Far less than 1 percent of SUNY students across the state tested positive for COVID-19 in recent days as the college system tested over 150,000 for the virus before they left campus for Thanksgiving.
SUNY Chancellor Jim Malatras announced the results of the college system’s exit testing program during a visit to the SUNY Schenectady campus Tuesday. He said of 152,788 tests, 956 came back positive, a test positivity rate of 0.62 percent. Nearly 900 students are isolated or quarantined on campus or in nearby hotels at SUNY schools statewide, Malatras said. Throughout the semester, SUNY administered over 500,000 tests, with 0.52 percent coming back positive.
“Students can step up and do the right thing,” Malatras said, noting the positivity rate of the SUNY tests were lower than most communities surrounding the colleges.
SUNY students are not scheduled to return to campus until Feb. 1, after finishing the fall semester remotely and starting the spring semester later than usual, but Malatras said that date was subject to change based on pandemic conditions. Students will also be asked to quarantine for a week prior to returning to campus in the spring and will be required to get tested before or upon their arrival back to campus.
“If the health experts say to us Feb. 1 may be too early, we will do what we need to do,” Malatras said of possibly delaying the start of in-person instruction.
Virus reaches more K-12 school districts as spread continues
Five out of three dozen Capital Region school districts had not recorded any COVID-19 cases as of Monday, according to the dashboard.
But as the virus continues to spread around the region, with test positivity rates above 3 percent in both Schenectady and Albany counties, cases are reaching more and more districts. As of Nov. 17, 11 of the 36 area districts had recorded no cases.
No cases had emerged among students and staff in Canajoharie, Fonda-Fultonville, Corinth, Mayfield and Wheelerville school districts, according to state data updated Monday.
The three dozen districts had reported a combined 175 cases among students and staff from the beginning of September to Nov. 17; since Nov. 17, the districts have reported 100 new cases. In the past week, North Colonie reported eight students and four teachers tested positive and Shenendehowa reported 10 new cases.
Schenectady city schools reported six new cases on Monday, four teachers and two students. At Zoller Elementary School, eight students and one staff member were quarantined stemming from a Nov. 20 case, shifting the entire class of 16 students to remote learning Monday and Tuesday. District spokesperson Karen Corona said the district planned for the students to return to in-person class Monday.
Health officials and educators suspect the increase in cases among students and staff are being driven by viral spread in the broader community, but the cases have caused staffing shortages and forced some school to close to students. District officials have warned students and families to prepare for continued disruptions this winter.