Trax the Moose in Mask

Moving Forward - Fall 2020 Semester

As Utica College, along with other parts of the region and nation move forward with functions and activity, we continue to vigilantly monitor and respond to the worldwide coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and its impact on the Utica College community as developments change and new information and guidance is made available.

For an archive of Utica College's responses throughout the early months of the pandemic, please visit:

UC - Coronavirus


From Utica College President Laura Casamento:

September 25, 2020

Dear Members of the Utica College Community,

I write today only to share a brief note of thanks. We are five weeks into the semester – more than a third of the way through. We have conducted nearly 13,000 COVID-19 tests among our students, faculty, and staff. Our positivity rate remains at 0.1 percent, significantly less than that of the nation, state, and region.

This is a testament to our collective efforts to create and sustain a safe environment. I am pleased to report that these efforts are not going unnoticed. Earlier today, I received an unsolicited note from a New York State public health official complimenting all of the steps we have and are taking to prevent COVID-19 transmission on our campus and in the broader community.

Keep masking up, Pioneers, and continue to be smart and be safe. It’s working.

Sincerely, 


Laura Casamento
President

PLEDGE

As a Utica College student, I understand that the College has adopted the following requirements to promote the collective well-being of our community. I further understand that my ability to enter, take classes and remain on the Utica College campus is dependent on my adherence to these policies. I pledge to follow these policies not just for my own health, but also to protect and safeguard the health of those in the UC community around me, including fellow students, faculty and staff. I acknowledge and agree that these rules and guidelines may change as public health guidance across the country evolve and as new testing and tracing methods emerge.  I agree to abide by any new rules and guidelines that are issued.

Required Testing, Education, and Contact Tracing Self-isolation, Quarantine, and Preventative Health

  • I will complete the required online COVID-19 education module prior to arriving on campus. 
  • I will participate in frequent routine COVID-19 testing as directed by the College and will undertake daily wellness checks sent to me and take my temperature twice daily.
  • If I test positive for COVID-19, I will share truthful information with the contact tracers about others who may be at risk. 
  • If I test positive for COVID-19, I will comply with the College’s and the State/County public health and self-isolation guidelines. 
  • Promptly upon discovering any symptoms of COVID-19, I will immediately contact College Health Center (315-792-3094) and seek guidance, and comply with the medical instructions I am given. 
  • If I am found to have been in contact with someone who has tested positive, I will comply with all testing and self-quarantine protocols. 
  • Unless for health reasons the vaccine is contraindicated for me, I will receive the seasonal flu vaccine when one becomes available at College Health Center.


Physical distancing, face coverings, and behavioral requirements 

  • I will wear a face mask or facial covering (fully covering my mouth and nose) in the presence of others, and in settings where other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain (e.g. common work spaces, meeting rooms, lounges, and classrooms), in any areas outside of my residence hall room and any public areas including, but not limited to, classrooms, hallways, laundry rooms, open field areas and dining halls. 
  • I will follow Utica College’s directives for physical distancing in residential spaces and other campus buildings and areas. 
  • I will keep my contact information updated and current. The Office of the Registrar should be notified of any changes at 315-792-3195.
  • If any in-person gatherings are allowed at a future time, I will follow all current, posted guidelines at Utica College, in indoor or outdoor settings, and I will neither host nor attend any gathering that violates these requirements on or off campus. You should know that fines in the CIty of Utica and surrounding municipalities as well as the County of Oneida. 
  • When accessing dining services, I follow all COVID-19 guidelines.

Hygiene & Sanitation

  • I will practice good hygiene, including thorough and frequent hand washing and the use of hand sanitizer, especially when returning from outside, after using a restroom, and before meals. 
  • I will regularly wash any reusable cloth mask per guidelines
  • I will sanitize any public space that I use prior to and at the completion of use

Travel 

  • I will remain in the immediate area for the fall semester. If I must travel during the fall semester, I will notify the Director of Emergency Management and comply with any return policies or directives, which may include testing and quarantine. 

Guests, Security, and Access 

  • I will not have guests in my residence hall. I understand that “guest” herein means anyone not assigned to my residence hall. This includes Utica College students living in other residences on campus, students living off campus, or external guests, such as siblings/family or friends. 
  • I will only access my own residence hall and will not access other residence halls.
  • I will not provide access to Utica College buildings to anyone. 

I acknowledge that these rules and guidelines may change as life on campus and public health guidance across the country evolve and as new testing and tracing methods emerge.

  • I agree to abide by any and all new rules and guidelines that are issued by the College.
  • I will respect the wishes of others who request space/social distancing and who remind me to wear my mask if I forget to do so or follow the other expectations found within this pledge.

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Previous Communications

October 20, 2020

Dear Members of the Utica College Community,

In keeping with the reasonable expectation that we will need to keep our COVID-19 health and safety protocols in place for the Spring semester, Utica College has approved the following adjustments to the academic calendar. These changes were arrived at in consultation with faculty, staff, students, and the Board of Trustees, and we want to take this opportunity to thank all of those who contributed to this effort.

  • Classes for all undergraduate and graduate ground campus students, including in-person, online, and hybrid classes, will begin on Monday, January 25, 2021, one week later than the originally planned start date of January 18.
  • Spring semester final exams will conclude on Friday, May 7, 2021.
  • These changes do not impact the start date for students enrolled in accelerated nursing (ABSN) or online degree programs, which remains January 18.

Unfortunately, because of the somewhat compressed calendar, there will be no Spring Break week in March 2021. That said, should significant improvements arise in the treatment and control of the coronavirus in the coming months, we will re-evaluate this issue and consider adding some break time back into the academic calendar as circumstances allow.

This revised Spring semester calendar allows for a longer Winter recess, which will ensure that students who are returning to campus from states included on New York State’s travel advisory/mandatory quarantine list will have adequate time to quarantine before resuming classes.

Based on our best understanding of what challenges lie ahead with regard to the COVID-19 pandemic, we are confident that this revised academic calendar offers a prudent and flexible path forward for the Spring semester – one that will allow us to maintain the high standard of safety we’ve established this Fall without undue disruption to campus life.

Sincerely,

Laura Casamento
President

Todd Pfannestiel
Provost

October 19, 2020

Dear UC Students,

I’d like to take this opportunity to once again thank you all for your commitment to the safety measures currently in place to allow us to remain on campus and continue our fall semester together. While other institutions continue to struggle with COVID-19 surges, it is because of your personal diligence and respect for one another that we have been able to maintain a safe campus environment.

Part of our ability to return to in-person activities this semester has been not only through our safety measures and aggressive testing protocols, but your dedication and understanding of the further guidelines set forth by public health officials. Those guidelines include the phased-in re-opening approach to recreational spaces, including commercial gyms as well as our own Kunath Fitness Center. As is the case with all health and fitness centers, our reopening plans for Kunath must be in accordance with the guidelines of the Governor’s Office and the New York State Department of Health.

We have put in place the necessary protocols required under the Reopening New York Gym and Fitness Center Guidelines. These include:

  • Maximum occupancy will be limited to 33 percent, or approximately 15 people.
  • Advance reservations are required for 45-minute (maximum) workout sessions. 
  • Temperature checks will be done at the door. 
  • Users must social distance and wear masks (and wear them properly) at all times.
  • We have installed MERV-13 air filters in the ventilation system, which are specially designed to filter out particles of COVID-19.
  • Equipment will be sanitized every 15 minutes on the hour. 
  • Locker rooms and showers will remain closed

I am pleased to say that we are ready to open Kunath Fitness Center, exclusively for student use, pending the mandatory Oneida County Health Department walkthrough. I will update you as soon as our reopening plan receives final endorsement from New York state. 

It is our hope that the opening of the fitness center will provide valuable opportunities for students to exercise and create fitness routines, which many studies have shown aid not only in one’s physical well-being, but mental health as well, helping to ease some of the exhaustion and frustration we’re all living with. Through your patience and dedication, we are slowly working toward regaining the best sense of normalcy and doing so as safely as possible.

 

Sincerely,

Jeffery Gates

Senior Vice President for Student Life and Enrollment Management

October 9, 2020

Dear UC Students,

Let me start with some objectively great news: as of this writing, we have no active cases of COVID-19 on our campus.

This is a remarkable accomplishment, and it did not happen by accident. We are defying the experiences of a growing number of colleges and universities – including several in close proximity to our own campus – because we have stood together as a community and consistently followed the health and safety protocols mapped out in our coronavirus response plan. As many other institutions have been forced to suspend in-person classes and all on-campus activities due to COVID-19 outbreaks, we are moving forward into the eighth week of the fall semester with confidence, thanks in no small measure to an extraordinary and sustained effort on the part of our students, faculty, and staff.

