SUNY Staying Open During Pandemic While Moving Many Classes Online

In Brief – Public two- and four-year colleges in the region plan to stay open during the coronavirus pandemic while shifting as many classes as possible to distance learning.formats.

The decision comes a day after Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced all four-year and two-year state colleges would be developing strategies “to reduce density on campuses for the rest of this semester.”

Individual SUNY schools and community colleges released the basis of their plans late Thursday after getting the go-ahead from the central SUNY administration.

The individual plans all call for more remote classes, and some colleges will extend their spring breaks by a week.

Classes will resume as scheduled March 22 after next week’s spring break at Columbia-Greene Community College (CGCC), with the college looking at what courses could be shifted online on a case-by-case basis, according to CGCC Director of Marking and Communication Jaclyn Stevenson.

CGCC now plans “to see whatever we can do to boost up distance learning wherever we can,” Stevenson said.

There were no plans to cancel hands-on classes, such as nursing or automotive technology courses, she said.

All on-campus events expected to draw more than 50 people will be postponed or cancelled until further notice, according to a statement by the college. All students and employees of the college returning or planning to travel to a Level 2 or Level 3 affected country must alert the college.

These countries are Iran, South Korea, China, Italy, and 27 countries in Europe, which were added to the Level 3 list when President Trump announced a travel ban to most of Europe Wednesday night during a televised address from the Oval Office.

It was not known what classes would be shifted online or when, Stevenson added, since the situation was developing so rapidly and the decision was so fresh.

SUNY New Paltz will extend next week’s spring break until March 30 with the campus remaining open during the interim, according to a message from the college.

“We are consulting with SUNY System Administration and our local health department to plan our course offerings after spring break,” according to the college.

SUNY Ulster will extend its ongoing spring break an additional week until March 22 while keeping both its campuses open, according to the college.

Classes will then resume March 23 “using in most cases varying levels of remote instruction,” according to the college.

The coronavirus has infected more than 130,000 people and killed almost 5,000 world-wide since it emerged in the Chinese city of Wuhan in late December. The New York State Department of Health reported 216 cases as of Wednesday afternoon, but this number does not include several local infections reported in the last 24 hours, including three new cases in Ulster County and the first reported case in Dutchess County.

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