Central New York colleges such as Syracuse University haven’t been able to escape the local and national spike in COVID-19. In the past two weeks, there have been nearly 400 positive tests reported by SU, prompting the University to go fully remote for the final days of classroom learning before students head home to finish the semester.
Vice Chancellor Mike Haynie says it could have been avoided.
“We have worked very hard to build a bubble, if you will, a testing and surveillance bubble. That bubble burst which is very clear from our numbers. I do want to make clear that it didn’t have to burst.” said Haynie.
Current case numbers may not hint at a silver lining, but there is a positive takeaway. Haynie says most cases on campus have not been linked to in-person instruction, but rather off-campus activity.
“A lot of the spread that we’ve seen among the student population is really focused off campus and it’s between, within, SU student populations, but inevitably there will be cross over.” Haynie said.
Students are heading home early for Winter Break next week as planned, and learning remotely until the semester ends in early December. But the question remains, what about next semester?
“Where we are on the 15th of January in terms of conditions on the ground, New York State policy. There’s still so many unknowns, so our planning assumption is that we’re returning as announced in January.” said Haynie.
Both private and public institutions are requiring students to get tested before leaving campus. SUNY Chancellor Jim Maltaras says it’s intended for students' families and hometown communities.