While our “all in this together” attitude has truly been an inspiration, I recognize that it comes at a significant cost in terms of patience and the need to comply with safety rules that may at times seem intrusive and limiting. There is no denying that this has been a challenging and frustrating time for all of us. I do not blame anyone for feeling some dissatisfaction with the way things are – it is safe to say that all of humanity shares this sentiment in some measure. But the only way that we can avoid the fate of our less-fortunate peer institutions in these difficult times is by continuing to observe the restrictions we have established to keep our community safe. This is how we must proceed.

A number of students have asked me to relax the restrictions on movement between residence halls. While we cannot safely take that step at this time, we will continue to monitor the situation and introduce changes to this policy as soon as it is warranted. That said, we are determined to do everything we can to provide opportunities for students to safely gather and enjoy each other’s company while observing reasonable precautions.

To that end, we are taking the following steps:

In the coming days, we will be installing gas fire pits on the residential quad. Our hope is that these will facilitate opportunities to safely socialize outdoors later in the season as the weather gets colder.

We hope to open the Kunath Fitness Center by October 19 and the Hutton Sports and Recreation Center by November 2, pending approval from the New York State Department of Health. These facilities will provide additional opportunities for supervised activities, subject to the restrictions currently observed during athletic workouts, including wearing masks properly and maintaining a distance of 12 feet from one another.

Student Government Association, Programming Board, and the Office of Student Living and College Engagement (SLCE) are busy planning a variety of creative, COVID-safe activities, including stuff-a-monster, giant cornhole, and axe throwing this evening. Information on these activities can be found on Pioneer Place.


We will move forward with additional measures as circumstances allow.

In closing, I want to thank you for your commitment to the mission of this institution. As a community, we have proven that we are equal to this unprecedented challenge. We can take great pride in the fact that we have made it this far. If we continue to work together, we can finish this semester stronger than ever – and show the world what it means to be a Pioneer.


Sincerely,
Jeffery Gates
Senior Vice President for Student Life and Enrollment Management

September 25, 2020

Dear Members of the Utica College Community,

I write today only to share a brief note of thanks. We are five weeks into the semester – more than a third of the way through. We have conducted nearly 13,000 COVID-19 tests among our students, faculty, and staff. Our positivity rate remains at 0.1 percent, significantly less than that of the nation, state, and region.

This is a testament to our collective efforts to create and sustain a safe environment. I am pleased to report that these efforts are not going unnoticed. Earlier today, I received an unsolicited note from a New York State public health official complimenting all of the steps we have and are taking to prevent COVID-19 transmission on our campus and in the broader community.

Keep masking up, Pioneers, and continue to be smart and be safe. It’s working.

Sincerely, 


Laura Casamento
President

September 18, 2020

Dear Members of the Utica College Community,

Over the past two weeks, we have reported seven new positive cases of COVID-19. This number is higher than in any previous two-week period since we began testing in late July. Several people have noted this to me in e-mails and conversations in recent days, and so I feel I should address it here.

First, for perspective, we have now conducted more than 10,000 tests for COVID-19. That’s an incredible number. We are testing as extensively as – and in most cases more than – any other college or university in New York state. Whereas we are providing testing for every student and employee on a weekly basis, other institutions in the state and many elsewhere are conducting only random sample testing. Others are relying strictly on wastewater testing. Some institutions are testing only those who have symptoms of COVID-19 or are relying on self-reporting to identify positive cases.

I share this not to discredit the protocols of other institutions, but rather to articulate a simple fact: we are going to have positive cases. It’s the predictable result of aggressive testing. Put another way, we test to identify cases, not to have zero cases. At the risk of repeating what I said earlier this week, some weeks we will have zero cases, some weeks a handful, and some weeks more than that. We anticipated and are prepared for this. The purpose of robust testing is to prevent the types of clusters or outbreaks that have already shut down a growing number of campuses across the country. To date, we have isolated every positive case and successfully prevented spread on our campus. This is no small feat, and this will continue to be our focus as we move forward.

I understand the angst caused by each report of a positive case on campus and the accompanying list of possible exposures. I share that angst. But if we are to succeed in our efforts to keep our community safe, we must maintain transparency and the kind of detailed information provided by the Office of Emergency Management Positive Test Alerts, even if it comes at the cost of some added anxiety.

I hope you find it encouraging, as I do, that after more than 10,000 tests our positivity rate is only 0.1 percent and we have had no incidents of campus spread. Moreover, the Governor’s threshold for suspending in-person instruction is 100 positive cases over a 14-day period; we currently have six. The measures we have put in place are working. If we stay vigilant, this fact bodes well for our ability to continue in-person activities through the end of the semester. That is something well worth our continued determination and cooperative efforts as a community.

Sincerely, 


Laura Casamento
President

September 14, 2020

Dear Members of the Utica College Community,

As we approach the quarter mark of the semester, the new normal of campus life is slowly beginning to feel less new, though I expect it will never feel normal. We have become more accustomed to aspects of hybrid learning, greeting friends through masks and from a safe distance, and reporting to the gym each week for pooled testing. Despite the challenges and inconveniences, it has been inspiring to see the UC community come together and take the necessary steps to keep our campus safe.

Today, I would like to address several common questions that I have been asked recently.

Q: The College reported more positive COVID-19 cases last week than in any previous week. Is this a cause for alarm?

We had hoped that no member of our campus community would test positive for COVID-19, but, at the same time, we understood the probability of that happening was very low, if not non-existent. Dr. Anthony Fauci has continuously stressed the need to “look at the science, the evidence, and the data.” The science suggests, and the evidence reinforces, that COVID-19 is a highly contagious airborne disease, and that both pre-symptomatic and asymptomatic carriers are nearly as infectious as symptomatic carriers. And while the rate of infection and number of new cases in Oneida County has continued to fall since we reopened campus last month, we know from the data that the virus is still active in the broader community, as it is across the country. Because UC is not an exclusively residential campus, we cannot create a “bubble-like” environment, as much as we might like to.

As our dashboard (www.utica.edu/covid-dashboard) shows, we conducted 2,585 tests last week, four of which, or 0.15 percent, were positive. And let’s be clear: we are going to continue aggressively testing, which means we are going to continue seeing positive cases. Some weeks we may have zero new cases, some weeks a handful, and some weeks more. What encourages, however, me is that the measures we have put in place to contain the spread of COVID-19 on campus have to this point been very effective. We have successfully isolated each positive case, preventing the clusters and outbreaks that other campuses are experiencing.

Q: The reports of outbreaks on campuses across the country are mostly all traced to individuals gathering in large groups, not wearing masks, and disregarding other public health mandates. Especially as the weather turns cooler and more people find themselves indoors, what are we doing to address individuals on our campus who do not comply with mask and distancing protocols?

Wearing masks (even when outdoors), maintaining social distance, and avoiding large congregations of people are the best things we can do to protect others, protect ourselves, and increase the likelihood of completing the fall semester as planned.

While the vast majority of students, faculty, and staff are complying with these measures, we will continue to take swift action against those who disregard safety protocols and put others at risk. Candidly, I have received complaints from faculty about students not following protocols, from students about other students not following protocols, from students about faculty not following protocols, and from employees about colleagues not following protocols.

I can appreciate the good intentions here. It is important that we hold one another accountable. That said, I also encourage members of the UC community to offer courteous reminders to peers when their actions put the future of our in-person semester – or worse, others’ health – in jeopardy. Data has shown that positive social pressure to wear masks, social distance, and practice good hand-hygiene can go a long way in helping to prevent transmission.

Q: When will we know the plans for the spring semester, including start and end dates?

As has been the case since March, we face myriad unknowns as a result of the pandemic. Until an effective vaccine has been developed and distributed, we can assume COVID-19 will continue to pose challenges, and we will continue modify our behavior accordingly. However, I can share that we are actively planning for various scenarios for the Spring 2021 semester. This week, Provost Pfannestiel and Deans Wise, Nesbitt, and Radwan will be meeting with faculty to discuss the spring semester calendar, including semester start and end dates, and how best to design our semester with safety measures in place. I will provide more information as soon as it is available.

Once again, thank you for your continued cooperation and understanding.

Sincerely, 


Laura Casamento
President

September 7, 2020

Dear Students.

We want to be sure you are aware of the changes that we have made to protect you, our students, along with the faculty and staff. We continue to be encouraged by the fact that New York state now has one of the lowest infection rates in the U.S. But the staggering numbers in many states must serve as a reality check to college students everywhere, as well as a plea for your patience, cooperation, and good judgment as we return to UC.


