The following message was shared with the campus community via email on Jan. 19.
We have missed having you on campus. As we welcome our in-person students back to campus, we are heartened by our success in the fall, but the growing rate of COVID-19 prevalence in our communities is sobering. We are relying on you to keep our community and each other as safe as possible this semester.
In the fall we saw infections particularly connected to restaurants and bars and to small gatherings. We recognize that these are the very social things that may have attracted you to New Paltz, but we are asking that you use extreme caution this semester. Do not let your guard down because you are with someone you feel close to – even they may unwittingly pass on the virus. Practice social distancing and mask wearing even when with your closest friends. Research shows that those who are vigilant about mask wearing, social distancing, hand washing, refraining from touching your face, and cleaning can escape infection even when a housemate, suitemate or roommate has COVID-19. If you are symptomatic, stay home.
There are far fewer infections happening out of doors. Please bring warm clothes in anticipation of braving the elements this semester. As the Norwegians say: There is no such thing as bad weather, just bad clothing.
We have expanded our testing capacity so that we can test every one of our in-person students, staff and faculty every week. Participating in regular testing is your best chance of avoiding unknowingly passing on the virus to vulnerable individuals. We know that testing saves lives.
We recognize that many of you have been keenly affected by the virus, by the economic devastation it has wrought, and the social injustices it has spotlighted yet again. This is not an easy time for anyone, and we know that it is not an easy time to be a college student. Our goals are to keep you and our community as safe as possible, to facilitate your making meaning of the world in this moment, and to support you and your well-being as you persist in your academic and career goals. Together we will all be stronger for the struggle.
Thank you for trusting us as your college community and for helping us to stay together by practicing COVID-19 safety.
Protect New Paltz.
Donald P. Christian, President
Stephanie Blaisdell, Vice President for Student Affairs