Fall 2020 Re-Start Plan

Actions for Safety

Questions and Answers

Repopulation of the Campus

  • The President’s Executive Council (PEC) and Cabinet reviewed the extensive input from the stakeholder groups including the pros and cons of each scenario and the rankings by stakeholder groups. The PEC and Cabinet reached consensus that we should welcome our students back to campus and the Oneonta community for fall 2020.  
  • It is critical that all students are welcomed to ensure equity and inclusion. A growing number of our students face food insecurity, homelessness, and unsafe living conditions. Since March 20 we have granted emergency funding to students totaling $89,600 to help with rent, medical bills, groceries, and technology support. We will have approximately $100,000 in place by fall 2020 for the Student Emergency Fund for fiscal year 2020-2021.
  • Face-to-face instruction will be limited based on classroom density models (see below). Therefore, there will be a blend of very limited in-person instruction with fully online, hybrid, and web-enhanced instruction for residential and off-campus students.  
  • Resident and dining halls will put in place protocols that will limit density, promote social distancing, require face masks, and have surveillance monitoring.
  • Currently, we have 138 faculty members that have completed the Distance Education Certificate. An additional 124 faculty have signed up to complete the certificate this summer. All faculty teaching an online course in the spring 2021 semester will be required to complete the Distance Education Basic Training and full certificate by fall 2021.

The fall semester will run from Aug. 24 through Dec. 15. Classes may be in-person or online until Thanksgiving break when all in-person instruction will end. The rest of the semester, including finals will be online only. To reduce migration, fall break will move to Thanksgiving week.   

  • We developed a theoretical model of 36 square feet per station for classrooms based on tablet arm type seating and maintaining a grid with 6-foot spacing.
  • We considered a layout without the 3-foot clear travel width isles suggested by some. 
  • We assumed that the 36-foot bubble would be adequate given limited contact time during travel and circulation, the 80+ square-foot model would be untenable for us.
  • We based these capacity estimates on a limited amount of instructional space between front row and instructor/board 7-8 feet.
  • We performed several test fits which and support our assumption. 
  • We are assuming we will need to revise instructor locations near doors and install plexiglass screens in some locations.
  • Labs will be reduced by about 50% but because of the variety of types of class labs we will need to lay each out individually.
  • We researched additional large spaces not currently used for regular classes and should be considered for scheduling.
  • Fixed seating tiered theaters fare very badly sometimes decreasing to 30% original capacity due to their inflexibility in moving seats.
  • We looked at several computer labs and feel that social distancing could be achieved through a reduction to 50% capacity in general.
  • We are presuming that to maximize capacity we would remove most desk chair furniture and deploy tablet armchairs to spaces.
  • Many small classrooms are no longer feasible to use and will become storage for unused chairs.
  • Much of the classroom inventory is in the 12-20 station area with reduced density.
  • Not all classrooms contain the necessary technology to provide in person and remote instruction at once.
  • Through policies and procedures SUNY Oneonta will ensure that a distance between persons of 6 feet is maintained unless safety or a core function of the work activity requires a shorter distance. 
  • Tightly confined spaces will be occupied only by one individual at a time unless all occupants are wearing face coverings. If occupied by more than one person, the campus will keep occupancy under 50% of maximum capacity of public spaces (excludes residence and dining halls).
  • In-person gatherings will be limited as much as possible and tele- or videoconferencing will be used whenever practical. Essential in-person meetings will be held in open, well-ventilated spaces with appropriate social distancing among participants.
  • Departments will establish and denote contactless or limited contact pick up and drop off areas.
  • The college Office of Environmental Health and Safety will conduct risk assessment of departmental offices and other workspaces to determine what engineering controls are appropriate to achieve social distancing, e.g., screens.
  • Engagement with customers and visitors to the campus will be managed through a series of barriers and ground markings to direct traffic flow in commonly congested communal areas.
  • Maintenance, operations, and custodial departments will implement small work groups staggered shifts and separate breaks to achieve separation.
  • Critical staff may be completely isolated from other members of the campus community. Where necessary cross training of critical/noncritical staff will occur.
  • The college Office of Environmental Health and Safety will decide which PPE is appropriate for workplaces based on Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and New York State Department of Health (NYSDOH) guidelines.
  • Departments must contact the Office of Environmental Health and Safety if they require a resupply of PPE. The Office of Environmental Health and Safety will inventory PPE requests and procure re-supply.
  • Faculty/staff will always be required to wear masks in public areas and when working together closer than 6 feet.
  • Faculty/staff and students will be required to wear masks in classrooms and laboratories.
  • The college will provide fabric and/or commercial disposable face coverings to all personnel at no cost to the employee. Fabric masks will be distributed as they become available to reduce the strain on stockpiles of disposable masks which have proven difficult to re-supply. Faculty and staff may also supply their own masks and face coverings.
  • We will not provide face coverings to all students. However, pursuant to the governor’s executive order, students will be required to wear face coverings on campus in spaces where social distancing is not feasible. 
  • We have procured over 5,000 N95 masks and over 25,000 non-surgical masks.

