August 25, 2020
Dear Members of the Hobart and William Smith Community,
As we begin the first week of the semester, we write to offer our thanks to all members of our campus community for the remarkable effort to prepare for this semester and to take seriously our obligations to each other to ensure our collective health. Over the summer, our dedicated staff prepared campus for the fall and faculty engaged in the work of re-imagining courses and pedagogy to support the success of all students. We are now seeing the benefits of this preparation. The flexibility and positive attitudes of everyone have been inspiring as we all learn new routines and activities to support social distancing and PPE use.
We’ve received a number of encouraging and thankful comments from new and returning students as well as their parents and families who have praised the Colleges’ move-in procedures and Orientation. This year’s Orientation was unprecedented in its attention to detail and safety, and we are grateful to the staff, students and faculty who organized it. We especially appreciate the courage of our new students who, as President Jacobsen told them when welcoming them to campus, are showing a level of bravery and optimism that will serve them well in their lives.
Since August 1, we have successfully returned our students to their residence halls through an orderly process that allowed us to maintain safe protocols at all times. Although we had a small number of violations of our new community standards addendum a week ago, we have since seen a substantial drop-off. We are thankful that individual community members are taking their responsibilities seriously and that everyone understands that doing so will allow us to have an academic year uninterrupted by the spread of COVID-19. We thank those who have shared information and concerns via the anonymous reporting system, and encourage you to continue to do so.
Over the past three weeks, we have administered more than 1,900 COVID-19 tests and received negative test results from a number of other persons upon arrival to campus. Of those, only one person tested positive and was moved immediately to our isolation facility, along with the one other person with whom they had any contact on campus. We are continuing to retest this person to ensure the accuracy of the result because we have reason to believe that the positive test may be the result of the presence of antigens. We were in immediate dialogue, and remain so, with the Ontario County Public Health staff and are very appreciative for their partnership and guidance. This week, we will begin weekly surveillance testing, which will involve between 200-300 individuals per week. Ontario County’s COVID-19 website, which reports on new cases, is updated daily.
The kind of thoughtfulness, compassion and attention to safety demonstrated by this community has been significant and we will need to continue this work as we progress through the semester. Please know that we are here to offer help and support any time. As we work on these things together, we know that you will continue to show respect for one another and our overall community by doing your part and encouraging others to do the same.
Provost and Dean of Faculty
Vice President for Campus Life