The following has been updated since we closed the campus in March. Please note the following Student Pledge, Code of Conduct and Pandemic Protocol Information.

Student Pledge. We are asking students to be mindful that you are part of a larger community of scholars. It will take your direct participation in and observance of the requirements below to help the College ensure a safe semester during this pandemic.

PLEDGE

Required Testing, Education, and Contact Tracing Self-isolation, Quarantine, and Preventative Health

  • I will complete the required online COVID-19 education module prior to arriving on campus. 
  • I will participate in frequent routine COVID-19 testing as directed by the College and will undertake daily wellness checks sent to me and take my temperature twice daily.
  • If I test positive for COVID-19, I will share truthful information with the contact tracers about others who may be at risk. 
  • If I test positive for COVID-19, I will comply with the College’s and the State/County public health and self-isolation guidelines. 
  • Promptly upon discovering any symptoms of COVID-19, I will immediately contact College Health Center (315-792-3094) and seek guidance, and comply with the medical instructions I am given. 
  • If I am found to have been in contact with someone who has tested positive, I will comply with all testing and self-quarantine protocols. 
  • Unless for health reasons the vaccine is contraindicated for me, I will receive the seasonal flu vaccine when one becomes available at College Health Center.


Physical distancing, face coverings, and behavioral requirements 

  • I will wear a face mask or facial covering (fully covering my mouth and nose) in the presence of others, and in settings where other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain (e.g. common work spaces, meeting rooms, lounges, and classrooms), in any areas outside of my residence hall room and any public areas including, but not limited to, classrooms, hallways, laundry rooms, open field areas and dining halls. 
  • I will follow Utica College’s directives for physical distancing in residential spaces and other campus buildings and areas. 
  • I will keep my contact information updated and current. The Office of the Registrar should be notified of any changes at 315-792-3195.
  • If any in-person gatherings are allowed at a future time, I will follow all current, posted guidelines at Utica College, in indoor or outdoor settings, and I will neither host nor attend any gathering that violates these requirements on or off campus. You should know that fines in the CIty of Utica and surrounding municipalities as well as the County of Oneida. 
  • When accessing dining services, I follow all COVID-19 guidelines.

Hygiene & Sanitation

  • I will practice good hygiene, including thorough and frequent hand washing and the use of hand sanitizer, especially when returning from outside, after using a restroom, and before meals. 
  • I will regularly wash any reusable cloth mask per guidelines
  • I will sanitize any public space that I use prior to and at the completion of use

Travel 

  • I will remain in the immediate area for the fall semester. If I must travel during the fall semester, I will notify the Director of Emergency Management and comply with any return policies or directives, which may include testing and quarantine. 

Guests, Security, and Access 

  • I will not have guests in my residence hall. I understand that “guest” herein means anyone not assigned to my residence hall. This includes Utica College students living in other residences on campus, students living off campus, or external guests, such as siblings/family or friends. 
  • I will only access my own residence hall and will not access other residence halls.
  • I will not provide access to Utica College buildings to anyone. 

I acknowledge that these rules and guidelines may change as life on campus and public health guidance across the country evolve and as new testing and tracing methods emerge.

  • I agree to abide by any and all new rules and guidelines that are issued by the College.
  • I will respect the wishes of others who request space/social distancing and who remind me to wear my mask if I forget to do so or follow the other expectations found within this pledge.

Student Code of Conduct.

The student code of conduct has been updated to reflect the requirements noted above.

Addition to the Student Code Of Conduct:

Infectious Disease (eg. COVID-19), violating College requirements or public health orders in place to reduce the risk of spreading infectious disease. a. Failing to follow any and all applicable College, federal, state, and/or local public health orders. b. Failing to follow College policies, procedures, and any other requirements in place to help reduce the risk of contracting or spreading infectious diseases. c. Failing to comply with any additional or more specific actions to limit the spread of infectious disease, while participating in a program or activity, utilizing a service or benefit, or using College facilities. d. Failing to abide by face covering requirements. If College policy, procedures, or other requirements and/or public health orders require wearing face coverings,
students are required to wear face coverings that cover the nose and mouth whenever indoors on campus and whenever outdoors on campus when physical distancing of six feet or more is not possible. This does not apply to: (1) offices when used only by one student with a closed door; (2) private living spaces such as the interior of an apartment or residence hall room and bathroom, but not including communal living spaces that are
accessible to all students in a building such as shared kitchens, lounges, or bathrooms; or (3) when a specific activity the student is participating in cannot be reasonably done while wearing a face covering with this exception applying only as long as the duration of the activity, including but not limited to while brushing one’s teeth in a communal bathroom, while eating in a College dining hall or center, or while exercising in the
College recreation center or other College recreation facility. e. Failing to abide by gathering requirements. All on campus gatherings, public or private, must comply with applicable College policy, procedure, or other requirements and the most restrictive public health order in place.

All off campus gatherings (parties, get-togethers, group meetings, events, etc.) public or private, must comply with the most restrictive public health order in place. For example, if specific capacity or density limitations or guidelines are in place, students must abide by those parameters. Failure to comply with these requirements, or the directive from a college official, will result in a violation of the Student Code of Conduct with the appropriate charges in the point system as noted, resulting in interim suspension or expulsion from the College.

Pandemic Information

The COVID-19/ SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus pandemic continues to create risks and uncertainties associated with, among other things, living and/or studying in an on-campus environment. As of the date of this Agreement, the potential continuing impacts of the pandemic are not foreseeable, and the pandemic may impact the feasibility and conditions of on-campus study and residence during some or all of the 2020-2021 academic year. Accordingly, the undersigned student acknowledges and agrees as follows:

(a) Utica College may establish conditions, policies, rules and regulations for students’ presence on campus and/or occupancy of its residential facilities to account for actual or potential impacts of the COVID-19/SARS-CoV-2 pandemic, including but not limited to requirements for social distancing, the wearing of face coverings, sanitation, and/or health screenings as a condition for initial or continued presence on campus and/or occupancy of residential facilities. The student agrees to comply with, and acknowledges that his/her/their
presence on campus and occupancy of College residential facilities are contingent upon fulfillment of, any and all such lawful conditions, policies, rules and regulations.

(b) If the student resides in an on campus residential facility, Utica College reserves the right to require the student to temporarily relocate to other housing facilities in the event that Utica College determines such action to be necessary or advisable in the event of a positive COVID-19 test or suspected SARS-CoV-2 exposure of the student or any other person, or otherwise in connection with the COVID-19/SARS-CoV-2 pandemic. These facilities may be located on campus or at an offsite location of Utica College’s choosing. Such relocation shall
not entitle the student to a refund or result in an abatement of housing charges.

(c) Except as provided in the preceding paragraph, if Utica College is required to close and/or if students are required to vacate campus and/or the College’s residential facilities by federal, state or local governmental authorities or applicable law, or if Utica College determines such action to be warranted, in light of continuing or potential impacts of the COVID-19/SARS-CoV-2 pandemic, Utica College will refund to the student a pro rata portion of the housing and meal plan charges attributable to the period during which such action becomes necessary. The amount of any such refund will be based upon the portion of such period during which the
student was no longer permitted to occupy his/her/their assigned housing unit or use his/her/their meal plan (or, in the case of declining balance meal plans, shall be the remaining unused balance as of such date). Utica College’s calculation of the amount of a refund pursuant to this paragraph shall be binding absent manifest error. If the student elects to cease in-person attendance or vacate his/her/their assigned housing unit based on concerns related to COVID-19/SARS-CoV-2 in the absence of such a mandated departure, no refunds will be
provided.

(d) The tuition rates charged by Utica College are not dependent on the format of the educational programs for which they are payable. Accordingly, if the College is required to alter the structure of its on-campus educational programs or transition students to remote learning models (in whole or in part) due to restrictions imposed by federal, state or local governmental authorities or applicable law, or if the College determines such action to be warranted in light of continuing or potential impacts of the COVID-19/SARS-CoV-2 pandemic, no reduction or refund of tuition will be made based on the resulting changes to the programs in which the student is enrolled.

