Health Strategies

Colgate must provide clear and consistent communication about new expectations and norms for campus life to all community members. The messages will address issues including physical distancing, the wearing of face coverings, and personal responsibility in hygiene and workplace safety (see appendices for details). Individuals intending to be on campus will be required to fill out a daily electronic health and symptoms questionnaire before entering campus.  The EOC Health Analytics Committee will monitor the health survey results and campus health statistics.

Details for this and other sections found in Appendix B

A key element of Colgate’s reopening plan will be extensive testing and tracing to monitor the presence of SARS-CoV-2 on campus and to inform decisions on how to mitigate the spread of the virus.  Colgate will develop a robust, multi-pronged approach to test students, faculty and staff for SARS-CoV-2 infection as they return to campus, two weeks after return to campus, and continuous targeted surveillance throughout the school year.  When positive cases are detected, the University will employ contact tracing to try to identify other individuals who may have been exposed to the virus. Identification of positive individuals and their contacts is necessary to enhance the health and safety of the Colgate community and will be done in accordance with CDC, New York State and Madison County guidelines.  These efforts are greatly facilitated by Colgate’s acquisition of a state-of-the-art Cepheid High Sensitivity Rapid qPCR diagnostic testing machine.

Once a positive case is identified on Colgate’s campus, Colgate must address the medical, educational and other needs of all individuals in self-quarantine or isolation in a timely manner that maximizes privacy and promotes them staying in self-quarantine/isolation without hardship. In addition, to enhance the health and safety of the Colgate community and mitigate the likelihood of an outbreak on campus, individuals who test positive will enter mandatory isolation, while individuals who have experienced close contact* with the positive individual will enter mandatory self-quarantine.

These efforts are greatly facilitated by Colgate’s acquisition of the nearby [~93-rooms 186 beds] Wendt University Inn for isolation and self-quarantine spaces, and will be done in accordance with guidelines from the CDC, New York State and Madison County.  It is also useful to know that the Madison County Department of Health has made arrangements for additional space for isolation and self-quarantine of county residents, although this represents significant transportation challenges to utilize these beds. As a result, these would only be used as a last resort and only after all of the other available beds on campus and at the Wendt University Inn were in use. Colgate will develop guidelines to determine recovery status and timeline for return to work/campus for infected individuals and their close contacts* in agreement with CDC, New York State, and Madison County guidelines.

*Close contact is defined as having been within 6 feet of a SARS-CoV-2-positive individual for 10 minutes or greater. Factors to consider when defining close contact include proximity, the duration of exposure (e.g., longer exposure time likely increases exposure risk), and whether the exposure was to a person with symptoms (e.g., coughing likely increases exposure risk). Recommendations vary on the length of time of exposure, but 10 minutes of close exposure can be used as an operational definition, according to the New York State Department of Health. Brief interactions are less likely to result in transmission; however, symptoms and the type of interaction (e.g., the infected person coughed directly into the face of the exposed individual) remain important. The use of face coverings does not alter the definition of a “close contact.”

As indicated by New York State guidelines, the University must establish a protocol for re-closing should the need arise. The Emergency Operations Center should establish specific metrics, such as available self-quarantine and isolation space and personal protective equipment use rate, that will guide a decision to reclose, which should be monitored by the newly-formed Health Analytics Team.

    Official University Policies and Statements regarding reopening, reclosing, and disease prevention and mitigation should be clarified by the appropriate University Offices. Additionally, Colgate should engage the local community in multi-layered and on-going conversations:

    • to enhance community understanding of the virus and its challenges; and
    • to foster ongoing exchange of information in recognition of the interdependence of all elements within the community. 


    A major principle for limiting introduction of SARS-CoV-2 into the Colgate community is to diminish the number of times that students arrive and depart campus, especially in the late Fall when many models suggest a second wave of infections could arise. This necessitates, then, a shift in the academic calendar to eliminate break periods in which students would leave campus and return. The proposed academic calendar (Appendix C) starts as normal, in late August, but eliminates the October fall break. Students will return home prior to Thanksgiving break, and complete the final days of instruction, and final exams, remotely.

