Editor’s note: This article was updated March 18, 2020 to add additional information on the Student Association shuttle, mail center operations and the deadline students must check out by to qualify for partial refunds.
Plattsburgh State President Alexander Enyedi hosted the college’s first virtual town halls yesterday with the assistance of deans and administrators. These two one-hour Zoom conferences served to update faculty, staff, students and parents and give them an opportunity to ask questions as the college is now urging students to stay home if possible to help reduce the spread of the coronavirus.
Enyedi addressed a new development regarding coronavirus cases. On Monday evening, the Clinton County Health Department confirmed the first case of COVID-19 in Clinton County. The individual being held at Champlain Valley Physicians Hospital has no connection to the campus community, Enyedi confirmed during both virtual town halls.
STUDENTS STAY HOME
Enyedi and PSU administrators are encouraging all students to return home and stay home after spring break in order to limit the spread of the virus. Although residence halls will remain open, Campus Housing and Community Living emailed students Thursday about new check-out procedures. Students should fill out the Housing Sign Up form linked in the email to indicate when they’ll be returning to campus, either to stay for the rest of the semester or collect their belongings and leave. Storage for the fall semester is also available on a first come, first served basis. Students can receive a partial refund on unused portions of their housing cost and meal plans. To be eligible for a refund, students must officially check out by April 5. Further questions should be directed toward campus housing by emailing email@example.com.
INTERNATIONAL STUDENTS MAY STAY
With many complications traveling home as the virus spreads, international students or students who do not have safe living conditions to go back to are welcome to stay on campus, as the residence halls will remain open. However, the Global Education Office is closed to walk-in appointments and will not be taking phone calls starting today due to limited staff, according to an email from GEO Assistant Director Amelia Lushia. International students are encouraged to email firstname.lastname@example.org with further questions or concerns.
SOME EMPLOYMENT SUSPENDED
According to Enyedi, students with on-campus jobs are considered non-essential employees. In order to comply with Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s announcement to all SUNY campuses, non-essential employees are also encouraged to leave and work from home if possible until March 31. Essential employees are required to report to work. Students and other staff members affected by this should contact their supervisor for further updates. These supervisors will be expected to check in with their employees throughout the semester.
ON-CAMPUS FACILITIES LIMITED
While campus will remain open, on-campus services will be limited. Recreational facilities like Memorial Hall have closed, and Feinberg Library will have limited hours. Dining on campus will be converted to take-out meals only, and no seating is available. The Student Health and Counseling Center will remain open during normal hours for students, faculty or staff who may need medical attention. The mail center’s service window will be closed. Mail will be delivered through the mail center to students only on Mondays. The Student Association shuttle will stop operation starting tomorrow, March 19. The SA cited the inability to follow the Center for Disease control’s guidelines for shutting down the shuttle.
STUDIOS AND LABS STILL OPEN
Students who require studios or labs to complete their coursework, such as art, photography, biology or chemistry, will still have access to those work spaces if they’re able to attend. However, the administration is discouraging laboratory instruction, insisting faculty use remote learning whenever possible and follow social distancing protocols, such as no more than 10 students per lab.
“If students are present in the community, there will be access, as we know today, to studio space to be able to continue your research or your projects that you have underway, but this will not be part of a formal face-to-face class or formal class time,” Enyedi said.
The Office of the President emailed students Monday that the administration intends to refund room and board to students who live on-campus and choose not to return after spring break, effective the day students check out of their dorm. Other mandatory fees, such as the intercollegiate and recreation fees, are being looked at for possible refunds. Other costs, such as tuition, technology fee and career-services fee, will not be refunded, as the college intends to continue delivering credit through online learning, and the technology and career-services fee will be used to aid technology resources that keep online learning software available to students.
All future PSU events have been suspended or postponed for the rest of the semester. This includes events hosted by the SA, such as Spring Fest, open houses and all Cardinal Athletics games. Although many students asked questions about the fate of graduation in May, the administration says commencement has not been canceled or postponed as of now and is still discussing solutions.
“The CDC has recommended no gatherings of greater than 50 people for the next eight weeks,” Enyedi said. “That falls almost identically on the date of our scheduled graduation here in Plattsburgh. At this point in time, a determination has not yet been made, but like you, I’m concerned that we may have to cancel this event.”
ONLINE LEARNING AND ACADEMIC ADVISING CONTINUES
As PSU continues to move toward online classes, Enyedi encouraged faculty to be flexible when working with students through remote learning and adjust their curriculum accordingly. Faculty will continue with academic advisement for next semester, which begins March 30, and communicate with students remotely.
“You have the flexibility to do what’s right for your students,” Enyedi said to faculty. “You know what’s best, you know what your students need and you know what’s essential for them to be successful.”
Links to watch both town halls in-full can be found at plattsburgh.edu/coronavirus.
The webpage includes more information, continual updates and administrative office contact information for further questions.
“This is a dynamic and stressful time for all of us,” Enyedi said. “I want you to know that we’re going to get through this. I encourage you to take time for yourself as you need to. I want to thank you for being our students.”
Email Emma Vallelunga at email@example.com