SUNY Cortland has halted all activity by its athletic teams for at least a week because of spike in the number of students testing positive for COVID-19, the college announced Thursday.
The pause, a decision made by SUNY Cortland and the Cortland County Health Department, will permit investigation of new cases as the contact tracing process proceeds, the college said in a release.
Similarly, three fraternal organizations at the college have been notified that they are prohibited from hosting any in-person events or gatherings, either on or off campus, for the next 14 days.
In the past week, the number of positive cases among the college’s students has jumped to 22 from 6, and while small in comparison to the 700 positive cases reported at SUNY Oneonta, gave the college concern.
“Our approach to containing outbreaks includes a number of strategies, such as isolating people with the infection and quarantining all those who recently came into close contact with people who have COVID-19,” the college stated. “Additional strategies may include quarantining larger groups of people even if they have not met the formal definition of a close contact. Examples of this type of quarantining has already occurred on campus, and can affect members of an entire classroom, housing complex or athletic team.”
The college had already canceled the competitive season for all fall sports. However, modified team practices and activities were allowed to continue until Thursday.
“It should be noted that our athletics department has done an amazing job designing practices that adhere to all safety measures, and that student athletes, for the most part, have been very compliant with the public health practices expected of all of us,” the college stated. “But it doesn’t take many careless individuals to create an outbreak, and we know that certain social, recreational and athletic factors related to group activity can help spread the virus.”
The pause is a public health action, not a punitive measure, the college said.
The college told its students to practice social distancing, wear masks and avoid non-essential travel and non-essential visitors.
“The stakes for carelessness are enormous,” it announced. “A single poor decision could lead to another person’s death, a health crisis for you, your friends and acquaintances and the end of on-campus operations for the remainder of 2020.”