    Similarly, in the Spring semester, the term would begin one week later in January than originally communicated, eliminate Spring Break, and conclude as anticipated, with on-campus final exams in early May. The Task Force is cognizant of the additional strain placed on students, faculty, and staff by removing structured breaks, and strongly recommends that faculty be mindful of this and build into their syllabi short periods without assignments or other student work to accommodate this strain. We also think it will be important for supervisors to create staggered breaks for staff to provide a reprieve in what we anticipate will be a challenging year. This 2020-2021 academic year calendar has been approved by the Academic Affairs Board, as the relevant governance body.

    View 2020–21 Academic Calendar

    We support faculty choice of the appropriate pedagogy to be used in their classroom for student instruction, learning, and research, within the context of reducing infection and spread of the virus among the Colgate community. Faculty should choose the mechanism(s) that best facilitates physical distancing in their classrooms and may choose to teach remotely for personal, health, or educational reasons. Additionally, all courses should be planned to accommodate students remotely in case of student health concerns, or self-quarantine or isolation needs during the semester. The Task Force on Remote Learning will develop a list of best practices and ITS and CLTR will work with faculty to engage in methods of instruction outside of the traditional classroom and to support students who cannot be physically present in the classroom. Learning environments outside of the typical classroom (e.g. computer labs, research and teaching laboratories, art and film and media studios, performance spaces, and libraries) vary widely. Additionally, curricular-based field experience is fundamental to the University’s mission. Appropriate precautions should be individually tailored to these courses and environments but may include additional safety or public health training, virtual instruction, appropriate PPE, and physical distancing. All of these efforts should be supported by IT, CLTR and the Task Force on Remote Learning to help faculty create rich and safe learning experiences. 

    Travel and Mobility

    All members of the Colgate Community should minimize travel in and out of Hamilton, with priority given to essential work-related travel and travel that is fundamental to the University’s operation and educational mission. The university should not hold events that would facilitate a large influx of people from outside the community (i.e. Homecoming, Parents’ Weekend, etc.).

    When traveling to and from Hamilton, all members of the Colgate community should take steps to mitigate their risk of exposure and take appropriate steps to protect others. Safety guidelines, as outlined in the section on Health Strategies, should be followed to the greatest degree possible, in the course of movement within the campus and travel within the Hamilton community. Knowing that admission visits may need to resume in the upcoming year, the Task Force wishes to highlight the risk that on-campus admissions tours may present and strongly encourage efforts to minimize contact between on-campus constituents and outside visitors.  We also suggest the development of a protocol to screen visitors in ways that could help to mitigate these risks. 

    Guidelines for essential travel will be developed and communicated later this summer, understanding that there are certain types of travel that are essential to the University’s mission or operation (e.g. research, professional conferences, field work, admission visits, advancement function, etc.). Similarly, recognizing that employees may choose personal travel within the next academic year, the Task Force will develop guidelines to help faculty and staff consider and minimize their risks of exposure, to closely monitor their health upon return and/or have access to testing. These guidelines, as with all of the Task Force’s recommendations, will be developed with a community public health frame and directly connected to the science behind the SARS CoV-2 virus. 

    Facilities & Campus Operations

    The Task Force recognizes that the potential spread of SARS-CoV-2 requires changes to standard operating procedures in the organization of, and cleaning and maintenance required for, campus facilities. Many campus operational guidelines are in the Return to On-Campus Work Plan (Appendix E) developed by the Emergency Operations Center.

    The University has implemented an enhanced cleaning and disinfection plan that follows Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidance specifically written for public spaces, workplaces, businesses, and schools.

    Dining services this Fall will focus on three primary goals to facilitate the health and safety of our students, faculty, and staff:

    • Limiting the number of students in each venue to practice physical distancing
    • Eliminating self-serve formats
    • Increasing sanitation

    The Emergency Management, Environmental Health & Safety, Health Services, and Campus Safety staff have received extensive training on providing community care and support during a public health crisis, with special attention on providing assistance to students who are in self-quarantine or isolation due to COVID-19.  

    Consistent with the rationale provided in “Travel and Mobility,” we recommend that the University suspend the rental of its spaces by outside individuals and groups (e.g. weddings) to minimize the number of outside guests to the University, at least through the fall semester.

