Coronavirus News: NY colleges ramp up safety protocols as Cuomo sets positive case threshold

COVID-19 News and Information
PURCHASE, Westchester Co. (WABC) -- Gov. Andrew Cuomo set a threshold for colleges if a cluster of COVID-19 cases develops.

The threshold would require colleges in New York to switch to two weeks of full remote instruction if the number of cases reaches 100 or 5% of resident students, faculty, and staff, whichever number is less.

At that point, there will be a reassessment.

Many schools are ramping up their safety protocols in hopes of preventing clusters.

It's the calm, before the controlled start of the academic year at Purchase College.

Classes are set to begin Monday, but there are already students from out of town on campus, they are under quarantine.

More students will arrive Saturday, that's when the school will begin monitoring people for symptoms and COVID-19 testing begins.

The number of students who will be attending classes in person has been limited to under 1,000, about a quarter of the student body.

The rest, like Calista Janicki, will be learning remotely.

"I think Purchase is smart for not letting everyone back immediately and giving people the choice to stay on campus if they really need to," Janicki said.

Like all colleges, Purchase has put safety measures in place, but schools around the country are experiencing coronavirus outbreaks.

"I think this allows us to really, on an evidence-based way, work with our county health departments, work with our state health departments to have maximum protection so applaud the move of the governor today," SUNY Chancellor Jim Malatras said.

Students at Purchase will have their own room and bathroom and SUNY will be utilizing pool testing several times during the semester.

Positive cases will be isolated.

"We have quarantine spaces for them on campus. Their food is delivered to them. Health and check-ins are available to them," Purchase College Interim President Dennis Craig said.

There are 60 quarantine beds on campus.

Craig says he is optimistic, but he acknowledges that there are no guarantees, saying the school year remains "a fluid situation."

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