Spring 2021 Guide and COVID-19 information

Restart SUNY Cortland

Message from President Erik J. Bitterbaum

The COVID-19 pandemic has sorely tested all institutions of higher education, forcing us to abandon old ways of doing things and reconsider every aspect of our operations. That will continue as we move forward with plans to return to on-campus instruction for the Fall 2020 semester. The safety and well-being of our community — students, faculty, staff, guests and neighbors — continue to be SUNY Cortland’s top priority. The framework for our restart is based on guidance from the Centers for Disease Control, New York State Department of Health, SUNY system and the Office of Governor Andrew Cuomo. As more decisions are made and details become available, you will find them here.

Section 1: Re-populating campus

Returning to campus quarantine

All students traveling to SUNY Cortland from other countries or designated states within the US, must complete the NY State Travel Health form upon entering New York and prepare to quarantine for 14 days.

On-Campus Students

On-campus students fitting this description will be required to quarantine for 14 days in the university’s quarantine housing or at another location within New York.  Residence life and housing will notify students via email that they will be required to quarantine. Students who need to quarantine should plan to return to campus 14 days ahead of time to ensure that they will complete the quarantine before classes begin. On-campus students needing quarantine must contact Residence Life and Housing to make arrangements. Students will need to provide Residence Life and Housing with a confirmation that they completed the NY State Travel Health form.

Off-Campus Students

Off-campus students will be required to quarantine in their off-campus housing or another location within New York for 14 days. On-campus housing is not available for off-campus students.
Students who plan to self-quarantine in their off-campus residence should return ahead of time to ensure that they will complete the quarantine before classes begin. Students should arrange to have food and supplies delivered as needed. Students with roommates should be diligent in practicing physical distancing, wearing masks in shared spaces, washing hands often and sanitizing shared areas.

Visit the New York State Travel Advisory website for a list of the current designated states.


If a student is traveling from their home in a designated state, or if the student is returning from a visit to a designated state that lasted longer than 24 hours, the student is required to quarantine for 14 days. Brief visits that do not require quarantine include, but are not limited to, stopping at rest stops for vehicles, or lay-overs for air, bus or train travel. 

The requirements of quarantine include:

  • The individual must not be in public or otherwise leave the quarters that they have identified as suitable for their quarantine.
  • The individual must be situated in separate quarters with a separate bathroom facility for each individual or family group. Access to a sink with soap, water, and paper towels is necessary. Cleaning supplies (e.g. household cleaning wipes, bleach) must be provided in any shared bathroom.
  • The individual must have a way to self-isolate from household members as soon as fever or other symptoms develop, in a separate room(s) with a separate door. Given that an exposed person might become ill while sleeping, the exposed person must sleep in a separate bedroom from household members.
  • Food must be delivered to the person’s quarters.
  • Quarters must have a supply of face masks for individuals to put on if they become symptomatic.
  • Garbage must be bagged and left outside for routine pick up. Special handling is not required.
  • A system for temperature and symptom monitoring must be implemented to provide assessment for the quarantined persons in their separate quarters.
  • Nearby medical facilities must be notified if the individual begins to experience more than mild symptoms and may require medical assistance.
  • The quarters must be secure against unauthorized access.

PPE/Social distancing

All of SUNY Cortland’s restart planning has a single, overarching objective: to safely deliver academic excellence and a fulfilling campus experience while doing all we can to protect our community and prevent the spread of COVID-19.

As we work to restart classroom education and campus life, SUNY Cortland will substantially reduce population density in all areas of campus during the Fall 2020 semester and ensure that all students, faculty, staff and guests are using face coverings and other recommended personal protection equipment (PPE) as applicable to their specific occupation. To accomplish this, we will reconfigure nearly all indoor spaces for academics, recreation, dining and residential life. We will also alter scheduling, limit campus access, change pedestrian traffic patterns and implement new policies and educational efforts aimed at changing campus behavior.

Institutional policy will require all people on campus to maintain 6 feet of distance from others. They will be required to wear a face covering when that is not possible, which, on a university campus, will include walking between classrooms and facilities, dining areas, common areas of residence halls and other situations where they are likely to come within close proximity to others, including outdoor sidewalks. The university has committed to purchase reusable masks for every Cortland employee and student. Individual departments may procure additional face coverings through the approved procurement process set up through the campus's Resource Allocation Committee.

SUNY Cortland’s Facilities, Operations and Services (FOS) Office teamed with the Purchasing and Accounts Payable Office to create a PPE order form that has been distributed to all campus administrators. It gives campus offices and departments the opportunity to order PPE items needed for personnel returning to the workplace. In order to manage and maintain our stock of PPE, we will be adding our campus’ PPE to our internal campus central stores.

This PPE form was accompanied by a workplace assessment checklist developed by the Environmental Health and Safety Office (EHS). It asks campus administrators to evaluate their office spaces with relevant staff and faculty and develop a proposal for maintaining social distancing in that environment through a variety of measures (e.g. rotating on-site personnel, moving personnel to other locations, setting up partitions). With the assistance of the FOS and EHS teams, a plan of action will be developed to allow each office to function safely.

Social distancing is a key component to the university’s plan for academic programming for the fall 2020 semester. SUNY Cortland’s plan seeks to balance meaningful in-person interactions, seen as foundational to a meaningful college experience, with strict social distancing measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

During in-person classes or meetings, all students and faculty will be required to wear masks when engaging in academic activities. Academic Affairs is working with Student Conduct to ensure that compliance with safety protocols is a part of the Student Code of Conduct.

SUNY Cortland analyzed CAD drawings of all our 105 instructional spaces to determine the maximum capacity of each location that would enable occupants to maintain recommended distances; seats will be placed within a 96-inch diameter circle with 7-10 feet of teaching zones in front of them. Under these parameters, seating capacity of all rooms will be significantly reduced, with the vast majority of spaces only able to accommodate between 20% and 50% of the normal number of seats. We also identified an additional 12 to 15 spaces that could be converted for classroom use under social distancing conditions. We therefore expect to utilize approximately 120 classrooms for the fall semester. All instructional spaces that are too small to accommodate academic activities while maintaining social distance protocols will be closed.

