Spring Semester Return to Campus

Back to Updates & Messages: COVID-19

Dear Colgate Community,

I write on behalf of the Task Force on Reopening and the Emergency Operations Center to provide an outline of our plans for the semester ahead. Colgate is planning to continue hybrid instruction for the spring 2021 semester. Just as in the fall, students may return for in-person instruction or choose to learn remotely. Faculty, similarly, will have the choice of offering their courses primarily in person, in a hybrid mode, or by remote instruction. In many key respects, then, the spring term will be similar to the fall. But through our own experiences on campus and through feedback shared by students, faculty, and staff during the past few months, we have learned a great deal about how to keep a university open and vibrant during a pandemic.

Your input, your compliance with the Commitment to Community Health, and even the change of seasons have all shaped spring-semester thinking and planning carried forward by the Task Force on Reopening and the Emergency Operations Center. Hamilton in February is certainly a different place than Hamilton in August. We are therefore making modifications to testing, changing some aspects of universal quarantine to allow students to pick up meals and mail, and creating new opportunities for indoor recreation as well as outdoor time, knowing that winter in upstate New York will demand more indoor time. 

While many components of the University’s plan are still in development, I offer here some of the details that have been finalized, including some of the modifications to on-campus operations in the spring. As was true in the fall, these decisions may change based on state and local health department guidance.

Arrival Dates

Thursday, Jan. 21, Friday, Jan. 22, and Saturday, Jan. 23, 2021, by appointment.

Similar to the fall semester, students will be required to register for an arrival window ahead of time in order to de-densify the arrival process. Once again, non-residents will not be permitted in Colgate’s residential facilities. Registration and move-in details for the spring will be shared in a future communication. Colgate will again provide shuttle transportation to campus from Syracuse Hancock International Airport.

Modified Universal Quarantine

To ensure compliance with New York State Executive Order 205 and accommodate its variable list of travel advisory states, all students returning to campus will be required to participate in a two-week universal quarantine, similar to the one held last semester. However, in light of what we learned during the fall, there will be some minor modifications to the quarantine:

  • Colgate Dining Services will provide takeout meals for all students living on campus. Students will be asked to pick up meals at designated locations during specific times assigned by residence. While we will still prioritize speed of service, this change will allow some customization by providing choices for snacks, beverages, sides, and more. Please note that juniors and seniors living in residences with full kitchens must opt in by November 13 to participate in the takeout meals. A sign-up sheet will be shared in a future communication.
  • Students will collect their campus mail, including packages and textbooks, directly from the mailroom at designated times and days. A new, temporary 1,400 square-foot modular building being installed in the Coop parking lot will facilitate a more efficient process for package delivery and pickup.
  • Expanded plans for spring semester recreation time include: a longer midday recreation period in outdoor areas made accessible by augmented snow and ice–removal efforts; exercise in designated indoor locations, including the fieldhouse and Class of ’65 Arena; and physically distant, quarantine-compliant winter-themed outdoor activities, such as sledding, outdoor ice rink, firepits, etc.

All students, faculty, and staff, whether on campus or remote, will be required to complete an updated health education course and will also be required to sign an updated Commitment to Community Health, renewing their pledge to follow University guidelines and to take care of each other so that we can be together.


All students planning to participate in on-campus instruction in the spring semester will be required to submit a negative COVID-19 test prior to returning to campus. Colgate will provide at-home test kits to all returning students. These kits must be picked up at the mailroom between November 4 and 20; details about test kit pickup will be shared in a future communication. Please do not pick up a kit if you are not planning on being on campus in the spring or if you will remain on campus throughout the break

Students not currently on campus who plan to return in the spring will be able to request a test kit to be delivered to their homes. Information will be forthcoming. 

Employees and students who have remained on campus through the winter break will be tested prior to the spring semester (January 12 and 13).

Just as in the fall semester, additional rounds of student testing will take place 24 hours after arrival, from Friday, January 22 through Sunday, Jan. 24, 2021, and again at the end of universal quarantine, February 1–2. Random surveillance testing will also be conducted on a regular basis, as it was in the fall. Additional testing options are also being explored.


Colgate is working through a number of scenarios to provide competitive opportunities for our student-athletes within a University-aligned health and safety, financial, and operational framework. Additional information about plans for resuming athletics competition will be shared as soon as possible. 

Off-Campus Study

As has been previously shared, due to the continuation of the COVID-19 pandemic, Colgate has made the difficult decision to suspend all international and domestic off-campus programs for the spring 2021 semester. This includes all spring 2021 study groups, spring 2021 approved programs, and the January 2021 extended study program.

Electing to Study Remotely

All students must communicate their plans for the spring semester — opting for in-person or remote instruction by November 13 — using this form.

Students who elect to study remotely for the spring should be aware that not all course offerings will be available in a fully remote format. Course listings for the spring will be available online tomorrow, October 23, and will include information about whether a particular course will be offered in an in-person, hybrid, or remote format. Students should consult with their academic and administrative advisers to plan their semesters accordingly. 

Students who need the spring semester of residency in order to graduate this year should speak with their administrative dean about petitioning for an exception from the University’s residency requirement should they intend to study remotely in spring 2021. The administrative dean will assist the student in petitioning the Petitions Committee to waive the residency requirement. In light of the extraordinary circumstances, these exceptions are almost certain to be granted.

Additionally, students should be aware that campus work-study positions may not be held by students studying remotely outside New York State.

When you were making your choice to study remotely or on campus this fall, the Task Force and EOC promised you a semester like no other. We noted that the work we would do together would be hard. We said we would need to find a new normal, because this would not be the Colgate we traditionally know. All of this has turned out to be true. 

This semester, our community has managed to be together, study together, and do the things that this University does best, even if the world is not at its best. We thank you again for all the ways you have adjusted your behaviors and routines to help keep our positive test and close contact rates extremely low.


Dan Gough
Associate Vice President for Campus Safety, Emergency Management, and Environmental Health and Safety