Message from the President / Community Updates

To: Paul Smith’s College students, faculty, and staff

Delivered: August 11, 2020

Dear students, faculty, and staff,

If ever there was a month that represents the culmination of tremendous planning, adaptation, and community goodwill, this is it. On August 1 the college began welcoming students back to campus for the Fall 2020 semester. The majority of residential students will arrive this week. Meanwhile, our faculty and staff are increasingly visible on campus as we all prepare for the start of classes on August 18.

Having been here just a few short weeks, I am so impressed by our collective readiness and determination to make this a meaningful semester for all. Our success surely depends on everyone pulling together as we implement new protocols and expectations. Here is a summary of important updates and reminders:

Smitty Safety & Civility Pledge

A common bond to uphold the pledge is a critical priority for all Smitties. Many of us are still adjusting to new norms for masks, social distancing, and healthy behaviors. If you have not already done so, please affirm your commitment to the Smitty Safety & Civility Pledge. This is a required expectation for all students, faculty, and staff.

Announcement on Testing

As new information and best practices emerge, our Fall Planning Task Force has continued to refine the college’s health and safety protocols. We have recently affirmed the need to implement a full testing plan for all students, faculty, and staff. The college will administer campus-wide testing in collaboration with Adirondack Health on August 24 and 25. All students, faculty, staff, and Sodexo employees will be tested. The procedure is a gentle self-administered nasal swab and is not as invasive as the deep nasal swab tests that many of us experienced earlier this summer.

We realize that many people might prefer not to be tested. However, with the availability of less invasive testing procedures, we believe it is essential to have 100% participation as a measure of overall campus health. Thank you very much for being a part of this.

Health Screening Mobile App

Our Covid-19 Management Plan requires daily health screening assessments to be performed by all students, faculty, and staff. I am sincerely grateful to Mike Beccaria for his work in developing a convenient mobile app that gives each of us a simple method for meeting this obligation. Please click here to learn more about the app, and to download it for your use.

Covid-19 Management Plan Updates

In response to changing conditions we have published an updated version of the Fall 2020 Covid-19 Management Plan. The current version is posted on our website at this link. Key updates include:

  • Revised plan for use of residence halls for isolation and quarantine. Double-occupancy rooms have been eliminated from the plan.
  • Clarification regarding use of masks by student roommates. Students housed together as roommates are considered a family unit, and are not required to wear a mask when they are together outdoors provided they are physically distant from others.
  • Clarification regarding shared common spaces (e.g., lounges, kitchens) in the residence halls. To protect the health of the PSC community, it may be necessary to close shared common spaces and prohibit their use.
  • Clarification regarding maximum occupancy for PSC vans. Capacity is limited to no more than 8 individuals, including the driver.
  • Details on requirements for testing, including a schedule to test cohorts alphabetically by last name.

Community of Care

Everyone I’ve met at PSC has demonstrated a remarkable level of personal concern for the safety of others. As we approach the semester start, many people are naturally feeling a great deal of nervousness or anxiety in these uncertain circumstances. If you have concerns, please don’t hesitate to raise them with your advisor, supervisor, or any member of the college’s leadership team. We are deeply dependent on one another, and have strategies in place to help individuals who may be struggling.

Our Academic Support and Human Resources teams have been excellent sounding boards for students or employees who are challenged by the current situation. People who feel vulnerable or unable to meet the expectations of our new environment are encouraged to reach out to these professionals.

In recent weeks the news has been filled with examples of businesses, towns, public school systems, and colleges that have been forced to retreat on their reopening plans. Paul Smith’s College is incredibly fortunate to be located in a remote geographic area with a very low coronavirus presence. Our precautions regarding high-risk activities and individuals are designed to preserve that peace of mind. I can’t thank you enough for your role in making this effort a success.

Health and safety include the mental and emotional well-being of all who have chosen to be a part of the PSC community. This semester we will place increased focus on social justice, diversity, equity, and inclusion. This summer, Black Lives Matter and anti-racism have been dominant themes. The college stands firmly with BLM and all people of color. We also recognize the broader scope of social justice, such as issues related to gender equity and fairness toward people with disabilities. We will take action on campus this semester to address these issues. Please take notice and participate.

While I would be delighted to see us finish in November with zero rate of infection, we recognize this is not likely to be the case. Our team is prepared with a solid plan to contain outbreaks and minimize the risk of spread while also delivering on our academic mission. Throughout the semester we will be closely monitoring the presence of coronavirus on campus. The work of the Task Force will carry on, constantly evaluating the situation and our continued ability to operate on campus. You have my commitment that we will be transparent and forthright in sharing this information.

All my best,

Jon

Jon C. Strauss

Interim President

p.s., as an important reminder, masks are to be worn at all times indoors (except when alone in private spaces) and outdoors when it is not possible to maintain proper social distancing.

 

 

Key Contacts

COVID Coordinator
Teresa Grosskopf
tgrosskopf@paulsmiths.edu
(518) 327-6451

Student Health Services
Abigail Fontaine, RN, BSN, Director
(518) 327-6349
afontaine@paulsmiths.edu

Housing & Residence Life
Lou Kaminski, Director
residencelifeandhousing@paulsmiths.edu
(518) 327-6488

Campus Safety
Holly Parker, Director
hparker@paulsmiths.edu
(518) 327-6300