SUNY, CUNY To Shift To Remote Instruction Amid Virus Fears | WAMC

SUNY, CUNY To Shift To Remote Instruction Amid Virus Fears

Mar 11, 2020

The vast state and city university systems in New York are switching to long distance learning March 19 and most students will be going home due to worries about the coronavirus. Governor Andrew Cuomo also says the state is contracting with 28 private labs to speed up what’s been a slow process of testing potential virus victims.

Cuomo says SUNY and CUNY will be holding almost all classes on line on starting next week, and continuing until the end of the semester, and most students will be leaving the dorms. The governor says it’s all about reducing the number of large groups of people gathering together.

“CUNY and SUNY starting March 19th will move to a distance learning model,” Cuomo said. "And both systems will be doing that. CUNY will help reduce the density in New York City, SUNY will help reduce the density in downstate New York at SUNY Purchase, Stonybrook, Westbury, etc. Downstate is where we have the highest density of cases now. So SUNY and CUNY closing March 19."

The governor says if a student has nowhere else to stay, they will be allowed to remain, and those who have lab work that cannot be done on the internet can also stay.

Cuomo administration officials say they are still working out the logistics, but it’s also likely that there will be no public graduations this year.

SUNY’s student association, in a statement, applauded the move, saying it’s the right thing to do to protect students, faculty and staff.

United University Professions, the union representing SUNY’s professors and other faculty, is also supportive of the decision and says it’s working to make the transition to online classes. But the union says it will be “challenging,” and that some instructors who run labs or care for animals will have to stay on campus.

“We welcome the governor’s acknowledgement of the severity of the crisis SUNY faces,” said UUP President Frederick Kowal. “The safety of our students and members is paramount.”

Cuomo says the state is also contracting with over two dozen private labs around New York state to greatly increase the amount of testing that can be conducted. He says the federal Centers for Disease Control and the Food and Drug Administration have not moved quickly enough.

“New York State is going to take matters into its own hands,” said Cuomo. “We’re going to start contracting with private labs in this state to increase our testing capacity.”

The governor and his aides could not immediately provide numbers of how many New Yorkers have been tested, and how many more will now be able to take the tests. But they predict that the number of those who are infected will grow, as more people are tested.  Some of the labs still need permission from the federal government for their testing protocols, which Cuomo says is “complicating” the situation.

The governor has been talking to New York’s business leaders to get them to voluntarily implement staggered work shifts and allowing employees to tele-commute, in an effort to reduce the density of people in the workplace.

The governor says he’s also talking to organizers of St Patrick’s Day parades around the state, including ones in New York City and in many major upstate cities, about possibly cancelling the parades.

Shortly afterward, New York City cancelled its parade. While Cuomo says he’s not ready to ban large public gatherings, he is heeding the advice from Dr. Anthony Fauci, the head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and a member of President Trump’s task force on coronavirus. Fauci recommends that people avoid being in large crowds.

“You don’t want to shut down society, right, because that’s massively disruptive to the economy to life etc,” Cuomo said. “But your main concern here is the public health crisis.”

The governor says he’s trying to strike a balance between the two.

“CUNY and SUNY starting March 19th will move to a distance learning model,” Cuomo said. "And both systems will be doing that. CUNY will help reduce the density in New York City, SUNY will help reduce the density in downstate New York at SUNY Purchase, Stonybrook, Westbury, etc. Downstate is where we have the highest density of cases now. So SUNY and CUNY closing March 19."

The governor says if a student has nowhere else to stay, they will be allowed to remain, and those who have lab work that cannot be done on the internet can also stay. 

Cuomo administration officials say they are still working out the logistics, but it’s also likely that there will be no public graduations this year.

SUNY’s student association, in a statement, applauded the move, saying it’s the right thing to do to protect students, faculty and staff.

Cuomo says the state is also contracting with over two dozen private labs around New York state to greatly increase the amount of testing that can be conducted. He says the federal Centers for Disease Control and the Food and Drug Administration have not moved quickly enough.

“New York State is going to take matters into its own hands,” said Cuomo. “We’re going to start contracting with private labs in this state to increase our testing capacity.”

The governor and his aides could not immediately provide numbers of how many New Yorkers have been tested, and how many more will now be able to take the tests. But they predict that the number of those who are infected will grow, as more people are tested.  Some of the labs still need permission from the federal government for their testing protocols, which Cuomo says is “complicating” the situation. 

The governor has been talking to New York’s business leaders to get them to voluntarily implement staggered work shifts and allowing employees to tele-commute, in an effort to reduce the density of people in the workplace. 

The governor says he’s also talking to organizers of St Patrick’s Day parades around the state, including ones in New York City and in many major upstate cities, about possibly cancelling the parades.

Shortly afterward, New York City cancelled its parade. While Cuomo says he’s not ready to ban large public gatherings, he is heeding the advice from Dr. Anthony Fauci, the head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and a member of President Trump’s task force on coronavirus. Fauci recommends that people avoid being in large crowds. 

“You don’t want to shut down society, right, because that’s massively disruptive to the economy to life etc,” Cuomo said. “But your main concern here is the public health crisis.” 

The governor says he’s trying to strike a balance between the two.