SUNY Chancellor endorses expanded COVID testing

SUNY Chancellor endorses expanded COVID testing

09/14/2020 

SUNY Chancellor Jim Malatras met with SUNY Cortland leadership on campus Sunday and endorsed the university’s plan to ramp up surveillance testing for the COVID virus and strengthen measures to stop its spread, including a temporary halt to all in-person activities by intercollegiate athletic teams, sports clubs and Greek organizations.  

SUNY Cortland will begin pooled surveillance testing on Wednesday, Sept. 16, at the Park Center Alumni Ice Arena, with a goal of testing 1,000 students each week. These tests, made possible by a newly developed saliva diagnostic test and increased processing capacity at SUNY Upstate Medical University, will be mandatory for all students. They are in addition to the testing already being done by Student Health Services of students who exhibit symptoms consistent with COVID-19 or have been in close contact with someone who has the virus.

Students selected for the first round will receive notice of their scheduled appointment via email tonight or Tuesday morning. Students selected for the second round, scheduled for Friday, Sept. 18, will receive appointment notices on Thursday.

Due to the critical nature of this endeavor, all faculty are asked to work with students to make up any work missed due to a potential conflict with class times. Faculty and staff who have volunteered for testing will also receive appointments and should make alternative class arrangements if there is a conflict.

Chancellor Malatras also approved SUNY Cortland’s plan to double the frequency of wastewater testing for the virus from once a week to twice weekly. Results from samples taken from seven locations on campus will help SUNY Cortland target its surveillance testing more effectively. For this to be effective, it is critically important that all students abide by the policy prohibiting anyone from entering a residence hall who does not live there.

“I want to thank SUNY Cortland President Erik J. Bitterbaum for continuing to build on Cortland’s comprehensive, evidence-based COVID-19 mitigation and response plan,” Chancellor Malatras said. “Increased testing frequency done in tandem with strict, consistent enforcement and data-driven decision making is the right, three-pronged strategy for keeping cases down and campuses open.”

In light of a recent cases involving members of Greek organizations and athletic teams, SUNY Cortland is extending last week’s announced prohibition of in-person Greek and athletic activities until further notice.  The measure is also being widened to include all sororities and fraternities and all SUNY Cortland sport clubs. Those groups are now temporarily prohibited from holding in-person activities, either on-campus or off-campus, until further notice. This is not a disciplinary action, but a public safety measure required to protect our community. These prohibitions, recommended by the chancellor, will be re-evaluated weekly based on analysis of surveillance testing.

SUNY Cortland currently has 45 current positive cases of COVID-19, all of who are in isolation, either at home, in their off-campus apartment or in campus quarantine/isolation housing. Members of the SUNY Cortland community should be aware that if that number rises to 100, a series of more drastic measures will be taken, including the immediate elimination of in-person classes and a shift to distance learning.

Updated SUNY Cortland information on positive COVID tests is available on our COVID-19 Dashboard.

Although students on-campus appear to be doing a commendable job social distancing, wearing face coverings and avoiding large groups, we continue to receive reports of potentially dangerous student behavior off campus. Students should be aware that we are enhancing enforcement of gathering size restrictions both on and off-campus. Violators, those who host or attend unsafe gatherings, will face student conduct sanctions that could include automatic suspension, loss of athletic eligibility or loss of a Greek organization’s campus recognition.  SUNY Cortland has already suspended students for serious or repeated violations of the university’s COVID-19 safety policies, and will continue to do so. 

“The vast majority of our students understand the seriousness of this situation and the potential life-threatening impact of the disease,” President Bitterbaum said. “But, as we have unfortunately seen, it only takes a single act of carelessness or willful disregard to impact the lives of many people.”


More News

Mental health resources available for students

Mental health resources available for students

Students have many options when it comes to self-care.


Faculty, staff and alumni pitch in for “Ghosts in the Park”

Faculty, staff and alumni pitch in for “Ghosts in the Park”

Cortland Repertory Theatre is hosting a spooky event for families on Oct. 30 and 31.


SUNY Cortland listed on “Guide to Green Colleges”

SUNY Cortland listed on “Guide to Green Colleges”

The Princeton Review gives Cortland a score of 96 out of 99 on its green rating scale.


Online Graduate School Fair on Oct. 28

Online Graduate School Fair on Oct. 28

Students may learn about programs from 134 colleges and universities.


SUNY Cortland’s 2020-21 winter athletics season canceled

SUNY Cortland’s 2020-21 winter athletics season canceled

The SUNYAC announced its decision to cancel winter sports for the 2020-21 season.


How to celebrate Halloween during COVID-19

How to celebrate Halloween during COVID-19

University offers some advice and some opportunities for safe celebrating.


President urges students to complete Fall 2020 Student Survey

President urges students to complete Fall 2020 Student Survey

Students have received an email with a link to the survey.


SUNY Cortland Recreation Conference marks 70th year

SUNY Cortland Recreation Conference marks 70th year

The virtual event, planned for Nov. 5 and 6, is themed on “Sustainability.”


Education professor gets creative teaching online

Education professor gets creative teaching online

Jeremy Jimenez has used new ways to explore race, class and gender issues in his classes.


Blackout March for Justice to be held virtually

Blackout March for Justice to be held virtually

Webex event unites students, faculty, and community members against racial injustice.