SUNY Chancellor gives the go-ahead for SUNY Oneonta to resume in-person learning

SUNY Chancellor Jim Malatras takes a tour of SUNY Oneonta's new COVID testing site as the school prepares to resume in-person learning.

Posted: Jan 24, 2021 4:23 PM

Oneonta, N.Y. - It's been a long five months since SUNY Chancellor Jim Malatras rushed to SUNY Oneonta in late August for what was, at the time, one of the nation's first COVID outbreaks on a college campus.

That outbreak of more than 700 COVID cases on SUNY Oneonta's campus, mostly among students, led to Malatras shutting the campus down in early September.

Now he says he is confident in-person classes can resume, "I think all of the ingredients are now here, now let's implement them and see how it goes."

Students are returning to campus this weekend as virtual classes begin on Monday for the spring semester, and in-person classes are scheduled to finally resume the following Monday after a four month break.

On Sunday, Chancellor Malatras took a tour of the school's new COVID testing site inside the school's Alumni Field House.

Back to school this semester is a two-pronged approach.

First, the COVID testing is in place. Every student, faculty member and staff member must get tested once a week.

Second, the firm disciplinary measures are now in place for students that violate the code of conduct as far as COVID guidelines go, including no parties.

Malatras says the hard work by school officials to get to this point has paid off and the school can reopen, "We put together a really tough comprehensive plan for keeping our campus is open. Mandatory testing on all of our college campuses, regular screening of all of our students, masks have to be worn at all times no matter if you’re socially distant or not. Uniform compliance documents. Unfortunately some students early on violated the rules which led to the spread, we have sort of gotten rid of that problem by uniform compliance."

Back in early September when the outbreak of more than 700 confirmed cases on campus happened, Malatras said the outbreak was due to on-campus and off-campus parties, "Comes down to personal responsibility. You can put all the rules in place but if people are unwilling to follow the rules, the positivity rate goes right through the roof."

Even student representatives are hopeful that the threat of expulsion will be enough to keep even the youngest of students from doing the wrong thing that could lead to this campus getting shut down yet again.

The school's External Affairs personnel have been talking with students as they arrive back on campus.

Junior Gabrielle Cecere says she's heard of many students being talked to, "Specifically the ones off campus, in order to say 'hey just so you know something is going to happen if you go and do what you wanna do'. Just having those protocols in place is a big deal in order to prevent."

Finally, Chancellor Malatras says there is concern when it comes to the new strains of COVID that have been found recently in the UK, South Africa and Brazil, which are believed to be much more contagious that the original virus.

Malatras says the fact that the UK strain has been found in the U.S. including here in New York State is definitely a concern, but he says the saliva test being used by the SUNY system is the best in the world, according to the CDC, "The SUNY Upstate Medical Saliva Test picks up all strains, so the good thing is we'll be able to know if we have those strains on our campus because we can pick up those under our test. We are working with the State Health Department to see how that’s going. Right now I think they’ve been updating it, some something like 25 to 30 people in the State of New York who have tested positive for those strains, but that is something to monitor for sure."

Again, virtual classes begin on Monday at SUNY Oneonta, and in-person classes resume a week from now on Monday, February 1st.

New York Coronavirus Cases

County data is updated nightly.

Cases: 2012806

Reported Deaths: 51732
CountyCasesDeaths
Kings26711410025
Queens2656739604
Suffolk1945123323
Nassau1782353121
Bronx1760716405
New York1330424342
Westchester1262782246
Erie835241718
Richmond713901760
Monroe617161036
Orange46388782
Rockland45849946
Onondaga36254663
Dutchess28147438
Albany23800347
Oneida21556498
Niagara18486335
Broome17559348
Saratoga14517163
Ulster13159244
Schenectady12471193
Rensselaer10745136
Putnam1027491
Chautauqua8459137
Chemung7209133
Oswego703490
Ontario693992
Steuben6355142
St. Lawrence624695
Sullivan621070
Cayuga591590
Jefferson548765
Wayne530467
Cattaraugus521382
Genesee5102121
Herkimer4946107
Clinton458233
Madison432186
Fulton412288
Tompkins407749
Livingston403858
Montgomery3923117
Columbia3848100
Cortland356960
Tioga345058
Warren341856
Wyoming328251
Otsego322147
Allegany320483
Greene315674
Chenango313874
Washington287955
Orleans280183
Lewis248134
Franklin241312
Delaware219537
Seneca188956
Schoharie156816
Essex150826
Yates111226
Schuyler99314
Hamilton3012
Unassigned13864
Out of NY0218
Rome
Partly Cloudy
32° wxIcon
Hi: 55° Lo: 25°
Feels Like: 26°
Binghamton
Partly Cloudy
28° wxIcon
Hi: 55° Lo: 25°
Feels Like: 19°
Rome
Partly Cloudy
32° wxIcon
Hi: 56° Lo: 27°
Feels Like: 26°
Rome
Partly Cloudy
32° wxIcon
Hi: 49° Lo: 22°
Feels Like: 26°
WKTV Radar
WKTV Temperatures
WKTV Severe Weather
Saluting Those Who Are Proud 2 Serve
Enter the Rock Your Body Giveaway from Alivana Aesthetics
Looking for work or looking to hire? Check out the WKTV Job Fair!