New York college closed for 2 weeks after COVID cluster linked to parties

ONEONTA, New York (WABC) -- SUNY Oneonta will stop all on-campus learning for two weeks after more than 100 students have tested positive for coronavirus.

Officials say five students and three campus organizations have been suspended for holding parties.

After several large parties were held last week, 20 students were found to test positive for COVID. A medical team was deployed to test all students on Friday, and a total of 71 cases were found.

As of Sunday morning, there were 105 positive cases on campus -- which makes up for 3% of students and faculty on campus this year.

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As a result, school officials decided to close campus for instruction for two weeks to manage the potential spread.

"Individual responsibility plays into the collective good, so your individual actions have enormous consequences on everyone else in your college community," SUNY Chancellor Jim Malatras said.

New York state will deploy a SWAT team to come into the community to set up three rapid results testing facilities so that any resident of the Oneonta community can be tested.

School officials say more suspensions are likely as investigation into off-campus parties continues.

The increase in cases are a warning to school districts across the state, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said.

"Colleges are the canary in the coal mine," he said. "I think what we're seeing in colleges we're going to see in the K-12 setting when those schools start to reopen."

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