Fall 2021 Guidance/COVID-19 Information

Important reminders about student absences due to COVID-19

Important reminders about student absences due to COVID-19

09/15/2021 

Dear faculty and staff,

I am reaching out to clarify expectations regarding absences related to COVID-19. The simple answer for the Fall 2021 semester is that we are generally treating them as we would any other absence due to an illness or an accident, as outlined in SUNY Cortland’s College Catalog.

We are committed to in-person instruction and faculty are not expected to provide online or synchronous instruction for students, regardless of whether they are missing a single class or mandated to spend time in isolation or quarantine. 

If it’s a short absence, perhaps two or three days while a student is awaiting a scheduled test or results, you should treat it like a normal short-term absence.

  • There is no need to notify an associate dean. 
  • Faculty should support students as much as possible by providing notes, handouts, slides, or other material students can use to make up missed work.  
  • No students should come to class with symptoms. Please encourage students to stay home and arrange for testing, even if they have only minor symptoms. 

If a student is required by the Cortland County Health Department to enter isolation or quarantine, you should treat it the way you would a lengthy student illness.

  • It is the student’s responsibility to contact their associate dean if they receive an order of isolation or quarantine and provide evidence for verification. That evidence can be a copy of their isolation or quarantine order or a letter from the county health department.  
  • The associate dean will inform instructors of the extended absence. 
  • As with any prolonged absence, the student should be allowed to make up the missed work. We want to support our students and help them succeed, so please try to provide these students with resources to help them to keep up in their coursework. 

The Cortland County Health Department is in charge of contact tracing. They may reach out to you about where students were sitting on a given day to determine possible exposure.

  • Keep in mind that we have implemented several layers of mitigation — vaccination requirements, surveillance testing, face coverings — aimed at limiting the spread of COVID-19. 
  • Consider implementing assigned classroom seating to help with the tracking effort.
  • A positive case in the class does not necessarily mean the whole class was exposed. The county health department will make that determination. 

As of this time, there is no plan to move a class online if many students are out at one time.   

If you are symptomatic, or if you are in mandated isolation or quarantine and would like to temporarily teach your class online, please do so. If you are too ill, please let your department chair know so they can help make other arrangements. 

In closing, I want to express my gratitude for the amazing work and tireless dedication all of you are demonstrating this semester. Please know you are deeply appreciated.  

All the best,  

Erik J. Bitterbaum
President


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