Chancellor Malatras Visits SUNY New Paltz to Review Mandatory Thanksgiving Exit Testing

November 20, 2020

Joined by SUNY New Paltz President Christian, Ulster County Executive Pat Ryan, and New Paltz Students


New Paltz Projected to Complete Testing of More Than 3,500 Students by Monday; SUNY to Complete Required Pre-Thanksgiving Testing of All 140,000 Students Early Next Week

SUNY Already Conducted More Than 500,000 Tests During the Fall Semester with a Positive Rate of 0.50 Percent

Campuses Working Closely With Local Public Health Officials as they Monitor Students Testing Positive and Isolating Either on Campus or At Home

Chancellor Meets with Students to Make Sure They are Confident to Return for Spring Semester

New Paltz, NY – As State University of New York students prepare to travel home for Thanksgiving and remote learning for the remainder of the fall semester, Chancellor Jim Malatras today met with SUNY New Paltz President Donald P. Christian, Ulster County Executive Pat Ryan, and New Paltz students during the final days of SUNY’s mandatory exit testing. SUNY New Paltz is projected to complete its testing of more than 3,500 students by Monday, and all SUNY campuses are scheduled to wrap up mandatory pre-Thanksgiving testing of 140,000 students on campuses early next week. SUNY’s colleges and universities have been testing regularly throughout the fall semester conducting 509,903 tests to date with a positive rate of 0.50 percent.

During the visit, Chancellor Malatras reviewed testing results to date for the SUNY New Paltz campus, as well as campus and local public health coordination to monitor students testing positive and isolating either on campus or at home.

"Our students, campus leadership, faculty, and staff have done a tremendous job holding the coronavirus levels low and keeping each other safe, and as final preparations take place to go remote for the remainder of the fall semester it is important to me that the exit testing guidance is being followed and those students testing positive will be cared for," said Chancellor Malatras. "Today’s visit with students in person, as well as calls with students across SUNY campuses helps me make sure their needs are being met and that they feel confident about our reopening for the spring semester. My thanks to President Christian, our students, County Executive Pat Ryan, and County Health Commissioner Carol Smith for their ongoing partnership."

Earlier this month, Chancellor Malatras announced guidance for the spring semester reopening. Developed with input from college leaders, students, faculty, and union leadership, the plan mandates quarantine and testing for all returning students, cancels spring break, requires face coverings in classrooms at all times, and pushes the start of in-person instruction to February 1. These measures—combined with proven testing, transparency, and enforcement policies already in place across SUNY—set a nationwide standard for detecting and managing COVID-19 throughout the winter and spring terms.

SUNY New Paltz President Christian said, "We are proud of our students, who have responded to COVID-19 by carefully following public health guidelines and adopting a ’We Not Me’ attitude and approach this fall. Our campus community has largely abided by the pledge to Protect New Paltz and committed to mask-wearing, social distancing, hand-washing, avoiding large gatherings, and extensive testing and tracing. These are key points that infectious disease experts, Ulster County, SUNY, and New York State have emphasized as the best path for turning the corner on the pandemic. We appreciate the collaborative effort and support during these challenging times, including from County Executive Ryan, Chancellor Malatras, Governor Cuomo, and the New Paltz community. We believe that these same principles and practices will produce a safe and successful spring semester."

Ulster County Executive Pat Ryan said, "This is a make or break moment for our county and our State, and SUNY’s innovative and proactive approach to testing will be critical in blunting the ongoing COVID resurgence. I want to commend SUNY Chancellor Jim Malatras and President Don Christian for making the health and safety of students and faculty, and our entire community, their top priority. We must all do our part at this important moment and SUNY has risen to the occasion."

Spring Plan Overview

Any student living, working, or taking classes on campus, or utilizing campus facilities must test for COVID-19 when they return for the winter and/or spring semester. Students must first confirm that they have completed a seven-day precautionary quarantine prior to returning to campus. They must then either present evidence of a negative COVID-19 test taken within three days prior to their return, or submit to a campus-administered upon arrival—but no later than five days after their return to campus.

Pursuant to SUNY's mandatory surveillance testing program announced back in September, colleges will resume regular surveillance testing for students, faculty, and staff as on-campus services resume. Colleges will continue to report positive cases daily via SUNY's COVID-19 Case Tracker.

In accordance with New York State Department of Health guidelines, colleges that eclipse either 100 active cases or an on-campus positivity rate above five percent within prescribed two-week windows must pause in-person learning and activities for two weeks. All campus dining and food service options must also be converted to take out and delivery. In these scenarios, residential facilities remain open and students stay on campus.

To reduce risks associated with flu season, winter term instruction will be fully remote, and spring term instruction will remain remote until February 1. Spring break and other holiday break periods are cancelled for all SUNY campuses. Face coverings will now be required in classrooms, conference rooms, and all other public spaces where students are not by themselves, even when six feet of social distancing is possible.

All campuses must provide a clear notice on "What Students Should Know" that includes information on testing, quarantine and isolation requirements, and safety protocols so that students can make informed decisions about their educational experience.

The spring plan also extends SUNY’s emergency disciplinary standards meant to enforce safety protocols. It also includes SUNY’s recent expansion of mental health services for all students.

The plan is subject to change based on evolving state and federal health guidance. To read the full plan, click here.

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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Holly Liapis
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