New York colleges must stop in-person classes for two weeks if their campus coronavirus (COVID-19) caseloads rise above a certain level, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said in a conference call with reporters on Aug. 27.
Campuses are required to close if there’s more than 100 cases, or if 5% of their on-campus population is infected. Students residing on campus will be allowed to remain, but classes will be remote until the school is able to come to a decision on resuming in-person learning through consultation with local health officials.
“When you have large congregations of people, anticipate a cluster,” Cuomo said. “Be prepared for it. Get ahead of it.”
Cuomo’s announcement comes in response to the increase in COVID-19 cases in Western New York, where a testing SWAT team has been deployed in an effort to open free rapid testing sites. Eight new sites are to open on Saturday, three of which are in Buffalo.
Colleges across the country have begun reopening, but cases in the U.S. continue to rise, and schools like the University of North Carolina (UNC) at Chapel Hill have had to return to a fully remote learning model after cases spiked only one week into classes.
On-campus residents at Stony Brook are required to complete a COVID-19 polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test within 14 days of their move-in date and produce negative results by the day they arrive. Commuters are also required to use the university’s virtual health screener, which checks temperature and symptoms, prior to entering campus, and are recommended to get tested.
The university has also opened an on-site testing facility at Stony Brook West campus’ Student Health Services that can produce COVID-19 test results in 48-72 hours. They established an online COVID-19 dashboard that provides information on coronavirus cases, testing and isolations on campus, and active cases in Suffolk County.
New York has been reporting low test positivity rates, with the entire state in phase four of reopening. California, Texas and Florida are among the states with the highest number of cases in the U.S.