(e) The parties acknowledge that notwithstanding precautions undertaken by Utica College, presence on campus and/or occupancy of on-campus residential facilities carries inherently elevated risks of contracting communicable diseases such as COVID-19, that some of these risks may not presently be known, and that the risks may be even higher for certain populations. The student represents, warrants and agrees that he/she/they have reviewed any and all guidance published by Utica College and/or applicable public health authorities with respect to the impacts of COVID-19/SARS-CoV-2, will continue to review any such guidance as it is issued, and has evaluated (and will evaluate) this information with the benefit of such medical advice as the student has deemed (or will deem) necessary. In the event that the student elects to enroll in person and/or occupy Utica College residential and/or other facilities or premises during some or all of the 2020-21 academic year, the student represents and agrees that this action is a result of the student’s voluntary decision, based on evaluation of the circumstances and with knowledge of the attendant risks and consideration of the possibility of unknown risks, that the benefits of doing so outweigh the risks of doing so, and that the student is therefore
willing to assume such risks (both known and unknown). Accordingly, the student releases Utica College and its trustees, officers, employees, agents, contractors and representatives from any and all claims he/she/they may have in the future, waives all such claims, and agrees not to sue Utica College or its trustees, officers, employees, agents, contractors and/or representatives for any such claims, arising out of personal or bodily injury (including death) caused directly or indirectly by the known or suspected presence of SARS-CoV-2 in or about the premises of Utica College, or any infection or illness associated therewith or resulting therefrom, including but not limited to claims arising out of the negligent acts or omissions of any or all of the foregoing
persons/entities or others.

(f) This Agreement constitutes the entire agreement with respect to its subject matter and supersedes and merges all other statements, understandings, representations and agreements, oral or written, relating to such subject matter. This Agreement shall be governed by, and construed and enforced in accordance with, the laws of New York State, without regard to principles of conflicts of law. If any provision of this Agreement is held to be invalid by a court of competent jurisdiction, then that provision shall be severed from this Agreement without
affecting any other provision, the balance of which shall remain in full force and effect; provided, however, that if the invalid provision may be modified or reformed so as to be valid as a matter of law, then the provision shall be deemed to be modified or reformed to be enforceable to the maximum extent permitted by law. This Agreement shall be binding upon the undersigned student, as well as student’s successors, executors, personal representatives, heirs and assigns.

Before you can proceed to your account, you must acknowledge that you have received and read this important information as we begin the semester. As I stated in an earlier communication to you, without question, this new version of campus life will feel different as we navigate new routines, habits, and behaviors. But despite the challenges, we must pull together as a community. We must be safe. We must be smart. We must be patient. We must be considerate. All of us at UC cannot wait to welcome you back to campus!

Sincerely,

Dr. Jeffery T. Gates
Senior Vice President for Student Life and Enrollment Management

September 4, 2020

Dear Members of the Utica College Community,

If we needed further reason why we cannot let our guard down on COVID-19, why personal responsibility in the face of a pandemic is not an individual choice but a universal imperative, we must consider the developments of the past week at SUNY Oneonta.

As you are likely aware, Governor Andrew Cuomo and SUNY Chancellor Jim Malatras yesterday shut down all in-person classes and activities at the Oneonta campus and directed students to return home until the spring semester. This decision follows a COVID-19 outbreak of more than 500 positive cases, with more cases expected in the days ahead. The source of the outbreak has been traced to one or more off-campus student parties.

We do not know the implications for New York’s other colleges and universities. In an e-mail yesterday afternoon to the presidents of the hundred-plus private institutions in the state, Commission on Independent Colleges and Universities (CICU) President Mary Beth Labate cautioned, “The Governor and SUNY Chancellor have acted swiftly, perhaps in part to make an example of the situation at SUNY Oneonta; our sector and our students should take note.” This warning is made particularly acute by the fact that CICU worked closely with the Governor’s Office on the reopening guidelines for higher education.

At a minimum, we can anticipate increased and heightened public health directives from the state. But we must also be prepared for stronger measures from the state, including reversing course, in light of the situation at Oneonta and in the event of similar occurrences elsewhere. As we have been doing since the emergence of the pandemic, our Emergency Management Team, in consultation with the President’s and Provost’s Cabinets, are actively planning for all scenarios and eventualities.

I do not share this to cause trepidation. Make no mistake: my confidence that we can safely navigate this new environment together is as strong as ever. The many steps we have taken to prepare for our return to campus – from strict adherence to guidelines on physical distancing, mask-wearing, hand hygiene, and symptom-monitoring to our substantial investments in rigorous testing, air filtration, and UV light disinfectant systems – are working. And with very few exceptions, the members of our community have risen to the challenge. Through two weeks, we have effectively prevented the spread of COVID-19 on our campus. Our testing dashboard (www.utica.edu/covid-dashboard) is evidence of what we have achieved – that we can stay the course together and come out on the other side of the pandemic a stronger community.

We understand our work is not done, and we must take lesson from what we are watching elsewhere, including on a campus only sixty miles down the road. Our response to COVID-19 is a constant, ongoing commitment that requires all of us to do our part in following the protocols and considering how our decisions affect everyone around us.

The Labor Day Weekend and corresponding end-of-summer celebrations will undoubtedly tempt some into complacency. It is imperative that we remain diligent. Simply put, we keep our guard up or we pack up. I remain ever grateful for your patience, resilience, and cooperation.

Sincerely,


Laura Casamento
President

August 31, 2020

Dear Members of the Utica College Community,

As we begin our second full week of in-person classes, I want to express my gratitude to our students, faculty, and staff for adapting to this new version of campus life and for taking the necessary steps to keep our community safe.

It is because of your diligence that the number of positive COVID-19 cases at UC remains extremely low – a total of four cases on campus among students and faculty/staff, with two of them safely resolved.

But, as I have said before, we must not lower our guard. The significant spikes in cases experienced by colleges and universities across the country should serve as further proof that preventative measures are absolutely vital to protecting one another. We know that wearing masks, avoiding large congregations of people, and regular testing are effective tools for preventing transmission of the virus. As the recent outbreak and resulting suspension of inperson activities at SUNY Oneonta has demonstrated, failure to comply with these measures can have catastrophic consequences for the entire community.

Transparency is also a powerful tool. We will continue to be very transparent in reporting cases, primarily through the UC COVID-19 dashboard (utica.edu/covid-dashboard). It is no coincidence that some of the schools where we’re now seeing spikes in infections did not have in place a system of reporting cases. Since June, UC’s system for campus-wide testing, daily health screening, and contact tracing has helped keep the campus community informed while dramatically minimizing the risk of transmission. In light of the evolving situation at SUNY Oneonta and out of an abundance of caution, we anticipate our contact tracing-related testing protocols may scale up at the guidance of the Oneida County Health Department.

The situation at Oneonta is unfortunate. But what would be more unfortunate is if we don’t take a lesson from what is happening there and on campuses large and small across the country. Once again, I thank you for your cooperation thus far. Let us continue to make smart choices that protect one another and the place that means so much to us all.

Sincerely,


Laura Casamento
President

August 11, 2020

Dear Members of the Utica College Community,

As most of you are aware, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo last week authorized higher education and K-12 institutions in all regions of the state to reopen for in-person instruction this fall. We have been anticipating and planning for this eventuality, but it is nonetheless an important and encouraging confirmation.

What is most encouraging is the data guiding the decision to continue moving forward. The new cases of COVID-19 and testing positivity rate in New York state remain among the lowest in the country and are significantly below the thresholds established by public health officials for reopening with in-person classes and activities. This, coupled with months of tireless planning, is what is allowing us to resume the on-campus UC experience. But we recognize the pandemic is not over. Our reopening requires us to adjust to a modified campus environment and the new expectations and demands that COVID-19 has placed on all of us, both as individuals and as a community.

Testing, Containment, Surveillance, and Reporting

Our efforts to prevent and contain the spread of COVID-19 on campus are multi-pronged, including day one, rapid-testing with immediate isolation of infected individuals, comprehensive ongoing surveillance, coordinated contact tracing with the Oneida County Health Department, and extensive quarantine and isolation capacities.

As I previously shared with you, we will be testing all students arriving to campus for the fall semester. Rapid-results antigen testing will begin tomorrow and continue through the start of classes on August 24. Students must receive a negative test result before moving into the residence halls and beginning in-person classes. Any student testing positive will receive guidance on how to immediately isolate.

Likewise, faculty and staff will not be permitted to return to campus unless and until they have received a negative test result. Last week, 482 employees were tested, with one employee testing positive. This individual is asymptomatic, and is now isolating under the monitoring of the Oneida County Health Department. Contact tracing determined that there were no exposures among the campus community.

While we of course wish the number of positive cases had been zero, we are nevertheless encouraged by the low positivity rate, 0.2 percent, among a sample of almost 500 persons. This rate is well below the current 1 percent positivity rate in New York and significantly below the national rate. We take further confidence from seeing that our measures to detect asymptomatic carriers and mitigate the risk of transmission on campus have thus far proven effective.

