October 19, 2021

SUNY students gone until at least April 13 over coronavirus concerns

‘My entire life is just halted’

Travis Dunn/staff reporter

Senior Rachael Richards walks Friday afternoon across the SUNY Cortland campus as students headed home for spring break in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.

April 13 is the earliest day that SUNY Cortland students will return to campus for classroom instruction, according to a statement from college Provost Mark Prus.

“Given the fluid nature of the COVID-19 outbreak, this date may change, but this is the earliest students will return,” Prus said.

SUNY Cortland classes will be conducted by distance learning from March 30 through April 10, he said. Students would return to on-campus housing on April 11 at the earliest.

SUNY Cortland spring break began Friday and continues through March 23.

Faculty and students will then have five days — from March 23 to 27 — to prepare for distance learning, which will start March 30 and continue through at least April 10. The only classes that will be held from March 23 to 27 are those that were already fully online.

Senior Rachael Richards said she will remain on campus. Richards, a resident assistant, said she will be one of the few students — if not the only student — left in her dorm; she requested and received permission to remain.

“They’ve been really good about letting you stay if you need to stay,” she said.

The schedule changes, however, are wreaking havoc on her final semester, she said. She also applied to several graduate schools, which are now delaying admissions decisions.

“My entire life is just halted,” Richards said.

Academics are not the only aspect of college life that have been affected by the pandemic. All spring athletics have also been suspended until at least March 22, although winter sports now in postseason competition will continue.

With limited exceptions, campus activities and events are canceled until at least April 13, and all events hosted by non-SUNY Cortland groups are canceled until at least May 18.

According to Bitterbaum, faculty and staff are expected to report to work as normal, although administrators may approve limited employee remote work assignments.

Bitterbaum said no decision has yet been made about commencement.

Senior Sarah Smith said Friday she was heading home to Westchester for spring break.

“I know that we have to do it,” she said. “We can’t really say no to it.”

An education major, Smith said the scheduling changes would be a major disruption for education department programs.

“It’s frustrating,” she said.

Faculty have been instructed to be ready to conduct classes by distance learning for at least two weeks and possibly longer. Faculty are also expected to be present on campus and “continue all responsibilities, including meetings, committee work, etc.,” Prus said.

Final exam week, May 11 to 15, will be converted to an additional week of instruction.

“Faculty who traditionally give final exams will be able to offer exams during their instructional time that week,” he said.

Registration has been rescheduled for April 6 — a week earlier than normal — and can be done electronically.

President Erik Bitterbaum said students should regularly check their SUNY email to receive information from their instructors about distance learning.

“The campus is not closing,” Bitterbaum said in a statement. “Residence halls, Neubig Dining and other campus facilities and buildings will remain open, although with limited or reduced services.”

Students who live on-campus can remain on campus if they “can demonstrate that it would be a hardship or potentially unhealthy to return home.”

Stay up to date

  • Details on SUNY Cortland’s scheduling changes in response to the spread of COVID-19 — go to http://www2.cortland. edu/offices/studenthealth-service/coronavirus/.
  • Updated information on SUNY Cortland athletic events — go to www.cortlandreddragons.com.