Chancellor Malatras Outlines Comprehensive Spring Semester Plan During Visits with Students, Faculty, and Campus Leaders in Syracuse to Ensure Preparation and Readiness

November 9, 2020

Upstate Medical Commits to Supporting Mandated Testing for All Returning SUNY Students Ahead of Spring Semester

Presidents at Upstate Medical, Onondaga Community College, and SUNY ESF Confirm Their Campuses will be Ready

Plan Developed with Input from Public Health Experts and Representatives Across SUNY Includes Mandatory Pre-Semester Quarantine, No Spring Break, and February In-Person Instruction Start Date

Syracuse, NY – One day after releasing a comprehensive plan to safely support in-person instruction for all students this spring, State University of New York Chancellor Jim Malatras today met with students, faculty, and campus leaders at Upstate Medical University, Onondaga Community College, and the SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry to ensure campuses will be well prepared to reopen for in-person classes this spring. Presidents at Upstate Medical, Onondaga Community College, and SUNY ESF confirmed their campuses will be ready.

Upstate Medical has also committed to supporting testing for all returning students, faculty, and staff across the university system. Their groundbreaking, FDA-approved saliva test—which now allows SUNY to process up to 200,000 COVID tests per week—will also be crucial to SUNY's previously announced plan to test all students prior to their departure for Thanksgiving break. To date, SUNY has conducted 378,488 COVIV-19 tests on campuses with a positive rate of 0.47 percent.

"SUNY has devised a comprehensive plan that sets a national standard for safely supporting in-person instruction this spring with invaluable input from our students, faculty, and campus leaders," said Chancellor Malatras. "The guidance may be out, but with the virus spiking across the nation, our ongoing, open dialogue about the spring semester and combating COVID is more important now than ever. Like today's productive talks at Upstate Medical, OCC, and ESF, we are making it a top priority to visit campuses, answer questions, build confidence, and ensure that colleges are ready to execute on this aggressive plan to preserve students' ability to learn in person in 2021. Throughout the fall, we have proven that by keeping the conversation going and gaining widespread buy-in, we can contain this vicious virus."

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.

During today's visits in Syracuse, Chancellor Malatras also congratulated Upstate Medical President Dr. Mantosh Dewan and SUNY ESF President Joanie Mahoney, both of whom were officially appointed by the SUNY Board of Trustees last week.

SUNY Upstate Medical President Dr. Mantosh Dewan said, "SUNY Upstate Medical University is pleased to continue to serve our fellow SUNY campuses as we move our pooled surveillance testing forward to ensure the safe and healthy return of students home for the Thanksgiving holiday. Upstate's work on COVID-19 remains multi-faceted with our testing and vaccine research, and we appreciate SUNY's support of our work."

SUNY ESF President Joanie Mahoney said, "We were happy to welcome Chancellor Malatras to SUNY ESF and are pleased to partner with SUNY to ensure the health and safety of our campus and the greater community as we work diligently to contain the coronavirus. The SUNY guidelines for Spring 2021 ensure that we can continue to leverage the benefits of experiential education, which has been a hallmark of ESF since our founding. We will continue to offer an academically rigorous and affordable education that prepares graduates to become good stewards of the environment."

Onondaga Community College President Dr. Casey Crabill said, "I'm happy to welcome new SUNY Chancellor Dr. Jim Malatras to the campus of Onondaga Community College. Faculty and staff have worked tirelessly to implement and sustain COVID safety measures during the fall semester because everyone put the health of students, faculty, and staff at the top of our priority list. Since reopening campus in late May we have implemented daily screening and testing measures along with required mask-wearing. We know how much our students value in-person learning and are working to complete the fall semester safely, and continue COVID-related best safety practices in the spring."

Onondaga County Executive Ryan McMahon said, "Onondaga County fully supports the comprehensive plan SUNY has developed to integrate students back into our communities this spring. The aggressive measures taken not only keep students, faculty, staff and campuses safe, but it also preserves the integrity of the infection rate in our region. This fall, while other universities around the country struggled in containing COVID-19, SUNY Upstate, OCC and ESF exemplified excellence in their ability to starve the virus through continuous testing and buy-in from their student body. I have no doubt their commitment this spring will be any different."

Syracuse Mayor Ben Walsh said, "The caring and capable people at SUNY Upstate Medical University in Syracuse continue to play a pivotal role in guiding the Central New York region and the entire state through the COVID-19 pandemic. There is no playbook for us to follow, so advance planning and close cooperation are critical. I want to thank Chancellor Malatras, Upstate Medical President Dr. Dewan, SUNY-ESF President Mahoney, and OCC President Crabill for doing everything they can now to protect community health next 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 Show 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. Read the full Spring 2021 Reopening Guidance

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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