Area colleges prepare for Thanksgiving break

SUNY Potsdam Student Health Services staff administer nasopharyngeal swab testing for COVID-19 on Aug. 26, in a drive through format in parking lot 9. Christopher Lenney/Watertown Daily Times

CANTON — As Thanksgiving approaches, area college students are preparing to vacate campuses and travel home for the remaining month of the fall semester.

The on-campus term at the four Associated Colleges of the St. Lawrence Valley — SUNY Potsdam, SUNY Canton, Clarkson University and St. Lawrence University — ends with the start of Thanksgiving break next month. Students will complete coursework and finals remotely to limit back-and-forth travel amid the current wave of the COVID-19 pandemic.

At Clarkson, students may request a COVID-19 test before leaving campus by Nov. 24, but exit testing is not required. Testing at Clarkson is available to students taking at least one class on campus or working on campus, a Wednesday announcement from the university reads.

SLU is also offering optional testing, a university spokesperson said this week.

On Tuesday, SUNY announced a system-wide policy requiring students to submit a negative COVID-19 test result within 10 days before leaving campus for the semester. Roughly 140,000 students will need to be tested prior to the week of Nov. 23, and SUNY schools must submit an official testing plan to the state by Nov. 5.

“The last thing we would want to do is contribute to a spread,” SUNY Potsdam Director of Public Relations Alexandra Jacobs-Wilke said. “We’re glad that SUNY is showing leadership on this. We had already been working on what our testing protocols would be as students head home, so this will just help to clarify that.”

SUNY Potsdam, she said, plans to employ the same testing and phased procedures for moving out as the beginning of the semester, and the scheduling of tests will be worked out in the next few weeks.

Describing the SUNY policy as “a necessary proactive step” to minimize the spread of the novel coronavirus, a SUNY Canton spokesperson said the university will implement a Thanksgiving break testing plan to maximize student safety and the safety of families and communities across the country.

Accommodations for students unable to return home by Thanksgiving are being made at all four Associated Colleges.

With initial testing during August’s phased move-in and continued surveillance testing over the last two months, the four schools have conducted a total of more than 30,000 student and staff COVID-19 tests.

Of Clarkson’s 6,992 tests, six positives were returned this semester, and zero cases are active as of Thursday night. With 12,083 tests, SLU has logged 3 cases, one of which is currently active. SUNY Canton and SUNY Potsdam have reported a combined 14,651 tests as of this week, and five and nine positives, respectively. One of SUNY Potsdam’s nine positives, a student case, is currently active.

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(2) comments

Holmes

Hmmm, maybe they should be doing drug tests.

zeitgeist

Why is testing not required at Clarkson and SLU? They should follow the SUNY system's requirement and commitment to public health.

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