidelines. As the percentage of our community that is vaccinated increases, we will be able to further relax restrictions on gathering sizes.
    • The College acknowledges that not all community members are vaccinated and that some individuals may not be comfortable sharing their vaccination status with others. The relaxation of the mask mandate for small indoor gatherings is therefore only available when the parties voluntarily disclose their vaccination status and arrive at a mutual decision that the gathering presents no risk to the health and safety of the parties.
    • We would like to make sure that we are able to hold an in-person commencement and allow students, staff and employees to continue to operate with these relaxed guidelines. We are all in this together and counting on each other to be honest about our vaccination status. Failure to follow appropriate masking protocols based upon your vaccination status will result in disciplinary action.​​​​

*Fully vaccinated means that two weeks have passed since your Johnson & Johnson vaccine or two weeks have passed since your 2nd dose of the Moderna or Pfizer vaccine.


Physical Barriers

Plexiglass shield barriers are installed at areas where interactions between people are less than six feet and cannot be conducted otherwise.


Social Distancing/Physical Distancing

An illustration showing social distancing

Social distancing, also known as physical distancing, must be practiced. This is one of the key elements for reducing the spread of infection. Individuals should maintain six feet distance when in public areas and from people who aren’t members of their residence. To help members of our community visualize six feet, the College has placed signs and floor markings in densely populated areas.

The total occupancy for indoors spaces has been reduced during the pandemic based on the guidelines set by New York State. Facilities will partner with departments across campus on final layout and implementation.

Classrooms: Seating capacity is reduced by 50 percent or more to ensure students and instructors are at least six feet from each other.

Labs: Similar to classrooms, smaller lab groups will be placed into larger rooms when possible and lab sections will be spread out across the day.

Common spaces: Furniture in common spaces has been removed or taped off.

Meetings: Meetings should be conducted remotely via Zoom or a similar platform. If an in-person meeting is required it must be limited to no more than the maximum amount of people allowed by current guidance provided by New York state. The meeting space must be large enough to allow a distance of six feet for all people in the meeting and masks must be worn.

Hygiene, Cleaning and Disinfection [Updated April 16]

An illustration of a hand under a faucet

Hand washing and hand sanitizer: Proper hand washing is a key element of reducing the spread of infection. Individuals are expected to wash their hands for 20 seconds with soap and warm water following CDC guidelines or use hand sanitizer when unable to wash their hands. Hand sanitizer stations are posted across campus and individuals are encouraged to use them frequently.

Phone cleaning: Since we use our phones many times during the day, it’s important to clean phones to help stop the spread of germs. Wash your hands before cleaning your phone and use an alcohol-based disinfectant cleaner to disinfect your electronic devices. Refrain from sharing phones or computers.

Enhanced facilities cleaning protocols: Facilities Services will provide cleaning and disinfecting on a once-daily basis during the week on campus following CDC guidelines. Enhanced cleaning and disinfecting for residential areas will continue to be provided on the weekends and if a person who is sick or diagnosed with COVID-19 has been in the space.

Disinfection kits: Disinfection kits are available for employees and students to disinfect frequently-touched surfaces in their work areas and/or classrooms. This is an additional resource to the enhanced cleaning and disinfecting conducted daily by Facilities Services. Please contact ehs@union.edu for a kit or to get refills.