DATE: May 6, 2021 at 8:21 pm
TO: Faculty and Staff

FROM: Dr. Richard Nelson, President

Good news! After a modest but concerning rise in early April, new COVID-19 cases have dropped statewide. As of today, they are at the lowest level since very early in the pandemic. Although the total case load in our region remains high, we are optimistic about seeing it decline in the coming weeks as the number of new cases locally is low and the vaccine supply is plentiful. Accordingly, we have determined that it’s time to take the next step in the incremental reopening our campus.

Beginning June 1, campus buildings will re-open for all college business, not just essential college business as is presently the case. Hours will depend on the function and on the needs of students, clients and customers. Thanks to your efforts, our shift to remote delivery of programs and services was highly successful. Now, as we open our doors, that work will continue to pay off as we are now able to give those we serve a choice in how to connect with us.

Though the trends are encouraging, the pandemic isn’t over. It’s a bit early to declare victory. The fact remains that the virus and several of its variants are still actively spreading. Health authorities at the county, state and federal levels say we should continue taking the precautions we know have helped keep each other safe. As we’ve learned, transmission occurs when infected people and uninfected people share airspaces, so:

  • Masks will still be required indoors.
  • Physical distancing will be maintained.
  • Enhanced sanitation practices will continue,
  • Guests on campus, including students, should plan to leave when their classes end or other business is done.
  • Perhaps most importantly, if you’re sick or feel like you might be coming down with something, please stay home!

What about outside gatherings and events? Starting June 1, College gatherings or events of 12 or fewer can be held outside. As a practical matter, it’s difficult to distinguish between a formal “gathering” and an informal group hanging out in the same area, so common sense is a handy ally. For example, a group dog-walk around the loop (or on Abbey Road) poses little risk, but think twice before jumping into a rugby scrum. Outside or inside, the principle is the same: Avoid breathing air that others, especially others from multiple households, have just used. The Oneida County Health Department has posted a good infographic on “Choosing Safer Activities” here:

That we have effective vaccines in wide distribution only 16 months after COVID-19 first started making people sick is remarkable. We owe an unrepayable debt to the researchers, vaccine trial volunteers, production engineers, logistics professionals, and front-line jabbers who made it happen. Now, as more of us are choosing to get the vaccine, we’re helping to make those around safer too. Though the future defies prediction, if COVID-related risks continue to drop, we envision being be able to welcome everyone to campus and offer selected entertainment events by fall.