Union College response to COVID-19

Union to begin and end the Fall 2020 semester early

Union College will start classes for the Fall 2020 semester on August 10, 2020—two weeks earlier than originally planned.

The semester will also conclude early with students completing finals on Tuesday, November 24. The school will then have an extended break through the Thanksgiving and Christmas holiday until classes resume for the spring semester on January 11, 2021.

“We are committed to holding in-person classes this semester and making sure our students and employees stay safe,” said Vinita Sauder, president of Union College. “Our planning teams feel this is the best way to accomplish both.”

Campus leadership chose to adjust the schedule to help protect the health of the campus community by limiting travel throughout the semester and ensuring students are able to go home during the flu season peak over the holidays.

Working together to keep Union safe

"Keeping everyone safe and healthy requires that we all work together," said Sauder. "We have a plan in place that gives us all a role to play in staying well and making sure Union has a successful semester on campus."

What Union is doing to keep the campus safe

  • Each campus department has a detailed cleaning plan and has been given the supplies to make sure that all areas managed by the department are regularly cleaned throughout the day. This cleaning plan includes classrooms and instructions for cleaning surfaces between classes.
  • Hand sanitizer stations have been added to every building.
  • Appropriate physical distancing (six feet) will be required in all areas. Any group meetings must be held in spaces that allow for appropriate physical distancing and conform to local government guidelines.
  • Where possible, hallways, classroom entrances, and stairways will be designated for one-way traffic flow with appropriate signage to decrease the likelihood of bottlenecked clusters of people. 
  • Custodial Services is providing extra cleaning and sanitization of common areas and entrances in the Dick Administration Building, Krueger Center, Student Center, Atrium and Woods Auditorium.
  • Classroom capacities have been adjusted to ensure seating arrangements allow for six-foot physical distancing. Some classes may be moved to a different room in order to supply adequate space.
  • Union has a detailed plan to provide services for students who must quarantine (because they may have been exposed to COVID-19) or be in isolation (confirmed case of COVID-19) in the residence halls. We have designated areas for isolation and will provide meals, laundry service and daily health checks for students in both quarantine and isolation.

Our students', employees' and guests' role in keeping campus safe

  • If anyone has any symptoms of illness, they must stay in their room (or at home). Students must contact the Campus Health office. Try calling the office first at 402.486.2554 or email campushealthnurse@ucollege.edu), then follow their directions. In order to limit the spread of illness, it is extremely important that anyone with symptoms self-quarantine until given further instructions by the Campus Health office.
  • As everyone comes back to campus from all over the world, we need to take extra precautions to keep everyone safe. Starting July 30, anyone on the Union College campus will be required to wear a facemask covering the mouth and nose while in any indoor public area, in offices when more than one person is present, and outdoors when six feet of physical distancing isn't possible.
    • Please bring several masks with you so that you can wear them as often as needed and still keep them clean.
    • There are a few exceptions, such as when eating in the dining hall, exercising at Larson, employees on a job site doing heavy construction or building maintenance work, and for kids under two years old. If you need an exemption for health reasons, please contact the Campus Health office (campushealthnurse@ucollege.edu).
  • Maintain six feet of physical distance and regularly wash your hands with soap and water or use hand sanitizer.
  • Assist with cleaning and sanitizing in classrooms or other areas you use with the provided cleaning supplies.
  • Encourage each other as we work together to keep Union healthy!

Read the entire reopening plan.

Students can apply to return to residence halls for on-campus jobs

Students will now be allowed to apply to live in the residence halls so they can work an on-campus job. Any student interested in working should check Union's job board or contact a work supervisor directly. Once hired, students still need to fill out the Request to Return - Summer 2020 form and be approved before moving into the residence hall.

The new policy voted this week also addresses additional safety precautions for full-time employees and student workers that should be taken before working on campus.

See the full policy here

Moving into the residence halls

As expected, life in the residence halls will be a little different this fall. Here’s what you can expect:

  • The residence halls will open for returning students on August 2.
  • New students will schedule appointments to move in on August 5-6. 
  • Students may still choose to live with a roommate or have a room to themselves (at an additional fee).
  • Students must schedule a move-in time with the dean so that we can stagger them out and make sure the common areas and hallways are not congested. Move-in times won’t be available from sunset on Friday night to sunset on Saturday night.  Only two helpers will be allowed per student to assist with moving in.
  • Facemasks will be required in all common areas and hallways. Mask usage in individual student rooms will be at the discretion of the resident(s).
  • While we still want you to enjoy time together, we’ll be limiting the number of people allowed in common areas to accommodate proper physical distancing.
  • Only residents will be allowed in the residence halls. There will be other spaces open on campus for you to spend time with other students who don’t live in your hall.
  • We will be cleaning and sanitizing shared restrooms at least two to three times per day and common areas and high touch surfaces regularly.

Retrieving belongings from a dorm room

If a student left belongings in the residential halls this spring and is moving into non-residence hall campus housing or off-campus housing, they should make arrangements with the residential deans to return to campus and move their items from the residence halls on August 2-4, 2020.

Emergency Relief Grant

In order to help with some of the financial hardship created by COVID-19, Union has launched the Emergency Relief Grant for students. Funded by gifts from generous donors to the #UnionStrong campaign and relief funds from the federal government, this grant is designed to help students who have experienced financial hardship directly related to the COVID-19 pandemic.

To apply, students need to fill out the Emergency Relief Grant application form by May 15, 2020. Each student will be evaluated based on need, and the grant will be awarded for expenses related to food, technology, travel, housing, Covid-19 related medical expenses, course materials, and child care.

Union will begin evaluating applications on April 27, and they will be considered on a first-come, first-served basis.

COVID-19 resources

If you’d like to learn more about COVID-19, please explore these resources from the Lancaster County Health Department and the Centers for Disease Control:



Union College held a virtual graduation ceremony on Youtube Live on Sunday, May 10, at 11:00 a.m. Central time.

Union is also working on the possibility of holding an in-person event at a later time.


The college has not made decisions about school trips for Fall 2020 at this time.

Union has asked students and employees to cancel travel plans. If a student or employee chooses to travel internationally, they may be required to self-quarantine for 14 days.

Other events

Union is still working out the details for events planned for the Fall 2020 semester.

  • Acrofest 2020 at Union College has been postponed to Fall 2021.
  • We have not a made a decision on the fall high school tournament at this time.


Because of our care and concern for Union College alumni and in light of current information related to COVID-19, Union ReUnion 2020 homecoming weekend will be celebrated April 15-18, 2021. 

“It is our sincerest desire that each person planning to attend this year’s festivities will join us next year for an extra special weekend,” said LuAnn Davis, vice president for Advancement. “This decision was made in consultation with the Lincoln Lancaster County Health Department, members of the alumni association board and administration of Union College.”

The following events connected with the ReUnion have also been postponed to next year:

  • Common Ground Reunion Concert
  • 5K Squirrel Fun Run/Walk
  • Leaders Building Leaders Conference by the Division of Business and Computer Science
  • STEM Leaders for Tomorrow by the Division of Science and Mathematics

Any payments provided to the college for weekend events will be completely refunded by check via mail within the next few weeks.  You may direct your questions to alumni@ucollege.edu or 402-486-2503.