October 1, 2020
I am so proud of all of you who have done your part to protect yourself and others in the midst of this pandemic. We have just finished up another round of surveillance testing, which we have been able to expand to include eligible faculty and staff, as well as our residential and local students. I truly believe regular testing, coupled with our collective commitment to public health guidelines, will make the difference in ensuring that we stop the spread here on our campus and in our community.
So far, our case numbers show that SUNY Potsdam has been a model within the SUNY System for our preparedness and response to COVID-19. Even so, we know from our colleagues at other campuses that case numbers can grow exponentially if we let our guard down.
To drive that point home, SUNY Chancellor Jim Malatras has announced a new emergency directive that creates uniform SUNY-wide sanctions for student violations of COVID-19 protocols. This directive goes into effect as of today.
You should know that this raises the stakes. The minimum sanctions outlined in the new policy mean that a positive finding of responsibility for serious violations could lead to a potential suspension from campus housing for at least one calendar year, suspension from in-person classes for at least one year, or even dismissal.
Of particular concern are COVID-positive violations, when someone who has tested positive or knows that they have been in close contact with someone who has, intentionally exposes others to the virus. There are also strict sanctions for the failure to self-isolate or to quarantine; for hosting or attending prohibited gatherings (either on- or off-campus); for violating face mask and social distancing requirements; and for the failure to comply with contact tracing or with campus health protocols. There are additional provisions regarding repercussions for student athletes and for student organizations that are found to have violated these conduct expectations.
Please, let’s keep up the hard work. That means showing up for required surveillance testing, isolating or quarantining when required, filling out your symptoms tracker, wearing your face covering in public spaces and not taking part in restricted gatherings.
It’s on us to keep each other safe. Thank you for doing your part.
Kristin G. Esterberg, Ph.D.