For the fall 2020 semester, Cortland’s Auxiliary Services Corporation (ASC) will reduce seating capacities for dining locations, and all tables will be at least 6 feet apart. Operating hours may be adjusted in order to accommodate all students. Queuing will be used to manage distancing, and diners will use separate entrances for ingress and egress. Circulation and densities will be monitored by dining management on the floor and via CCTV to ensure social distancing rules are followed. Signage and markings may be used to dictate acceptable spacing. All ASC dining employees will be required to wear masks and appropriate PPE, and all patrons will be required to wear masks and distance appropriately.

Campus buses will allow passengers to walk in one direction only in the aisle between seats, with the front door of each bus serving as the entrance point and the rear door as the exit. The university looks to increase the number of busses running to maintain lower passenger density. The first row of seats behind the driver will be vacant. Only one person will be allowed per seat, in every other row, on each side of the bus, with maximum occupancy of 15 riders. All riders will be required to practice social distancing and wear masks.

If possible, Cortland will eliminate limited-quantity mail deliveries directly to an office. Instead, central receiving will require campus departments and offices to pick up their mail directly from the central receiving location, limiting exposure areas and possible cross-contamination.

Student Health Service (SHS), which will continue to play a lead role in SUNY Cortland’s planning, is also adapting to accommodate students’ return to campus. Non-essential furnishings are being removed from its office to comply with physical distancing standards. Traffic will move one way so that students will exit the office without passing through the waiting room area. Signage to facilitate physical distancing is being developed. Front-office staff will be protected by plexiglass barriers at high-contact areas. A policy prohibiting non-essential visitors will also be enacted, and SHS is seeking satellite office space to segregate individuals with respiratory complaints from all other visitors. Symptomatic patients will be isolated upon arrival in a private room with closed door and a private bathroom (as available).

The use of telemedicine protocols will reduce non-essential, in-person visits. Changes in scheduling procedures will eliminate both walk-in patients and stop the practice of online self- scheduling. Instead, a phone triage nurse will schedule all patients based on their health concerns. The triage process will include screening for fever and symptoms associated with COVID-19. All healthcare staff will perform daily screening to monitor for signs and symptoms of illness and have access to periodic testing. All personnel will comply with PPE, sanitization and other protocols put in place to meet CDC guidelines.

Screening and testing

SHS has developed a comprehensive student screening strategy for SUNY Cortland’s restart that includes a mandatory pre-arrival screening questionnaire to be completed prior to arrival on campus, followed by continuous, enhanced passive screening throughout the semester. Our pre-arrival screening method was adapted from similar processes used by the NY State Department of Health and the CDC. Our assessment tool will be made available to students online as a submittal form.cv

Positive screens will require isolation or quarantine for 14 days prior to arrival. Non-compliance with screening requirements may result in holds placed on student accounts or other enforcement measures. Students who screen negatively will be prompted to begin incorporating a symptom survey into their daily routines. The symptom survey is a form of passive screening that will be enhanced by communication strategies that remind individuals to remain vigilant for signs of illness, and provides guidance and a mechanism for medical evaluation should symptoms develop. If a student’s daily screen is positive, they will be advised to remain home, call student health services and a medical evaluation will be scheduled.

A daily pre-screening questionnaire will be required by all faculty and staff each day they report to the workplace. They must also sign an attestation that they have reviewed, and will adhere to, the standards identified in the New York State COVID- 19 Response: Return to Work Training video Positive screens will require a referral to a physician for further review and will be automatically reported to the Human Resources Office (HR). Positive test results for COVID-19 would require isolation. Contact tracing would be conducted by the Cortland County Health Department in conjunction with HR.

All employees will be asked to assess themselves for symptoms daily and will be asked to stay home if they are sick. They should be mindful of this self-assessment throughout the day, and if symptoms develop at work, they should go home.

Residential living

To minimize density in student living facilities, Residence Life and Housing (Res Life) will eliminate all triple occupancy in double rooms. To that end, the university is actively working with College Suites, a private residential facility in Cortland, to secure 185 additional beds. This added residence hall will be staffed by resident assistants and a full-time residence hall director.

Students in residence halls will be required to wear face coverings whenever they leave their rooms and in all common areas, including hallways and shared bathrooms. In bathrooms, students can only remove face coverings when necessary, as when taking a shower or brushing teeth. Cleaning supplies will be available in all bathrooms for individual students to wipe down the area after they are done. Paper towels will be made available instead of the current hand dryers.

In all of its residential buildings, the university will post new occupancy limits in front of all lounges, study rooms, laundry facilities, kitchenettes and bathrooms that will reduce occupancy by 25 to 75% in each of those areas. Students will be asked to use SUNY Cortland’s laundry room app, which lets them know when a washer or dryer is available, to maintain lower occupancy.

Halls will be evaluated individually for circulation and flow under social-distancing circumstances. Signage will be used to guide and promote social distancing, safety and good hygiene.

In residence halls, it will be necessary to ensure that professional and student staff are modeling safe practices, such as wearing masks when in common spaces and hallways and avoiding large gatherings. In its communications Res Life will inform students and families how staff can be available virtually, limiting much personal contact. They will also educate them on the consequences of not following protocol.

SUNY Cortland is also planning to extend the student move-in timeframe from its existing 3.5- day process to 7 days, staggered by student type, hall and floor, so as to minimize density at any one hall or location. Personal protective equipment (PPE) will be available for employees, and we are working to ensure the availability of sanitizing stations and other mitigation measures for move-in and day-to-day usage.

