New York college sending students home for rest of fall semester amid rise in COVID cases

ONEONTA, New York (WABC) -- SUNY Oneonta is sending all students home for the rest of the fall semester after hundreds of coronavirus cases have been reported so far this school year.

All in-person classes and activities for the rest of the semester are canceled after 389 students have tested positive for COVID since the semester started on Aug. 24.

The school announced last weekend it would stop all on-campus learning for two weeks after more than 100 students tested positive for coronavirus.

As of Sunday morning, there were 105 positive cases on campus -- which makes up for 3% of students and faculty on campus this year. But that number continued to rise all week.

"However, with the increase in confirmed cases within our campus community - 389 since the start of the semester on Aug. 24 - the college now needs to take this new action to contain the virus and prevent further community spread," said Barbara Jean Morris. "While this is sudden news and something no one wanted, the risk to our campus and Oneonta community is too great."

Students who have tested negative for COVID-19 are being asked to sign up for a move-out time from Sept. 4 to Sept. 7.

RELATED | How New York City and Tri-State area universities, colleges are reopening for fall 2020

All classes on Friday have been canceled to allow time for students to get ready to move, a

The college has a plan in place to issue full refunds for housing and prorated funds for dining for students who move out of their dorms.

There will be a process for students who wish to remain on campus to request permission to do so.

Officials previously announced that five students and three campus organizations were suspended for holding parties. School officials say more suspensions are likely as investigation into off-campus parties continues.

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SUNY Oneonta announced it will close in-person classes on campus for two weeks as a result of a COVID cluster that likely stemmed from student parties.



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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