The president of the State University at Albany reported a “very concerning” spike in coronavirus cases among students and warned that in-person classes and other on-campus activities could be suspended for the rest of the fall semester if the outbreak “is not addressed immediately.”
“The actions we take over the next few days will determine the course of the rest of our semester,” president Havid Rodriguez said in a notice sent to students Thursday night.
The Albany County Health Department informed the university of 40 confirmed COVID-19 cases among students since the start of the semester — 31 of which were reported within the past 24 hours.
“Clusters have been identified within Athletics and in off-campus student housing in the Pine Hills neighborhood, but are not isolated to these students,” Rodriguez said.
Not addressing the outbreak immediately “could result in suspending all in-person activities, including teaching, on our campuses,” Rodriguez said in the e-message co-signed by Michael Christakis, the university’s vice president for student affairs.
“We are working diligently with our partners at ACDOH to isolate and quarantine impacted students, but it is essential that all students continue to follow state and University public health directives. These include wearing a mask in public at all times, maintaining six feet of physical distance, frequent hand-washing, and avoiding large gatherings,” said Rodriguez.
Rodriguez warned that failure to abide by health rules — including isolation and quarantine when directed — will result in “severe consequences, up to and including suspension for dismissal from the university.”
The spike at the SUNY Albany comes on the heels of a surge in COVID-19 cases at other recently re-opened college campuses.
SUNY Oneonta was the first New York college that suspended in-person classes and shifted totally to remote classes after more 300 students were infected with COVID-19.
Cornell University is also grappling to contain an outbreak of the killer bug at its Ithaca campus.
Meanwhile officials at other colleges have suspended students for violating health directives by holding mass gatherings and failing to wear masks.