During move-in, students will be allowed only two additional family members to assist. All of them will be required to wear masks and gloves and maintain six feet of distance. Additionally, there will be designated entries and exits at each hall to minimize people passing one another face to face. Additionally, we will provide sanitizing stations in the entrances and lobbies of each hall.

Operational activity

Restarting operations safely on campus in the fall will require dramatic changes to many of the university’s key operations, including the delivery of academics, dining, athletics and library services.


SUNY Cortland’s academic calendar will be altered significantly in order to help prevent students from leaving Cortland during breaks and returning as potential carriers of the novel coronavirus. Classes will start as scheduled on Monday, Aug. 31, 2020, but there will be no breaks between the start of classes and Nov. 20, 2020, the Friday prior to Thanksgiving. Labor Day will be a regular class day and there will be no fall break. There will be no classes during the week of Thanksgiving, allowing time for students to move out of their campus residence halls and return home. The remaining two weeks of classes (Nov. 30, 2020 to Dec. 11, 2020) and finals week (Dec. 14-18, 2020) will be conducted virtually.

Because of reduced classroom capacity, a significant change in course delivery is needed for all but the smallest classes. All classes with enrollments of 60 students or more will be taught exclusively online. All other classes will need to be taught in a hybrid fashion, with some content presented online and the balance presented in person. In-person components of most classes will be conducted with one subset of enrolled students at a time, as most classrooms will not be able to accommodate the full enrollment at once. Courses delivered twice per week (e.g.

Tuesday/Thursday) will be assigned to a space that can accommodate at least half of the student enrollment. Courses delivered three times per week (e.g. Monday/Wednesday/Friday) will be assigned to a space that can accommodate at least one third of the enrolled students.

The Registrar’s office is currently re-assigning each class to a space that can accommodate social distancing for the number of students enrolled in that class. Faculty will be informed of the seating capacity of their assigned teaching spaces, and this capacity will be posted in each space. Classroom furniture will be placed so that proper social distancing protocols are followed and designated classroom capacities are not exceeded.

This structure will enable faculty to divide their classes into two or three groups, each of which can attend in-person sessions at least once per week. Faculty can use these in-person sessions as they deem appropriate. Some may choose to put the majority of their content online (e.g. video lectures, class readings, problem sets for students to engage with prior to an in-person class session. The in-person class sessions can then be used as discussion groups in which students interact with the faculty to explore the questions, issues and ideas raised through the content.

Other faculty may choose to use in-person class sessions to give presentations, demonstrations or lectures, which can be livestreamed via various mobile apps or captured on video so that those students not in attendance can access the content virtually. Professional development to help faculty determine how their content can best be delivered through both hybrid and online methods will be provided by the college this summer.

Academic Affairs is working with Student Conduct to ensure that compliance with safety protocols is a part of the Student Code of Conduct. Directions for entering and exiting each individual space will be posted both within and outside of that space. Classes for faculty and students who have mobility issues are scheduled on the first floor of accessible buildings so that no use of elevators will be needed to get to classes. No food will be allowed in instructional spaces unless medically necessary.

Each of SUNY Cortland’s instructional spaces will be thoroughly cleaned and disinfected twice per day during the fall semester. In addition to a hand sanitizer dispenser, each space will have a quart bottle of disinfectant and a roll of paper towels for students and faculty to use for additional disinfecting as needed or desired. The custodial staff will ensure the disinfectant and paper towels are stocked throughout the day. All instructional spaces that are too small to accommodate academic activities while maintaining social distance protocols will be closed.

The university also analyzed its instructional laboratory capacity. Most lab sections can accommodate approximately 50% of their current enrollment. Faculty who teach in labs are working to determine how they will structure lab sessions so that participation in lab activities will only involve half of the students at a time. All lab spaces will follow the same safety and cleaning protocols as for classroom space.

SUNY Cortland offers a significant number of courses that involve off-campus field work (e.g. student teaching), internships and activities (e.g. physical education and recreation-related coursework). These courses frequently involve working with off-campus partners and delivery in non-traditional instructional spaces. If field work involves transportation, departments will determine how to maintain social distancing and cleaning protocols during transport.


Memorial Library will provide a place for dynamic learning experiences while adhering to proper safety guidelines. It will do this by reducing the density of the building through physical modifications, altering hours of operation and enhancing online services. All staff and patrons will be required to wear masks and adhere to social distancing within the building. Enhanced cleaning procedures within individual offices and the building will be established. Additional sanitizing stations will be located at library entrances, high-traffic corridors and key high-touch items such as printers, computers and scanners.

Several modifications are needed on the first, second and third floors of the library to promote social distancing. The fourth floor, designated as a quiet area, already provides individual tables and seats. Overall seating throughout the library will be reduced by at least 50%. Some tables, with one chair per table, will be aligned to allow for small groups to work together from a distance.

Signage will be used to regulate the use of common areas. Group study rooms may be reduced to one user. Plexiglas partitions will be installed at the main desk and the research help desk. In addition, the social distancing guideline indicators will be placed on the floor at service desks, printers and scanners.

Library services will provide virtual as well as personal interactions. The availability of online resources and services will be marketed by the library. Signage and web content will alert patrons to peak hours of occupancy. Hours of operation may be adjusted due to building occupancy and staffing. Circulation will encourage patrons to pre-order materials for curbside or front desk delivery in order to reduce building density. When materials are returned, staff will use gloves to handle them and place them in a designated quarantine area for 72 hours. Interlibrary loan will follow the same protocols for any loaned or received physical items. Equipment loans will be cleaned according to guidelines before being added to the general circulating collection.

Some mechanism of self-checkout or card swiping by patrons will be implemented for loaning out materials. Research Help and Archives will provide online research consultations via virtual services and by appointment. Library classroom instruction will continue in some hybrid or online format.


SUNY Cortland’s plan to return to athletics will be based on the NCAA’s 28-day model, which consists of phased, resocialization periods. It is also strongly influenced by the recommendations of the university’s medical director.

