SUNY schools announced major changes in hopes of keeping students and educators safe from coronavirus.

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On Sunday, State University of New York Chancellor Jim Malatras today outlined what officials called a "sweeping, system-wide plan that will allow campuses to safely return to in-person instruction for the spring semester."

Main components of the plan include:

  • All students to be tested for COVID-19 upon return.
  • Pushing the start date of the spring semester for in-person instruction until February 1, 2021.
  • The cancellation of spring break in 2021. Students will be highly discouraged from leaving campus
  • All returning students must complete a seven-day precautionary quarantine prior to their arrival on campus.
  • Mandatory mask-wearing at all times, even with social distancing.
  • A "What Students Should Know" plain language information to be sent to all students so they know what to expect this spring at individual campuses, such as how many courses will be online, hybrid, or in person.

"With COVID-19 surging nationwide, and with increased cases in New York, SUNY has devised a comprehensive plan to keep this virus at bay throughout the flu season and through the spring semester," Chancellor Malatras said. "We've demonstrated this past fall that by implementing an aggressive strategy to manage COVID, students can safely return to campus. These additional efforts—testing all students upon return, ongoing testing throughout the semester, pushing out the start of the spring semester, and mandatory masks at all times, coupled with uniform enforcement and compliance—illustrates that SUNY is setting a nationwide standard for controlling COVID-19 in the weeks and months to come. I have talked with countless students since August who have made tremendous sacrifices so that they can stay on campus and learn. Our students have done a remarkable job given the circumstances. This aggressive strategy gives us the best chance to return our students once again to classrooms in early 2021. But as we know, this is a fluid situation so we will continue to adapt and be flexible as issues emerge."

The plan was developed in consultation with public health experts within the university system, as well as campus, faculty, student, and union leadership, the plan combines a series of new protocols with proven strategies already being employed across SUNY's colleges and universities as New York State and the nation continue to grapple with the unprecedented challenges posed by COVID-19, officials say.