There are still more reasons for careful optimism. Over the past week, we welcomed back approximately 40 students from states identified in New York State Travel Advisory as requiring a 14-day quarantine. No students from this group have tested positive. They will be tested once their quarantine period ends. Frequent surveillance testing of students, faculty, and staff will continue over the course of the semester in various formats, including pooled testing and additional targeted rapid-results testing.

Transparency is key to our reopening strategy and ongoing response to the COVID-19 pandemic. For this reason, earlier today we released a dashboard to track COVID-19 testing results among the UC community. The dashboard is available at utica.edu/covid-dashboard, and is also accessible via our Return to Campus information page, utica.edu/reopen. The dashboard data will be shared with the Oneida County Health Department and reported in their daily update of cases.

Our promising initial results notwithstanding, we recognize the road ahead is long, and the end is not yet in sight.

Strict Adherence to Public Health Practices

We don’t pretend to understand the novel coronavirus, however, when you look at how it is transmitted, pretty clearly there are common threads. What’s more, we know the steps we must take and the individual responsibilities we must hold ourselves to in order to create the safest possible environment, understanding that we cannot eliminate entirely the risk of COVID-19.

To that end, we must call on each other to make choices and decisions that reflect our personal responsibility as well as our responsibility to others. While we cannot create a bubble around campus, as much as we may wish we could, we can and must, without fail, do the following:

  • Strictly physical distance and avoid large gatherings, particularly those places and activities that foster irresponsible behaviors.
  • Wear masks whenever outside your personal living and workspaces.
  • Carefully monitor your personal health, complete the daily health screening, and stay home if you feel sick – even if your symptoms are mild – or if you believe you have been exposed to someone with COVID-19.
  • Practice good hand-hygiene.
  • Be courteous to the custodial staff members who are working exceptionally hard to frequently clean and disinfect high-touch surfaces and common, high-traffic spaces.
  • Let the data, as interpreted to us by public health experts, guide our decisions moving forward.

It is the data picture, specifically around the number of new cases and infection rate in the state, that is allowing us to return to campus; however, it is our shared commitment to assiduously following these protocols that will allow us to continue on this path in hopes of returning to the normalcy of campus life sooner rather than later.

As I’ve said before, we know this academic year will look unlike any before in UC’s history. The only way we get through this is together. I remain grateful for your resiliency and cooperation, and I look forward to welcoming you back to UC.

Sincerely,


Laura Casamento
President

July 27, 2020

Dear Members of the Utica College Community,

Over the past several weeks, I have been advising you of the many steps we are taking to safely  reopen campus and resume in-person instructions and operations. The health and safety protocols supporting our reopening plan, which are detailed in full at utica.edu/reopen, have been carefully guided at every step and turn by national, state, and local public health officials. These protocols have and will continue to evolve as the scientific and medical communities learn more about the novel coronavirus and advance new containment and risk-reduction measures. This is particularly true with regard to our testing protocols.

On the guidance of public health officials, we are updating our COVID-19 testing policies and protocols. Please pay close attention to the following information.

New and Returning Students

All students will be tested for COVID-19 immediately upon their arrival to UC. Students must receive a negative test result before moving into the residence halls and beginning in-person classes. In partnership with Primary Urgent Care, we will be conducting rapid-result antigen testing on campus at no charge. Students will stay in their vehicles with their families, and will receive results within approximately 15 minutes of being tested. Students who test negative will be given their room keys. Students testing positive will receive guidance from a Student Health Center nurse, in coordination with the Oneida County Health Department, on how to isolate themselves. They may return home to isolate, or if they prefer to remain on campus, quarantine living space will be provided in the former Burrstone House residence hall.

Pre-registration is required for testing and move-in. In the coming days, students will be receiving an e-mail notification from the Office of Student Living and College Engagement (SLCE). This notification will include a registration link. Students and families will have a choice of designated three-hour time slots; each slot will be limited to no more than 75 students.

Testing will begin on Wednesday, August 12 and continue through Monday, August 24. The schedule framework is as follows:

  • August 12 – Resident Assistants and commuting students
  • August 13 – Orientation Mentors and commuting students
  • August 14 – Commuting students
  • August 15 – Football team and commuting students
  • August 16 – Other fall sports teams and commuting students
  • August 17 – Residential and commuting students (first-year and returning)
  • August 18 – Residential and commuting students (first-year and returning)
  • August 19 – Residential and commuting students (first-year and returning)
  • August 20 – Residential and commuting students (returning)
  • August 21 – Residential and commuting students (returning)
  • August 22 – Residential and commuting students (returning)
  • August 23 – Residential and commuting students (returning)
  • August 24 – Any returning student who has not been tested by this point

More details will be included in the communication from SLCE.

In addition to mandatory first-day testing, we encourage all students as well as family members and guests who plan to accompany them, to get tested prior to returning to campus. Students should upload their test results to the Student Health Portal. Student ID cards will be activated only after a negative test has been verified. Finally, as detailed in the reopening plan, the College will use a two-way surveillance strategy of individual and pool testing following move-in and during the course of the fall semester.

Faculty and Staff

Likewise, we are requiring all faculty, professional staff, and contracted staff to be tested by no later than August 15. Primary Urgent Care will be conducting mobile, rapid-result antigen testing on campus for all employees on Monday, August 3. Results will be available within approximately 15 minutes of being tested. Employees will receive an e-mail with more information from the Office of Human Resources later this week.

Those who are unable to come to campus on August 3 can receive the same test by visiting Primary Urgent Care, which is located at 1904 Genesee Street in Utica, a five-minute drive from campus. You will need to identify yourself as a Utica College employee and show your UC ID. 

Students, Faculty, and Staff

Finally, all students, faculty, and staff must complete mandatory COVID-19 Safe Campus Training by August 15. The online training module, which takes approximately 20 minutes to complete, is available at utica.edu/forms/covid-19-training.

I understand these early testing protocols are stringent. But they are specifically designed, on the best guidance of infectious disease experts, to prevent the introduction of COVID-19 to our campus community by identifying and isolating possible carriers, including those who are asymptomatic. I remain grateful for your patience and cooperation, and encourage you to refer to utica.edu/reopen or contact the Office of Emergency Management at emermgt@utica.edu for more information.

Sincerely,

Laura Casamento
President

From Utica College President Laura Casamento and Provost Todd Pfannestiel:

July 20, 2020

Dear Students and Families,

Over the past several weeks, our Utica College Return to Campus Task Force has been working diligently to craft a plan to allow our institution to move forward with the fall 2020 semester in-person, with necessary modifications in place to safeguard the health and well-being of our students, faculty, staff, families, and their home communities amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

The Task Force has brought forward a series of recommendations to allow UC to reopen in a prepared and conscientious manner, while sustaining to the fullest extent possible the intimate learning experience that defines UC. These  recommendations have been presented to and endorsed by the Utica College Board of Trustees, subject to New York State approval, and they will guide the reopening of campus and resumption of in-person activities, including classroom instruction, housing, dining, and intercollegiate athletics.

The more than 250 individual recommendations, which are built upon the thoughtful work of more than 50 faculty, staff members, and students who served on the Task Force, are available in full detail here.

In the meantime, we would like to draw your attention to only a few of the key elements.

  • We will reopen campus in complete alignment with all state guidelines and requirements on public health and safety protocols, including occupancy restrictions, physical distancing requirements, use of face-coverings, self-screenings, containment and isolation protocols, and extensive health promotion and education.
  • We will welcome back students on Monday, August 17.
  • Classes for the Fall 2020 semester will begin on Monday, August 24 (one week earlier than originally planned), thus permitting in-person instruction to be completed by the Thanksgiving recess. Classes will be held during the previously scheduled fall break as well as the Wednesday of Thanksgiving week.
  • Final exams will be conducted virtually following Thanksgiving recess or in an alternative in-person experience prior to the recess.
  • Students with internship or fieldwork experiences or demonstrated need for academic or technological support may return to campus for the three weeks following Thanksgiving recess.
  • The week between returning to campus and the start of the fall semester (August 17-24) will provide a resocialization period, allowing all students time to adjust to changes put into place on campus to comply with state health guidelines. Orientation for new students will also occur during this week-long period.
  • Residential move-in will be staggered, including designated times for students to “drop off and go” prior to August 17. This will help assure that we do not have an overabundance of people in one space at one time. Specific information about this process will be provided over the next several weeks.
  • With limited exceptions, all courses will be prepared for some combination of in-person, online, and hybrid delivery, should the eventuality arise that a shift to one of these other formats is needed due to increased risks of COVID-19.
  • Classrooms will be equipped with appropriate technology so that students and faculty with underlying health conditions requiring alternate arrangements have the option of distance learning.
  • A valid College-ID will be required for entry into all campus buildings.
  • To help minimize the risk of transmissions, all students will be encouraged to remain in upstate New York for the duration of the fall 2020 semester.
  • The College will adopt NCAA guidelines for athletic competition as well as the guidelines of the Empire 8 conference and our peer member institutions. Only UC students, faculty, and staff will be permitted as spectators at athletic events, with appropriate physical distancing restrictions. These protocols will be in place for the start of the fall season, and they are subject to change based on guidance from the state health officials.
  • Homecoming Weekend will be canceled for 2020.