NCAA guidelines allow student athletes to begin practices on August 10, 2020. Return dates vary according to sport and schedule. Due to uncertainty of current athletic competition schedules and the need to make changes to ensure both student-athlete safety and fiscal responsibility, dates have not yet been established for student athletes to return to campus.

Within the athletic department, work space assessments are in progress to determine the best way to utilize space while protecting students, staff and coaches. Social distancing, personal protective equipment and sanitizing protocols were reviewed and will be implemented.

Operational protocols are being discussed as well, but have not yet been finalized. SUNY Cortland is still determining whether family, friends and fans will be allowed to attend athletic contests. Shared spaces such as meeting rooms present a challenge, and team meeting spaces will be altered to accommodate social distancing when athletes are not on the playing field.

Protocols for practices are underway. As an example, watering stations are being developed to eliminate the need for individual water bottles. Products will be distributed to individual athletes so they can sanitize their equipment after games and practices.

Dining services

SUNY Cortland’s dining services will change substantially beyond its previously described efforts to reduce density.

In order to reduce physical contact at each residential dining unit, students, faculty and staff will scan themselves in with their SUNY Cortland ID cards to get access to the unit, rather than be checked in by an employee. In situations where that capability is not available, a cashier behind a sneeze guard with required PPE will scan ID cards to process meal plans or payment. ASC will also require faculty and staff to preload their ID cards with funds, enabling then to scan payments using Cortland ID.

ASC is also eliminating self-serve options in the dining units. Some items that were previously self-serve, like the salad bars, will now be served pre-packaged or served by staff. All employees will be required to wear face coverings and other appropriate PPE, and ASC will require all customers to wear masks. Each dining unit employee will receive a day of training prior to the start of the semester that covers cleaning, safety, protection and guidance related to preventing the spread of COVID-19.

Because of reduced seating, students, faculty and staff will have takeout options, and ASC will pilot a reusable takeout container program on campus. Students on SUNY Cortland meal plans will receive a reusable container. ASC will replace, wash and sanitize the containers as they are turned in after use. Containers may also be purchased by students and employees who do not have meal plans.

ASC successfully implemented Grub-hub at its retail locations in all 2019, and it will expand its use of this mobile ordering platform. Additionally, to further improve social distancing while ensuring that students, faculty and staff have more opportunities to obtain meals, ASC’s catering group will maintain three to four food hubs on campus that will offer prepackaged, takeout meals.Outside groups and the general public will not be allowed to use SUNY Cortland’s residential dining units during fall 2020.

Restart operations

All non-academic spaces will gradually return to use throughout the summer, during the UN- PAUSE period. Academic spaces are anticipated to return to use in the fall of 2020. All spaces must be thoroughly cleaned and disinfected before they can be used. Once buildings and departments have been re-occupied, they will receive the same level of cleaning and disinfection described in Section 2 of this report. Restrooms and water fountains in high-traffic areas will be cleaned, and high-touch surfaces should be disinfected at least twice per day.

CDC Guidance indicates that coronaviruses on surfaces and objects naturally die within hours to days. Therefore, areas that have been unoccupied for 7 days or more need only normal, routine cleaning to reopen. This section is intended to address the re-occupancy for administrative functions and limited non-academic functions anticipated for the summer of 2020. Additional cleaning and disinfection will be needed prior to the re-occupancy for academic offerings.

FOS will be provided with at least one week of notice prior to the re-occupancy of an area in order to allow time to properly clean and disinfect the space. Notice should be provided by submitting a request in the Work Order System. FOS will notify the requestor when the space is approved for re-occupancy, and will maintain a listing of requests and approved areas. Once re- occupied, the space will remain on the routine cleaning and disinfection schedule as described in Section 2.

Extracurricular activities and student performances

SUNY Cortland’s Office of Campus Activities and Corey Union is committed to creating an out- of-classroom student experience where students learn about themselves and others, experience meaningful connections, and realize their potential. SUNY Cortland’s plan will enable the office to continue delivering quality, effective student activities while preventing the spread of COVID-19.

Most workshops and programming for students will be virtual in all 2020. SUNY Cortland has identified only five indoor spaces where 50 or more individuals may be allowed to gather safely under social-distancing protocols. Student club and organization programs will be attended exclusively by members of the SUNY Cortland Community, with no guests allowed. Student employees will be scheduled to minimize densities in their workspaces and to wear a cloth mask in situations where required social distancing cannot be maintained.

In designing and executing programmatic initiatives, faculty and staff will adhere to the provisions of SUNY Cortland’s Restart Plan. In-person programming will be restricted to the number of individuals allowed under social distancing guidelines. That may require that key programs be repeated to accommodate the needs of students and the campus community.

Speakers and artists will be allowed, but the physical audience will be limited to reduce density. Staff will work to provide availability online and through the use of overflow rooms. They will also collaborate with FOS to create and execute a plan for disinfecting programming spaces after each student event.

Student organizations sponsoring or hosting events must follow all SUNY Cortland policies and encourage behaviors related to social distancing, sanitizing, self-assessment and PPE outlined in the Student Code of Conduct. This will include wearing a cloth mask in situations where the required social distancing cannot be maintained.

In-person attendance at all student events (including student organizations, clubs, Greek events) will be limited based on social distancing capacities. Events should be individually evaluated to determine if the event can be effectively offered virtually or through a combination of in-person and virtual formats. Fall 2020 campus operational norms apply to the activities of all recognized or registered student organizations regardless of the activity’s location.

Student leaders and their advisors will clearly communicate to participants in student-run events the safety behaviors required for participation, as well as inherent health risks associated with event attendance. Additionally, student leaders will assist in minimizing congregating in public campus spaces by setting time limitations on events, limiting the both the number of people in the space at one time and the available seating.

The university will limit student group reservations of on-campus spaces to reduce density. Student leaders reserving space through their advisors will work with FOS to create and implement a plan to disinfect buildings and programming spaces after each student event.

