SU transitions to online instruction
SU transitions to online instruction
Following a second straight record-setting week of COVID-19 cases confirmed, Syracuse University has ended in-person classes and shifted learning to online only for the remainder of the semester.
As of Thursday there are 221 positive cases on campus, an increase of 41 since Wednesday. Nearly 600 students are also under quarantine restrictions. This is a record setting day, and current active cases are quickly approaching the number of recovered cases seen over the course of the semester.
On Wednesday, The school confirmed 138 positive cases within the 14-day period starting Nov 7; nearly 500 students are now in quarantine as of Wednesday. Based on the guidance established by the NY State Department of Health, when more than 100 individuals or 5% of the total on-campus population of a higher education institution location test positive for COVID-19 within a 14-day period, the location must immediately transition all in-person learning to remote format(s) and limit on-campus activities for a period of 14 days.
All on-campus and in-person activities are then paused, including all student organizations, university-sponsored events, school libraries and Barnes Center at The Arch. Students will still be able to receive COVID-19 testing at the Carrier Dome 7 days a week at the Dome, and all students who plan to leave campus early are required to take the test three days before leaving, as previously prescribed; they should wait for a negative result before departure, the email read.
Citing the surge of new cases at SU on Wednesday, County Executive Ryan McMahon announced the development live on Facebook this afternoon that Onondaga County confirmed 222 new cases of coronavirus since Tuesday, more than 60 of which involved college students. It is also a new record that increases 49% over the previous one-day record of 149. He blamed the increase in part on gatherings over the Halloween weekend.
“As we have done since the beginning of this pandemic, we must continue to prioritize the health and wellness of the campus and broader Syracuse communities,” Syverud wrote in the email. “I ask all to travel safely, and to know that we look forward to welcoming students back next semester.”
– Kaizhao Zero Lin
With the highest number of daily reported COVID-19 cases so far this semester, Syracuse University may be transitioning to online classes earlier than the previously announced target of Monday.
The rate of COVID-19 infections in Central New York has reached record highs as of Tuesday. In the past 24 hours SU has identified 50 new positive COVID-19 cases, bringing the total to 132 active cases on campus. An additional nine students are in quarantine, bringing the total to 489.
“This news is neither welcome nor comforting,” SU Vice Chancellor Michael Haynie said in a campus-wide email on Tuesday. “We are all anxious about what is to come for our region and for our campus, and for the communities our students call home.”
Haynie also warned students and faculty that as a result of this record spike in cases, New York State health officials may require SU to transition to online learning sooner than Monday. Haynie expects students will begin to leave early as a result of these developments. The departure testing program is being accelerated to accommodate these students.
The university also plans to continue supporting students in quarantine, continuing through winter break if necessary. Any student directed to quarantine is required to stay in University housing regardless of whether the quarantine extends beyond Nov. 24.
“As this resurgence of COVID-19 continues, we fully expect this situation to remain fluid,” said Haynie. “We will continue to communicate frequently to ensure our students and their families, faculty and staff have the most up-to-date information to make informed decisions.”
Onondaga County Executive Ryan McMahon warned that the spread in Onondaga county is in part a result of the spread here at SU. In a Facebook live, McMahon said that city officials suspect that the spike is a result of irresponsible Halloween parties.
“Tomorrow’s going to be our worst day yet,” McMahon said during the Facebook live video.
As an increasing number of COVID-19 cases have been confirmed, Syracuse University announced new restrictions on Monday to curb the possible new surge. Members of the SU community were alerted via a school-wide email from J. Michael Haynie, vice chancellor for strategic initiatives and innovation, and John Liu, interim vice chancellor and provost.
Until further notice, the university will pause all in-person student activities, including those hosted by university-sponsored programs or registered student organizations. As always, no gathering should exceed five people who do not live together, no matter on or off-campus, Haynie and Liu wrote in the email.
Haynie and Liu said students will still be able to attend in-person classes this week and intercollegiate athletics will continue. The libraries on campus, as well as the Barnes Center at The Arch, will also remain open within this time span. However, all classes will shift online starting Nov. 16 in order to support students who plan to leave campus early before classes officially end, and to ensure a safe departure from campus.
As of Monday, there are 88 active cases on campus, an increase of 15 since yesterday. The number of students in quarantine is still just shy of 500, with an additional 11 since yesterday. Currently, SU has reported 35 cases within the 14 day reporting period, with 12 days left to report.
The SU administration also acknowledged that main reason for the spike is the “understandable fatigue but ill-advised complacency on the part of some in our community who are not fully adhering to public health guidelines,” Haynie and Liu wrote.
SU’s Public Health Team believes that another possible reason for the recent increasing rate of infection can be attributed to more cases being confirmed across Central New York. Also, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced today that parts of Onondaga County will now be subject to New York’s yellow-zone coronavirus rules, which are the lowest level of cluster-based restrictions, including some new limits on gatherings and activities, but do not require the closure of schools or businesses. These zones represent areas at high risk of spreading the coronavirus. Currently, the yellow zone encompasses the entire city of Syracuse.
Designated yellow zones will face stricter COVID-19 prevention protocols. These restrictions include limiting capacity in places of worship and restaurants. Gatherings have also been limited to 25 people and, although schools will remain open, they will have to test at least 20% of students and faculty each week.
In the campuswide email, Haynie and Liu clarified that students who decide to leave campus are required to take a COVID-19 saliva swab test. They suggested students plan to get tested three days in advance of their departure. Testing is available Monday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Carrier Dome, the email read.
“Now, more than ever, we need our students, faculty and staff to recommit to our collective goal — ensuring the health and safety of everyone in our community,” Haynie and Liu wrote at the end of the email.
In a campus-wide email Monday, Academic Affairs assistant provost Chris Johnson notified students that registration for spring 2021 will be opening soon. The system has changed since the fall, with clearer outlines of what in-person, hybrid, and online classes will entail.
Under the new format student will be able to see the mode of instruction for each course so they can plan accordingly. Students returning to campus will be allowed to enroll in classes with any mode of instruction, including entirely online courses.
In the spring semester, in-person classes will be conducted completely in person with no hybrid options. The sessions will not be recorded, and every student is expected to show up to every class. There will be some exceptions for students at high risk or students with disabilities.
Hybrid classes will operate very similarly to how they currently operate currently, including recording and live streaming. Online classes will also look very similar to their current format, with teachers free to decide whether to hold the course synchronously or asynchronously. Students who choose not to return to campus will be limited to enrolling in only hybrid or fully online courses.
Students who are working remotely are being asked to make the university aware by filling out a questionnaire. Students who chose to work remotely, will not have access to any campus facilities including the Library and the Barnes center.
Johnson concluded by urging students to work closely with their academic advisors to resolve any conflicts that may arise as a result of this new system.
“They are here to work with you and help you continue to make progress toward your degree,” Johnson said.