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FAQs — Fall 2021 Semester

Hamilton College will return to a normal academic calendar in the fall, with classes beginning on Thursday, Aug. 26. A full Orientation program for new students will begin on Tuesday, Aug. 17. 

It’s likely Hamilton will be able to hold a full range of campus activities this fall, including in-person concerts, lectures, performances, and events. COVID-19 protocols will depend on whatever guidance is issued by New York State and public health authorities, but the COVID-19 Task Force expects a considerable relaxation of our current masking, distancing, and testing policies.

Why is dining restricted to certain spaces, and where are those approved locations? [REV, Sept. 21]

Because of the importance of masking and the burden of waste removal for our staff, we are allowing eating in designated areas only. Please do not eat in classrooms. We encourage outdoor eating under the canopies while the weather is nice. In addition to regular dining areas such as Commons and McEwen dining halls, approved overflow indoor dining areas include the Schambach Center lobby; Taylor Science Center Wellin Atrium; the Sadove Student Center lobby, living room, and sun porch; and other student activity spaces as approved by program directors. When eating in these indoor spaces everyone should wear masks except when actively eating and drinking.

What happens if a person tests positive for COVID-19 or is a close contact of someone who tests positive? [New, Sept. 3]

Any individual who tests positive for COVID-19, regardless of their vaccination status, will need to isolate for a full 10 days. An unvaccinated person who is identified as a close contact of a positive COVID-19 case will need to quarantine for a full 10 days. Hamilton plans to test students in quarantine twice before they are cleared to return to campus. Fully vaccinated asymptomatic individuals who are exposed to a positive COVID-19 case do not need to quarantine. Instead they will be asked to follow current CDC guidance, which is to monitor for symptoms for a full 14 days and mask around others until they test negative three to five days following the exposure.

Will students, faculty, and staff be required to participate in regular COVID-19 testing this fall? [REV. Sept. 1]

Beginning Thursday, Sept. 9, required weekly testing will take place for all students and employees on Thursdays from 7:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. and from 1 to 5:30 p.m. in the Tolles Pavilion. In addition to testing on Thursdays, unvaccinated students and employees (i.e., those who have received medical or religious exemptions) must also test on Mondays between 10 a.m. and noon.

What options do employees have if a child or other family member tests positive and must quarantine. [NEW, Aug. 23]

Every situation is different, so staff members should work with their supervisor and Human Resources, and faculty members should consult with the Dean of Faculty Office. The College will do what it can to support employees concerning family obligations that pertain to quarantine for COVID-19.


Why is Hamilton requiring people to wear masks when inside campus buildings? [NEW, Aug. 8]

The College is following CDC guidance, which recommends that everyone, vaccinated or not, wear masks indoors in areas of substantial or high COVID-19 transmission. Oneida County, like most counties in the United States, is currently an area of substantial transmission. The CDC guidance is based on a number of factors, including the rapid rise in COVID-19 cases around the country and new data showing that the Delta variant is even more contagious than most prior variants. Even though almost all members of the Hamilton community will be fully vaccinated by the start of classes, it’s now clear that even fully vaccinated people may contract and transmit the virus. Since students will be coming to campus from all over the country and around the world, including from places with low vaccination rates and high case numbers, the College deemed it prudent to follow CDC guidance to maximize the likelihood that we can start the year safely and at full capacity.

How long will visitors and members of the campus community be required to wear masks when indoors? [NEW, Aug. 8]

The mask mandate is intended to be temporary. Over the next few weeks, the College will be considering the results of arrival testing, community transmission numbers, public health guidance, and other factors, with the goal of modifying or lifting the mask mandate for vaccinated individuals as soon as it is safe to do so.

Isn’t the College concerned about the mental health impact of imposing a mask mandate and other COVID-related restrictions? [NEW, Aug. 8]

The College is keenly aware of the challenges students, faculty, and staff have faced over the past 18 months and the impact these challenges have had on mental health. At the same time, the College knows that avoiding campus outbreaks that might lead to lockdowns or other serious restrictions on learning and student activities is vital to promoting both physical and mental health on campus. Sometimes measures that increase anxiety for some members of the community reduce it for others. In many cases, there are no easy or clear answers, but the College tries hard to strike the right balance in all its decisions.

Will there be any exceptions to the indoor mask mandate? [NEW, Aug. 8]

The College may create some specific course-related exceptions, e.g., for language instruction, where masks may directly impede the learning experience.

Will students be sent home for not wearing masks indoors? [NEW, Aug. 8]

Last year, students were extremely diligent about wearing their masks and following most of the College’s COVID-safety protocols, and no one was sent home for refusing to wear a mask. We anticipate that will be the case this year also. However, students who disregard College policy, whether it relates to COVID or anything else, will face disciplinary consequences, in keeping with the College’s Student Code of Conduct.

What kinds of safety protocols will be in place for the fall semester? [REV. July 21]

All students and employees are required to be fully vaccinated unless they receive a medical or religious exemption. Unvaccinated student and employees (i.e., those who receive an exemption) must participate in the College's testing program and wear a mask when indoors. Unvaccinated visitors to campus may not enter campus buildings and should wear a mask whenever they are within six feet of others outdoors.

Will the College require students, faculty, and staff to be vaccinated when the 2021–22 academic year begins in the fall? [Rev. July 12]

All enrolled students and faculty and staff members are required to be fully vaccinated for COVID-19, and exemptions will only be granted for approved medical and religious reasons. 

Will there be an opportunity for Hamilton students to study remotely this fall?

One of the hallmarks of the Hamilton experience is residential liberal arts living and learning. The opportunity to study remotely was a temporary offering that was part of the College’s pandemic response to keep students on track to complete their degrees. For Fall 2021, the College will go back to requiring all enrolled students to study in person and on campus.

Will all classes be taught in person this fall?

Hamilton expects almost all classes to be taught in person again beginning Fall 2021.

What if a student, particularly an international student, is unable to receive the vaccine?

We understand that some students may have difficulty getting vaccinated. We will work individually with students in those situations.

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