Although the reintroduction of standard activities and programming is imperative to student engagement, the need to protect students will require us to evaluate which traditional activities are possible for Fall 2020, and which should be delayed. Programmatic proposals for SUNY Cortland this fall will therefore be classified into one of four categories:

Definite – essential programs that need to be available at the inception of the semester (e.g., Welcome Week activities). Some of these activities are likely to vary in how they’re delivered from year’s past.

Delayed – programs that can possibly be rescheduled for later in the fall semester

Deferred – programs that may need to be postponed until the Spring 2021 semester or later. This includes all facility rentals to external groups.

Delivery - programs that may need to be delivered in-person, in small groups and frequently repeated to meet student needs.

Recreational Sports/Student Life Center

The centerpiece of recreational life at SUNY Cortland is its multi-purpose Student Life Center. SUNY Cortland will require all students and staff in the facility to wear face coverings and practice social distancing at all times. It will also limit the number of people using the facility at any one time to the capacity determined to meet social distancing guidelines. Staff will count the number of people entering, and once capacity has been reached, no more participants will be allowed to enter until someone leaves. Capacity has also been determined for each activity space and will be enforced.

The Recreational Sports Office worked with ASC, which has a residential dining facility in the complex, to develop a plan to mitigate the traffic in the SLC Lobby, which students use to access both recreational and dining facilities, as well as a short cut between the north and south ends of campus. They will use directional signs on the floor and stanchions to direct traffic flow and encourage social distancing.

An additional building supervisor will be added to help enforce all policies and procedures. Social distancing in the Cardio Fitness area will be enacted by allowing participants to use only every other machine and by using directional signs on the floor. In the Circuit/Free Weight area, equipment will be rearranged or removed to create spacing and an additional student supervisor will be added. In the Equipment Checkout Service, we will only rent and check out equipment that can be easily sanitized. This equipment will be sanitized immediately after each use. The same policies/procedures will also apply in the Outdoor Pursuits Equipment Checkout Service

Special emphasis will be placed on cleaning and sanitizing in the facility. Participants will be required to disinfect any piece of equipment before and after they use it. An adequate number of disinfectant spray bottles and paper towel racks will be supplied throughout the facility.

In order to have less personal contact with the control desk supervisor, facility users will swipe their own ID Cards for access. Only one person will be allowed behind the Control Desk at a time and a plexiglass screen will be installed. Hand sanitizer will be available to everyone at the Control Desk and throughout the facility at each activity space. Gloves will be available if requested by a staff member.

The restarting of intramural sports and sport clubs is awaiting state direction on the type of activities that will be allowed, but we are operating under the assumption that contact sports such as basketball, flag football, rugby and ice hockey will not be permitted. As a result, alternative programming will be provided. For Intramural Sports, the university is considering activities such as tennis, badminton, table tennis, KanJam, and pickleball. It will expand its involvement with “esports.”

Although many of SUNY Cortland’s sport clubs may not be allowed to practice and compete as they normally would, the Recreational Sports Office will make efforts to help clubs stay together and modify their activities to at least be able to work on their skills. For instance, the baseball and softball clubs could still practice hitting and fielding even though they would not be allowed to compete. Clubs will be given an opportunity to suggest ways they might modify their clubs and remain active.

Performing Arts

SUNY Cortland’s Performing Arts Department is committed to providing students with the important experiential learning process of rehearsing and performing in a production, while following social distancing and other health and safety guidelines. Given the uncertainty of the situation and in light of advice from various performing arts professional associations, the department will cancel its announced productions for the fall semester since the titles chosen would not allow actors to be safely socially distant.

The department is instead developing a production that will both incorporate the need for the performers to be physically distant while addressing the feeling of isolation created by the pandemic. Since this project will be created with material from disparate sources, it will require much more time than producing an already scripted and will be a full-semester project.

The performance would be set for the final week of campus course delivery, Nov. 16-21. The department would have a limited live audience and might combine the live performance with live streaming or an “on demand” version to share online.

Protecting vulnerable populations

HR will utilize its reasonable accommodation process under the ADA to accommodate faculty and teaching staff who are not able to deliver in-person content due to health or other concerns. Student Disability Services is developing similar protocols for accommodating students in at-risk categories. It is expected that for these individuals, all teaching and learning will be conducted virtually. Classes for faculty and students who have mobility issues are scheduled on the first floor of accessible buildings so that no use of elevators will be needed to attend classes.

According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), individuals with certain conditions may have a higher risk for COVID-19 infection. Those conditions may include asthma, diabetes, serious heart condition, obesity, compromised immune system, age (65 or older) and more. Employees who have been instructed to return to work on campus and have concerns about doing so because of one of these conditions — as well as those who are pregnant or wish to seek ADA Reasonable Accommodations related to Returning to the Workplace — can complete an Employee Request Form for Reasonable Accommodation or can contact Human Resource for assistance.

SUNY Cortland will take steps to enable students with disabilities to return safely and be included as an integral part of the campus community. The university is taking steps to ensure that students affiliating with Disability Resources have, as determined on a case-by-case basis, a pathway for educational experiences at SUNY Cortland.

Students who have disabilities that put them at increased health risk from COVID-19 will have individual consideration when requesting to take a course in an online format. In instances where in-person experiences are essential to the course, alternatives such as postponing the course or substituting other requirements will be considered.

Students will use academic accommodations as specified by their access plan, whether they are taking a course face-to-face or via an online format. Accommodations could include captioning, accessible formatted print materials, clear face shields for lip reading, assistive technology, breaks from class, breaks from screen time, testing accommodations, attendance and assignment extensions or note-taking assistance.

Students needing physical accessibility due to their disability can be placed in housing that gives them suitable access to participate in their college programs. Campus pathways being created around campus to provide social distancing protocols are taking students with visual, hearing or mobility considerations into account. For example, the university is installing tactile pavement markers.

