February 14, 2021
Dear Members of the Hobart and William Smith Community,
During the past week, from Saturday, Feb. 6 through Saturday, Feb. 13, the Colleges administered and received results for 752 COVID-19 tests, identifying 60 positive cases. Virtually all of the positive tests are linked to prior positive cases.
What we know through contract tracing is that the virus spread we are seeing on campus continues to stem from students living together in houses or apartments in which the use of face coverings and social distancing in shared spaces are not being sufficiently followed. In addition, this weekend Campus Safety responded to several gatherings in residence hall rooms that were in direct violation of the Colleges’ COVID-19 policies. As a reminder, students who host such gatherings face disciplinary action, including possible suspension.
The ability of the Colleges to continue with in-person learning and related activities is completely dependent on the behavior of students. While we understand that the task of abiding by public health guidance is very difficult, it is simply the only way that our community can avoid being required to transition to remote learning. Although the majority of students are behaving with integrity and best intentions, we are at a very important inflection point. We call upon every student to take most seriously the responsibility they accepted by returning to campus in January so that we can get through this difficult period and arrive at a better place together.
The Colleges will continue to restrict most non-instructional in-person activities for another week until the numbers in isolation and quarantine drop significantly. A limited set of activities that occur under the supervision of faculty or staff advisors can resume this week, including club meetings, religious observances and limited athletic practices for some sports. Please contact Spring2021@hws.edu with any questions you may have regarding which activities are allowed to resume. We plan to reopen the upper floors of the library, the recreation center and Au Bon Pain on Monday, Feb. 22. We continue to update the Colleges’ COVID-19 Dashboard daily.
We do not take lightly the emotional, physical and psychological stress that the pandemic continues to put on all of us. But it is more important than ever that we follow communitarian principles and consider how our actions affect others; we must be our best selves during this challenging period by prioritizing the health of our community. One bright note is that with the increased availability of the vaccine, many of our faculty have been successful in beginning their vaccine treatment. We will continue to lobby New York State for vaccine access for our students and staff. With the prevalence of cases falling nationally and locally, and with the production of vaccines increasing, we will successfully navigate this pandemic if we all work together.
Joyce P. Jacobsen
Vice President for Campus Life