Dear Colgate Students,
We prepare for the semester ahead at a time when the COVID-19 pandemic is once again surging due to the omicron variant, and it is with this in mind that I write today to share a number of important updates related to the measures Colgate is taking this spring to best support the health and safety of our faculty, staff, students, and local community. These measures reflect collaborative efforts among Colgate leadership, the Task Force on Reopening the Colgate Campus, and the Emergency Operations Center.
Please take time to read this message in its entirety. We recognize it is lengthy, but the content is essential in providing for the in-person learning experience that is at the heart of Colgate’s educational values.
As we have said throughout this pandemic, thank you for your patience, flexibility, and understanding — any and all of these measures could change at any time based on local or national circumstances and the direction of the New York State Department of Health (DOH) and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). We are also cognizant of the frustration that can come with having to isolate or quarantine, and we thank you for your collective assistance in following the guidance of Student Health Services, the Task Force on Reopening, and the Emergency Operations Center.
It is also important for everyone to be realistic about the prevalence of COVID-19 everywhere, and the possibility that we will experience many more positive cases on campus than we have in the past. Colgate is doing its very best to mitigate the spread and to support community members who test positive and become ill, while also carrying on with teaching and learning.
Town Hall Meeting
Students and their families are invited to attend a special Town Hall meeting with President Casey, senior administrators, and faculty representatives from the Task Force on Reopening on Friday, Jan. 14 at 6 p.m. This session will be recorded for those who are unable to attend.
Register for the Town Hall
Submit questions regarding the spring 2022 semester
Check In, Baseline COVID-19 Testing, and Boosters
All students — including those who remained on campus during the winter break, live off campus, arrived early for athletics or other programs, or have recently tested positive and completed isolation — will be required to check in between Friday, Jan. 21, and Sunday Jan. 23, at Sanford Fieldhouse from 10 a.m.–4 p.m. For those arriving after hours on Sunday, check-in will be held from 10 a.m.–4 p.m. at the Hall of Presidents on Monday, Jan. 24. Check-in will include baseline COVID-19 testing for all students except those who are exempt (anyone who has tested positive within the past 90 days).
As we shared in last week’s communication, in light of current nationwide difficulties obtaining timely COVID-19 testing, Colgate is no longer requiring pre-arrival PCR testing; that said, we strongly recommend that you make every effort to obtain a test prior to arrival.
We are not asking for results to be submitted in advance of arrival; bring a copy of your PCR result or a time-stamped photo of your rapid at-home test with you to check-in.
- If you recently tested positive for COVID-19, you are exempt from testing for 90 days from the date of that positive test. Please contact Student Health Services so that your record can be updated accordingly.
- Anyone who thinks they may have had COVID over winter break, but did not test, should do so now so that their positive result is on record (and their test exemption will go into effect for 90 days). It is critical that you do this to hedge against the possibility of a positive test on arrival that would result in being sent home to isolate.
- Students who return to campus with proof of a prior negative test will undergo two antigen tests, the first upon arrival and the second on day 3 or 4 following arrival.
- Students who return to campus without a pre-arrival test will undergo an antigen and PCR test concurrently, followed by a second antigen test on day 3 or 4 following arrival. While PCR tests will be helpful to catch newly infected individuals, people who were infected over break may still test positive by PCR, and may need to isolate, in the absence of either proof of a prior positive (such that they are in the 90 day window) or proof of a negative test within the specified time frame prior to return.
- The deadline for receiving a vaccine booster is Feb. 1, 2022. Note that any of the currently available booster vaccines (Pfizer/BnT, Moderna, or J&J/Janssen) will qualify for this requirement. Proof of booster vaccination should be uploaded to the myColgateHealth Patient Portal, faxed to 315-228-6823, or emailed to email@example.com (be aware that email is not a secure way of sending information and confidentiality cannot be guaranteed). Proof of vaccination includes a legible copy of your vaccine card.
- If your healthcare provider recommends delaying the booster due to a recent COVID-19 diagnosis, please tell Student Health Services at the same time you notify them that you have tested positive for COVID-19.
- Colgate will be holding regular booster clinics throughout the spring semester.
The New York State requirement for masks to be worn in indoor public spaces remains in effect. According to updated guidance for protection against SARS-CoV-2, we strongly recommend everyone on campus to wear medical-style masks such as surgical masks, N95, KN95, or KF94 masks, rather than cloth masks or face coverings. The University has an ample supply of surgical masks which can be requested through your CL, and is in the process of ordering a supply of KN95 masks. Please also ensure that you wear your masks properly, covering both mouth and nose. Please note that course instructors have the authority, if they choose, to require students in their classes, labs, studios, offices, etc. to wear medical-style masks. Given the current prevalence and contagiousness of the omicron variant, diligent mask wearing, especially in the arrival period, will be critical to minimize transmission and prevent disruption of University activities.