While implementation details remain to be worked out, we invite your feedback and discussion as we move forward. To that end, I hope you will join us for a Virtual Town Hall on Monday, June 22 at 7:00 p.m. We will offer further insight and take questions, suggestions, and feedback as we continue to maneuver these unchartered waters. Log-in instructions will be shared in advance of the Town Hall via UC’s Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter channels. Questions for the Town Hall can be submitted ahead of time at utica.edu/student-town-hall.

We remain grateful for your resiliency, patience, and support. Working together, we can plan for and take confidence in our ability to have a great fall semester at Utica College.

Sincerely,
Laura Casamento
President

Todd Pfannestiel
Provost

July 15, 2020

Dear Members of the Utica College Community,

Earlier today, we shared with our fall season student-athletes and coaches the difficult news that the Empire 8 President’s Council has made the decision to postpone all fall sports until the spring semester. A decision regarding winter sports will be made at a later date.

This decision follows several months of dedicated planning for an on-time opening to the fall season and comes only after having exhausted every possible adjustment, including, but not limited to, playing a conference-only schedule, prohibiting spectators at events, and closing locker rooms.

In the end, the Council was in unanimous agreement that delaying the season until the spring semester was the best course to take for two simple reasons. First, the health, safety, and well-being of everyone who comes on our campuses is our highest priority. And, two, our student athletes deserve every opportunity for a competitive season and complete experience, and we are committed to doing everything in our power to provide that for them.

We are optimistic about playing a regular season and hosting conference tournaments this spring. In the meantime, our coaches are working with their respective teams to plan training programs that comply with all public health protocols and NCAA regulations.

Athletics have been woven into the fabric of campus life since GIs decided to organize sports only weeks into Utica College’s inaugural academic year in 1946. As such, this decision is truly unprecedented. What is not unprecedented is UC’s resolve and commitment to providing a student experience that is second to none.

Sincerely,

Laura Casamento
President

David Fontaine
Director of Physical Education and Athletics

July 15, 2020

Dear UC students,

Every day, we are reminded of the devastating effects of COVID-19 on nearly every facet of our lives. The continued spread of the virus in many states is alarming. So, too, are reports from pubic health officials who have traced chain reactions of infections to large gatherings involving college-age students.

As we approach our long-awaited return to campus, my message to you is this: Be better than some of your peers in other parts of the country. 

We are encouraged by the fact that New York state now has one of the lowest infection rates in the U.S. But the staggering numbers in many states must serve as a reality check to college students everywhere, as well as a plea for your patience, cooperation, and good judgment as we return to UC.

Like you, I know that the social experience of campus life is a huge part of what students love about Utica College. I know how anxious you are to return to the events, activities, and in-person interactions that make UC such a special place. We are hard at work planning a vibrant campus experience this fall. But as we’re seeing amid the steep rise in infections in large parts of the country, we must realize that the COVID-19 pandemic is not over, nor can we expect that it will be at any point in the near future. What’s more, we’re now seeing clearly how reckless and irresponsible behavior and cavalier attitudes are contributing to spikes in cases.  

In consultation with national, state, and local public health officials, Utica College has put in place a comprehensive series of protocols that, combined with the incredible effort in New York state to flatten the curve and contain the spread of the virus, will allow us to carefully reopen campus and resume in-person classes and activities next month. At the core of this reopening plan are four easy but critically important measures that scientists have told us reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission. 

  • We must wear masks.
  • We must wash our hands regularly and thoroughly. 
  • We must regularly monitor our health and complete a daily self-screening. 
  • We must strictly physical distance and avoid large gatherings, particularly those that foster irresponsible behaviors. 

If we do these simple steps, we can enjoy a fall semester back together on campus, with face-to-face classes and activities. The protocols we’ve developed serve two purposes: to protect the well-being of the members of our community and to keep our path back to normalcy as short as practically possible. But while we wait for the medical science community to make further breakthroughs in treatment and prevention, we will proceed with an abundance of caution, prioritizing health and safety and focusing on small-group experiences in and out of the classroom.

Without question, this new version of campus life will feel different as we navigate new routines, habits, and behaviors. But despite the challenges, we must pull together as a community. We must be safe. We must be smart. We must be patient. We must be considerate. 

We must be better.

Sincerely,

Jeffery Gates
Senior Vice President for Student Life and Enrollment Management

 

July 14, 2020


Dear UC students,

As discussed in the UC Safe Reopening Plan, significant work is currently ongoing to make adjustments to the fall semester course schedule in order to deliver courses in the safest possible environment. 

The result of these adjustments will include many in-person courses continuing to be delivered in-person, while others may be delivered in an online or hybrid (a mix of in-person and online) format. Rest assured, we will have a robust in-person learning and living experience on the Utica College campus this fall.

We appreciate your patience as the faculty and deans continue to work on these course schedule adjustments. During this time, the Banner course schedule is unavailable for viewing online; thus students may not be able to see their schedules for a few days. The revised course schedule will be available by Friday, July 24, after which success coaches will contact students to further discuss any changes impacting you directly. While these schedules may require further adjustments should changing circumstances warrant, we are working diligently to have most of the adjustments in place by the end of next week.

We look forward to welcoming you back to campus next month. 

Sincerely,

Todd Pfannestiel
Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs

July 2, 2020

Dear Members of the Utica College Community,

Utica College is updating its existing travel guidance to align with the recent travel advisory issued by New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo that requires a 14-day quarantine upon entering or re-entering New York state from specific states.

Required Self-Quarantine After Travel

Effective immediately and for as long as the New York state travel advisory is in place, all students, faculty and staff traveling to campus from the affected states—defined as those with a significant current community spread of COVID-19 and updated at coronavirus.health.ny.gov/covid-19-travel-advisory— are required to self-quarantine for two weeks upon their return; 14 days is the maximum amount of time between the infection and the appearance of signs or symptoms. After this time period, the risk of passing the virus to someone else is very low or nonexistent. Self-quarantine includes avoiding all social contact by staying home and limiting activities in public spaces

The Governor’s advisory allows health care workers to continue working during the self-quarantine period; all Utica College faculty and staff involved in patient care are encouraged to review this guidance. It is important to know that this list of states may change. Travelers are asked to check the most up-todate information immediately before travel. The advisory does not apply to simply passing through a state for less than 24 hours.

Employee Travel

For both College-related and personal travel, non-essential Utica College employees should confirm with their supervisors the ability to work from home during the 14-day required quarantine after travel. If the travel is business-related and the employee is not able to work from home, the time will generally be paid quarantine leave. If the travel is voluntary and not business-related, employees must use available vacation time during the required self-quarantine. All of this new guidance requires advance communication between the supervisor and employee to pre-determine the plan for returning. If an employee is currently in one of the listed hot-spot states, they should be in touch with their supervisor immediately.

Essential employees are able to report to work. Utica College generally considers essential staff as those who work in areas including health care, public safety, facilities, dining services, residential life, and in some specific areas that were approved to restart. They do, however, need to adhere to stay-at-home quarantine procedures when not at work, and must take a COVID-19 test within 24 hours of returning from travel. The results of those tests may be submitted to the Office of Human Resources.

If you believe you are an essential employee and are traveling to and from one of the affected states, please speak with your supervisor about your obligations. The Office of Human Resources is also available to assist.

Student Travel

Students who are currently residing on campus this summer and who travel to and from these states should check with the Office of Student Living and College Engagement about their self-quarantine options. Students living off-campus should self-quarantine in their residences. More information will be forthcoming for students who are returning for the semester, particularly if this travel advisory is still in effect for several weeks.

The list of states included in the Governor’s advisory is based on the high incidence of COVID-19 transmission. Therefore, Utica College advises all students, faculty and staff to consider carefully the potential health risks associated with their travel, in addition to the time required to quarantine post-travel before undertaking travel outside of the state.

