New year, new semester, new COVID testing measures for local colleges

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CAPITAL REGION, N.Y. (NEWS10) – College students and faculty across the Capital Region are making their return back to campus for the spring semester. School officials are requiring certain COVID-19 protocols to be back on campus.

As coronavirus numbers continue to remain high around the country, many colleges and universities are offering a hybrid learning model for the spring.

With a new year and new semester, many colleges say they are ready for a fresh start.

“We brought folks back and started classes on January 11th. We even pushed classes back a week. All students were tested on the way in,” said David Harris, Union College President.

Union College kicked off it’s winter term last week. Every student and staff member was required to have a negative COVID-19 testing before heading back to campus.

“We started seeing as we expected positive cases upon return. Then what became more troubling was, we continued to see positive cases even after folks have returned,” said Harris.

Union College President Harris took action on Sunday January 17 by putting the campus on a two-week quarantine until January 31.

“After consulting with public health officials and campus leaders, we have made the difficult decision to enact a two-week campus quarantine effective today Jan. 17 at 5 p.m., through Sunday, Jan. 31 at 5 p.m.,” said he.

All students at Union College will be tested twice-weekly for the next two weeks (through Friday, Jan. 29). Harris says if you miss more than two tests you will be converted to remote status. All classes in person and online will not be affected by the quarantine.

“The interactions are being limited outside the classroom. We are saying you can’t go into another person’s dorm room unless it’s you own. You can only have one guest in your room, and you can’t leave campus without permission,” said he.

Dining will continue to be grab and go during this two week period.

Across the region, St. Rose College will start it’s spring semester on Tuesday January 19. All students living on campus, commuters and employees are required to have a negative test before going to class.

“Our students love being on campus and they love in-person instruction. So nearly 60% of our classes are being offered in person or hybrid. So we have a mixed of online and in person,” said Dr. Shai Butler, Vice President for Student Development at the College of St. Rose. 

The University of Albany is set to go back on February 1. Spokesperson Jordan Carleo-Evangelist says they have put protocols in place starting on the first day back.

“We’re going to be testing every student, faculty and staff member coming to campus every single week. That’s a capacity we didn’t have until November 1 of the fall semester. On day one of the spring we are going to have that capacity,” said he.

School officials say it will be another semester of new challenges and new beginnings.

“With Union College taking these extra measures we feel like we can get on top of this and get back to more normal operations,” said Harris. 

“We want to create a memorable experience for our students at St. Rose even during these challenging time,” said Butler. 

“None of this would be possible without the cooperation of our students at the University of Albany,” said Carleo-Evangelist.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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