Chancellor Malatras Visits SUNY Canton and SUNY Potsdam Pre-Semester Testing as Campuses Reopen

January 28, 2021

Campuses in Alignment with SUNY Policy Requiring Weekly COVID Testing of All Students, Faculty, and Staff for the Spring Semester

Spring Classes to Begin February 1st, with Limited In-Person Classes for Students Testing Negative for COVID at Canton and the 15th for Potsdam to Allow for Staggered Testing and Quarantining on Campus for All Students

Both Campuses Enhanced Online Learning and Virtual Engagement to Provide Robust Options for Students and Faculty

Photos from Chancellor's visits are available here

Potsdam, NY – State University Chancellor Jim Malatras made his first visits today to SUNY Canton and SUNY Potsdam to meet with President Zvi Szafran and President Kristin Esterberg, as pre-semester testing takes place on their respective campuses for all students. Both SUNY campuses have moved to weekly testing of all students, faculty, and staff in alignment with SUNY policy to do so during the spring semester. Spring classes will begin for both campuses on Monday, February 1, with limited in-person classes for students testing negative for COVID at Canton, and February 15 for SUNY Potsdam to allow for staggered testing and quarantining on campus for all students.

In order to continue to lessen the density of people on campus, in-person classes for the spring semester will be limited, and both campuses have enhanced their online learning and virtual engagement further in order to provide robust options for students and faculty.

"Our campuses are prepared to meet any challenges that arise this spring semester and are utilizing resources to provide the best educational experience for our students," said Chancellor Malatras. "That is certainly true at SUNY Canton and SUNY Potsdam, where students, faculty, and staff are energized for the new semester. So far pre-testing at Canton and Potsdam have resulted in no positive cases, but we will remain diligent. My thanks to the Presidents and their teams, our faculty who are with students in-person and online to give them the high-quality education that was promised, and our students for staying strong, doing what is right to protect the campus and neighboring community, and for staying on their path to a degree."

SUNY Canton President Szafran said, "Our reduced on-campus population; online, hybrid, and flex class delivery; and rigorous testing plans help ensure the safety of the greater Canton community. Our online programs have continued to grow and progress over the past 15 years. The pandemic created an increased demand for an area where we were already excelling. We’ve expanded the number of programs offered online and will continue to do so for years to come. Our creative faculty members are innovating new modalities to meet the needs of our students and all learners."

SUNY Potsdam President Esterberg said, "As we welcome students back, we are grateful to Chancellor Malatras for his leadership in our COVID response. I believe that our strong relationships with our neighbors and our community partners were integral to the remarkable safety of our fall semester. By increasing our surveillance testing to ensure that all on-campus and local students are tested weekly—and to be able to offer this to our faculty and staff as well—I am confident that as a community we can work together to stop the spread, both on campus and throughout the region."

Chancellor Malatras announced that all SUNY campuses will increase the frequency of SUNY’s mandatory COVID testing to weekly testing of all students, faculty, and staff who regularly report to campus. Healthcare students who have volunteered to help with COVID response will be made available to campuses to help administer tests. To date, approximately 2,500 students have signed up to volunteer. Since the 2020-2021 academic year began in August, SUNY has conducted 748,152 tests with a 0.60 positive percentage rate. Preliminary data suggests in-person instruction has not been a vector of the spread. As the semester progresses, SUNY will revisit the 100 percent weekly testing requirement depending on the positivity rate in the state and regions throughout the course of the semester.

As part of the campus visits, Chancellor Malatras is meeting with students, faculty, staff, and local officials as he reaffirms the spring semester guidance, which was announced last November, and includes pre-testing of all students prior to the start of the semester, mandatory pre-semester quarantine of students, mandatory mask wearing at all times, even when socially distanced, no spring break, uniform compliance and enforcement standards, expanded mental health and wellness services, and a student’s bill of rights for greater transparency.

SUNY Canton’s Spring Reopening Plan

SUNY Canton’s spring reopening plan may be found here. Campus will be updating its testing schedule in line with Chancellor Malatras’ guidance for weekly testing. The plan focuses on ensuring a smooth transition from testing to quarantining before classes begin, as well as high-quality online teaching and learning. Some specifics within SUNY Canton’s plan includes:

  • Reopen testing at multiple locations to increase accessibility for on-campus and commuter student populations;
  • Move-in testing sites in the residence halls are designed to rapidly test as many students as possible as they return to campus for the semester;
  • Students will quarantine until their test results are known—on campus or at their homes--which is typically about 48 hours;
  • Students, faculty and staff are all participating in a daily health screening and weekly testing.
  • 479 courses, or 62 percent, being offered virtually, 78 courses, or 10 percent are a hybrid distribution of modalities, and 218, or 28 percent, in-person;
  • Limited number of students residing on campus at 612, down from full capacity of 1,175;
  • Fewer student on campus with about 1,395 students registered for at least one in-person class, down from 2,307 last year.

Also, as part of SUNY’s spring guidance, campuses are sharing a "What Students Should Know" plain language informational notice, or bill of rights, so all students know what to expect at individual campuses, such as how many courses will be online, hybrid, or in person. SUNY Canton’s notice can be found here.

SUNY Potsdam’s Spring Reopening Plan

SUNY Potsdam’s spring reopening plan includes the initial weekly testing and quarantining program on campus. Some specifics within SUNY Potsdam’s plan include:

  • Weekly testing for all residential students, all students in applied learning experiences, students with any reason to come to campus, and all students living within a 15-mile radius of campus, as well as for all Watertown students studying in Potsdam’s programs at Jefferson Community College;
  • Self-administered weekly testing for all faculty and staff with any reason to report to campus, including dining services staff;
  • Students must self-quarantine and study virtually at home or in their residence halls until two rounds of testing have been completed, with in-person classes and activities beginning on February 15th;
  • 61 percent of courses are being offered virtually for the spring semester;
  • Limited number of students residing on campus, at approximately 900, down from full capacity of 1,550;
  • Fewer students on campus and in the community this semester, with about 1,900 students residing on campus, living locally, or expected on campus for work or to utilize services, down from about 3,069 last spring.

SUNY Potsdam’s "What Students Should Know" notice can be found here.

Data Transparency

All SUNY campuses will continue to report positive cases daily via SUNY’s COVID-19 Case Tracker. The database tallies tests and active cases by campus and provides trends and positivity rates in rolling three-, seven-, and 14-day intervals, allowing people to understand the trajectory of the virus at any given time. Additional upgrades to the COVID Tracker are expected in the upcoming days.

About the State University of New York
The State University of New York is the largest comprehensive system of higher education in the United States, and more than 95 percent of all New Yorkers live within 30 miles of any one of SUNY's 64 colleges and universities. Across the system, SUNY has four academic health centers, five hospitals, four medical schools, two dental schools, a law school, the state’s only college of optometry, and manages one US Department of Energy National Laboratory. In total, SUNY serves about 1.3 million students amongst its entire portfolio of credit- and non-credit bearing courses and programs, continuing education, and community outreach programs. SUNY oversees nearly a quarter of academic research in New York. Research expenditures system-wide are nearly $1.1 billion in fiscal year 2021, including significant contributions from students and faculty. There are more than three million SUNY alumni worldwide, and one in three New Yorkers with a college degree is a SUNY alum. To learn more about how SUNY creates opportunity, visit

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