State University of New York Chancellor Jim Malatras will visit campus early this afternoon to announce that he has directed SUNY Oneonta to develop and implement a plan to send on-campus students home and cease all in-person classes and activities for the rest of the fall semester.
The college had begun a two-week “pause” period on Aug. 30 in order to focus on testing while limiting the spread of COVID-19. However, with the increase in confirmed cases within our campus community — 389 since the start of the semester on Aug. 24 — the college now needs to take this new action to contain the virus and prevent further community spread.
While this is sudden news and something no one wanted, the risk to our campus and Oneonta community is too great. I know the vast majority of our students have been diligent in protecting our campus since day one. We committed to do everything we could to mitigate this situation, and today, that means ending residential housing for this semester.
Although this situation is unsettling, I must ask for patience and cooperation from students and families as we work to help students get home to resume remote learning as safely and quickly as possible. We will soon ask all students who have tested negative for COVID-19 to sign up for a move-out time from Friday, Sept. 4, to Monday, Sept. 7. There will also be a process for students who wish to remain on campus to request permission to do so.
Alongside our local Department of Health, we strongly advise students who have been moved to quarantine or isolation to remain on campus until they are cleared by the Department of Health to resume normal activities. Students who need to leave before that time should contact Environmental Health and Safety Officer Peter Booth for counseling on their options and instructions for minimizing the risk of spreading the virus to their families and others with whom they may come in contact.
The college has a plan in place to issue full refunds for housing and prorated refunds for dining for students who move out of their rooms. Certain other broadly-charged fees will also be refunded on a prorated basis. More details will be forthcoming.
To allow time for students to prepare to move out, we are canceling all classes scheduled for Friday, Sept. 4.
I appreciate all the efforts by SUNY, the Governor’s Office, the state and local departments of health, the City of Oneonta, the Town of Oneonta and the many SUNY Oneonta employees who have stepped up to support our students.
I know you have many questions about the move-out plan and the rest of the semester. I will answer as many as I can during a virtual meeting with the campus community from 2 p.m. to 3 p.m. today. For those joining by phone, the number is 631-215-3388 and the Conference ID is 193 850 3#.
We are also working to get and share answers on the college’s COVID-19 information page and we will share additional details about the move-out plan in a follow-up email later today.