We are three weeks into this semester and so far so good! I am very pleased that our students, faculty and staff are following the protocols to protect our College community. As you can see in the news, many college communities have not been as diligent as we are.
Random Asymptomatic Testing
In our effort to continually protect our College community, we will begin random testing asymptomatic students starting next week. By identifying asymptomatic cases early, we contain the virus, decrease transmission and remain outbreak free. This allows us to stay open. The asymptomatic testing is in addition to the on-campus testing for symptomatic or high risk individuals.
Our first surveillance target will be all residential students on the Albany campus. We designed a 5-week surveillance program that randomly selects 75 residential students per week. If a student is recommended for testing for another reason (e.g., exposure or travel), we will randomly select another student that week. Residential students selected for testing next week will receive an email in the next couple of days to schedule their testing appointment. All students must comply with this testing protocol consistent with the Student Health/Safety agreement they signed.
After testing the students, we will identify the next priority population on our Albany and Vermont campuses for surveillance testing. We anticipate employees and commuter students on our Albany campus will be part of this cohort. You will be informed when that decision has been made.
As a reminder, we have added our on-campus COVID-19 infection rate data to the Health & Safety reopening web page to allow the ACPHS community to see how well we are doing following the health and safety protocols. Additionally, consistent with the latest New York State requirements, we are submitting data daily regarding our infection rate and quarantine capacity.
Virtual Commencement Ceremony
I was really hoping that we would be able to hold our 2020 Commencement ceremonies in person this fall for our Albany and Vermont graduates. However, the restrictions on large gatherings, ever-changing travel advisories requiring quarantine periods, and recent survey feedback from our Class of 2020 have all led to the conclusion that a virtual ceremony would be the safest and most inclusive way to honor our graduates. This was a difficult decision and one that was not taken lightly.
Although our commencement ceremony will no longer be in person on October 11 for our Albany graduates and November 7 for our Vermont graduates, we will be having a combined virtual commencement ceremony on Sunday November 1 at 1 p.m. This ceremony will combine live Zoom interactions for students and faculty to reconnect, taped segments and various photos to commemorate their time at ACPHS. Graduates are encouraged to submit a photo of themselves wearing their graduation cap to be shown when their name is read during the ceremony. We are making every effort to capture the solemnity and joy of this ceremony and celebrate the hard-earned degree and well-deserved recognition for our graduates.
I am very proud of how our ACPHS community is adhering to our reopening plan protocols and thank you in advance for your cooperation in the asymptomatic surveillance testing.