By Fernando Alba
Forty-three students were issued interim suspensions by President Alexander Enyedi last Wednesday for gathering at a party at Sailor Beach Aug. 21. The students were suspended because they allegedly broke campus health and safety protocols such as not wearing masks or socially distancing, which are outlined in the Cardinal Pledge.
After their suspensions were given, the 43 students were required to leave their dorm hall rooms and were told they aren’t permitted to come back on campus until further notice. They also cannot attend classes physically or use campus facilities.
Plattsburgh city police first responded to the party Friday night, when they observed students not wearing masks or socially distancing, which is required for a gathering of that size on public property under New York’s phase four of its reopening plan.
University Police were then informed about the gathering and arrived to conduct interviews with the students. After UP conducted its interviews, it recommended interim suspensions as the appropriate response to the Student Conduct Office, Enyedi said.
Enyedi said interim suspensions were the appropriate response based on how the students violated multiple health protocols that were required by both the college and the state of New York.
“One of the commitments that I made to the campus when we began the restart is that our No. 1 priority is going to be health and wellness, and there is a high level of expectation that we will honor that commitment,” Enyedi said.
Enyedi would not confirm or deny whether any of the suspended students were tested for COVID-19 following the gathering at Sailor Beach.
He reiterated SUNY Plattsburgh’s testing protocol that states only individuals on campus exhibiting symptoms would be individually tested. SUNY Plattsburgh’s pool testing, which can test up to 25 individuals per test and began Wednesday, is the campus’ solution to wide-spread testing.
Enyedi did say that if a student were to test positive for COVID-19, he would inform the student body like he did for the two off-campus students who tested positive earlier in the semester.
If a student is tested positive for COVID-19, SUNY Plattsburgh’s protocol states that contact tracing would be pursued and the student would go into isolation in select dorm halls on campus. Individuals identified from the contact tracing with known contact with the student who tested positive would be placed into precautionary quarantine.
“We want to ensure that we’re providing a high level of care for the person who is positive in case there is a change in their health,” Enyedi said. “In the case of the [precautionary] quarantine, we are basically taking that particular individual out of circulation as a precautionary measure in case they do have COVID.”
The two students who tested positive for COVID-19 earlier this semester have gone through the health protocol fully, have recovered from the virus and are now now back on campus, Enyedi said.