SCHENECTADY — Stockade Inn has gone through numerous incarnations over the years, from private social club to restaurant and hotel space.
Now it enters the final stretch of the year with a new, albeit temporary, designation:
Quarantine space for Union College students.
The college confirmed it has rented the facility to provide isolation beds for COVID-positive students who choose to remain in the city.
“Students are able to take their classes remotely from their room and we deliver meals to them,” said Philip Wajda, a college spokesman.
The arrangement comes to light as colleges nationwide are scrambling to contain the coronavirus, including the state-run university system.
Following hotspots that emerged when students returned to campus, SUNY Oneonta suspended all in-person classes for the semester in early September.
On Monday, SUNY Cortland announced all in-person classes would be suspended for at least two weeks after the number of positive COVID cases exceeded 100, the state cap. The announcement came the same day that students at SUNY Oswego resumed in-person classes following a two-week pause.
Stockade Inn owner John Samatulski said the arrangement is a way to provide a community service.
“It seemed like a way to help out the college while beginning the renovations on the building,” said Samatulski, who purchased the building in August and plans to eventually reopen the temporarily-closed hotel and restaurant.
To ensure students aren’t straying, the college is providing security to monitor them “at all times,” Wajda said.
Wajda wouldn’t say if any students are currently staying there, but said four students have isolated at the Stockade Inn since classes resumed nearly a month ago.
As of Monday, Union had two students in isolation and 36 students quarantined, according to the college’s online dashboard.
To date, 10 people have tested positive, all but one of them students.
“Students who have to quarantine because of contact tracing would quarantine at area hotels if they chose to remain here,” Wajda said.
Union College is also hosting 117 non-positive students at the nearby College Suites at Washington Square to reduce on-campus density, Wajda said.
The college is monitoring off-campus parties and social gatherings during the fall term, while off-campus students are also required to attend a workshop about “being a good neighbor, staying healthy and remaining safe in light of COVID-19.”
Students who do not comply with health and safety protocols will be referred to the Office of Community Standards for possible disciplinary action.
Samatulski said he was confident the college knows what they’re doing when it comes to ensuring student and public safety.
“They’re able to assure me that these students would be monitored at all times and not be interacting with the larger community in any way,” he said.
Several neighborhood residents said they have seen Union College vehicles and security personnel at the location and wished the college was more transparent.
“Somebody should have told us,” said Debra Evans, who lives next door at the Colonial Arms Apartments. “I don’t understand why they’re putting them there.”
Stockade Association President Suzanne Unger said she is supportive of the collaboration.
“Good for the Stockade Inn to come up with something to help Union College,” Unger said. “If anything, it helps the college stay open and keep people safe at the same time.”