Hand hygiene stations will be provided in key high traffic locations throughout the campus. These will include signage with best practice instructions and hand sanitizer. Additionally, all bathrooms will be outfitted with signage providing guidance on hand washing.

  • Extensive COVID-19 safety signage will be deployed.
  • Social distancing markers will be posted using tape or signs that denote 6 feet of spacing in commonly used and other applicable areas on the campus. Social distancing markers will be applied to floors in high traffic corridors to denote a single direction of traffic and high-volume staircase will be denoted as “up” or “down” only. These markings will be in place before faculty and students return to campus.
  • Recirculating HVAC systems controls will be modified to run 24/7 and will be adjusted to maximize outside air intake unless humidity control is required. Toilet exhausts will be run 24/7.
  • Offices with direct, outside air AC units will be run continuously and local control will be removed.
  • HVAC filter housings will be inspected and gaps will be closed to prevent air bypass.
  • MERV ratings of HVAC filters will be reviewed and if required and necessary ultraviolet light sterilization units will in added to systems. Standalone UV systems will be added in the space to provide additional filtration and air changes per hour.
  • Regular preventative maintenance and care of HVAC filters will continue. Guidance on HVAC systems will be from ASHRAE standards and SUNY best practice.
  • Drinking fountains will be disabled but handsfree bottle filling stations will be retained.
  • Building water systems will be flushed to prevent buildup of legionella bacteria from underuse.
  • Plexiglass screens and other engineering controls will be installed in workplaces at service counters and in other areas as required to achieve and maintain social distancing.
  • Air blown hand dryers will be disabled and paper towels provided for use.
  • The HVAC system in the Health Center will be modified to produce negative pressure in examination rooms. The building is currently 100% outside air with no circulation.
  • Sharing of tools and supplies is discouraged. When in contact with frequently touched surfaces or shared objects individuals should wear gloves. Shared objects must be disinfected after use, followed by handwashing.
  • Cleaning and disinfection protocols will comply with CDC and NYSDOH guidelines and cleaning records will be maintained on campus documenting date, time, and scope of cleaning. 
  • Regular cleaning and disinfection will be conducted on an increased basis on all high traffic and high contact common areas.
  • If an employee has tested positive for COVID-19 the college will secure their personal areas for 72 hours when possible. All communal spaces where the employee has worked will be disinfected using a combination of foggers and spray application. Virex II 256™ will be used to perform disinfection. This product has a 10-minute kill time and is Environmental Protection Agency listed as a virucide effective against known corona viruses. 
  • To maximize campus resources available for disinfection faculty and staff will be asked to disinfect personal office equipment and will be provided with supplies such as disinfectant wipes and sprays. New protocols for instance may require staff to empty their own trash cans at common locations or hallway bins.   
  • We have capacity to make our own disinfectant wipes. 
  • Check-sheets or other indicators will be posted in buildings to indicate that disinfection has occurred and when.
  • Surveillance testing
  • Symptom surveillance
  • Appointment scheduling through email and text
  • Examination procedures
  • Location of counseling services — tele counseling when possible
  • Transportation of sick students to hospitals
  • Enhanced communication with local health care facilities 
  • Telemedicine
  • Isolated exam rooms
  • Most classes will be fully online, hybrid, or web enhanced.
  • Faculty will utilize Blackboard, our learning management system.
  • Classes will be scheduled synchronously.   
  • Classes with labs and those that utilize applied learning modalities will be offered in spaces adhering to class density protocols. 
  • Academic continuity plans are being established in case we must move to complete remote instruction. Additionally, plans are being established for business continuity if faculty and/or staff become ill. Faculty are adapting course outlines to be more flexible in case of student illness.
  • Faculty/staff and students will be required to wear masks in classroom and laboratories.
  • Approximately 3,200 beds for students, two residence halls offline (160 beds) for isolation. Suites and double rooms will be viewed as family units. 
  • Enhanced cleaning protocols based on CDC and NYSDOH guidelines.  Cleaning records will be maintained on campus documenting date, time, and scope of cleaning.  
  • Social distancing markers will be posted using tape or signs that denote 6 feet of spacing in commonly used areas. Furniture will be reduced in common areas. Social distancing markers will be applied to floors in high traffic corridors to denote a single direction of traffic and high-volume staircases will be denoted as up or down only. Elevator use will be limited. 
  • Social distancing will be achieved in other gathering spaces such as dining halls by increasing seating separation, removal of furniture, limited entry, staggered mealtimes, grab and go food and other measures.
  • Dining hall facilities will follow CDC and NYSDOH guidelines. 
  • Elevator use will be limited.
  • We will limit cross access between residence halls.
  • Face coverings will be required in common areas.
  • Limited access to kitchen facilities and the sharing of shared cooking utensils. 
  • We will enact housing considerations for students with special needs/underlying health conditions per ADA requirements.
  • There will be restrictions on group events and activities.
  • Students will be required to participate in public health trainings.
  • Modified housing agreement and codes of conduct that will include the limit of travel, no guest policy, and best practices in personal hygiene. 