    Housing Strategy

    All of Colgate’s residence halls are equipped for double occupancy. Triple rooms have been eliminated for the academic year. If allowed by appropriate federal, state, and/or local guidelines, roommates will be considered as a “family unit” and will self-quarantine in place if required following an identified close contact with a known COVID-19-positive individual, to prevent the risk of further transmission of SARS-CoV-2 to the student population. The University must facilitate compliance with self-quarantine orders through appropriate meal delivery and academic and public health support. Based on the increased size of the anticipated on-campus population due to the cancellation of fall off-campus study opportunities, we recommend modestly increasing allowances for off-campus housing and minimizing barriers that limit students choosing to pursue instruction remotely, should they feel uncomfortable with the inherent risks of on-campus residency. Relatedly, we recommend a temporary waiver for the University's seven-semester residency requirement to allow for the possibility of students to participate in remote instruction while still meeting this graduation requirement. Overnight guests should not be permitted.

    The arrival of students is one of the riskier moments in the semester. In order to reduce these risks, students will be asked to be tested for SARS-CoV-2 and submit proof of a negative test prior to arrival. SARS-CoV-2-positive and symptomatic students will not be permitted to come to campus until they are cleared under CDC guidelines. All students will then be tested upon arrival, and again 7-10 days post-arrival, to, among other things, help minimize the risk of false negative results leading to transmission within the population. Students who test positive will be isolated as described previously. There should also be restrictions placed on how many family members accompany their students, and on how much time families are permitted to spend on campus and in the village of Hamilton. We also recommend the EOC, in their arrival day planning, to consider limiting the number of family members to two.  We also recommend scheduled move-in time slots of 60-90 minutes, and a pre-move-in period when families could quickly drop off student belongings in the weeks leading up to the beginning of the semester, if possible. Finally, as arrival day logistics are finalized and communicated to students and families, we also recommend that students should bring fewer belongings to campus this fall in the event they must vacate campus quickly mid-semester.

    Students must follow a new Commitment to Community Health policy (Appendix D) (that must similarly apply to faculty and staff in their own version) that requires physical distancing and adhering to protocols for testing, tracing, isolation and self-quarantine (Isolation and self-quarantine helps to protect the public by preventing exposure to people who have or may have a contagious disease. Isolation separates people with a contagious disease from people who are not sick; self-quarantine separates and restricts the movement of people who were exposed to a contagious disease for a period of time to monitor their symptoms.)

    This new policy should emphasize that these behaviors are necessary not only for protecting one’s own health, but also for protecting others within the Colgate community (including the Village of Hamilton). For this reason, the Commitment to Community Health is something more than just rules to follow: it is an important part of the social compact with each other and the community — an ethical obligation to protect one another. There should be clear and serious consequences for noncompliance with this policy because of the serious implications for others and the University as a whole.  Noncompliance with this policy directly jeopardizes the success of this plan and the University’s ability to remain in a residential in-person format. It is important to note that the science on immune protection for individuals with prior COVID-19 is still developing; for this reason, individuals who have previously experienced COVID-19 are not exempt from the Commitment to Community Health policy, or any other public health precautions.

    We recommend rolling out the Commitment to Community Health policy to student leaders in small groups over the summer in order to get early investment from students, before relaying it to all students. It should also be clearly communicated that a return to full occupancy in the fall is predicated on their adherence to this policy. Likewise, violations of the policy may necessitate a return to remote instruction for all. This communication should occur as soon as possible, maybe even embedded in the University’s announcement, to communicate the interdependence of the decision to return to campus and the unwavering adherence to this new policy. 

    The University should develop guidelines for bathroom usage that will minimize potential SARS-CoV-2 transmission among different residential groups. Shared spaces, including kitchens and common rooms, must be subject to the same physical distancing guidelines as other academic and instructional spaces, and rules regarding occupancy and use should be clearly established and communicated.  Signage and reinforcement of these messages will be important for behavioral change. People should be encouraged to spend more time outside since indoor spaces are more conducive to contagion. Also, the more activities that take place outside, the easier it is to decontaminate spaces within buildings. Colgate should invest in outdoor facilities or temporary structures (e.g. tents) for classes, small social gatherings, and recreation. Physical distance requirements will still apply outdoors, but it is easier to stay 6 feet away from people outside than inside a building.

    Athletics & Recreation

    The Task Force recognizes that athletics is a crucial co-curricular activity for many students. Successful return to athletics and recreation requires policy and procedural alignment with federal, state, local, and university guidelines. The Task Force has not yet considered carefully the question of whether athletics should commence in the fall and recommends that the Return to Athletics and Recreation Group continue developing a comprehensive plan including specific procedures for safe return to athletic activity. At the President’s request, the Task Force will then provide feedback and input to ensure the group’s recommendations align with the core principles and guidelines of the Task Force’s recommendations to date.

