Chancellor Malatras Directs SUNY Oneonta to Transition All Students to 100% Remote Learning Off Campus for Fall Semester Following Nearly 400 COVID-19 Cases

September 3, 2020

SUNY Oneonta Directed to Develop an Orderly Transition Plan and Must Work with State and Local Health Officials on How and When Students May Leave Campus; Students Testing Positive Will Remain on Campus and Retested Until COVID-19 Free

Campus will Issue Full Refunds on Room and Additional Allowable Refunds for Dining

Chancellor Appoints Hank Bennett, SUNY Special Advisor, to Manage Transition Plan for SUNY Oneonta

Photos from Today's Announcement Available Online

Oneonta, NY – State University of New York Chancellor Jim Malatras today directed SUNY Oneonta to begin transitioning all students to 100 percent remote learning off campus for the duration of the fall semester following an increase of COVID-19 cases, now at nearly 400. Chancellor Malatras directed SUNY Oneonta to implement a coordinated and orderly wind-down of all physical and in-person activities on the campus for the remainder of the fall semester. This plan must be reviewed and approved by the local department of health with specific and clear timelines to maximize the safety and health of students. Chancellor Malatras appointed Hank Bennett as SUNY Special Advisor to manage the transition plan for SUNY Oneonta.

To contain the spread of the virus, resident students who test positive for COVID-19 will quarantine on campus until they are COVID-19 free and the campus will work with their local health department on how and when other students may leave campus. Students who have tested positive will remain on campus and retested before leaving. In SUNY Oneonta's plan, safety, food, shelter, as well as physical and mental health considerations for students and staff are factored in at the highest priority. SUNY Oneonta will begin issuing full refunds for room and additional allowable refunds for dining services.

"Despite the diligence of the vast majority of our SUNY Oneonta students, faculty, and staff, the actions of a few individuals who didn't comply resulted in the spread of COVID-19 over the past week, forcing SUNY Oneonta to move to full remote learning for the rest of the semester," said Chancellor Malatras. "Today demonstrates that we must remain hyper-vigilant in stopping the spread of COVID-19. During this time, SUNY Oneonta will continue delivering high quality education whether it be remotely during this time or when classes will resume on campus again."

SUNY Oneonta President Barbara Jean Morris said, "This is a sad day for SUNY Oneonta. However, the actions we are taking will allow us to put our focus back on learning. This is not the course any of us wanted the semester to take, yet the last few days have showcased the ethic of care that is SUNY Oneonta's core. Support from SUNY has been instrumental in fast-tracking a move-out plan that allows us to move forward. Now we will turn our attention to seeing that students get home safely."

Oneonta Mayor Gary Herzig said, "I appreciate SUNY's steadfast attention to SUNY Oneonta and our community, and thank Chancellor Malatras for keeping us informed at every step. The safety of our community is paramount, and we will continue to work with SUNY and the campus closely as students return home."

Senator James L. Seward said, "While this is a drastic step, it is a necessary action to protect those on campus and the Oneonta community at large. I commend Chancellor Malatras for his responsiveness and close consultation with local health officials. As we move forward, we must keep the lines of communication open and work together to ensure that proper health and safety guidelines are instituted and followed."

Last Friday, Chancellor Malatras sent personnel from SUNY System Administration and Upstate Medical to immediately begin pooled surveillance testing for every student on campus, as a result of increased cases stemming from parties in violation of the college's code of conduct. On Sunday, in accordance with state guidance, on-campus activity was suspended for two weeks. Nearly 400 students have tested positive for the virus.

About the State University of New York
The State University of New York, which celebrates its 75th anniversary this year, 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 country’s oldest school of maritime, the state’s only college of optometry, and manages one US Department of Energy National Laboratory. In total, SUNY serves about 1.4 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 2022, 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 opportunities, visit

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