Dear members of the campus community,
Last night, the campus received an update about results from this week’s COVID-19 testing efforts. It is a reminder how quickly a situation can change, and the responsibility each of us has to create and maintain a safer campus environment.
This is a defining moment in our response as a community to how we will protect each other’s health. Each of us must decide we care about others at least as much as ourselves by wearing face coverings, keeping physical distance and participating in testing efforts.
When you wear a mask, you are keeping your friends safe.
When you keep physical distance, you are protecting your friends.
When you participate in testing, you are helping your friends.
Our practice of placing residence halls with elevated wastewater results in precautionary quarantine or restricted movement has been more aggressive than other campuses. We believed it was a prudent measure to try and keep the virus at bay as long as possible. Students who complied with efforts to stay in their residence halls during these periods and comply with testing have our gratitude for helping.
Frankly, we also have had students who have not done their part. These students have violated our visitor policy, been too casual about wearing masks and keeping physical distance, and avoided participating in our testing efforts. Worse still, some students have been abusive toward staff in dining facilities and elsewhere on campus when reminded about wearing masks properly or keeping distance. This has even happened at businesses and other locations in our village. It is not acceptable.
Right now we have more than 340 student COVID-19 conduct cases in process, most of which are related to students not wearing masks, not physically distancing, not reporting for testing or otherwise disregarding the safety and health of each other, themselves and our community. This cannot continue. It is unacceptable and irresponsible.
Most recently, not every student from Oneida Hall has participated in testing, despite several notifications and attempts to contact each of them. This has happened with some of our other residence hall testing before. In those instances, we continue to track down students and even turn off their swipe card access to the building and their meal plans until they respond and make arrangements for testing.
This is unsustainable. We have to change the way we are responding and respecting each other.
With at least 10 to 12 positive cases currently, and more than 70 students in quarantine because of close contact with those cases, we must redouble our discipline.
This coming week will determine if we can continue with face-to-face learning and activity on campus, however limited it currently is. If we rally together to be on our best behavior, showing discipline of ourselves and concern for the well-being of each other, we can continue. We have to support and even correct each other. And we have to receive that with the right spirit. If we cannot do this, I will have no other responsible choice but to enter the college into a 14-day period of pause on face-to-face interaction. This means we suspend all in-person classes and activities and transition to remote learning for at least two weeks.
During a pause, everyone stays in place and limits their movement. Students stay in their residence halls. Dining is takeout only. Athletics and intramural activities are suspended. Only solo walks outdoors, with masks on at all times, will be permitted. Only essential personnel report to campus, while others work from home.
Staying in place protects the rest of the state and your home communities from potential spread. Going on pause, sometimes also called a period of remote learning, does not mean an end to teaching or learning or any of the other essential student services we provide for a college education or its eventual degrees and certificates.
This pandemic is not something any of us caused or wanted, nor is it something entirely within our control. However, there are sensible things each of us can do to reduce its prevalence and prevent its spread. There are activities and even social interactions we can enjoy within the limits of these measures. Those are things within each of our control, with each decision we make to comply and to remind others around us to do the same.
We were fortunate to enjoy absence or low level of the virus for most of the first half of the semester. We have reached a more challenging stage now. Let’s show each other that we can do this together, that we have each other’s back. Let’s do better.
David E. Rogers, Ph.D. | President
80 Eaton Street, P.O. Box 901 | Whipple Administration Building, Fifth Floor | Morrisville, N.Y. 13408
Office: 315.684.6044 | Email: firstname.lastname@example.org