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Skidmore College

IMPORTANT: Spring 2022 COVID-19 Information

January 11, 2022

Dear Skidmore Community,

Since the end of exams last month, we have all watched with concern the rapid developments of the Omicron variant globally, nationally, and locally. At Skidmore, we have been in constant communication both internally and with other institutions and health organizations to plan the return of our students to campus and resumption of classes in two weeks. Safeguarding the overall health and wellness of our community and fulfilling our educational mission continue to be the guiding stars of our efforts. After careful consideration, we have determined that we will welcome all our students back to campus on schedule for the start of classes on Jan. 25.   

We have managed the pandemic now for nearly two years with courage, skill, patience, empathy, and endurance, and I am confident we will get through this current stage in the same way. I know there is a range of personal circumstances, risk factors, and situations that impact how each of us thinks and feels about COVID-19, as well as a multitude of ways in which each of us is impacted by the pandemic. Also, the twin elements of Omicron — extremely contagious yet, for those fully vaccinated, generally less serious symptoms — pose challenges in how we respond to its presence. And of course we are all frustrated with and fatigued by the pandemic. Our commitment to kindness, support, collaboration, and friendship will continue to sustain us in this next phase of COVID-19. 

Below are many of the safety protocols and details identified by our COVID-19 Logistics Working Group to help us navigate the return to campus. More details will be forthcoming in the next two weeks. For now, I wish everyone the blessings of a new year, I send my best wishes for your health and safety, and I am very eager to welcome all of you back to campus for another great Skidmore semester. 

Sincerely,

Marc Conner
President


Dear Students, Faculty, and Staff,

 

Our goal in the coming weeks is to ensure we can operate safely and in compliance with CDC requirements while maintaining the residential, in-person learning environment we all value.  

We are confident that our excellent vaccination rates and our booster requirement will help prevent serious illness among members of our community. However, we also know that there will be breakthrough cases and it is likely we will encounter positive case numbers among students, staff, and faculty at a rate we have not yet experienced as a college.  

To protect the wellness of our community, effectively respond to a new scale of cases, and minimize operational challenges as much as possible, our COVID-19 protocols, as well as our response to positive cases, contact tracing, quarantine, and isolation, will all need to be adapted accordingly this semester.   

Consequently, we write to share an initial round of important information as well as reminders about actions that should be taken now to prepare for a successful spring semester.  

Testing 

Based on CDC recommendations, individuals who have tested positive for COVID-19 should not test for 90 days following the initial positive test. If you have recently tested positive, you must notify Health Services (for students) by emailing health@skidmore.eduor Brianna Herman (for employees) by emailing bherman@skidmore.edu and we will exempt you from pre-arrival and surveillance testing requirements. Please note: While students who have recently tested positive do not need to participate in surveillance testing, they should test when symptomatic.

Prior to returning to campus 

  • All returning students, including students who live off campus, are required to take a PCR or rapid antigen test within 72 hours prior to arriving on campus.  
  • If you test positive, you may not return to campus until your designated isolation period is completed.  
  • Students should make plans now to secure rapid antigen tests or to schedule PCR tests to ensure this requirement is met. Please do not wait. 
  • Students must submit proof of pre-arrival test results to prearrivaltesting@skidmore.edu, by sending a photo or other official confirmation, prior to arrival. Photos of rapid tests must have your name and the date of the test clearly written on the test. Failure to do so will be considered a violation of Skidmore’s Student Code of Conduct. 

Upon arriving on campus 

  • All students must be tested on campus within 24 hours of arrival and must test again five days later.  
  • Testing will be available on Friday, Jan. 21, from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., and then daily beginning Jan. 23 on the second floor of Murray-Aikins Dining Hall. The full testing schedule can be viewed here. 
  • Employees must complete an on-campus test the week of Jan. 23-29 or a PCR or a rapid test away from campus. Updated testing hours are available on the Health Services website. Testing will again be located on the second floor of Murray-Aikins Dining Hall. Negative test results from off-campus testing do not need to be reported. Employees who test positive through off-campus testing should inform Brianna Herman in HR and their supervisor. 

Booster shots  

  • As shared at the end of last semester, all eligible Skidmore students, staff, and faculty are required to get a booster by the start of the spring semester or within 30 days of becoming eligible (unless you received a medical or religious exemption to Skidmore’s COVID-19 vaccination requirement). 
  • Please review the CDC’s current guidelines for booster shots, which were recently updated. Individuals who received the Pfizer or Moderna COVID-19 vaccine can now receive a booster shot five months after completing their Pfizer or Moderna primary series.  
  • Per the CDC, individuals who are eligible for a booster but are not yet boosted, and who come into close contact with someone who tests positive for COVID-19, must now quarantine for five days following the exposure and test on day five with an antigen test. Therefore, being boosted in a timely way is critical to our ability to resume normal activities and operations on campus.  

Submitting proof of boosters 

  • Students should submit proof of booster vaccination directly through the Skidmore Health Portal. This portal is confidential and secure, and your password may be different than your regular Skidmore password. If you received a booster at the on-campus clinic last year, you must still submit proof of booster application. 
  • Students who are eligible for a booster and who return to campus without submitting proof of receiving one will be in violation of Skidmore’s Student Code of Conduct. 
  • Instructions for uploading booster information will be sent directly to employees from HR. 

Masks 

  • Skidmore will begin the semester at a yellow status level. Masks will continue to be required at all times in indoor public spaces. Please refer to current guidelines here.  
  • Given the extremely contagious nature of Omicron, at this time due to the current surge, all members of the Skidmore community are strongly encouraged to wear a snuggly-fitting KN95 mask or to double mask using a cloth mask over a disposable mask when indoors in public spaces.  
  • Students, faculty, and staff will be provided with KN95 masks when they are first tested upon returning for the spring semester. However, please make plans now to secure additional masks that you will need for use throughout the semester. 

Classes 

  • During the first four days of the semester (Jan. 25-Jan. 28), faculty members will have the discretion to hold classes remotely or in person. Instructors will inform their students by email if they will be teaching remotely during this time. Beginning Monday Jan. 31, we anticipate all classes will be taught in person. 

Compliance and Communication 

  • It is imperative that students check their email regularly. This is the official communication format for the College as well as the system faculty will use to alert students to changes in the class teaching mode. 
  • Compliance with these policies is essential. More information will follow about penalties for failure to adhere to these protocols meant to safeguard our entire community. 

There is much to look forward to this spring, and our priority is to start out as safely and as best we can to ensure the semester can continue as normally as possible.  

We understand that individuals may have questions beyond what was addressed in this communication. We are considering all areas related to our return to campus and will provide additional details in a timely and responsive manner. Please monitor your email regularly for important updates in the coming days and weeks. 

Sincerely, 

The COVID-19 Logistics Working Group 

  • Donna Ng (Co-Chair), Vice President for Finance and Administration & Treasurer 
  • Gail Cummings-Danson (Co-Chair), Assistant Vice President for Student Affairs and Director of Athletics 
  • Sarah Delaney Vero, Interim Human Resources Director 
  • Pat Fehling, Associate Dean of the Faculty and Professor for Health and Human Physiological Sciences Department 
  • Sara Miga, Director of External Relations and Strategic Communications 
  • Tim Munro, Director of Campus Safety 
  • Bruce Murray, Assistant Director of Facilities 
  • Kelley Patton-Ostrander, Assistant Vice President for Financial Planning & Auxiliary Services 
  • Ann Marie Przywara, Associate Dean of Student Affairs for Residential Life 
  • Julia Routbort, Associate Dean of Student Affairs for Health and Wellness 
  • Angela Valden, Strategic Communications Editor