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SUNY Oswego to pause in-person learning, move to remote instruction until October 5

Jason Smith
WRVO News (file photo)

After two weeks of rising cases of COVID-19 on campus, SUNY Oswego will pause in-person classes and switch to remote instruction for 14 days, the college announced Friday. 

President Deborah Stanley, in a letter to the campus community, said the college is making the move to remote instruction proactively, as the number of cases of COVID-19 on campus continues to rise. 

"We are getting so close to the cap of 100 it seems inevitable we will pass it before September 25," Stanley said. "With 8 days to go, SUNY Oswego is reporting 82 positive cases. In that light, we determined that taking a pause in order to manage the virus with the goal of containing it on our campus is best for our entire college community."

Later in the day, SUNY Oswego reported eight more cases among its on-campus population, bringing the total since September 12 to 90.

SUNY Chancellor Jim Malatras, in his third visit to campus in less than two weeks, said making this move now makes sense. 

"If it does get to 100 cases, which triggers the state's guidance for pause, we don't want to be in the middle of the week. It's highly disruptive to students, it's highly disruptive to faculty. By doing it now, on a Friday, you can plan ahead and work with faculty and staff and students so they know going into next week that this is how it's going to be for the next two weeks." 

Any college that reaches 100 cases of COVID-19 by September 25 must switch to remote instruction for 14 days. SUNY Oswego has had more than 150 cases since September 7, and a total of 199 cases since students returned to campus in August.

Stanley said while the college is switching to remote instruction, the college will remain open and students must remain on campus. Any student who live in campus housing and leaves during the two weeks, Stanley said, will not be eligible to return to campus housing.

"With masks, comprehensive distancing rules and cleaning protocols, the campus is safe and provides a robust technical environment for remote learning," she said. "As medical professionals warn, traveling home and back to campus can spread the disease in both locations.  Further, we do not have the capacity to house or monitor precautionary quarantine for all students upon their return."  

Full guidelines for students during 14-day pause:

  • All instruction (at both the main campus and Syracuse campus) will be delivered online and in a remote learning format.  All hybrid and face-to-face classes will shift to online.  Our Provost and faculty have prepared for this contingency and will be in touch with our students.
  • Residential students shall remain on campus in their current housing locations.  All students, both on campus and off campus, are required to limit their movements to essential needs only (e.g., attend their jobs, medical appointments, access food).
  • Students in quarantine and isolation by order of the Oswego County Health Department will be cared for and remain in their current locations until they are released by the Health Department.
  • Students will continue to have access to labs, studio work, and research activities that will continue to be available in existing formats as directed by faculty.
  • Health services, robust internet and dedicated student services will continue to be provided to our students with enhanced virtual programming to keep us all connected and engaged.
  • All extracurricular programs, and other non-essential student activities have been suspended.
  • All operations of the college will continue, with essential personnel reporting to serve our students.
  • Faculty will shift to fully remote instruction during the pause.  Face-to-face instruction will return when the college receives approval to “restart” in-person classes.
  • Non-essential employees should continue to work as agreed upon in their supervisor-approved work plans.  SUNY Oswego will continue to strive to reduce density on campus with a workforce that does not exceed 50%.
  • Increased testing:  We will continue our aggressive surveillance testing throughout the pause and carefully monitor the health and safety of our entire campus community. We will re-test all our students—on-campus residential students, off-campus and commuter students—over the next two weeks.