ONEONTA, N.Y. – Hartwick College is switching to remote learning for two weeks, just two days after nearby SUNY Oneonta suspended in-person classes due to a coronavirus outbreak among students.
There are currently 177 reported cases at SUNY Oneonta, and while Hartwick only has two confirmed cases, President Margaret L. Drugovich says the college wants to take safety measures to prevent a similar outbreak.
“Because of the sudden and steep increase in the number of COVID-19 cases in the Oneonta community, we have decided to commence remote instruction only,” she said. “Though only two Hartwick students have tested positive for the COVID-19 virus, we are taking this step as a precautionary measure to protect the health of all members of our campus-based community. This adaptation was anticipated in, and is consistent with, our Reopening Plan.”
The two positive Hartwick students are isolating at their homes outside of Oneonta. Drugovich says the Otsego County Department of Health is working on tracing contacts.
Students who live on campus will still have access to dining services and campus facilities.
Remote learning at Hartwick will continue through Sept. 15.
Hartwick College V.P. of College Advancement, Paula Lee Hobson, says Hartwick College officials sounded the alarm when they first heard SUNY Oneonta was not going to test students before coming on to campus, "When SUNY made their plan we were concerned knowing that would be a possibility because of course we have SUNY students that take classes at Hartwick and many of our Hartwick students have friends on the SUNY campus and so we know that was a possibility. We have expressed our concern to the Independent Colleges and University Consortium, which we are a member. I would say SUNY Oneonta has done the best they could, we took a different path."
When asked if Hartwick would return to in-person learning in two weeks if the school keeps its COVID numbers down if SUNY Oneonta still has not met the state's threshold to remain open, Hobson said, "It's a little premature to say exactly what we'll do in two weeks time. We hope that by taking this precautionary step, we'll be able to stop the virus on our campus."