Hygiene, cleaning and disinfecting

Enhanced cleaning and disinfection are critical to reducing the spread of COVID-19 as SUNY Cortland returns to operations following the PAUSE period established by the Governor Cuomo. Details of SUNY Cortland’s new protocols are available in Section 3.

There is a very low probability the COVID-19 virus can be transmitted via existing air handling systems in non-health care settings. It is still widely documented the disease is most easily transmitted via direct, person-to-person contact. SUNY Cortland has taken a proactive approach to change filters before occupancy increases on campus, which is in alignment with our typical Preventative Maintenance program and American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air- Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) recommendations.

General recommendations from ASHRAE and OSHA focus on indoor air quality, preventative maintenance and general best practices — nothing extraordinary beyond a typical maintenance service program.

Facilities Operations and Services has been in communication with other SUNY institutions and the local water department regarding wastewater surveillance for indications of COVID-19. At this point in time, based on cost, hook up factors and other considerations, we are not proceeding with this testing. We will continue to monitor effectiveness and possible cost reductions in utilizing this method moving forward.

Section 2: Monitoring

Testing responsibility

Consistent with expert guidance and current understanding of available diagnostic testing, SUNY Cortland is restricting testing to its intended use among symptomatic and exposed individuals.

Students with symptoms or who contract tracing has determined have an exposure risk, will be tested. We will use the Quidel Corporation SOFIA 2 analyzer to perform rapid antigen testing on- site, guided by a testing algorithm we developed that aligns with current FDA and CDC recommendations. All students with a clinical or exposure-based risk factor who test negative on rapid testing will also be tested using the more established polymerase chain reaction (PCR) technique. We have commercial lab capabilities but will consider other laboratories for processing, such as Upstate Medical University should their test be approved by the FDA. We are aware of the role of serologic testing, and if IgG or IgM testing finds a role in diagnosis we will be prepared to incorporate this technology into our regimen. We already possess the capability of performing IgG serologic tests through our commercial lab.

Employees will be required to perform self-monitoring checks before arriving to work each day (see details related to screening below). Positive results from self-monitoring checks would require an employee to stay home and contact a supervisor, a physician and Human Resources. Positive test results would also require quarantine and isolation and the initiation of tracing protocols. Testing for COVID-19 is to be completed by a medical provider or certified testing site. All notifications and documentation will be the responsibility of Human Resources.

Testing frequency and protocols

The Student Health Service will adhere to the CDC guidance on testing, which describes the following five categories of individuals for SARS-CoV-2 viral (nucleic acid or antigen) testing:

  • Testing individuals with signs or symptoms consistent with COVID-19. As described above, we have a comprehensive and robust testing planned for this population.
  • Testing asymptomatic individuals with recent known or suspected exposure to SARS- CoV-2 to control transmission. This group is also included in our comprehensive and robust testing.
  • Testing asymptomatic individuals without known or suspected exposure to SARS- CoV-2 for early identification in special settings. Since the CDC does not designate college campuses as a special setting, we will not extend testing to this
  • Testing to determine resolution of infection. We have this capability and will employ it when indicated as part of a test-based strategy to determine the duration of isolation and quarantine. We expect to use this approach exclusively in consultation with the Cortland County Health Department, with whom we have a close working relationship.
  • Testing as part of public health surveillance for SARS-CoV-2. At this time, we have no plans to engage in testing for this purpose.

Regarding the possible impact of international travel, the university has suspended all Fall 2020 outbound study abroad programs. We will, however, welcome international matriculated students who return to campus and we expect to host a small number of inbound international exchange students and non-employee international visiting professors and researchers. We may also periodically host non-employee colleagues from visiting partner universities abroad in support of the university’s international programs and partnerships.

In consultation with the Cortland County Health Department, we will follow all state and local health department guidelines regarding screening, testing, and quarantine orders for international travelers to campus. International students will be screened in accordance with the protocol used for all students. Visiting professors and researchers will be asked to complete an online screening questionnaire prior to arrival and to perform a daily self-screening following the protocol for employees. We will also request that non-student, non-employee, short-term international visitors complete the employee daily self-screening questionnaire.

Early warning signs

Reporting all patients diagnosed or suspected of having COVID-19, including those awaiting test results, to Cortland County Health Department will take place at the time of discovery. In the Student Health Service unit, we employ a technique known as a morning “huddle” that is well- established in healthcare settings and hospital units and has as one of its main purposes the detection of early warning signs through the sharing of information by providers. It was, in fact, this technique that enabled us to recognize the outbreak of mumps we experienced this past spring, well in advance of testing or off-site diagnosis.

Human Resources serves as the primary collector of information regarding the health status of college employees, and the office will also maintain a database for this purpose. Employees will be required to complete a self-screening health and symptom questionnaire every day they enter their campus workspace. In the event that employees test positive for COVID-19, Human Resources will work closely with state and local health departments to ensure the implementation of appropriate quarantine and isolation protocols and effective communication strategies.


When a student is placed in isolation due to positive test results, the process of contact tracing will begin. Contact tracing in our region is the responsibility of the Cortland County Health Department (CCDH), and representatives of that department have assured us that their contact tracing capability has met or exceeded NY Forward standards. In addition, four clinical members of the Student Health Service have successfully completed the Johns Hopkins contact tracing course.

CCDH will also conduct contact tracing when SUNY Cortland employees are diagnosed with COVID-19. The university may identify faculty, staff or students to be trained and certified to assist the county with tracing efforts.


Student screening will begin 14 days prior to arrival on campus using a symptom survey and exposure (contact) risk assessment tool. The individual elements of the pre-arrival screening tool were adapted from current CDC recommendations and the most recent published medical studies on the clinical manifestations of COVID-19. This risk assessment tool will be available online as a submittable form. Student responses may result in required actions to include diagnostic PCR test result submission, medical evaluation or a period of isolation or quarantine at home prior to arrival on campus.

