The following message was sent to students June 8 by President Erik J. Bitterbaum:
Dear students and families,
I hope this message finds you healthy and safe. As the world continues to struggle with the circumstances created by the COVID-19 pandemic, I am proud to say that the entire SUNY Cortland community – faculty, staff and especially students – rose to the challenge and successfully completed a truly unprecedented semester. It is now time to briefly pause, and think about the future.
This is the first of what will be weekly updates from SUNY Cortland to its students and their families as we move toward the Fall 2020 semester. You should look for an update email every Friday.
Last Friday, June 5, the university submitted an executive summary of its plan to potentially return to on-campus instruction at the end of August. It is our goal to welcome both returning students and new Red Dragons to our Cortland campus and we are looking at various scenarios of how we can do that safely and in accordance with Centers for Disease Control and New York State recommendations.
Please know that our top priority is the health and well-being of our students, faculty and staff.
We are moving ahead with our planning efforts even though the course of the virus is uncertain and there are significant decisions that are beyond our control. SUNY Cortland is part of the 64-campus SUNY system and must provide education and deliver student services in ways consistent with SUNY-wide guidelines and directives.
We are also guided by NY Forward, Governor Andrew Cuomo’s plan for reopening New York State by region as the COVID-19 pandemic wanes. SUNY Cortland is in the Central New York Region which is currently in Phase 2 of the four-phase plan.
You should be aware, however, that university campuses will not be allowed to open until the fourth and final phase of Governor Andrew Cuomo’s framework for re-opening New York State, and his administration will have the final say on whether campuses re-open in the fall. He has said he expects to make that decision in July.
In the meantime, please be patient as we plan and prepare for a safe return to campus. We will share details about our proposed reopening plan soon. Returning to on-campus education will be challenging, requiring changes in how we teach, live, recreate and socialize. Our accustomed ways of doing things will be dramatically modified in order to keep our community safe.
It will not be easy. Our campus, our culture, the very nature of what we do, is based on collaboration, educational experiences and personal interaction. Our workforce, the Cortland community and our student population includes individuals who are considered high-risk for COVID-19. Many of you have lost loved ones to the virus or been sick. Others, however, may not fully appreciate the importance of changing their behavior to reduce the spread of the disease.
In the end, it will take all of us – students, faculty and staff - to meet this challenge. Together, I know we will succeed.
Please be safe, remain engaged and stay strong.
All the best,