    Workforce Resumption

    Colgate’s plan for a gradual return to on-campus work will begin at the start of Phase 4 of the New York State phased reopening plan.

    There will be cases in which academic and administrative departments return portions of their workforce to campus or rotate personnel to reduce density.  Supervisors, department chairs, and program directors will provide employees with specific dates and instructions, and when practicable, notify individuals at least two weeks in advance of a specific department’s return to on-campus work. 

    In keeping with state regulations and guidance from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the University has implemented a series of initiatives to help safeguard the health and wellbeing of everyone on campus.

    All employees will be required to sign a Shared Commitment to Community Health.  This commitment is a pledge to follow, to the best of their ability, public health guidelines established by the CDC, the New York State Department of Health, the Madison County Department of Health, and Colgate University, including participating in daily health screening, not coming to work when sick, wearing face coverings as required, cleaning of personal work spaces, and following the recommended hand hygiene and physical distancing standards. 

    Before returning to campus, every faculty and staff member must complete the online training program developed by the Emergency Operations Center (EOC). Completion of health education training will be monitored through Human Resources. 

    Some employees may not be able to return to campus at their assigned return date. Supervisors, department chairs, and program directors will work with individuals who need to continue to work remotely, if reasonably possible. The Human Resources Department and the Emergency Operations Center have created an agreement that covers protocols related to continued work from remote locations. Supervisors and employees will collaborate to complete and submit this agreement. Guidelines for remote work and work-related accommodations in the academic division will be sent directly to faculty members from the Provost and Dean of the Faculty Office. 

    All employees will be required to wear a face covering in environments where physical distancing of at least 6 feet is not possible. The University will distribute two face coverings to each employee for this purpose, per CDC and OSHA guidance. Face coverings will be available at Campus Safety when employees arrive on campus. Employees may also wear their own face coverings, provided they comply with CDC guidance.

    The University will record faculty and staff members’ dates of on-campus work accurately and consistently so that it can make appropriate plans for building cleaning and maintenance, health education, contact tracing, and other factors that help to promote the health and safety of all community members. Each month, employees will be asked to fill out a simple form that notes the days on which they will work from campus.

    Either just prior to or immediately upon arrival to campus, employees will be required to fill out a confidential health survey. This survey checks for symptoms of COVID-19, or exposure to SARS-CoV-2. There are three methods for employees to perform a daily temperature check: at home, upon reporting to work in targeted departments, or at established screening stations located across campus. Aggregated information from this form will be accessed by a newly formed Health Analytics Team, which will continuously evaluate numerous data points related to Colgate’s return to on-campus operations to verify that public health measures in place are effectively containing any spread of SARS-CoV-2.

    Establishment of an Events Safety Group, comprising staff in the Center for Leadership and Student Involvement, Conference Services and Summer Programs, University Events, Athletics, and Admission, to advise staff charged with planning events, organizing information sessions, setting up meetings, etc. on best practices for conducting various types of gatherings as safely as possible during the COVID-19 public health crisis.

    When EMS schedulers receive reservation requests for spaces that can accommodate gatherings of ten or more people, they will notify a member of the Event Safety Group, who will reach out to the event organizer to confirm that they have considered various concerns and are taking appropriate steps to promote health and safety. The EMS scheduler will not confirm the reservation request until a member of the Event Safety Group confirms that the event organizer has addressed any identified concerns. 

    Due to the need for physical distance between individuals and the prohibition of large social gatherings, we recommend that no social hosting or parties be approved for the duration of the fall 2020 term. Violations of this policy should be considered a flagrant violation of the Commitment to Community Health policy and lead to serious implications for the sponsoring organization and individual students, as applicable.

    The Return to On-Campus Work Department Checklists have been developed to assist departments in developing flexible plans for staffing and operations specific to their areas to allow for a safe and phased return to work on campus. These checklists include guidance for steps to return staff to campus and to manage operations should there be a resurgence of SARS-CoV-2 infections, which would call on the University to partially or fully transition back to remote work. Divisional HR liaisons are required to share their department plans with the EOC to ensure that they meet University public health and other guidelines. The other goal for these plans is to create a phased return to on campus work in a way that ensures nearly all staff are back on campus by mid-August to welcome and support students’ return to campus.