Dear Students, Faculty and Staff,
As we head into the holiday season, we are faced with the reality that gatherings and traditions will be different than those in previous years. Usually, I look forward to spending the holidays with my son and daughter. This year, Lee and I will be celebrating with them via Zoom. It's not the way we envisioned it, but we're doing it for everyone's safety.
I want to remind you to remain vigilant throughout the winter break. Since Thanksgiving we have seen a small rise in the number of cases among staff and off-campus students in line with rising case numbers in our larger community.
I know that many of you have questions about what the spring has in store. As you know, we plan to launch the spring semester in late January with a mix of course modalities, similar to what we offered in the fall. We are looking forward to welcoming back our residential students and continuing with the extensive campus-wide safety precautions that were essential to keeping overall case numbers low this fall. We expect that the return to campuses will be a priority for New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo next month and will let you know if any new announcements lead to changes to our plans. We recently learned that the saliva test we are utilizing was ranked #1 by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in detecting the earliest stages of the virus. This is encouraging news as we continue to conduct random surveillance testing of faculty, staff and students each week and we thank you for your participation. To view the dedicated COVID-19 OnCampus Plus section on the Mercy website and read recent communications, please click here.
Recently, Dr. Anthony Fauci, Director, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said that the majority of Americans, if they choose to participate, could be vaccinated by the end of the second quarter next year. The Commission on Independent Colleges and Universities in New York (CICU) is taking the lead in helping us and other colleges understand whether we have a role to play in rolling out vaccines to our communities. We’ll certainly keep you posted as we learn more.
The vaccine news gives me faith that there is an end in sight to some of the challenges of the last year. The months ahead will surely present new challenges still, but we remain unwavering in our commitment to ensuring our students are able to continue their educations uninterrupted.
I hope you all enjoy the holiday season. Be well and stay safe.