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Potsdam Prepared: Fall 2021 Updates

Expectations for Spring Semester Start

January 26, 2021

Hello, SUNY Potsdam Bears!

We are eagerly awaiting the start of our new semester. By now, all of you who are taking classes in Potsdam should have received a link to sign up to be tested and move back onto campus. If you have not already scheduled your appointment, please make sure to do so by the end of the week.

If you attend our Watertown programs based at Jefferson Community College or are enrolled in an applied learning experience (student teaching, practicum, etc.), this information does not apply to you. Please refer to the separate information that has been or will be sent to you.

As we prepare for another semester, we want to remind you how important it is to continue being diligent, especially related to social distancing and wearing a mask. When we opened in August, New York State had a positivity rate that was around 1%; it is now approximately 7%. This means that we have to expect that there will be more cases on campus for the start of this semester. In order to remain open, it will be critical for us to maintain our distance from one another until we can identify and isolate the cases of COVID-19 that might appear as students and faculty return.

Please remember to review and sign student expectations listed in the BEAR COVID-19 Pledge. Students should pay close attention to the travel restrictions. Travel was the single biggest cause of positive student COVID cases in the fall. It is imperative that you do not travel outside of the North Country Region this semester for any reason at any time. Questions about this can be emailed to me prior to any travel.

As we near the start of the Spring 2021 semester, our first priority is to keep everyone safe and healthy.  Here are some things to expect when you return,

Changes & Updates On Testing

  • Per a recommendation from SUNY, all students who live on campus, who are coming to campus for any reason, and who live within 15 miles of campus will be tested weekly this semester.  The only exception to this is students who have tested positive for COVID-19 within the last 90 days. If this applies to you, please follow directions in the Symptoms Tracker to submit your positive result to Student Health Services.
  • Testing will now occur on Mondays in the Barrington Student Union from 8:30 a.m. to 4:15 p.m.  Please note that both the day and the location have changed.
  • This semester we will also be tracking student attendance through the event pass in Get Involved; you will need this every time you come to testing this semester in addition to logging in to the SUNY Upstate Medical website. You can find instructions to download your event pass here.
  • All students are expected to remain in self-quarantine in your room or apartment until the second round of test results come in (other than briefly going to get food).
  • We will not email negative test results to you. The College's website will be updated as we receive results and you will be contacted by Student Health if you test positive or are in a positive pool.

Your First Two Weeks

  • All classes will be virtual for the first two weeks.
  • The Lougheed Learning Commons will not be open for the first two weeks, but Librarians and staff will be available virtually.
  • PACES Dining Services will be "Grab-and-Go" only for the first two weeks.
  • Residential students will not be allowed to have guests in their room during the first two weeks, however, Residence Hall lounges will remain open and students who live on the same floor as one another will be able to be in lounges together should they wish.
  • Student activities will continue to be offered, but all activities will be online for the first two weeks.  Students are encouraged to visit the Get Involved website often and participate in Winterfest activities.
  • The Bear Shuttle will be running, but students should not ride it until you have completed the 2 COVID tests and received negative results back.  The Shuttle is running on a limited schedule until in-person classes can resume, estimated to be around Feb. 15.
  • Academic services, the College Counseling Center, Student Health Services, University Police, and other offices will remain available to assist students.

Please note there is no definitive date as to when these restrictions will be modified.  We hope it will be after the first two weeks, but we cannot guarantee this.  After we receive the results of the second round of tests we will assess whether we have been able to adequately contain the spread of COVID-19.  Once we feel it is contained to the best of our ability, we will start to loosen restrictions: classes will be allowed face-to-face, you will be allowed to sit in the dining halls, limited guests will be allowed in the residence halls, etc.

We are so grateful for the responsibility that you took regarding testing last semester.  It is critically important that each student continues to participate in the required testing process.  Testing needs to be a be one of your top priorities.  Students who are not tested will be charged through the conduct process and will face sanctions in alignment with the Chancellor's minimum sanction guidelines.

Please feel free to reply to this email if you have any questions.

I am also including the links to our recent Town Hall meetings in case you and your family were not able to join us and you want to watch them to get the important information we shared

Best wishes for a safe, healthy and successful Spring 2021 semester!

Yours Sincerely,

Eric Duchscherer
Interim Dean of Students