Sincerely,
Laura Casamento
President

June 20, 2020

Dear Students and Families,

Over the past several weeks, our Utica College Return to Campus Task Force has been working diligently to craft a plan to allow our institution to move forward with the fall 2020 semester in-person, with necessary modifications in place to safeguard the health and well-being of our students, faculty, staff, families, and their home communities amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

The Task Force has brought forward a series of recommendations to allow UC to reopen in a prepared and conscientious manner, while sustaining to the fullest extent possible the intimate learning experience that defines UC. These  recommendations have been presented to and endorsed by the Utica College Board of Trustees, subject to New York State approval, and they will guide the reopening of campus and resumption of in-person activities, including classroom instruction, housing, dining, and intercollegiate athletics.

The more than 250 individual recommendations, which are built upon the thoughtful work of more than 50 faculty, staff members, and students who served on the Task Force, are available in full detail at here.

In the meantime, we would like to draw your attention to only a few of the key elements.

  • We will reopen campus in complete alignment with all state guidelines and requirements on public health and safety protocols, including occupancy restrictions, physical distancing requirements, use of face-coverings, self-screenings, containment and isolation protocols, and extensive health promotion and education.
  • We will welcome back students on Monday, August 17.
  • Classes for the Fall 2020 semester will begin on Monday, August 24 (one week earlier than originally planned), thus permitting in-person instruction to be completed by the Thanksgiving recess. Classes will be held during the previously scheduled fall break as well as the Wednesday of Thanksgiving week.
  • Final exams will be conducted virtually following Thanksgiving recess or in an alternative in-person experience prior to the recess.
  • Students with internship or fieldwork experiences or demonstrated need for academic or technological support may return to campus for the three weeks following Thanksgiving recess.
  • The week between returning to campus and the start of the fall semester (August 17-24) will provide a resocialization period, allowing all students time to adjust to changes put into place on campus to comply with state health guidelines. Orientation for new students will also occur during this week-long period.
  • Residential move-in will be staggered, including designated times for students to “drop off and go” prior to August 17. This will help assure that we do not have an overabundance of people in one space at one time. Specific information about this process will be provided over the next several weeks.
  • With limited exceptions, all courses will be prepared for some combination of in-person, online, and hybrid delivery, should the eventuality arise that a shift to one of these other formats is needed due to increased risks of COVID-19.
  • Classrooms will be equipped with appropriate technology so that students and faculty with underlying health conditions requiring alternate arrangements have the option of distance learning.
  • A valid College-ID will be required for entry into all campus buildings.
  • To help minimize the risk of transmissions, all students will be encouraged to remain in upstate New York for the duration of the fall 2020 semester.
  • The College will adopt NCAA guidelines for athletic competition as well as the guidelines of the Empire 8 conference and our peer member institutions. Only UC students, faculty, and staff will be permitted as spectators at athletic events, with appropriate physical distancing restrictions. These protocols will be in place for the start of the fall season, and they are subject to change based on guidance from the state health officials.
  • Homecoming Weekend will be canceled for 2020.

While implementation details remain to be worked out, we invite your feedback and discussion as we move forward. To that end, I hope you will join us for a Virtual Town Hall on Monday, June 22 at 7:00 p.m. We will offer further insight and take questions, suggestions, and feedback as we continue to maneuver these unchartered waters. Log-in instructions will be shared in advance of the Town Hall via UC’s Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter channels. Questions for the Town Hall can be submitted ahead of time at utica.edu/student-town-hall.

We remain grateful for your resiliency, patience, and support. Working together, we can plan for and take confidence in our ability to have a great fall semester at Utica College.

Sincerely,
Laura Casamento
President

Todd Pfannestiel
Provost

June 1, 2020

Dear Colleagues,

Governor Cuomo announced on Friday that the Mohawk Valley region has entered phase two of New York’s four-phase restart and outlined the requirements for those entities eligible to reopen. Of particular note, the governor has identified “higher education administration” as an allowable function during this phase.

I would like to clarify what this means for Utica College and our plans for resuming on-site operations. Importantly, the inclusion of colleges and universities among phase two, “office-based” entities includes two important caveats. One, this decision involves only administrative functions; in-person academic instruction will resume during phase four, subject to state approval. Two, the governor was explicit that for the time being employees should continue working from home whenever possible.

While higher education’s inclusion in phase two is welcome news, it does not materially change our plans or timeline for reopening campus. As I shared with you previously, we intend to welcome students back to campus and resume in-person classes in August. We recognize that for many areas of the College this will require considerable lead-time for faculty and staff members to return to their normal work routines and environments, and we are preparing accordingly.

We continue to develop return-to-work plans and protocols that prioritize the health, safety, and well-being of the members of our community. We will communicate details of those plans before individuals return and frequently thereafter. For now, I want to share highlights of the state requirements of “office-based” entities in phase two.

Phased-in staffing not exceeding 50 percent capacity overall or in any single physical space – We will carefully phase in the return of faculty and staff in a coordinated process. The many details involved with this process will be determined by the Provost and me, in consultation with state and local officials, the Office of Emergency Management, school deans, and vice presidents. Specific instructions will be communicated through the deans and vice presidents. Until further notice, all faculty and staff who are currently working remotely will continue to do so.

Mandatory daily health screening – The Office of Campus Safety will maintain a continuous log of every person who is on campus. All employees who are working on-site will be sent a daily health screening prior to coming to campus. The screening will be administered through a survey distributed via e-mail and text message. The survey will ask whether you are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 or have been in contact with someone who has tested positive or shown symptoms of COVID-19 in the past 14 days. Only those who submit the survey will be permitted on campus.

Physical Distancing – Everyone on campus will be required to maintain physical distance of at least six feet at all times and to refrain from gathering in public spaces. Employees should remain in their individual workspaces as much as possible. Meetings will continue to be held via remote platforms such as Google Meet, Zoom, WebEx, or by telephone, even if all participants are on-site.

Face Coverings – Everyone on campus will be required to wear a face covering whenever in the presence of others or in public settings. If you do not have a face covering, you must contact the Office of Emergency Management prior to returning to campus.

I remain confident that, working together with state and local health officials, we will celebrate the start of the fall semester together on campus. It may look a little different than in years past, but it is an occasion that will carry with it extra meaning this year. However, we are fully aware that we get one shot to do this right. If handled incorrectly, all the hard work on behalf of our students, families, faculty, and staff in minimizing the impact of the virus in our campus and individual communities would be for naught. It is with that in mind that we will continue to work toward reopening campus gradually in the safest and most deliberate manner possible. We look forward to making that happen and seeing you all again in-person.

Sincerely,
Laura Casamento
President

May 27, 2020

Dear Members of the Utica College Community,

We want to briefly update you on the progress of the Return to Campus Task Force and what we see as the path toward returning to in-person operations and safely welcoming our students for the fall semester.

The process for reopening college and university campuses in New York state is taking shape. We soon expect to receive full clarity on that process when the Governor’s NY Forward Advisory Board and the Commission on Independent Colleges and Universities release statewide guidelines for returning to in-person courses. These guidelines, which have been shared in draft form with college and university presidents and provosts, will offer individual institutions a framework around which to base campus-specific reopening plans.

As we’ve previously shared, our Return to Campus Task Force has been actively working on a plan for reopening since late April. We have been in regular communication with state and local government and public health officials to ensure at every step that the task force’s work is aligned with the guidance from the state.

The task force will present recommendations to the Utica College Board of Trustees for endorsement on June 12. These recommendations will form the foundation of the reopening plan that is submitted to New York for state review and approval, per the governor’s most recent directive. We will share the details with the full UC community after the Board has endorsed the recommendations and before we submit the plan to the state. We will provide ample opportunity for questions and discussion through virtual town halls and other means.

Over the past two weeks, we have seen several colleges and universities, including institutions in New York, release elements of their reopening plans. As much as we recognize and appreciate that people are anxious to know more about our plans for returning to in-person classes and operations, it is essential that when we announce our plan we are able to provide a level of detail beyond simply a semester start and end date. What’s more, the governor has been explicit that institutional plans adhere to the state’s guidelines for higher education. To provide specifics at this point, before official guidance is released by the Governor’s Office, would be nothing more than conjecture.

