POTSDAM — Potsdam’s colleges briefed the Town Board on Tuesday regarding their plans to bring students back to the north country as positive COVID-19 hotspots flare up across the country.
Both Kelly Chezum, Clarkson Vice President for External Relations and Nicole Conant, SUNY Potsdam Chief of Staff told the board via Zoom they are prepared to test students and mitigate any COVID-19 resurgences that may occur.
SUNY Potsdam will require all students to quarantine for at least seven days prior to campus and then will test within two days of returning.
Ms. Conant said the university is coordinating with Upstate Medical Center to try and use a new saliva test that is currently waiting for approval from the Food and Drug Administration. Clarkson students will be asked to get a test in their hometowns prior to coming to campus, then will be re-tested within a week of arriving. Those tests will then be driven to MIT-Harvard Broad Institute in Boston.
Ms. Chezum said they expect to have test results back within 24 hours. For the rest of the year, Clarkson will randomly test 300 on-campus and off-campus students each week.
Both colleges are also preparing for the situation in which a student tests positive as well. Clarkson has already lined up 30 trained contact tracers. Additionally, 60 beds will be set aside to quarantine students and a team is being set up to help assist anybody needing to isolate.
All students will also have access to an app where they can receive individualized alerts about test results other COVID related updates. SUNY Potsdam will also require students to quarantine and will reserve the ability to pursue action through the school’s judicial review process for any violations.
Both representatives of the universities also mentioned efforts to work with landlords, businesses and other stakeholders to ensure students are supporting the community while also staying safe.
“We want to engage them because we know our businesses rely on our students,” Ms. Conant told the board. “We want to make sure that we’re encouraging students to shop at our local businesses.”