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Potsdam Prepared: COVID-19 Updates

Chancellor Malatras Visits SUNY Potsdam and SUNY Canton Pre-Semester Testing as Campuses Reopen

January 28, 2021

SUNY Potsdam welcomes Chancellor Jim Malatras as the College welcomes back students for Spring 2021 semester.

State University Chancellor Jim Malatras made his first visits today to SUNY Canton and SUNY Potsdam to meet with President Zvi Szafran and President Kristin Esterberg, as pre-semester testing takes place on the respective campuses for all students. Both SUNY campuses have moved to weekly testing of all students, faculty, and staff in alignment with SUNY policy to do so during the spring semester. Spring classes will begin for both campuses on Monday, Feb. 1, with instruction remaining virtual at SUNY Potsdam for the first two weeks, until two rounds of testing have been completed.

In order to continue to lessen the density of people on campus, in-person classes for the spring semester will be limited, and both campuses have enhanced their online learning and virtual engagement further in order to provide robust options for students and faculty.

"COVID is not done with us yet, and while we would like to have more normalcy, our campuses are utilizing resources and innovating the educational experience each semester so that online and other hybrid learning forums are engaging and rigorous for our students,” said Chancellor Malatras. “That is certainly true at SUNY Canton and SUNY Potsdam, where just more than 60 percent of classes are being held virtually. My thanks to the Presidents and their teams, our faculty who are with students in-person and online to give them the high-quality education that was promised, and our students for staying strong, doing what is right to protect the campus and neighboring community, and for staying on their path to a degree.”

SUNY Potsdam President Esterberg said, “As we welcome students back, we are grateful to Chancellor Malatras for his leadership in our COVID response. I believe that our strong relationships with our neighbors and our community partners were integral to the remarkable safety of our fall semester. By increasing our surveillance testing to ensure that all on-campus and local students are tested weekly—and to be able to offer this to our faculty and staff as well—I am confident that as a community we can work together to stop the spread, both on campus and throughout the region.”

Chancellor Malatras announced that all SUNY campuses will increase the frequency of SUNY’s mandatory COVID testing to weekly testing of all students, faculty, and staff who regularly report to campus. Healthcare students who have volunteered to help with COVID response will be made available to campuses to help administer tests. To date, approximately 2,500 students have signed up to volunteer. Since the 2020-2021 academic year began in August, SUNY has conducted 748,152 tests with a 0.60 positive percentage rate. Preliminary data suggests in-person instruction has not been a vector of the spread. As the semester progresses, SUNY will revisit the 100 percent weekly testing requirement depending on the positivity rate in the state and regions throughout the course of the semester.

As part of the campus visits, Chancellor Malatras is meeting with students, faculty, staff, and local officials as he reaffirms the spring semester guidance and reviews final, which was announced last November, and includes pre-testing of all students prior to the start of the semester, mandatory pre-semester quarantine of students, mandatory mask wearing at all times, even when socially distanced, no spring break, uniform compliance and enforcement standards, expanded mental health and wellness services, and a student’s bill of rights for greater transparency.

SUNY Potsdam’s Spring Reopening Plan
SUNY Potsdam’s spring reopening plan may be found here, and includes the initial weekly testing and quarantining program on campus. Some specifics within SUNY Potsdam’s plan include:

  • Weekly testing for all residential students, all students in applied learning experiences, students with any reason to come to campus, and all students living within a 15-mile radius of campus, as well as for all Watertown students studying in Potsdam’s programs at Jefferson Community College;
  • Self-administered weekly testing for all faculty and staff with any reason to report to campus, including dining services staff;
  • Students must self-quarantine and study virtually at home or in their residence halls until two rounds of testing have been completed, with in-person classes and activities beginning on February 15;
  • 61 percent of courses are being offered virtually for the spring semester;
  • Limited number of students residing on campus, at approximately 900, down from full capacity of 1,550; 
  • Fewer students on campus and in the community this semester, with about 1,900 students residing on campus, living locally, or expected on campus for work or to utilize services, down from about 3,069 last spring.

SUNY Potsdam’s “What Students Should Know” notice can be found here.

Data Transparency
All SUNY campuses will continue to report positive cases daily via SUNY’s COVID-19 Case Tracker. The database tallies tests and active cases by campus and provides trends and positivity rates in rolling three-, seven-, and 14-day intervals, allowing people to understand the trajectory of the virus at any given time. Additional upgrades to the COVID Tracker are expected in the upcoming days.

About The State University of New York: The State University of New York is the largest comprehensive system of higher education in the United States, and more than 95 percent of all New Yorkers live within 30 miles of any one of SUNY’s 64 colleges and universities. Across the system, SUNY has four academic health centers, five hospitals, four medical schools, two dental schools, the state’s only college of optometry, and manages one US Department of Energy National Laboratory. As of Fall 2020, nearly 400,000 students were enrolled at a SUNY campus. In total, SUNY serves about 1.3 million students in credit-bearing courses and programs, continuing education, and community outreach programs. SUNY oversees nearly a quarter of academic research in New York. Research expenditures system-wide were more than $1.0 billion in fiscal year 2020, including significant contributions from students and faculty. There are more than three million SUNY alumni worldwide, and one in three New Yorkers with a college degree is a SUNY alum. To learn more about how SUNY creates opportunity, visit

About SUNY Potsdam: Founded in 1816, The State University of New York at Potsdam is one of America’s first 50 colleges—and the oldest institution within SUNY. Now in its third century, SUNY Potsdam is distinguished by a legacy of pioneering programs and educational excellence. The College currently enrolls approximately 3,600 undergraduate and graduate students. Home to the world-renowned Crane School of Music, SUNY Potsdam is known for its challenging liberal arts and sciences core, distinction in teacher training and culture of creativity. To learn more, visit


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