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SUNY Oneonta Online For Rest Of Semester, Sends Students Home

BINGHAMTON, NY (WSKG) — SUNY Oneonta announced Thursday it will shut down all in-person classes and activities for the remainder of the semester. The decision comes at the direction of SUNY Chancellor Jim Malatras, who asked the college to begin taking actions to send home students living on campus.

“Despite the diligence of the vast majority of our SUNY Oneonta students, faculty, and staff, the actions of a few individuals who didn’t comply resulted in the spread of COVID-19 over the past week, forcing SUNY Oneonta to move to full remote learning for the rest of the semester,” Malatras said in a statement. “Today demonstrates that we must remain hyper-vigilant in stopping the spread of COVID-19.”

As of Thursday morning, there were 389 positive cases of COVID-19 at the college, up from 245 on Tuesday. 100 infected students were in isolation on campus Thursday, according to college officials.

The college is now asking students living on campus who have tested negative for COVID-19 to move out between Friday, Sept. 4 and Monday, Sept. 7.

In a letter sent to students on Thursday, SUNY Oneonta President Barbara Jean Morris said students who wish to remain on campus will have an opportunity to request permission to do so.

“While this is sudden news and something no one wanted, the risk to our campus and Oneonta community is too great,” Morris wrote. “I know the vast majority of our students have been diligent in protecting our campus since day one.

According to Morris, the local health officials advised on-campus students who tested positive for COVID-19 to quarantine at the college and be retested until they are COVID-19 free before they return home.

On Sunday, 105 individuals, students and staff, tested positive for the virus. As a result, Malatras announced five students and three campus organizations were suspended for holding parties, violating campus policy. The chancellor then suspended in person-learning, in accordance with new state guidance for campus infection rates issued by the governor. If colleges have 100 positive cases or if the number of cases is equal to 5 percent of their population or more, they must go to remote learning for two weeks.

Before the campus closed Thursday, the New York State deployed a SWAT team and nearly 100 contact tracers to contain the spread of the virus.

As of Thursday, only three students at nearby Hartwick College in Oneonta had tested positive for COVID-19. It will continue to hold classes remotely for the next two weeks.