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Cuomo: Colleges in New York must go remote when cases surge

August 28, 2020 Michael Hill Associated Press
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With coronavirus cases cropping up at colleges nationwide, New York will require schools to switch to remote learning for two weeks when cases surge, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Thursday.

Cuomo said he expects campus-based clusters now that many schools have welcomed students back for the fall semester. He mentioned “troubling reports” of students congregating after Syracuse University, Marist College and SUNY Plattsburgh each have recently suspended students after gatherings.

“When you have large congregations of people, anticipate a cluster,” Cuomo told reporters during a phone-in briefing. “We expect it. We want to be prepared for it.”

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Under the new guidance, if in over a two-week period colleges have 100 cases or if the number of cases equal 5 percent of their on-campus population, they must go to remote learning for two weeks. The school’s situation will be reassessed at the end of the two weeks, Cuomo said.

Colleges nationwide have adopted strict student conduct rules and other measures to check the spread of the virus, though cases are still being detected on many campuses.

Mary Beth Labate, president of the Commission on Independent Colleges and Universities, an association of the chief executives of the state’s independent colleges and universities, said the state’s requirements were being reviewed.

“Private colleges have been at the forefront of surveillance testing, going above and beyond the state’s requirements for testing on college campuses,” she said in a statement. “As students have returned to campus over the past several weeks, cases of Covid-19 have remained very low.”

New York has largely managed to slow down the virus, with just under 1 percent of tests taken statewide coming back positive Wednesday. But Cuomo said he was concerned about an uptick in western New York, where the positive rate was 2 percent.

The administration said dozens of cases have been linked to a food processing plant in Chautauqua County.

Cuomo said there will be eight temporary rapid-test sites opening in Buffalo and western New York on Saturday.

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