By CHRYSTAL SAVAGE • Special to www.AllOTSEGO.com
ONEONTA – “Testing is the secret sauce to our success,” SUNY Chancellor Jim Malatras said today at a noontime press conference as students begin returning to SUNY Oneonta in advance of the Feb. 1 start of the spring semester.
This coming semester, all students will be required to take a weekly swab test, “and we are using the number one saliva test in the world here at SUNY,” said Malatras, who appeared with campus President Dennis Craig at the Dewar Arena, where testing sites have been set up.
The swab, in combination with mask wearing at all times and social distancing, makes him “optimistic” that last fall’s outbreak, where 750 students tested positive in a few days and campus was closed, will be avoided this spring.
“We have had quite a turnaround since the beginning of last year,” he said, “and we made sure we have a plan that works for the community and our students. Students recognize that they have a responsibility, not just to themselves, but to the community. We are confident that the city and the college will have a highly effective semester.”
When asked about the responsibility of those students who live off-campus, Malatras explained that University Police have partnered with Oneonta police to check in on those students, and those students will be tested weekly as part of the 100 percent in-person staff, faculty and student testing that is underway.
“There is a level of personal accountability,” he continued. “You can put all the rules in place you like, but if they don’t comply that all goes out the window. We are taking care to monitor off-campus students and the community as well.”
The tests being administered can also detect the new strains recently found in several countries, states and even in nearby Saratoga County.
Students found to be positive will be isolated for 10 days as per state Health Department orders.
SUNY is providing isolation space for those students on and off-campus who have tested positive as well as for those who have to quarantine due to possible exposure.