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.

“Union is best experienced in person—and our students consistently remind us of this,” said Sauder. “This fall we will implement plans for maintaining proper social distancing, cleaning and sanitizing shared spaces, safe dining, and isolated quarantine spaces for those who become ill. We believe we can have a successful semester on campus as our students continue their preparation for a life lived joyfully in God’s calling.”

Read President Sauder’s message to students here.

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

Union plans to be open for on-campus classes this fall

Union College will be open for in-person, on-campus classes in the fall.

“We plan to reopen for in-person classes in the fall,” said Union President Vinita Sauder. “Union is best experienced in person and we look forward to having students back on our campus to take advantage of the fantastic mentoring and supportive community here.”

Although Union will be open, the campus may feel a little different in August. The college will be following safe and healthy practices as recommended by the local health department—such as sanitizing surfaces and buildings more often and implementing other protocols to ensure everyone stays healthy. "Ultimately, the safety of our students and employees is our top priority," said Sauder. "We will have contingencies in place to continue to deal with the unprecedented environment of the pandemic."

The COVID-19 Taskforce is working on plans to gradually reopen campus this summer to allow students to return to work on-campus jobs and be fully operational in August. Union will release more details about how this will work in June. In the meantime, students who are interested in returning to an on-campus job or finding a new one later this summer should contact the department supervisor to see what options are available or check out the job board.

The financial team is currently reworking the summer bonus program to allow more levels of bonuses for those who won’t be able to work at Union the entire summer.

The campus is currently still in Open Limited status, so students should not return to campus right now—either to collect belongings from the residence hall or for a job. Before entering the residence halls or accessing other campus buildings you’ll need to receive clearance from the Dean of Students.

Union currently in Open Limited status

In order to ensure the safety of Union students and employees, college administrators decided on March 19 to move Union College to "Open Limited" status.

Union does not have any cases of COVID-19, but the college is also working collaboratively with peer institutions and the Lancaster County Health Department in an effort to slow the spread of COVID-19 and not overburden the local health care system.

What Open Limited means

The "Open Limited" status means most buildings will be open to employees and students who need remain on campus, but will be closed to any non-essential visitors. This includes the library, Union Market and Ortner Center. Offices will remain open, but some employees may work remotely. Larson Lifestyle Center is closed until further notice.

Students who have specific reasons to stay in the residence hall such as the need for access to technology, campus work or practicum obligations, or don’t have other places to go, will be able to live on campus. Other students are required to study from home.

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:

The Father's care

As Union College students, employees and their families navigate this transition, Dr. Sauder shared this with the campus:

"The spread of COVID-19 around the world has caused widespread fear—not just about the illness itself, but the uncertainty surrounding the ability to travel, make plans or possibly even finish your education.

I promise we will do our best to make sure we have plans and procedures in place to keep you safe and help you finish the semester successfully.

And better yet, we have God’s promise to hang on to. "And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose." Romans 8:28 (NIV).

We don’t have to be afraid of sickness, classwork or the unknown because the Father that called you to Union College will continue to guide your journey.

Please continue to pray that we make wise decisions for our students and for each of you as you lay plans for your future."



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.

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.


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.


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 1-4 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.