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After COVID-19 spread, first SUNY school moves to online learning

Pat Bradley
SUNY Chancellor Jim Malatras.

New York State has closed its first public college to in-person learning after 105 individuals on campus tested positive for the coronavirus, SUNY Chancellor Jim Malatras said Sunday, and a handful of students have been suspended for contributing to that spread.

Those cases have been traced to a string of parties held off campus by students at SUNY Oneonta, a public college in Otsego County.

"As a result of the increase of tests, and the positive cases of COVID, we are going to be closing the SUNY Oneonta campus for two weeks for instruction,” Malatras said.

SUNY Oneonta will now move to remote instruction for the next two weeks while administrators in the SUNY system evaluate whether to extend that period. It’s the first college in the SUNY system to close after the start of the fall semester last week.

But it’s not alone in reporting congregate behavior that would contribute to the spread of the coronavirus. After a party at Lake Champlain last week, 43 students at SUNY Plattsburgh were suspended.

When asked if there was anything the state could do to curb parties and prevent the spread of the disease on and off campus, Malatras said they’re working with local law enforcement and warned that students would likely be suspended if they’re ticketed for parties.

“Any student that is ticketed will be moved to a divisional proceeding, and moved to be suspended immediately because this is serious,” Malatras said. “So we are moving very aggressively with those cases, with those parties on or off campus.”

Statewide, New York reported another record number of tests on Sunday, with more than 100,000 individuals tested for the virus on Saturday, the latest data available. Of those, the infection rate was .69%.

Both the number of people hospitalized with the disease and intubated for treatment dropped to levels not seen since March 16, with 429 people hospitalized and 47 still intubated. There were eight new deaths on Saturday.

Dan Clark is the host and producer of New York NOW, a weekly television show focusing on state government produced by WMHT in Albany. Clark has been reporting on New York state government and politics for the last six years, during which time he's worked out of the state Capitol in Albany. Clark reported for the national political fact-checking publication PolitiFact, the Buffalo News, the statewide political television show Capital Tonight, and most recently the New York Law Journal. At the New York Law Journal, Clark has focused on state legal challenges to President Donald Trump, as well as litigation concerning laws enacted by the New York State Legislature. Clark covered the Legislature in each role he's held and is a familiar face to state lawmakers and staff. Clark is a native of Afton, NY in Chenango County. He's lived in Albany with his husband since 2011.