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Skidmore College

COVID-19 Update for Faculty and Staff

January 7, 2022

Dear Colleagues,

I am writing with some important updates regarding changes to Skidmore's health and safety protocol as a result of recent changes in federal, state and local guidance.  Additional information about updated procedures for the start of the spring semester will be communicated by the COVID-19 Logistics Work Group next week.  As always, our goal is protecting the health and safety of our community as we continue to rigorously pursue our mission of the highest quality in-person, residential learning.      

Important Changes to Isolation and Quarantine Requirements.  The College has been closely following the developments with the Omicron variant and changes to federal, state and local public health guidance in response to these developments.  Throughout the pandemic, the College has followed the health and safety guidance issued by local, state and federal health agencies.  Last week, the Centers for Disease Control updated its guidance on isolation and quarantine periods, reducing the length of time COVID-19 positive individuals should isolate.  According to the CDC, “the change is motivated by science demonstrating that the majority of SARS-CoV-2 transmission occurs early in the course of illness.”  On Tuesday Jan. 4, 2022, the New York State Department of Health adopted that guidance. 

In consideration of the updated guidance, Skidmore’s protocol for isolation and quarantine will change as follows: 

For individuals who test positive, with either a rapid or PCR test: 

  • Report the positive result to Brianna Herman in HR at bherman@skidmore.edu and your supervisor. 

  • You will receive an email from HR with details about isolation protocols. 

  • Isolate for 5 days, where day 0 is the day of symptom onset or (if asymptomatic) the day of collection of the first positive specimen. 

  • Employees who are feeling well enough to work, and the nature of the work allows for remote work, may work from home with supervisor approval.  If the nature of the work does not allow for remote work, the College will provide paid sick time to use during the isolation period. 

  • If asymptomatic at the end of 5 days or if symptoms are resolving, isolation ends, and you can return to work on campus.  Individuals returning to work on campumust mask indoors as per Skidmore’s policy as well as any other time they are around others (including outdoors) for an additional 5 days.  Individuals should not unmask to eat or drink around others until 10 days have passed. 

  • Any employee who requires accommodation of these protocols due to a medical condition should contact Jude Klein in HR at jsklein@skidmore.edu.

For individuals identified as “close contacts” of a positive case:
 

  • If not fully vaccinated OR fully vaccinated and eligible for the booster but not yet boosted, quarantine for 5 days.  At the end of 5 days, close contacts may return to work on campus and must wear a well-fitting mask any time they are on campus for an additional 5 days.  Individuals must also test on the fifth day following the exposure   

  • If the nature of the individual’s work allows for remote work, the individual may work from home with supervisor approval.  If the nature of the individual's work does not allow for remote work, please contact HR regarding paid time off options.   

  • If fully vaccinated and boosted (with the booster at least 2 weeks before the first date of exposure) or not yet eligible for a booster, no quarantine is required but individuals should wear a well-fitting mask while around others for 10 days after the last date of exposure.  Individuals must also test on the fifth day following the exposure.  

  • Negative tests do not need to be reported to HR.  Anyone who tests positive after a close contact must report the positive result to Briana Herman in HR at bherman@skidmore.edu and their supervisor.   

  • If symptoms develop, continue quarantine and seek testing off campus.

The new protocol recommended by federal and state health officials and adopted by the College is admittedly less straightforward than previous guidance, and we appreciate your patience and cooperation as we navigate this new phase of health and safety guidelines. 

Testing.  The College’s on-campus testing program will resume Jan. 23.  Additional details about the College’s Spring 2022 testing program will be communicated next week.   

Masking.  Given the more contagious nature of Omicron, during the current surge, all members of the Skidmore community are strongly encouraged to wear snuggly fitting KN95 masks or double mask using a cloth mask over a surgical mask when indoors in public spaces.  The College is working to secure a supply of KN95 masks to provide to employees by the beginning of the spring semester. However, please make plans now to secure additional masks that you will need for use throughout the semester. 

Booster vaccinations required by Jan. 24.  As announced on Dec. 10, Skidmore has updated its Vaccination Policy for Faculty and Staff to require all eligible faculty and staff to receive COVID-19 booster vaccinations by Jan. 24, 2022.  Please note, the CDC updated its guidance for when individuals who received the Pfizer or Moderna COVID-19 vaccine are eligible for a booster shot. This means that people can now receive a booster shot 5 months after completing their Pfizer or Moderna primary series. The booster internal recommendation for people who received the J&J vaccine (2 months) has not changed.

If one has recently recovered from COVID-19, the booster is required within 90 days of their last positive COVID-19 test.    

If not eligible for the booster by Jan. 24, 2022, faculty and staff are required to obtain the booster within 30 days of becoming eligible.  The process for uploading proof of receiving a booster will be communicated early next week.  If you have not already received a booster and are eligible, please obtain a booster as soon as possible to increase your protection against the Omicron variant, provide greater protection for those around you and avoid the need to quarantine if you are identified as a close contact.      

Paid Family Leave COVID-19 Quarantine Leave Benefits to Care for Minor Dependent Children.  The College is sensitive to the impact of COVID-19 on employees and their families and offers Paid Family Leave benefits when an employee is unable to work because they need to care for a minor dependent child who is subject to an order of isolation or quarantine.  To apply for these benefits, please complete the Request for COVID-19 Quarantine Leave for Minor Dependent Child form package and send them to Laura Goodwin in HR at lgoodwin@skidmore.edu.    

Thank you all for your continuing efforts to keep one another safe. Please contact HR with any questions about these changes and continue to closely monitor your email for future communications and updates as we prepare to welcome students back for the spring semester.   

Sincerely,

Sarah Delaney Vero
Interim Human Resources Director