Students who submit a negative screen will be prompted to begin to incorporate a symptom survey into their daily routines to be continued throughout the semester. These prompts will be delivered utilizing a variety of platforms including email, text messages and social media notifications. Positive screens will result in medical evaluation and diagnostic testing that will be available on-site.

A pre-return questionnaire will be provided to all faculty and staff before they come back to campus and an online training module will be made available that provides an overview of COVID-19-related safety and conduct standards. Employees will be required to sign an attestation that they have reviewed and will adhere to these protocols. Positive screens indicated by the questionnaire will require a referral to a physician for further review and will be monitored and documented by Human Resources. Positive test results for COVID-19 would require isolation and quarantine protocols and contact tracing would be conducted by CCDH in conjunction with Human Resources.

Prior to arrival all campus visitors will be required to register on an online platform or through a paper application that includes health screening questions similar to those used for employees and students. Students will not be allowed to have guests in the residence halls.

All guests will be provided instructions to minimize person-to-person contact, to wear a mask at all times, and to limit contact with surfaces as much as possible. The individual who is hosting the guest is responsible for ensuring that the visitor adheres to all protocols and leaves the campus at; the conclusion of the visit. The host must also make sure that locations utilized by the guest are properly sanitized. Visitors must be accompanied by a campus host at all times.

Section 3: Containment

Isolation and Quarantine

The Residence Life and Housing Office has worked closely with Student Health Service on the development of quarantine and isolation (Q/I) protocols for residential students. Students living on campus who test positive or are in need to of quarantine will be sent home, unless they are unable to travel home or do not feel safe returning there.

Students living off campus will fall under the jurisdiction of the local county health department. They will not be housed in the on-campus Q/I housing, but rather in their own off-campus or permanent homes. The university has identified on-campus housing located at the West Campus Apartments, located one mile from the main campus. Two apartment buildings have been taken offline and will be used strictly for quarantine and isolation purposes.

These processes are fully integrated in terms of coordination with the Incident Management Team, Student Health Service and the vice president for student affairs. All Q/I locations will receive 24-hour safety and security services through the University Police Department. Meals will be coordinated through the university’s Auxiliary Services Corporation and will be delivered by university volunteers. Laundry services will be coordinated through the university in conjunction with an outside laundry service. Academic support will be initiated by a Notice of Quarantine/Isolation form and will then be offered through the Division of Academic Affairs.

Student Health Services will monitor the students and provide necessary medical services, including medicine.

All support services, to include psychosocial services, will be managed by a university case manager assigned to the Q/I students.

Students confirmed or suspected to have COVID-19: As described above, students who test positive for COVID-19 will be sent home unless they are unable to return home or feel unsafe doing so. For those students, residential students will be relocated to the designated West Campus apartment buildings while non-residential students will be housed in their off-campus residence.

Hygiene, cleaning and disinfection

The university has developed comprehensive procedures to ensure the widespread and consistent practice of effective cleaning and disinfection protocols by the Custodial Services group. All instructional spaces will be thoroughly cleaned and disinfected twice a day. Hand sanitizer dispensers will be available in these spaces and there will be a quart bottle of disinfectant and roll of paper towels for students and faculty to utilize for additional disinfecting as needed. The custodial staff will ensure the disinfectant and paper towels are stocked throughout the day. Posters reminding faculty and students about practicing preventative health behaviors will be posted in each instructional space, and no food will be allowed in those spaces.

Enhanced cleaning practices will also be implemented across campus including Auxiliary Service Corporation units. Frequently touched surfaces in common areas of occupied buildings will be cleaned and disinfected twice daily by the custodial staff using EPA-approved spray products effective in addressing human coronaviruses. Routine and enhanced cleaning and disinfection will require use of PPE, including disposable nitrile or latex gloves, chemical goggles and face masks.

Prior to reopening, before an area is reoccupied the Facilities, Operations and Services office (FOS) will be notified through the Work Order System at least one week in advance in order to allow time to properly clean and disinfect the space. Once an area is reoccupied, FOS will implement routine and enhanced cleaning services as building occupancies dictate. Cleaning will not, however, be the sole responsibility of campus custodians. Building occupants are expected to use disinfectant wipes or spray provided by FOS to disinfect high-touch surfaces in their own workspace or shared spaces.

Campus transportation employees will clean and disinfectant all high-touch surfaces within busses twice daily and hand sanitizer will be available at all bus shelters and on each bus. Strict protocols will also be in place with respect to campus mail service. Mailroom staff will interact with items received in a very limited capacity within a 24- to 72-hour window. If a delivery driver is not using PPE, contactless deliveries will be made at a designated location where packages can be left.

For warehouse operations, gloves and disinfectant will be utilized to receive plastic or metal materials. Signage will be placed in easily observable locations to provide delivery drivers with notice of campus COVID-19 protocols pertaining to the warehouses.

In addition to these continuous cleaning practices, the university has created HVCC COVID-19 Case Notification and Disinfection Procedures, to be followed in the event of a confirmed or suspected case on campus. In that scenario, impacted spaces will be closed temporarily to enable intensive cleaning and disinfection and occupants will be notified as appropriate and signs posted in order to alert individuals. Key procedures included in this protocol are the use of disinfection products from the EPA Pesticide Registration List for SARS-CoV-2, the use by workers of PPE, and shutting down all HVAC systems. After the disinfection process is complete, all waste will be double-containerized and sealed prior to removal and disposed of in an exterior dumpster.


Clear, consistent messaging will be critical to successfully reopening campus operations in the fall. First, a plan will be required for keeping constituents informed about how we intend to provide services. Second, a more comprehensive strategy will be aimed at changing the culture at SUNY Cortland to shape behavior to protect the Cortland community, highlighting new campus protocols and safety measures. Key to both efforts is an update to our website which will serve as a one-stop source for information related to SUNY Cortland’s restart and a FAQ section tailored to students, faculty, staff and parents. All communication tools available to Cortland will be used in this effort including messaging screens, printed materials, official social media channels, email, educational activities, campus newsletter, news releases, university publications and the website.

