Union's Response Timeline

Note: emails and videos available through the Union College COVID-19 collection through Archive-It and the College's official COVID-19 pages and Planning for Multiple Tomorrows websites.

January 2020

January 30, 2020 First email regarding COVID-19 and preventative health measures

February 2020

February 27, 2020 Email regarding spring break travel advisories
February 28, 2020 Study abroad in Florence, Italy is cancelled based on new CDC guidelines

March 2020

March 3, 2020 Study abroad programs in Germany and London, U.K. are cancelled based on new CDC guidelines
March 5, 2020 Union College issues foreign travel guidance to members of the Union community for countries that have been given Level 2 (Japan) or Level 3 (China, South Korea, Italy, and Iran) travel advisory status by the CDC.
March 7, 2020 New York State declares state of emergency aimed at containing COVID-19
March 7, 2020 Union College’s Coronavirus Task Force issues scenarios for spring term that may include online course delivery, cancelling large gatherings, restricting travel, and restricting campus visits
March 10, 2020 Plan to hold face-to-face classes and final exams as planned for the remainder of the winter term; any changes for spring will be announced by March 12, 2020.
March 12, 2020 March 12, 2020 emails from President Harris document confirmed case of COVID-19 at 12:28pm and 3:33pm.
» March 12, 2020, 12:28pm Union College notified that a staff member has a confirmed case of COVID-19. Union College President David Harris releases a video to Facebook detailing next steps and when the campus will learn more.
» March 12, 2020, 3:33pm Individuals notified and quarantined; classes for the remainder of the week are cancelled; deep cleaning of physical spaces commences; staff and faculty encouraged to work remotely until further notice; no in-person final exams; spring term will be conducted remotely through April 10, 2020. 
March 13, 2020 All Union community members contacted that need to quarantine; Making U Possible fund for last-minute travel needs for students; petition to remain on campus; employment commitments honored through April 10, 2020.
March 14, 2020 President Harris releases video that provides more background information about how March 12-13, 2020 unfolded.
March 15, 2020 President Harris releases video to talk about the current emptiness of the campus, discussions with parents and faculty, and the resolve to make the Spring 2020 term the best it can be despite it beginning remotely.
March 17, 2020 Restricted gathering requirements from federal guidelines, CDC guidelines, and NYS guidelines emerge; plans for Spring 2020 term shift. Fully remote term is announced in an email from President Harris: “After consulting with faculty and administrative leaders and our Board of Trustees, I am announcing with deep regret that we will not resume in-person classes during the spring term”. Employment commitments honored through April 10.
March 20, 2020 March 20, 2020 emails from President Harris regarding plan for campus closing at 10:03am and 12:09pm.
» March 20, 2020, 10:03am Faculty/staff: work at home until further notice; only essential personnel on campus; virtual meetings; mail restricted.
» March 20, 2020, 12:09pm Students: pick up any belongings, leave key with campus safety; only petitioned on campus students can remain and will be consolidated into College Park Hall. Pass/fail options liberalized for spring 2020 term.
March 25, 2020 and March 26, 2020 Town Hall forums held for all members of the Union community via Zoom. Parents, students, staff, faculty, and administrators listen to senior administrators discuss questions selected in advance.
March 27, 2020 Passage of the federal CARES Act.
March 27, 2020 Academic Affairs panel for faculty held.
March 29, 2020 Staff member is doing well; Union has reduced on-campus staffing to minimum based on NYS executive order; ReUnion has been rescheduled to coincide with Homecoming. President Harris releases video on Facebook.
March 31, 2020 First day of classes for spring 2020 term.

April 2020

April 2, 2020 Dean Strom Thacker announces that the annual Steinmetz Day will be a virtual event.
April 7, 2020 Staff furloughs announced; loss of room and board revenue; wage and salary freeze; pause on all faculty and staff hiring. President Harris releases video on Vimeo.
April 8, 2020 President Harris office hours shift online; new dates for the conversations are announced.

April 13, 2020

Union's student newspaper, The Concordiensis, announces Quarantine Diaries, an opportunity to share and publish experiences of the pandemic. Quarantine Diaries will be archived by Schaffer Library.
April 14, 2020 Academic Affairs Council broadens pass/fail recommendations and moves the deadline to declare pass/fail to the end of the final exam period, recognizing the challenges that COVID-19 has presented to student academic progress.
April 15, 2020 Union College requires essential employees to wear masks on campus.
April 17, 2020 New York State Executive Order 202.17 in effect at 8:00pm, requiring any individual over the age of 2 and able to medically tolerate a face covering to cover their nose and mouth with a mask or cloth when in a public place and unable to maintain social distance.
April 18, 2020 Union staff furloughs begin.
April 21, 2020 First fully online Union College faculty meeting held.
April 24, 2020 President Harris announces the appointment of a new working group, Planning for Multiple Tomorrows (PMT), that will consider a variety of scenarios and offer ideas for the College's 2020-2021 academic year.

May 2020

May 1, 2020 President Harris announces that Commencement has been postponed: "...we must move the campus ceremony from June 14 to a later date to be determined. While conditions in New York continue to improve, current state regulations do not allow us to bring large numbers of people to campus.
May 1, 2020 President Harris addresses the Union community about the Fall 2020 trimester and notes that, while no decisions have been made, at a minimum there is an expectation that the term will look very different from prior fall terms. A video announcement accompanies the text. Priorities are shaped by three tenets: (1) safety, (2) consistency with Union's strategic plan, and (3) financial liability to the College.
May 6, 2020 Phi Beta Kappa inducts new members.
May 8, 2020 Announcements of two town hall events for the Union community in text and video.
May 12, 2020 First PMT town hall event held, hosted by President Harris and consisting of questions and answers from around the Union community. 
May 13, 2020

Three concurrent PMT topic-specific town halls occur, hosted by PMT sub-group leaders:

  1. Teaching, learning, and scholarship (hosted by Michele Angrist)
  2. Residential curriculum, athletics, and student activities (hosted by Fran'Cee Brown-McClure and Jim McLaughlin)
  3. Housing and dining (hosted by Fareeza Islam)
May 22, 2020 The first Virtual Steinmetz Day, and the thirtieth annual event overall, is held.

More timeline events