COVID-19 safety procedures for events will include:

  • reduction in capacity of event spaces based on New York state guidelines;
  • providing vendors and event organizers all COVID-19 Safety procedures;
  • certification from vendors and event organizers that they will follow the procedures;
  • vendor and event organizer pre-event safety checklists held on file.
  • requiring event attendees to wear masks;
  • eliminating unattended food service at events; and
  • supervision and enforcement of COVID-19 safety during events.
  • Approximately 3,300 students live in Oneonta and approximately 60 graduate students live in Cooperstown.  
  • University Police and the Oneonta Police Department communicate regularly.  
  • The SUNY Oneonta Student Association contracts with Oneonta Public Transportation for bus service to and from campus.  
  • The City of Oneonta has instituted cleaning protocols for all public transportation vehicles. 
  • Communication regarding social distancing, personal hygiene, mental health, community, and individual responsibility will be ongoing.  
  • Students will follow all social distancing rules and wear masks according to guidelines while on campus.
  • The Code of Student Conduct will reflect student’s responsibility to the campus community and community-at-large. 
  • Students with compromised immune systems may request a single occupancy room.
  • Most classes will be available through distance education. There are some majors in which distance education is not the optimal learning modality. 
  • Campus services, such as counseling, tutoring, and advising will be available remotely.
  • Student club gatherings will be limited to NYSDOH guidelines on number of people (currently 25) and room density to ensure social density. 
  • Outdoor activities will be preferred when possible. 
  • Activities will be reviewed and those of higher risk such as contact sports, singing, or other activities likely to cause physical contact or generate aerosol may be limited or not permitted.
  • All activities will need to be pre-planned with at least one week prior to event date.
  • All activity plans must be pre-approved through environmental health and safety office.
  • Records will be kept of attendees for contact tracing if required.
  • We will follow the guidelines provided by the NCAA Core Principles of Resocialization of Collegiate Sport.
  • Most of our engagement activities will take place virtually.  
  • There are no major in-person performances planned for the fall.

Communications on COVID-19 safety protocols will occur through:

  •  all-employee emails;
  • online training/website resources/ brochures;
  • Bulletin/Notes from Netzer;
  • signage — social distancing, appropriate use of PPE, hygiene; and
  • direct guidance from the college environmental health and safety officer or deputized personnel. 

COVID-19 Safety Training will be delivered to:

  • administrative departments;
  • academic departments;
  • Athletics;
  • event staff; and
  • Maintenance and Operations and regular vendors.

Faculty and staff will be kept updated with changes through the above means.

  • Signage will be placed throughout the campus that reminds community members to adhere to proper hygiene, social distancing rules, appropriate use of PPE, and cleaning and disinfection protocols.

