SUNY Cortland isn’t sure how many of its 6,800 students will actually be on campus in the coming weeks, given that some will opt to learn remotely, but downtown Cortland businesses say they expect fewer students — and fewer students’ wallets — to cross their thresholds.
The college expects about 3,000 students to live on campus, said Frederick Pierce, director of communications at the college, and 2,082 freshmen. It expects fewer upperclassmen on campus — either living off campus or taking classes remotely.
However, final enrollment won’t be determined until about a month into the semester.
“We were anticipating a decline, but a lot of students want to be here if they can,” he said. Classes will be offered in a hybrid of online and in-person learning, or online only.
SUNY Cortland students can expect routine screenings on-campus, Pierce said, and if they must take a COVID19 test, will be quarantined at apartments on Route 281 west of the campus.
The students will be allowed off-campus, Pierce said — not all colleges will allow that this fall — but whether they actually frequent the businesses that cater to them is another question.
Businesses say they are preparing for fewer student customers.
“They’ve been a viable part of our business,” said Sandro Mironti, owner of New York Bagel on Main Street. “We’ve welcomed them every year and will continue to do so.”
Robby Petrella, owner of Brix Pubaria, said a big loss for the business was the cancellation of the SUNY Cortland football season, after the Empire 8 Conference called off the season on July 23.
“We’ve always had a positive impact from our students and their families,” he said. “Sports, especially football, are a campus tradition for SUNY Cortland. It’s always a busy time for us in the fall.”
BRIX has had fewer employees and less inventory since March, Petrella said, so because the restaurant can be a only half-capacity, he’s expecting less of a crowd for the fall semester.
“Everything is a guess right now,” Mironti said, but some students might be “uneasy and leery about being in here.”
“We’re hoping to have decent crowds come in every day, but in the same sense we want to make sure it’s controlled,” he said. “We’re going to follow all of the guidelines and make extra efforts for a safe environment.”
“We’re entering a semester where everything will be done in ways that haven’t been done before,” Pierce said. “We just hope our plans help students give them somewhat of a normal experience.”
TC3 uncertain about enrollment
DRYDEN — Tompkins Cortland Community College in Dryden isn’t sure yet how many students will enroll for the semester that begins Aug. 31, but fewer of them will live on campus.
Its full regular headcount was 4,632 in 2019-20 and 4,937 the year before that, said Greg McCalley, vice president of student services.
“It’s hard to tell this year, especially with COVID,” McCalley said. “A lot of students are waiting and seeing if it’s safe enough to attend this year.”
However, the on-campus population will be down by choice. TC3 typically has 400 to 450 students living in four-bedroom suites on campus each year, he said. But this year only 270 will live there, two to a suite.