February 1, 2021
Dear Members of the Hobart and William Smith Community,
We write today to thank all members of our community who have worked so diligently to bring us into this Spring 2021 semester. The collective planning, preparation and effort by our faculty, the staff – especially in Campus Life, and our Sodexo partners have enabled Hobart and William Smith to begin this year with great optimism. It is a true joy to see the campus alive and vibrant once again.
That wonderful spirit was very visible this past weekend as we celebrated the return to campus with our Winter Wonderland event Saturday evening. From ice skating and curling at JPR, to food trucks, hot cocoa and cider and s’mores around campus, from horse carriage rides and custom snow globes at the Scandling Center, to the fire pits and laser show on the Quad – our campus was alive and vibrant. We look forward to this becoming an annual event to welcome students back each spring, and we look forward to a number of additional weekend outdoor events throughout this semester.
We thank all who participated in our arrival testing and quarantine process. That work was successful with only 13 total positive cases identified and isolated during the initial testing period with more than 2500 tests given. Our ongoing surveillance continues, and during the past two weeks, we have already administered more than 3300 tests. We thank the vast majority of our students, who continue to take very seriously the need to follow all public health guidance, particularly social distancing and PPE use. As reported by the local Public Health staff, there continue to be no cases of community spread from classroom or other normal business activities at Finger Lakes region colleges and universities, including us.
That said, we have witnessed a spike in cases that initiated with the activities of a group of students who did not follow our quarantine requirements. As a result of these students’ reckless behavior, we have seen an additional 35 cases identified after arrival screening. This failure to comply with the necessary public health requirements is resulting in disciplinary actions for the group responsible, including student suspensions.
As we did with such great success during the fall, we call upon the entire community to take responsibility as individuals and as a collective to ensure that we are able to move through this semester with the learning and growth to which we all aspire. Better that we do this for one another proactively than as a result of the fear of consequences. We know that the Hobart and William Smith ethos is alive and well, and calling us to be at our best right now.
We continue to monitor the evolving situation surrounding the availability of COVID-19 vaccines. As Dr. Jeremy Cushman ‘96 shared with our faculty and staff last week, this situation is changing daily or even more rapidly, and we aim to provide substantive updates when we are able.
We wish you all a good and healthy week.
Provost and Dean of Faculty
Vice President for Campus Life