President Bitterbaum addresses COVID-19 concerns


President Bitterbaum addresses COVID-19 concerns

President Erik J. Bitterbaum released the following statement to the SUNY Cortland community on March 4:

The threat posed by the novel coronavirus COVID-19 is causing understandable concern among students, parents, faculty and staff. Please know that SUNY Cortland’s administration and Student Health Services have been closely monitoring the respiratory virus, and we will continue to provide important updates, education and guidance.

Thankfully, no members of the campus community are currently suspected of contracting COVID-19, and the risk of infection on campus remains very low. Since the outbreak began in China, SUNY Cortland’s medical staff has collaborated with the Cortland County Health Department to establish proper protocols.

Additional information about the virus and updates on safety measures taken by SUNY Cortland are available on the university’s novel coronavirus information and update page.

Among the developments campus community members should be aware of:

  • SUNY Cortland’s Incident Management Team, composed of representatives across campus, is working diligently to ensure our processes adhere to the best practices advised by public health authorities and prepare for an array of possible challenges. These include curriculum continuity and contingencies for dining, housing and business operations. SUNY Cortland has a pandemic illness protocol that it will put into place if the threat of COVID-19 eventually make that necessary.
  • All SUNY Cortland students studying abroad in countries posing a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) level 3 or level 2 risk for COVID-19 have been urged to return to the U.S. as soon as possible. The decision will impact students currently in Italy and Japan.
  • Gov. Andrew Cuomo Tuesday announced he was arranging for travel for SUNY students in countries with the highest threat levels. All returning students will be isolated for up to 14 days upon their return. SUNY Cortland and SUNY system will work with study abroad students to address the financial and academic impact of COVID-19.
  • Students in countries currently rated a level 1 risk – the same as the U.S. – can remain abroad for now, although they will be offered options to leave and should understand that their situation may change in the future. The future of planned international trips for later this semester are under discussion. Students, faculty and staff are encouraged to avoid any unnecessary international travel.
  • Practice proactive hygiene and make the following habits part of your daily routine:
    • Wash your hands thoroughly and frequently, especially after using the bathroom, before preparing or eating food, after blowing your nose, coughing or sneezing, and visiting or caring for a sick person.
    • Cover coughs and sneezes by using a tissue over your mouth and nose and then disposing of it. If a tissue is unavailable, use your sleeve, not your hand, which is more likely to transmit fluid droplets to others.
    • Don’t share food, drinks, dishes, glasses or eating utensils.
    • Avoid direct contact with napkins, tissues or similar items used by others.
    • Avoid close contact with others, especially if you are ill. A distance of 6 feet is recommended.

I know the rapid spread of COVID-19 has caused heightened concern. Please know that the well-being and safety of our campus community is SUNY Cortland’s top priority, and we will continue to update our campus community as the situation evolves.

All the best,

Erik J. Bitterbaum

SUNY Cortland President