Important Message for the Start of the Semester

February 12, 2021

Dear all,

I am writing to remind us all to be mindful of this moment. We have just successfully moved more than 2,000 students to campus from all over the world and just about completed three on-campus COVID-19 tests for each student, in addition to their pre-arrival test. The process has gone smoothly, thanks to the meticulous planning and creative collaboration of health services, residential life, facilities operations, safety and security, communications, dining, and athletics. And classes start next week!

As delighted as we are that students are back, I want to remind us that this moment requires vigilance. We are still in the midst of a pandemic, and through the last two weeks, we have had more positive cases than we had last semester, an unfortunate but not unexpected development given the new variants spreading across the country. The lessons we learned during the fall semester have helped guide our planning for the spring semester. All close contacts of the students who have tested positive were immediately contacted and are now self-quarantining. Since the fall, we have had many rooms on campus for isolation and self-quarantine, as well as rooms at a nearby hotel for use as needed. That plan continues this semester.

It is critical that we all—students, faculty, administrators and staff—continue our commitment to abide by the ethos of “we precedes me.” Please do not take any chances. Remember that the new variants spread more easily. So wear your mask (or two as recommended by the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention); stay six feet apart. Do not eat in close proximity to others (that is one of the highest risk moments—eating together inside). Most important, if you experience any symptoms, even mild symptoms, call health services if you are a student, or call your doctor if you are an employee, get tested, and stay away from others.

I know we can be resilient and get through this semester on campus. The test positivity rate on campus is still much lower than students’ home areas as well as the rates within Dutchess County. But it is too easy to have an outbreak. Gently remind others if you see them taking risks, and let’s help each other stay safe and healthy. We can do this, together.

If you have questions or concerns, please let me know.

Elizabeth H. Bradley, President
Vassar College
Poughkeepsie, NY 12604