The following message was sent on behalf of President Erik J. Bitterbaum:
SUNY Cortland’s annual family weekend has always been special; an emotional reunion that offers families a peek into their student’s life at the university.
During a pandemic, however, the traditional hug-filled weekend poses a potential health threat.
That’s why we decided this summer to make family weekend, scheduled for Saturday, Oct. 10 and Sunday, Oct. 11, a completely virtual event. I urge you all to participate. It is not a substitute for getting together in person, but it is our safest, most responsible option.
With SUNY Cortland operating under a temporary study-in-place order due to rising numbers of COVID infections, state and local health officials have told us that families should NOT travel to Cortland to see their students. As a parent, I understand how difficult and emotional that request may be.
However, the SUNY administration – supported by the state and county health departments – has advised us to keep all members of our community in the Cortland area during our two-week study-in-place. The goal is to keep students from unknowingly infecting their families and transmitting the virus to other communities. Similarly, they advised against students inviting friends or family members to travel to Cortland. Not only might visitors become infected and take the virus home, but family members could unwittingly bring COVID to Cortland, potentially undermining our containment efforts.
I realize that many families are already in town for the weekend. Hotel rooms were booked in advance, parents are concerned and some students are having a difficult time of it. For these families I ask that you be extra vigilant while you are in Cortland:
But let me be clear: The best public health decision would be to postpone visits to Cortland and the campus until case counts drop and the study-in-place order is lifted.
In times like these, the teamwork SUNY Cortland is known for becomes more important than ever. That means cooperating to help each other abide by rules, assisting fellow community members who are in quarantine or isolation and practicing civility.
You should be aware that I have been disappointed by reports of bullying directed at students who have tested positive. COVID-19 is an illness, and most people catch it through no fault of their own. Victim shaming – of any kind – is not welcome in our community. Compassion moves us forward, not condemnation.
Next week, our surveillance testing efforts will more than triple. As we test and re-test our community, we know our numbers will go up. But we also know they will also come back down if we all cooperate and act responsibly.
All the best,
Erik J. Bitterbaum