CANTON — The 2020-21 academic year has begun, and the four members of the Associated Colleges of the St. Lawrence Valley have developed online COVID-19 dashboards for the public to read testing updates and view school-specific case numbers.
As part of reopening procedures, St. Lawrence University, SUNY Canton, Clarkson University and SUNY Potsdam are requiring students and staff to be tested prior to moving in and working on campus. Drive-through nasal swab testing has been set up in Canton and Potsdam, and additional university testing is expected to take place throughout the fall semester.
To gauge presence of symptoms, all campuses are requiring students and employees to complete a health screening each time they enter their respective campuses. When tests are confirmed positive — universities are using different laboratories for processing and result timing will vary — the St. Lawrence County Public Health Department is notified and begins leading the management of positive cases and contact tracing.
At press time Saturday night, St. Lawrence University reports two positive cases, both currently active. Since Aug. 17, a total of 2,133 students and employees have been tested. Of SLU’s 140 available campus quarantine beds, 17 are occupied.
SUNY Canton reports one positive case, currently active. A total of 711 individuals have been tested in August, resulting in 710 negatives.
Clarkson University students were required to submit a negative result prior to arriving on campus, and upon arrival, students are being tested again. The university reports two positive cases on its Potsdam campus, both active, and 3,128 negative results from campus tests since Aug. 18. Clarkson reports a third case, a university community member not tested by the university health center or St. Lawrence Health System.
Since Aug. 11, SUNY Potsdam has tested 1,530 students and 34 employees. To date, zero positives have resulted from those tests, though a total of 1,236 results are still pending.
Due to system lags in the state’s case management reporting process or data transfers between campus locations and some home locations for isolation, the Associated Colleges consortium and the county Public Health Department emphasize there may be some discrepancy between student or employee cases reported by the health department and the universities.
The health department maintains the confidentiality of individuals with confirmed positive results.
Following reports, state and nationwide, of college students gathering in large groups and violating public health mandates, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo on Thursday issued guidance for higher education institutions, should college campuses see increased infection rates.
The guidance sets a case threshold for colleges, meaning if an institution reaches or exceeds 100 confirmed positives or a figure equivalent to 5 percent of the college’s population, remote learning must commence for two weeks while the situation is reviewed and monitored by local public health officials. Working with the state Department of Health, the St. Lawrence County Public Health Department would facilitate a decision for moving forward following that two-week period.
“We should anticipate clusters, and that’s what we’re seeing,” Gov. Cuomo said. “Be prepared for it, get ahead of it.”
Clusters of positive cases totaling figures below 100 or the 5 percent threshold, according to the guidance, will also be evaluated.
The full reopening plans and campus protocols for each of the Associated Colleges are viewable online.
— St. Lawrence University dashboard: stlawu.edu/covid-dashboard
— Clarkson University dashboard: clarkson.edu/future-ready
— SUNY Canton dashboard: canton.edu/covid19
— SUNY Potsdam dashboard: Testing data is located on the university’s student life webpage, under “case details.”