In the interim, what we can do is share the fundamental tenets of what you can expect in our reopening plan:

  • The health and safety of our students, faculty, staff, and the communities we serve are our top priority. Every idea or solution will necessarily be filtered through this lens, and every element of our plan will include serious and informed consideration of how we protect against the transmission of the virus. Very importantly, we will make all necessary provisions for those students, faculty, and staff who have chronic underlying health conditions that may make them more vulnerable to COVID-19 infection.
  • We will spare no effort in ensuring that we are delivering a rigorous, highly personalized, and deeply engaging educational experience. Aspects of campus life may not look exactly the same as before. For example, we should prepare for changes to seating in classrooms, the dining commons, and social gathering spaces as well as other physical distancing measures. However, the experience will be authentically UC.
  • We will be prepared for all eventualities. As we’ve previously shared, it is our full intention to resume in-person classes in August and continue uninterrupted through the end of the semester. That said, in the event that we are forced by circumstances beyond our control to shift to a virtual environment at any point during the semester, we will be fully prepared to do so. Likewise, students who wish to continue their UC education in a virtual environment by their own choice will be provided the opportunity to do so.
  • Our plan will fit into the state’s framework for a safe and gradual reopening. We will also be prepared to respond to changing conditions and requirements as our planned reopening date approaches.
  • Lastly, while we are considering multiple scenarios for the academic calendar, we do not currently envision pushing back the semester start date.

In closing, let us assure you that we will bring all of the College’s resources to bear and do everything in our power to provide for a safe and sustainable campus reopening this fall – one that will fully reflect our unique character as an institution while minimizing the health risks posed by COVID-19. We recognize and are tremendously grateful for the resiliency you have and continue to show throughout this crisis. In times like these, when so many things are rapidly evolving and beyond our control, you can be rigid or you can adapt. We’re going to adapt. We’re going to embrace change and innovation, we’re going to lean into the opportunity to think differently, and we’re going to be a stronger institution and community for it.

Sincerely,
Laura Casamento
President

Todd Pfannestiel
Provost

May 14, 2020

Dear Colleagues,

I want to update you on Utica College’s plans for resuming in-person operations this summer and what you can expect in the weeks ahead.

As you know, New York state’s stay-at-home order, NY Pause, expires tomorrow, and portions of the region’s economy will be permitted to reopen during phase one of the state’s plan. I know many of you are anxious to return to your normal work spaces and routines. I am too. Many of you have reached out, particularly over the past 48 hours, asking whether there is a specific or target date for when we can begin working from campus again. There is not. I shared last month that summer courses will be delivered entirely online. This plan has not changed. And just as the state as a whole will reopen in phases, Utica College will resume in-person operations in a very measured and disciplined manner.

Colleges and universities are in the fourth phase of the state’s reopening plans, and Governor Cuomo has stated there will be a minimum of two weeks between phases. We can anticipate that some places of business in our region may move hastily and irresponsibly – and possibly “out of turn” – in reopening. Utica College will not. We do know that the governor has acknowledged that colleges and universities themselves will require an individual phased-in approach to reopening. In other words, we will not resume in-person operations in one fell swoop.

We need to be careful to not cement in our minds what this process will look like or calculate a timeline. As I have shared with you, a task force of faculty, staff, and students is actively working on a comprehensive plan for reopening that will detail the steps for repopulating our campus. These plans will be shared with state and local officials to ensure they comply with all public health guidelines and mandates. When we reach this point in the process, we will also present these plans to the UC community to invite feedback and make necessary modifications before proceeding. But understand we are not there yet.


I will repeat what I said earlier this week: we have every intention of resuming in-person operations this summer so that we are ready to safely welcome back students in August. In the meantime, and until further notice, we will continue to operate the College remotely, as we have done effectively for the past two months. This means faculty and staff, with few exceptions, will continue to work from home. Those who need to come onto campus for a short period of time will still be required to notify and receive authorization from the Office of Emergency
Management. Again, I expect we will gradually “ramp up” over the summer as state and local guidelines allow us to, and I will continue to update you as protocols change.

Surely, it is a positive sign that infection and hospitalization rates in the Mohawk Valley have reached a point where the region can slowly and cautiously begin to ease public health restrictions. However, the reality is that this is still a very fluid situation, and that doesn’t magically change this weekend or anytime in the foreseeable future. Accordingly, we are preparing for multiple scenarios and working through different variations within each so that we can find the safest path to coming back together.

I remain grateful for your patience, support, and cooperation. Keep your spirits up.

Sincerely,

Laura Casamento
President

May 12, 2020

Dear Members of the Utica College Community:

Governor Cuomo announced yesterday that the Mohawk Valley region has met the defined benchmarks for beginning a phased-in reopening after the state’s stay-at-home order, NY Pause, expires this Saturday. I want to share, to the extent that I can, what this means for Utica College.  

While the precise timing of our return to normal operations is still not clear, I assure you we will be ready to welcome our students back to campus this fall and deliver an educational experience that is authentically UC. I say this with confidence, knowing we are united behind this goal and fully aware of the careful steps we must take. 

In preparation for the Governor’s announcement, the College has been actively engaged in thorough and thoughtful planning across multiple levels. The New York Commission on Independent Colleges and Universities, for which I’ve been appointed to the executive committee, is working directly with the Governor’s Office to shape the state’s plans for reopening campuses. Because the Governor has stressed the need for a coordinated regional approach, I am also in regular discussion with the presidents of the colleges and universities within the Mohawk Valley Regional Economic Development Council.

At the same time, the faculty, staff, and student members of the Return to Campus Task Force I named two weeks ago have dove into the work of developing a comprehensive framework for bringing our community back together in a way that is safe, responsible, and attuned to the unprecedented realities of the COVID-19 pandemic.  

Details of these plans will be released within the next 30 days, and over the coming weeks, we will be hosting several virtual town hall events to update you, get feedback on the planning, and answer questions. In the meantime, I want to provide a preview of what you can anticipate and begin addressing some common questions that may arise. 

  • The health and safety of our campus and surrounding community remains our highest priority and continues to guide our thinking and planning. Even as we gradually return to a “modified normal,” we know there is no clear end date to the coronavirus pandemic in sight. To that end, the guidance and mandates of government and public health agencies will be fundamental to our plans for reopening. We are carefully considering the physical, emotional, and mental well-being of members of our community and taking every precaution to minimize the health risk, even knowing that, as the CDC has cautioned, we cannot reduce it to zero. 
  • We are not going at this important work alone. We continue to work in close coordination and partnership with the Oneida County Health Department and the Mohawk Valley Health System to implement all necessary protocols and mitigation measures, including physical distancing, testing and tracing systems, enhanced cleaning and disinfection, mask-wearing, self-screenings, isolation for those who are ill or have been exposed, expanded counseling services, travel restrictions, and special accommodations for immunocompromised and other vulnerable members of our community. 
  • We are confident that, with the right precautions in place, our students can fully participate in the vibrant and uniquely personal experience for which UC is known. Though implementing these safety measures will pose challenges, we will seize this opportunity to think differently and start new conversations. This will require some creative solutions to how we deliver in-person instruction, modifications to living, learning, and gathering spaces, and possible adjustments to athletic competition; however, we are committed to providing a high quality academic and campus life experience. 
  • We will gradually reopen our campus over the course of the summer, with the goal of resuming normal operations prior to the start of the fall semester. Educational institutions are included in Phase 4 of the New York state reopening plan, but the Governor’s office recognizes that colleges and universities will require a runway. At UC, this means slowly ramping up on-campus operations. In many respects, the summer months will serve as a soft restart so that we can carefully prepare for welcoming students and resuming in-person classes and activities in August. During this soft restart period, faculty and staff members who can perform their responsibilities remotely will continue to do so. For those needing to return to their workspaces during the summer in order to plan for the fall, we will limit and stagger their hours in campus facilities to reduce density and maintain social distance.
  • Will our “modified normal” look different? Of course it will. We know this is the reality of the COVID-19 environment. But with reasonable measures in place to minimize risk, we can return to campus and take comfort in knowing that we are in this together.    
  • We recognize that plans may need to change. Obviously, there is still much that the science, public health, and medical communities do not know about the novel coronavirus. We are planning for all scenarios, and as circumstances evolve, we will be prepared to adapt our measures. 

Surely, there will be many more adjustments to our new reality in the era of COVID-19. But these challenges will continue to bring out the best of our innovative spirit and demonstrate the depth of our commitment to providing a highly personal education inside and outside the classroom. 

As much as this crisis has and may continue to require all of us to constantly pivot and change course, we are ready to move forward – together. 

Sincerely,
Laura Casamento
President

July 1, 2020

May 13, 2020

New York State Guidelines and Information

New York State has issued guidance intended to address all types of in-person higher education institutions, including but not limited to community and junior colleges, universities, graduate and professional schools, medical schools, and technical schools. 

NYSED Reopening Guidance for Colleges & Universities

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