Grab-and-Go Dining Strongly Recommended
While the University is not requiring grab-and-go dining after arrival, we are strongly recommending that all students do so whenever possible through the first week of classes and until the second round of baseline testing is complete. We also encourage students to avoid dining together in large groups and take other steps to facilitate safe dining.
Spring Semester Testing
Worried-and-well testing will be offered regularly throughout the semester. Details about dates, times, and locations will be shared after arrival. Those with a vaccine exemption will receive specific guidance and instructions regarding testing.
Course Instruction During Student COVID-19 Testing Period
During the first week of classes (Jan. 24–28), in order to accommodate the potential for high numbers of students being absent from in-person classes due to isolation protocols, faculty members are asked to incorporate flexibility into their classroom instruction. This may include moving courses to Zoom, streaming in-person classes online, alternative assignments, or other options. Individual instructors have the authority to make decisions about course delivery the first week, as throughout the rest of the semester, although it must be noted that Colgate is only accredited for in-person teaching. These measures are meant to promote equitable access to students in isolation. We continue to make Colgate classrooms safe and secure environments for students and faculty, especially given our highly vaccinated and boostered community.
Quarantine, Close Contact, and Isolation Guidance
In light of updated guidance from the CDC and Colgate’s Task Force on Reopening, Colgate will be altering its quarantine and isolation policies for the spring semester.
For Close Contacts
If you are exposed to COVID-19, you must quarantine as follows:
- Fully vaccinated AND eligible for a booster but not yet boosted: You must quarantine for 5 days and wear a high-quality well-fitting mask while around others for the following 5 days.
- Fully vaccinated and boosted OR not yet eligible for a booster: No quarantine is required for asymptomatic students, but these individuals must wear a well-fitting mask while around others for 10 days after the last date of exposure. If symptoms appear, quarantine and seek testing.
- Exempt from vaccination for medical/religious reasons: You must quarantine for 5 days and wear a high-quality well-fitting mask while around others for the following 5 days.
- If you are on campus, you will receive testing guidance from SHS
- Day 0 is the last date of exposure. Day 1 of your quarantine is the first full day after your last contact with a person who has had COVID-19
- Fully boosted means you received the booster at least 2 weeks before the first date of your exposure
- In all cases, if you develop symptoms, continue to quarantine and get tested following guidance from SHS.
If you test positive for COVID-19, regardless of vaccination status, you must, according to Madison County Department of Health (MCDOH) and CDC guidance:
- Isolate for five days. If you are on campus, you will receive guidance from SHS.
- If, on the morning of the 6th day you are symptom-free or symptoms are resolving (must be fever-free for 24 hours), then you will receive a rapid antigen test. A negative test will be required to leave isolation.
- Remember, anyone who lives within 300 miles of Hamilton and tests positive while on campus must return home for a minimum 5-day isolation period. Students who cannot return home will be assisted by Colgate in identifying an appropriate isolation space. For students who do not live within 300 miles of campus but have a preferred location to isolate rather than on campus (e.g. a friend's or relative’s home), this is also an option. Please contact your administrative dean if you have any concerns related to isolation away from campus.
- Those isolating off-campus will also be required to present a negative antigen test to return to campus. Tests will be provided.
- Symptomatic individuals may need to isolate longer than five days based on the progression of symptoms, following guidance from SHS. If you are moderately to severely immunocompromised, isolate for 10 days.
- Students leaving isolation after day five must wear a high-quality medical-style mask around others for five additional days.
Even during the healthiest of academic years, many students inevitably get sick at some point in the semester. Having a plan and supplies on hand will help you manage if you do test positive with COVID-19.
- Develop an isolation plan. Before your return to campus, devise a plan for where you might isolate and how you will get there should you test positive, as well as who will support you should you become ill.
- Bring a self-care kit. Have on hand a thermometer and the kinds of over-the-counter medications and comfort items that you prefer to use when you are sick.
- Get a flu shot. Before returning to campus, get a flu shot to help minimize your chances of getting influenza.
- Send a medical release form to SHS. If you haven’t already make sure you have documented with SHS whether their staff members may speak with your parents or guardians.
Continue to keep an eye on your email in the days ahead, as additional details will be forthcoming related to technology on campus and other important information about arrival.
As always, if you have any additional questions about our spring semester plans, please email firstname.lastname@example.org. Please contact your administrative dean if you have an individual concern related to arrival changes or personal challenges related to your return to campus. Wishing everyone the best in the days ahead, and we look forward to seeing you very soon.
All the best,
Laura H. Jack
Vice President for Communications