We have regular meetings with our Regional Control Group, Otsego County health officials, state and local elected officials, Otsego County Chamber of Commerce, College Council, landlords, and other community members. Our vice president for student development and Student Association president serve on a town and gown taskforce.


  • All students will be required to pre-screen prior to returning to campus.
    • Students must attest to having no COVID-19 symptoms and no known infection.
    • Students living in New York state or arriving from a state not under a travel advisory will be required to conduct a seven-day precautionary quarantine at home prior to coming on campus. Students will attest that they have quarantined and are symptom free.
    • Students coming from abroad or any state under a travel advisory must quarantine for 14 days. Students must complete the online health form as required by New York State. A copy or screen shot of the competed form’s last page must be submitted to the Counseling, Health, and Wellness Center HealthCenter@oneonta.edu. Students must arrive in New York on or before Aug. 10, 2020 and quarantine for 14 days at their own expense before attending a class or moving into their assigned residence hall room. On-campus housing and dining is available for students at a per diem rate.
    • If a student prior to coming to campus is experiencing symptoms or has been in close contact with people who are symptomatic or tested positive, then they will need to get a PCR test by a local health care provider.
      • If positive, they will quarantine at home for at least 14 days and after symptoms disappear.
  • Students will be required to undergo symptom surveillance through daily health screening questionnaire for: 
    • fever;
    • flu or gastrointestinal symptoms;
    • loss of taste or smell; and
    • having been ill or caring for an ill person.
  • We procured a wastewater/sewer testing system to monitor for COVID-19. If there are changes in baseline tests, then as feasible, we may conduct pooled testing in impacted areas.
  • We may conduct randomized pooled testing of students.
  • Testing will be mandatory for any students who live on campus or who are taking on-campus courses and/or using our facilities.
  • We procured over 6,000 disposable thermometers.
  • We procured a COVID-19 testing machine and test kits.
  • SUNY approved the college’s COVID-19 testing plan on Sept. 16.
  • Local hospitalizations.
  • Increases in positive COVID-19 in the community.
  • Baseline sewer/wastewater increase substantially. 
  • Contact tracing for confirmed cases will be the conducted by the Otsego County Department of Health.  Additionally, University Police Officers and our Health and Safety Officer have gone through tracing certification.   Therefore, we have an adequate number of tracers (3 per 10,000).
  • Encourage students and employees to download tracing apps. 
  • Communications to returning employees will include a requirement to keep daily records of those they have interacted with through the course of their work week. These records may be requested by New York Department of Health for contact tracing and subsequent notification of contacts. 

Students and employees returning to work will be required to self-screen before coming to work and self-screening templates and information will be provided as part of the communications plan.

  • All students and employees will be strongly encouraged to have flu vaccines.

Students and employees will be advised to stay at home and notify (if applicable) their supervisor and Human Resources if they have:

  • a fever;
  • flu or gastrointestinal symptoms;
  • loss of taste or smell;
  • been ill or caring for an ill person; or
  • have tested positive for COVID-19 or had contact with a person who has tested positive for COVID-19.

Workplace screening will be implemented including computer-based health questionnaires. Where practical workplace temperature screening stations will be implemented.

If resources permit, pooled testing will be provided based on elevations in waste/sewer water baselines.


  • Two residence halls will be offline for quarantine and isolation. A total of 160 beds will be available. 
  • CDC and NYSDOH protocols will be in place regarding cleaning and food delivery. 
  • Health monitoring of sick students will be conducted primarily through tele-medicine check-ins by our Health Center staff. There will not be a nurse physically on site all the time, but we will have designated space within the halls for providers to perform physical exams for quarantined or isolated students if necessary. If a student needs medical assistance after hours, they will call the Oneonta State Emergency Squad or the Oneonta Fire Department. 
  • Student services, such as counseling, tutoring and advising, are available remotely. We have plans in place for hospital transport if necessary. 
  • Quarantine rooms will be used to keep someone who might have been exposed to COVID-19 away from others and for students awaiting test results.  
  • A student directly exposed to COVID-19 will be required to be quarantined for 14 days. Off-campus students that are unable to self-quarantine at home based on CDC and NYSDOH protocols will be quarantined on campus. 
  • Students in campus suites or apartments may quarantine in place as a family unit if determined appropriate based on CDC and NYSDOH protocols.
  • Isolation rooms will be used to separate students infected with the virus and tested positive for COVID-19 (those who are sick with COVID-19 and those with no symptoms). Off-campus students who are unable to self-isolate at home based on CDC and NYSDOH protocols will be isolated on campus. 
  • The Healthcare Center will assess, test, and provide medical guidance for students who report COVID-19 symptoms.
  • Students demonstrating symptoms and/or students that have been directly exposed to COVID-19 will be required to be tested. Tests are free of charge for New York residents.
    • At this time, the college has procured tests and a testing machine and is able administer tests, as necessary.
    • Students awaiting test results will be placed in quarantine.
  • Students testing positive will be isolated in offline dormitories.
  • If a student tests positive, then they will isolate for at least 14 days and after symptoms disappear.

