This week’s surveillance testing and individual testing through Student Health Services resulted in an additional 19 positives, bringing our total active positive number to 41. A majority of these cases are off-campus students, and the rate of increase is alarming.
This is very disappointing. The rise in cases indicate that individuals are not making appropriate decisions nor are they taking preventive measures that would help to avoid the spread. The Office of Student Conduct and Community Standards is investigating multiple policy violations by individuals and groups. Please know that certain violations related to COVID-19 under the SUNY Uniform Sanctions can result in your dismissal from SUNY Potsdam for up to one year.
I know that many of you want to be with your friends and want to be enjoying a typical college experience, but nothing can be typical during a health pandemic. You may think that small gatherings within your residence halls or at off-campus residences are safe, but they are causing clusters of cases and causing dozens more of your fellow students to remain in precautionary quarantine. During this period, you should not be having guests over, whether from out of town or even from close by.
We hoped that this week we could lift restrictions and provide more opportunities for students but unfortunately that is not responsible based on our increase in cases. We are at a critical point where we can either turn this around or we will be faced with the decision to go “on pause” according to our SUNY-approved plan.
We all been affected in many ways by this pandemic. We need to remind you of the harsh reality—that there are individuals on our campus who have lost loved ones because of COVID-19. Your actions need to reflect that we are, ultimately, talking about protecting human lives.
Now more than ever, we must work together to stop the spread. Bears, I know that we are all tired of the restrictions that limit us, but this is not the time to let our guards down.
It is imperative that everyone follow the BEAR COVID-19 Pledge, and especially critical that you:
- Wear a face covering (correctly) in all public spaces. The CDC has released new guidance to ensure that your face coverings provide the most protection, including wearing a cloth mask over a surgical one, or by knotting and tucking the ear loops of a surgical mask to make it fit more snugly.
- Practice social distancing. No gatherings of any kind are allowed, and no visitors are allowed either. We know this is hard. Dealing with a surge in serious illness due to COVID is harder.
- Wash your hands. We have hand sanitizer stations all across campus to help with this.
- Stay home if you are sick. Complete your symptoms tracker every day, and if you are feeling ill at all, stay home and stay away from others. Student Health Services will let you know the procedures for getting tested if you are symptomatic.
- Stay local. You must remain in the North Country region throughout the semester, in order to prevent further spread of the virus around the state and in our community.
- Complete required testing. You must complete the weekly surveillance testing if you are a residential or local student living within 15 miles, if you have any reason to be on campus or if you are completing an applied learning experience like student teaching. Student Health Services also conducts in-office tests for students reporting symptoms or those who are close contacts of positive cases.
- Comply with quarantine and isolation orders. If you have tested positive or are notified that you are a close contact of someone who has, you must comply with all quarantine and isolation requirements to protect the campus community.
During these stressful and challenging times, our Counseling Center is available for student appointments and I encourage you to reach out if you need support. We care deeply about your health, your well-being and your goals for the future, and are here to help you through this.
Kristin G. Esterberg, Ph.D.