Colgate University has announced fall semester plans that reduce COVID-related restrictions while keeping a close eye on global, national, and local infection data and growing concerns about the rapid spread of the delta variant.
The variant’s emergence has shaped steps — developed collaboratively by the University’s Task Force on Reopening the Colgate Campus, Emergency Operations Center, and Executive Group — that students will take on arrival day, Sunday, Aug. 22.
Students have been asked to limit the number of family members or friends traveling to help with move-in, and they must check in immediately upon arrival to receive a rapid antigen test. A second test will take place five to seven days later to protect the health and safety of the campus and Hamilton communities. On arrival day, face coverings will be required for all employees, students, and guests — indoors and outdoors, when physical distancing is not possible.
Until the second negative test results are returned, all students are expected to continue to wear face coverings while indoors in public areas, and anywhere physical distancing is not possible, regardless of vaccination status. Masks are required for unvaccinated individuals anywhere on campus.
Any student who tests positive upon arrival will be required to isolate for 10 days, regardless of vaccination status or symptoms. Due to an increase in the number of students on campus this semester and a decrease in available quarantine and isolation space, students who live within a 300-mile radius of Colgate will return home to isolate.
All faculty and staff have been strongly encouraged to seek out testing prior to the start of the fall semester or participate in Colgate-hosted clinics before arrival day. For those who are unable to pursue these options, the University is offering a free at-home test kit.
Once the semester is underway, individual faculty or staff members may require students to wear masks within the classroom or in a private office regardless of the area’s official masking guidelines. Federal law currently requires face coverings on public transportation, in Student Health Services, on the Colgate Cruiser, and in any health care setting (vaccination sites, testing sites, etc.).
“We are all in this together,” Laura H. Jack, vice president for communications and acting chief diversity officer, said in a letter to the University community. “To keep the community safer, especially as we all travel back to campus from around the country and globe, where COVID-19 infections are increasing, we need to think about the campus as a whole and respond with individual, responsible actions and some self-sacrifice.”
Masks provide an additional layer of protection against COVID-19, but vaccination remains the best prevention against an outbreak. The University issued a vaccination requirement for all faculty, staff, and students this summer and has logged nearly 95% participation to-date, with a limited number of religious and medical exemptions. Further progress will be logged on the Health Analytics Team dashboard.
“Let’s remember all that we learned about caring for each other last year,” Jack wrote. “If something is expected, we ask you to take this responsibility for yourself and others seriously.”