Chancellor issues system-wide sanctions for COVID-19 violations

Chancellor issues system-wide sanctions for COVID-19 violations

09/25/2020 

The following message was sent on behalf of President Erik J. Bitterbaum:

To the SUNY Cortland community,

Thank you.  Because of your compliance and cooperation, the number of positive COVID cases at SUNY Cortland remained low enough over the last two weeks to avoid triggering an immediate shift to remote learning.

The two-week clock required by state health and SUNY officials, however, re-started again Saturday, Sept. 26. You can track our daily progress on SUNY Cortland’s COVID-19 Dashboard.

We may breathe a momentary sigh of relief, but we cannot let down our guard. That is why the pool surveillance testing we have implemented is so important. We understand that process of testing more than 1,000 people each week can be confusing, which is why we created two FAQs, one for students and one tailored to employees. Please refer to those documents before reaching out with questions.

Although the vast majority of our students, faculty and staff continue to physically distance, wear face coverings and follow university and local health department guidelines, there remain individuals who act recklessly. SUNY Cortland is not alone in this. Earlier today, SUNY Chancellor Jim Malatras issued an emergency directive implementing a uniform system of sanctions for COVID-19 policy violations.

For the duration of the current health crisis, all 64 SUNY campuses will enforce the same sanctions against students who violate pandemic-related policies.

The chancellor’s directive, effective next week for SUNY Cortland, is tough. A variety of behaviors and non-compliance issues may lead to immediate academic and/or housing suspension or dismissal. Student organizations in non-compliance may now face a permanent campus ban. Student athletes may lose their eligibility.

Chancellor Malatras felt strong, but consistent, consequences are necessary because COVID violations can have a disproportionately large impact on communities, threatening large numbers of people with a potentially fatal virus and threatening institutions’ ability to provide the educational experiences important to their students.

All students will continue to have the same rights to due process they have always had under federal and state law and under SUNY and SUNY Cortland policies. They should be aware, however, that they may also face outside enforcement action for failing to follow the directions of state or local health officials. This could result in fines, criminal prosecution or referral to relevant government agencies.

The new, SUNY-wide policy sets a range of allowable sanctions for the infractions listed below. Almost all of the infractions are already included in SUNY Cortland’s COVID policies and the vast majority of our students are complying.  The complete text of the emergency directive is available here.

  • Intentional Violations by COVID-Positive Students: Students who know that they have tested positive for COVID-19 or know they have had close contact to someone who has tested positive or is symptomatic for COVID-19, and then intentionally expose other students, will be expelled or suspended for at least a full academic year, and student athletes could lose eligibility. If that happens, they will be ineligible for admission to any other SUNY institution during the term of their sanction.
  • Failure to Self-Isolate: Students who are COVID-19 positive but fail to self-isolate as directed by health officials will be expelled or suspended for at least a full academic year, and student athletes could lose eligibility. If that happens, they will be ineligible for admission to any other SUNY institution during the term of their sanction.
  • Failure to Quarantine: Students who have been directed by the institution or the State or local Department of Health to complete a quarantine period, on or off campus, and then engage in activity that violates that quarantine order, will face dismissal, suspension, or continuation of academics in online format only, with no access to campus. Student athletes could lose eligibility.
  • Prohibited On-Campus or Off-Campus Gathering (Hosts): Students who host an on-campus or off-campus gathering of any size, whether indoor or outdoor, that violates campus policy and/or exceeds the current limitation set by SUNY Cortland or any other public entity, will face dismissal, suspension or continuation of academics online with no campus access, depending on circumstances.
  • Prohibited On-Campus or Off-Campus Gathering (Attendees): Students who attend a gathering of any size (but not as host), whether indoors or outdoors, that violates campus policy and/or exceeds the current limitation set by SUNY Cortland or another entity, will face dismissal, suspension or continuation of academics online without campus access, depending on circumstances.
  • Violations of Face Mask and Social Distancing Requirements: Students who have committed repeated or intentional violations of face covering or social distancing requirements of the campus, will face dismissal, suspension or continuation of academics online without campus access, depending on circumstances.
  • Contact Tracing: Students who repeatedly fail to comply, will face dismissal, suspension or continuation of academics online without campus access, depending on circumstances.
  • Failure to Comply with Campus Health Protocols: Students who fail to attend at least two scheduled appointments, without sufficient excuse, to obtain diagnostic or surveillance COVID-19 testing required by the campus, or students who fail to submit their daily health screening via the campus’s portal for at least three consecutive days, could face interim suspension, or administrative measures to electronically deactivate card access and restrict access to campus buildings. These restrictions will be lifted once a student is in compliance.

A pandemic teaches us that we are all connected in ways we never expected. And by working together – as individuals, as a university and as an educational system – we will prevail.

All the best,

Erik J. Bitterbaum

 


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