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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.

Are parents permitted to attend classes during Family Weekend? [New, Oct. 1]

No. While we normally allow this practice on a limited basis, it is not permitted this year. Parents are not in our testing program and are encouraged to visit outdoors as much as possible. As a reminder, only those who are fully vaccinated are permitted inside campus buildings.

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 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.


How is the College balancing COVID-19 restrictions and mental health concerns? [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.

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.

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.

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