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Potsdam Prepared: Fall 2021 Updates

Fall 2020 Semester Updates

July 16, 2020

Dear Students,

SUNY Potsdam is continuing to prepare to safely welcome students, faculty and staff back to campus for the Fall 2020 semester. As we shared when our Restart Plan was approved, we are happy to welcome students back to Potsdam to live and study here on our beautiful campus.

In order to ensure that we provide a safe and healthy environment for our entire community, there will be changes to the way we operate on campus. Many of these changes are based on New York State guidelines for Higher Education and consultation from our local public health department. It is imperative that every member of our campus community does their part to stop the spread so that we can have a successful and productive year together. 

As you all know, social (physical) distancing is such a critical aspect of preventing the spread of COVID-19 and keeping us all healthy. As such, there will be several restrictions in the residence halls, on the campus, and in our local community.  All members of our campus community will be required to wear a face covering when anywhere outside of their personal living space and to practice social (physical) distancing. Updated policies will be provided to students in the upcoming weeks, but preliminary residence halls restrictions can be found online.

As of right now, we are still prepared to house all students who wish to live on campus. Please remember that while we can plan for a safe return, the ongoing health pandemic and updated guidance from New York State/SUNY may result in changes.

Fall 2020 Courses

Academic Affairs has been working closely with our faculty to prepare classes for the Fall 2020 semester for a variety of scenarios. There has been a new course designation of “virtual instruction” added to the fall course schedule. These courses are ones that were originally a face-to-face course but have now been transitioned to distance learning. Courses will continue to be updated on a regular basis via BearPAWS, so please check your course schedule frequently for any changes. By Monday, July 20, we hope to have most, if not all, changes to course delivery methods finalized in BearPAWS for you to view.  You may need to adjust your course schedule if you have decided not to return to campus and your courses are only being offered in a face-to-face nature (see “Return to Potsdam” section).

COVID-19 Testing

All students who wish to return to Potsdam for the Fall 2020 semester will be required to complete a quarantine/isolation period at your home 7 days prior to arrival to Potsdam and should not travel during this time. Upon arrival back to Potsdam, students will be required to complete a mandatory quarantine/isolation period and be tested for COVID-19. Testing protocols will be shared with students on August 10. It is important that all students upload your health insurance information for Student Health Services. More information on the steps to do so can be found online.

Return to Potsdam

Research shows that university students are more likely to succeed when they have access to campus resources, and we very much want our students back on campus. However, we understand that, for a variety of reasons, students may choose to study virtually for the Fall 2020 semester. Students who choose to study at home will not be billed for housing or meal plans. Other fees may apply to non-residential students.

Below is critical information that students should consider when thinking about whether to return to Potsdam for the Fall 2020 semester. 

Residential Students – Returning to Campus

SUNY Potsdam is prepared to house all students who wish to live on campus, and PACES is planning to have all dining areas open, depending on the number of students we have on campus. We are finalizing plans for this year’s move-in process. In our current plan, students will be able to select a time to return to campus between August 24 and August 30. Residential students will be sent more information in the upcoming weeks, including instructions on scheduling your move-in day and time, and more specifics on what to expect when you move onto campus.

Residential Students – Not Returning to Campus

The housing exemption process has been temporarily amended for the upcoming semester.  Students who wish to remain at home, at your permanent address, and study virtually will be able to, regardless of the distance from campus (typically this is restricted to 60 miles or less). Students who wish to choose this option are asked to complete the COVID-19 exemption form to be released from their housing assignment and meal plan by August 1. Please contact Residence Life via email at if you have additional questions about your personal circumstance.

Non-Residential Students

Students who are living off-campus in the local area may choose to either come to campus for any in-person classes or complete their studies virtually. PACES Dining Services will continue to offer meal plans designed for commuter students. All students will be expected to follow public health guidelines, both on and off campus. If you are a non-residential student who is choosing to complete all courses virtually, you need to declare your intentions by August 1. Undergraduates should declare their intentions to the Student Success Center via email at Graduate students should declare their intentions to Graduate and Continuing Education at

Access to Technology
All students should be prepared for the need for technology if at any time we need to transition all students to distance learning. Students should have access to a working computer or tablet and to broadband internet or a WiFi hot spot. Students who are in need of their own personal technology access but cannot afford it may be eligible for CARES Act funding for these resources and should contact to discuss further.

Life on Campus

To best ensure everyone’s health and safety, the majority of events and activities for Fall 2020 will be offered virtually. Outdoor events will also be provided for individual and small group participation to help students explore and enjoy the campus and the natural beauty of our area. Dependent on state and local guidelines, opportunities for small outdoor events will be available and several non-contact intramural activities to promote wellness are planned. Limited opportunities for small, indoor events with fixed seating that allow for physical distancing will also be available. For more information related to student clubs and organizations, events on campus, athletics and more, please visit our Potsdam, Prepared site, which will be continually updated as more information becomes available.

We know that these still remain unprecedented times for our campus and that you may have a lot of questions. As we continue to communicate over the coming weeks based on the latest information that we have, it is important that you continue to monitor your email. You should also ensure that you are signed up for the Potsdam Rave Alert messaging system.

Wherever you are, please stay healthy and do your part to stop the spread.


Eric Duchscherer
Interim Dean of Students