August 23, 2021
Dear Members of the HWS Community,
Instead of waiting for the Dashboard update tomorrow, we write today to make you aware that the Colleges have experienced our first positive COVID-19 cases of the semester. Tomorrow, we will report on the Dashboard that 12 students have tested positive and are now in isolation. A majority of these students live together in two houses off-campus, and the few others are direct contacts of these houses. The majority of these students were vaccinated. We have placed an additional 5 students in quarantine who were in direct contact with those who tested positive. Fortunately, these initial positive cases were caught before these students attended classes and no one is experiencing any severe symptoms at this time. We have a high degree of confidence that we have been able to identify and contain this cluster of cases.
As a precaution, another 15 students have been placed into what we are calling a “light quarantine.” Although the CDC and Ontario County Public Health do not require vaccinated individuals who are close contacts of someone who recently tested positive to quarantine, the Colleges are taking additional safeguards for those individuals. We ask that these students do not attend class on the date of notification so that we can ensure a COVID test occurs. We require those individuals to mask in all places for 14 days, use grab-and-go meal service, and be re-tested 3-5 days after their initial test. We also require these students to monitor their symptoms.
Earlier today, the FDA granted full authorization to the Pfizer vaccine. In anticipation that New York State will soon require COVID-19 vaccination of all college students within its borders, HWS will now mandate COVID-19 vaccination for students, which means that all unvaccinated students who have not filed for an exemption are required to begin their vaccine sequence no later than our Sept. 7 Pfizer on-campus clinic. Students may still update their vaccination information and file for an exemption if they have not yet done so using the Student COVID-19 Vaccination Portal.
HWS community members needing to start or complete their vaccination sequence, including students, faculty, staff and Sodexo employees, are encouraged to participate in the next vaccine clinic:
- September 7 from 1pm-5pm in the Bristol Field House. Please use this link to register. Note that while the link may state that this is open only to those individuals who received their first dose on 8/16, this clinic is open for both first and second doses of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine.
- Other local options are available, such as Wegmans, Walgreens and Rite Aid pharmacies, and the Office of Campus Life can assist with travel.
As shared last week, classes vary greatly and faculty have discretion on how to support students who miss class. We acknowledge that this can be burdensome for faculty and staff and encourage flexibility where appropriate and reasonable. All smart classrooms are currently equipped with a webcam. Faculty may choose to turn them on and allow students to simply view the course remotely. This does not mean that faculty must teach their courses as a hybrid experience; instead, using the webcam provides students in quarantine or isolation with the opportunity to keep up with class and their coursework, in the most basic sense. Some faculty may have recorded lectures from last year that can be shared asynchronously and/or notes or slides that could be shared. If a class is not in a smart classroom and a faculty member would like a camera, please contact IT services. IT Services is also prepared to support any individual student that needs to temporarily transition to remote learning during the semester. We recognize that many faculty and students successfully navigated much of this last year. Please continue to serve as resources to one another. OAFA is also ready to support faculty as they support our students. Joe Rusinko will communicate with all faculty next week about vaccination status; faculty members do not need to request this.
We know that the beginning of the semester can be challenging but, as always, we are here any time if you have any questions or concerns.
Joyce P. Jacobsen
Provost and Dean of Faculty
B. B. Barile
Associate Vice President for Campus Life and Dean of Students