Chancellor Malatras and SUNY Oswego President Stanley Announce Precautionary Pause on All In-Person Classes and Activities to Allow COVID-19 Cases to Stabilize

September 18, 2020

Pursuant to State Guidelines Residential Facilities Will Remain Open and Students Strongly Urged to Stay on Campus for Two Week, Temporary Shift to Remote Learning

COVID Cases Have Begun Trending Downward Following Initial Surge

Chancellor Malatras: "I believe that with diligence and perseverance the SUNY Oswego community will rise to this pivotal moment to finish the job and flatten the curve so that they can continue to flourish on campus."

Oswego, NY – State University of New York Chancellor Jim Malatras and SUNY Oswego President Deborah F. Stanley today announced the initiation of a precautionary, two-week pause on all in-person classes and activities to allow the COVID-19 case total on campus to stabilize. Pursuant to New York State Department of Health guidance, residential facilities will remain open and students are strongly urged to stay on campus for this temporary shift to remote learning.

An initial surge in cases was discovered late last week through aggressive pooled surveillance testing. After implementing a zero-tolerance action plan last weekend that included the suspension of athletics, Greek Life, in-person dining, and residence hall visitation, the number of new cases has dropped off steadily throughout this week and its projected to continue to decline. SUNY Oswego will ramp up resources and support services to ensure a successful shift to temporarily remote learning—with the intention of returning to in-person learning on Monday, October 5.

"President Stanley and I are initiating this temporary pause and shift to remote learning out of an abundance of caution and so that we can ensure that we have completely contained this virus on campus," said Chancellor Malatras. "I believe that with diligence and perseverance the SUNY Oswego community will rise to this pivotal moment to finish the job and flatten the curve so that they can continue to flourish on campus. In doing so they will help establish a proven model for controlling virus surges on college campuses everywhere. After an uptick late last week, the college quickly scaled back on-campus activities, enhanced safety enforcement and penalties, and expanded surveillance testing. The result has been noticeably increased compliance and a quick drop-off in cases—cause for cautious optimism for the days ahead. So far, we are proving that with the right response measures and buy-in from students, you can tame the COVID-19 beast."

SUNY Oswego President Stanley said, "We have proactively determined that taking a temporary pause in order to manage the virus with the goal of containing it on our campus is best for our entire college community. SUNY Oswego is entering a 14-day pause of in-person instruction to ramp up efforts to stem the spread of COVID-19 and will work carefully and intensely towards the goal of ‘restarting' our in-person learning at the conclusion of the two-week period, with face-to-face classes resuming on October 5. This is our time to rebound and come out of this pause even stronger and healthier than before. Let's encourage each other to take all precautions and do the right thing."

Oswego Mayor William J. Barlow said, "I applaud Chancellor Malatras and President Stanley's decision to place a temporary pause on in-person classes and activities. The pause offers a good chance to re-group and contain the virus. The City of Oswego and SUNY Oswego have worked well together, managing through the recent uptick in cases and doing our best to stop the spread and protect our community. I believe the Oswego community is in a good position, thanks to SUNY Oswego's robust testing program, and our data will continue moving in a favorable direction. Today's temporary pause is out of an abundance of caution and strategically makes sense as we battle back against the recent uptick."

The college emphasized that students should not leave campus during this two-week pause. By leaving campus, students risk spreading the virus further and possibly endangering their friends, families, and others in their hometown communities.

Per NYDOH guidance, whenever 100 individuals or five percent of a total on-campus population test positive for COVID-19 within a 14-day period, the location must immediately transition to 100 percent remote learning and limit on-campus activities for 14 days. SUNY Oswego currently has 82 active COVID-19 cases within its current window, which began on Saturday, September 12, and runs through Friday, September 25. However, the number of positive cases reported each day has steadily declined.

Pursuant to NYSDOH guidance if a campus reaches the 100 or five percent threshold within a two-week period the campus must implement the following:

  • Convert all campus dining and food service options to takeout/delivery.
  • Deliver all classes through remote learning, but may continue to conduct in-person activity such as clinical, laboratory, licensure, and research, in consultation with the local health department.
  • Suspend in-person athletics, extracurricular programs, and non-essential services. Medical services, counseling and other services will continue.
  • Keep all residential facilities open.

Currently, all but in-person classroom activity has been suspended until today.

Students who have contracted the virus or who may have been exposed to the virus are required to quarantine or isolate on campus. SUNY Oswego has adequate space for these students, and trained college staff routinely check in on them throughout the day to ensure that their needs are being met.

The daily case reduction also coincides with last Sunday's implementation of Chancellor Malatras' and President Stanley's zero tolerance action plan aimed at slowing the spread and improving compliance with evidence-based safety protocols. Those stern measures included suspending athletics and Greek Life for the semester, halting in-person dining and residence hall visitation indefinitely, scaling back campus activities, and increasing penalties for students flaunting safety guidelines.

SUNY Oswego students were required to test negative for COVID-19 before arriving on campus this semester. Since the semester began, the college has conducted 6,734 tests for COVID-19. The college will continue to partner with Upstate Medical to complete regular pooled surveillance testing. Today, SUNY Oswego sent an internal memo to students that details what to expect over the next two weeks in regard to testing, changes in dining services, and other amenities. The college will continue conducting wastewater testing twice per week at buildings and residence halls on campus.

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, the state’s only college of optometry, and manages one US Department of Energy National Laboratory. As of Fall 2019, more than 415,500 students were enrolled in a degree-granting program at a SUNY campus. In total, SUNY serves about 1.3 million students in 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 exceeded $1.7 billion in fiscal year 2019, including significant contributions from students and faculty. There are 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 suny.edu.


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