September 13, 2021
Dear Members of the Hobart and William Smith Community,
We write after a tragic weekend as we continue to mourn the loss of Veronica Ashby. Many of us spent time with her family and friends this weekend and their heartbreak cannot be measured. We will know more in the days ahead regarding plans for remembrance and a memorial, and will communicate details when available; Chaplain Nita Byrd is the on-campus liaison for this process. We have been so impressed by the ways in which the community reached out to one another over the weekend, whether in small groups gathering for comfort and solace, or in more public events like the moments of silence at our home athletic contests. Counselors, professional Student Engagement staff, the Chaplain and Director of the Abbe Center for Jewish Life and the Deans are available to students via appointment (contact their respective offices, linked here). Crisis counselors can also be reached 24 hours a day by calling Campus Safety at (315) 781-3000. The Employee Assistance Program provides faculty and staff with immediate and free access to mental health professionals by calling (800) 327-2255. In addition, we are both available any time in the Office of Academic and Faculty Affairs and the Office of Campus Life.
There is some news to report regarding COVID-19 progress on campus as well as new policies and procedures. We have completed our first round of surveillance testing for students and have been able to get faster turnaround times and extremely accurate results using batch testing through the Broad Institute. Our positive numbers are dropping with most new cases coming from people identified through contact tracing or who were symptomatic and came to Hubbs Health Center on their own. There is still work to do, but the collective effort of the entire community is truly having an impact on halting spread. We want to acknowledge this great work but also continue to encourage vigilance in masking when physical distancing is not possible.
Last week, President Biden outlined a plan that would require all businesses with 100 or more employees to either confirm their employees are vaccinated or to test those who are unvaccinated every week. We are working through what this could mean for us at Hobart and William Smith, and will communicate details after President Biden’s plan is clear. Employees who have not yet informed the Colleges of their positive vaccination status should fill out the COVID-19 Vaccine Confirmation Form immediately. Employees who have not yet been vaccinated but have appointments to do so, or who intend to file an exemption, should complete the COVID-19 Vaccine Plans or Exemption Request Form.
As we wrote to campus last week, in accordance with Governor Hochul’s designation of COVID-19 as an infectious disease and as part of the NYS Hero Act, we have implemented our Airborne Infectious Disease Plan. We will continue mask wearing in indoor public spaces and outdoors when it’s not possible to maintain three feet of physical distance. Below are details on an upcoming Zoom session for faculty, staff and students so that the Campus Logistics Team can review the new policies and everyone can ask questions.
Airborne Infectious Disease Plan Review Friday, Sept. 17 at 4:00 p.m.
Webinar link will be emailed later this week.
Facilitators: Provost and Dean of Faculty Sarah Kirk, Vice President for Finance and Administration Carolee White, Vice President for Campus Life and Dean of Students B.B. Barile and Director of Human Resources Deb Drain
This webinar will be recorded and made available for those unable to attend.
Finally, we could not let this weekend go by without recognition of 9/11. We know that many of you have been and continue to be impacted in multiple ways by the events of that day. Our community stands ready to support all our members through these challenging times.
As always, please reach out to us with any questions or concerns. The determination of this campus to persevere and thrive has been especially evident during the first three weeks of the semester, and we thank you.
Provost and Dean of Faculty
B. B. Barile
Vice President for Campus Life and Dean of Students