New York

SUNY’s spring plan: No spring break and mandatory testing, quarantine for returning students

State University of New York Chancellor Jim Malatras at SUNY Cobleskill in September. (Gazette file photo)

State University of New York Chancellor Jim Malatras at SUNY Cobleskill in September. (Gazette file photo)

Categories: -The Daily Gazette, News, Schenectady County

Students at SUNY campuses across the state will not return to in-person classes after Thanksgiving break until Feb. 1 and will be required to quarantine and get tested for COVID-19 before their return.

SUNY officials on Sunday outlined plans for returning to instruction at the system’s nearly 60 campuses after most students leave campus before Thanksgiving, learning remotely until February to limit time on campus during the flu season.

All students returning to SUNY campuses for the spring semester must be tested for COVID-19 under the plan, and complete a seven-day “precautionary quarantine” prior to returning the campus.

The plan cancels spring break, as private colleges in the region have effectively done, in an effort to minimize off-campus travel and streamline the academic calendar.

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“Given the current risks associated with COVID-19 spread, spring break and any other spring holiday periods will not be permitted,” according to new guidance outlining SUNY’s spring plan.

The plan allows individual colleges to schedule midweek “reading days” throughout the semester to replace the break in instruction students otherwise get in the spring, but colleges must discourage student travel away from campus.

The guidance instructs local campuses to begin planning virtual commencements and other “safely-distanced methods of recognition and degree dissemination,” while noting state rules will guide whether in-person ceremonies are allowed in the spring.

The plan reinforces mask requirements — “masks must be worn by all members of the campus community on campus at all times,” with few exceptions — and continues a series of SUNY-wide penalties for students violating COVID-19 precautions.

The guidance outlines a handful of classes that can continue in-person instruction between Thanksgiving and Feb. 1, primarily practicums and other hands-on courses that can’t be finished remotely, and establishes a process for individual campuses to seek exemptions. The new plan also reinforces the expectations that remote courses offer students an experience comparable to in-person courses.

“Campuses must work to ensure that remote instruction meets or exceeds expectations of regular and substantive interaction,” according to the new guidance.

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