In order to coordinate the content that we communicate across the campus, SUNY Cortland is creating a multi-disciplinary communications task force that will implement a multi-media approach to ensure that employees and families receive timely and useful updates on our work efforts. The task force will be guided by our Incident Management Team and will include numerous key stakeholders from groups such as Marketing, Communications, Academic and Student Affairs, and Human Resources. This group will continue its work throughout the 2020-21 academic year with a mandate to educate constituents on what they need to do to stay safe.

Key communications will come from the president, who will provide weekly updates on campus restart efforts that will be emailed to students, faculty and staff and posted on our website.

Other efforts will include the coordination and development of campus signage, placards and posters, and messaging in a way that protects and educates the City of Cortland as well as students who live off campus. Further, as new admissions materials are developed, they will focus on changes to the way the campus delivers services due to COVID-19. This action is intended to begin the acculturation process to the new normal before students arrive on campus. Materials for campus visitors also will contain information about the new protocols.

Section 4: Return to remote operations (Shutdown)

Despite the significant, whole-community approach SUNY Cortland is taking to keep its students, faculty and staff safe from the novel coronavirus, the possibility of an outbreak on campus significant enough to force a return to remote instruction and services remains a possibility. Should that occur, the university is prepared to quickly transition back to the virtual education model it used successfully during the second half of the Spring 2020 semester.

As during SUNY Cortland’s outbreak of the mumps in February to March, and during our response to the novel coronavirus from March to May, the university’s expanded IMT will be activated to work with our president and his cabinet, and the Cortland County Health Department to monitor and respond to suspected or confirmed cases of COVID-19. We have been considering various scenarios in which our quarantine and isolation facilities will be utilized and potentially taxed, and we are exploring additional options to build capacity for such operations. In general, should we need to shut down on-campus operations, we are ready to move classes back online and implement a student move-out from residence halls. Our IMT will coordinate overall operations and communications for such activities internally, to students and families, and to the greater Cortland community.

Operational activity: Moving academic instruction online would be considerably easier than it was in the spring of 2020. Not only do our faculty and administrators have experience, but many of the Fall 2020 course offerings will be either completely online, or a hybrid. Because of the need to rotate students between in-person and virtual instruction in most classes, a large portion of the course would already be prepared for online use.

SUNY Cortland’s workforce is also accustomed to working remotely if that becomes necessary. Equipment, communications, protocols and systems needed for non-essential employees to work from home have been successfully established.

FOS would once again play a leading role in shutting down campus if activity is stepped down in response to COVID-19. All FOS staff will remain working as all levels of facilities management are deemed essential personnel. As buildings becoming unoccupied, FOS will return them to a dormant state. SUNY Cortland will reduce energy usage through its building management system and will implement its water running/maintenance program to ensure water systems do not become stagnant. All buildings will be cleaned, and an occupancy plan will be implemented to determine when spaces are used and will need to be cleaned again. The university will begin to prepare a schedule for reopening and cleaning spaces in the future.

FOS will evaluate staffing levels once campus buildings are dormant to determine if staggered or rotating shifts are viable. Facilities management, like offices across campus, will reinstitute its updated business continuity plan. These plans were established this spring, the first time the campus stepped down in response to the pandemic.


Residence Life, FOS and University Police will work together to vacate the residence halls in a timely and safe manner. During move-out, additional waste collection receptacles will be staged near the residence halls.

Residence Life and Housing will determine what students will need to remain, establishing them in housing that encourages social distancing. Some consolidation of housing, however, will be considered to help manage cleaning and maintenance. As in the spring, basic services would continue to be provided.

SUNY Cortland will reinstitute cleaning protocols used for the spring move-out. Buildings will be permitted a 72-hour rest before cleaning staff enters to do a full-scale disinfection of the buildings, prior to putting buildings in a dormant state.


As SUNY Cortland learned in the spring, clear, consistent and frequent communication between campus administration and members of the university community is critical to a successful transition to off-campus operations. We would either return to the COVID-19 information website we successfully used to keep the community informed about the shift to virtual learning this spring, or create a new website to inform people about changes, decisions and expectations related to the stepdown. Various other communications channels would also be utilized to coordinate shutdown operations including our Community Coordination Group, our participation with our Local Emergency Planning Committee, and our regular communications with the county health department HD and local hospitals.

SUNY Cortland uses both our former COVID-19 site and our current Restart SUNY Cortland site as a central information hub augmented by email blasts, news releases, social media posts, bi- weekly newsletter articles and the campus visual messaging screens. The communications task force assembled for SUNY Cortland’s restart would be kept intact to advise and amplify messaging related to the transition back to remote operation.

Restart News

President shares information on spring semester

Jan. 14, 2021
The spring 2021 semester will begin on Monday, Feb. 1.

SUNY Cortland to serve as vaccination center

Jan. 12, 2021
The campus is joining Cortland County and Guthrie Cortland Medical Center to host a large-scale COVID-19 vaccination center.

President shares COVID-19 testing plan for spring semester

Jan. 11, 2021
Students will be required to test pre-arrival and tests will continue throughout the semester.

President's message on spring planning

Dec. 10, 2020
President Bitterbaum offers updates on steps the university is planning to take next semester.

Restart Resources

The following links will give you a sense of the structure used in our decision making and changes needed if we are ultimately allowed to fully restart on campus in the fall:

Tentative Dates

  • Aug. 22 to Aug. 30Move-in days based on new/returning status.
  • Monday, Aug. 31 – Classes start
  • Friday, Nov. 20 – On-campus classes end
  • Nov. 20 to 25 – Students move out of residence halls
  • Nov. 30 to Dec. 11 – Virtual classes
  • Dec. 14 to Dec. 18 – Finals week