SUNY implements comprehensive COVID-19 plan for spring semester


Spring semester in-person start date to February 1st 2020, and spring break cancelled

(NEWS10) – On Sunday, SUNY Chancellor Jim Malatras released a new SUNY system-wide plan for the Spring semester; it includes starting classes later than usual and canceling spring break.

“We can’t stop COVID, but the way we behave and they way we can take care of each other and understand the importance of education, we’re good. We can get through this, we’re good,” says SUNY Cobleskill President Marion Terenzio.

As New York State and the rest of the country continue to fight against the COVID-19 pandemic, new COVID-19 guidelines have been set in place for SUNY institutions to adopt. Main components of the comprehensive plan include:

  • All students to be tested for COVID-19 upon return.
  • Pushing the start date of the spring semester for in-person instruction until February 1, 2021.
  • The cancellation of spring break in 2021.
  • All returning students must complete a seven-day precautionary quarantine prior to their arrival on campus.
  • Mandatory mask wearing at all times, even with social distancing.
  • A “What Students Should Know” plain language information to be sent to all students so they know what to expect this spring at individual campuses, such as how many courses will be online, hybrid, or in person.

Students will have more time off between the Fall and Spring semesters. Spring Break has been cancelled. During this timeframe, exceptions will be granted for clinical practicums, specialized research, and applied learning experiences that require students to be physically present. Campuses must notify SUNY System Administration of any courses that require in-person instruction. Pooled surveillance testing will remain available for students engaged in this type of hands-on coursework during this timeframe. “We’re looking at one or two days here and there that they can take a break — we’re building it in the schedule as well because we will have remote instruction as well as in person classes,” says Terenzio.

“We’ve demonstrated this past fall that by implementing an aggressive strategy to manage COVID, students can safely return to campus. These additional efforts—testing all students upon return, ongoing testing throughout the semester, pushing out the start of the spring semester, and mandatory masks at all times, coupled with uniform enforcement and compliance—illustrates that SUNY is setting a nationwide standard for controlling COVID-19 in the weeks and months to come. I have talked with countless students since August who have made tremendous sacrifices so that they can stay on campus and learn. Our students have done a remarkable job given the circumstances. This aggressive strategy gives us the best chance to return our students once again to classrooms in early 2021. But as we know, this is a fluid situation so we will continue to adapt and be flexible as issues emerge.”

Dr. Jim Malatras, SUNY Chancellor

Since August, SUNY Cobleskill has seen roughly a dozen of COVID-19 cases. “The plans we had put in place worked well, and what’s important is that COVID evolved so did plans,” she said.

UAlbany has seen a recent uptick in cases. Jordan Carleo-Evangelist, a spokesperson for UAlbany says the new guidance that was finalized on Sunday, UAlbany officials have already implemented and agreed to pursue some of those changes already. “The COVID-19 testing, the regular and frequent surveillance testing — those are things that we have done in the Fall. All students were required to provide proof of a negative test before returning to campus,” says Carleo-Evangelist.

Similar to Fall semester, masks will need to be worn on campus, and the SUNY schools will continue to test for COVID-19 throughout the duration of the semester.

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