ALBANY – Governor Andrew Cuomo has issued guidance for infection rates on college campuses and mitigation actions schools must take when the infection rate rises above certain levels. The guidance comes following reports of students at large gatherings, and experiences in other states with clusters developing with the return to in-person classes. Locally, Marist College has suspended fifteen students for their attendance at an off-campus party and also had to put an entire dormitory on lockdown.
“We’ve seen troubling reports of students congregating on college campuses, so we are setting a threshold that says if colleges have 100 cases or if the number of cases equal 5 percent of their population or more, they must go to remote learning for two weeks, at which time we will reassess the situation,” Governor Cuomo said. “We should anticipate clusters and that’s what we’re seeing. Be prepared for it, get ahead of it.”
Schools must return to remote learning with limited on-campus activity when that threshold is reached for a two-week period. If after two weeks, the local health department finds the college has demonstrated that it cannot contain the number of cases, then they could continue to require remote learning or impose other mitigation measures in consultation with the State Department of Health. During that time, athletic activities and other extracurricular activities must be suspended, and dining hall options must move to take-out only.
If clusters of positive cases emerge on particular areas of campus while still below 5 percent or under 100 students, but strain the college’s ability to isolate and contact trace, the college must return to 100 percent distance learning with limited on-campus activity. The local department of health or State Department of Health may order colleges to suspend on-campus activities upon a finding of the college’s inability to control the outbreak, even under the metric.