If an employee or student has tested positive for COVID-19 the college will secure their personal areas for 72 hours when possible. All communal spaces where the employee has worked will be disinfected using a combination of foggers and spray application. Virex II 256™ will be used to perform disinfection. This product has a 10-minute kill time and is Environmental Protection Agency listed as a virucide effective against known corona viruses. 

If an employee or student tests positive for COVID-19 on campus, then a campus-wide email will be distributed. 

Return to Remote Operations

  • If necessary, students will be asked to vacate the residence halls prior to the fall scheduled move-out date.  If the move-out date is changed, students will receive pro-rated room and board refunds according to campus residence and dining policies. 
  • Pick-up schedules will be established for students who require someone from outside Oneonta to assist with move-out. 
  • Exceptions may be allowed for students to remain on campus that have special circumstances, such as international students, homeless students, or students who feel unsafe. 
  • On-campus operations will be reduced to essential personnel.  
  • Non-essential personnel will be allowed to tele-commute. 
  • Academic continuity plans will be enacted, and all instruction will be offered through online modalities. 
  • All-employee emails
  • Bulletin/Notes from Netzer
  • Regular virtual chats from president to campus community
  • Utilize our Emergency Operations Committee 
  • Community outreach with elected official, Chamber of Commerce, and local press 


Otsego County Statistics

Information as of July 24, 2020

  • Population approximately 60,000
  • Population density 62 per square mile
  • Ranked 3rd in Demographic Vulnerability – Cornell Study
    • Demographic related risk is determined as a summary score of four items: the percent of the population 80 years or older, the percent living in group quarters facilities (including nursing homes, jails/prisons, or student dormitories), the percent of households that span three generations (including both grandchildren and grandparents), and the percent of the population with a disability. The index is expressed as summed z-scores for each demographic risk factor. The data are sourced from the Census Bureau’s 2018 Population Estimates (age) and 2014-2018 American Community Survey (group quarters, triple-generation households, and disability).
  • Largely rural
  • 96 cases of COVID-19
  • 12 active cases
  • 3 hospitalized
  • 79 recovered from illness
  • 5 deaths

For more information on Otsego County cases please visit the Department of Public Health website.

  • Population approximately 14,000 – half the population made up of students from SUNY Oneonta and Hartwick College
  • Population Density 3,032.6 per square mile
  • Largely urban
  • Approximately 50 percent of our off-campus students (approximately 1,500) remained in the area after the residence halls were closed. At various times throughout the spring semester, we had between 80-150 students and staff living on campus after spring break. There were no hotspots in the area.
  • Population approximately 5,229
  • Population density 149 per square mile
  • Mixed rural/urban

Mission: We nurture a community where students grow intellectually, thrive socially, and live purposefully.
Values: Inclusivity, Service, and Sustainability
Vision: To become an exemplar residential community offering relevant educational experiences both in and outside the classroom.
As you can see from our mission, vision, and values, the distinction of our campus is the residential experience. Students largely come from downstate with the two highest populations from Suffolk and Nassau counties. They come to Oneonta for the beauty of our campus, the safety of our city, academic programs, athletics, and most importantly the relationships they build with faculty and staff.

We require freshman and sophomores to live on campus (approximately 3,700 beds). The remainder of our students live in the city center (approximately 3,300). We also have graduate programs in Cooperstown, NY and students live close to those facilities.

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