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‘Full Transition Plan’

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‘Safely, Effectively’

SUNY Chancellor Jim Malatras strides into this afternoon’s press conference, where he announced he’s closing the campus for the semester.  Behind him is campus President Barbara Jean Morris.  (Jim Kevlin/

By JIM KEVLIN • Special to

Malatras takes senior Chris Frommeyer’s contact information. Frommeyer asked tough questions today and at Sunday’s press conference, the chancellor said.

ONEONTA – After 100 students tested positive overnight to COVID-19, SUNY Chancellor Jim Malatras returned to the campus for the third time in five days to announce he’s closing SUNY Oneonta for the fall semester, shifting all instruction online.

President Morris will develop the transition plan.

“We will address the spring semester at a later time,” he added.

In a 2 p.m. press conference next to the Chase Gym testing center, Malatras said he’s directed campus President Barbara Jean Morris to develop “a full transition plan” over the next two weeks that is “safe and effective” in enabling the 3,000 campus students to leave Oneonta safely and go home without threat to their families and hometowns.

Students in “isolation” will remain on campus until it is safe for them to depart, he said.

The transition plan will be guided by inputs from the state and county Health Departments.  Deputy Chancellor Hank Bennett, SUNY system deputy chief operating officer assigned to assist the Oneonta administration, will remain here, assisting in the transition plan, Malatras said.

He also said students’ families will receive “full refunds for rooms and other costs” – the full amount, not pro-rated.

What’s happened on the SUNY campus is “a wake-up call for the entire (SUNY) community.  This is  serious matter … A small minority – just a few people – can ruin it for everybody,” Malatras said.

Ask if Morris’ theory that a single “super spreader” may have caused the Oneonta situation to spin out of control, the chancellor said that’s still to be confirmed.  That might be the case, he said, citing the New Rochelle situation, where one “super spreader” at a big party is blamed for the Westchester County outbreak in March.

He did confirm that the local campus’ situation is the worst among the 64 campuses in the SUNY system.

With a total of 389 students testing positive so far, “there’s no one that comes close to that,” he said.

Malatras said his decision was guided by Upstate Medical’s ramped-up testing:  It provided 3,000 tests over the weekend, allowing all on-campus students to be tested, revealing the extent of the infestation.

Chris Frommeyer, the criminal justice mayor from Long Island who asked a pointed question at Malatras’ Sunday press conference, was back today.  “Why did it take so long to close down the college?” he asked Morris.

It may seem like a century.  But the college president pointed out that the first two infections only surfaced nine days ago.  The 29 cases that surfaced on Saturday and the 105 on Sunday spurred Malatras – he said he returned to campus Monday and again today – to act.



  1. Kids are moving out over next three days based on Oneonta schedule. What happened to do it safely so sick kids don’t go home and kill their parents and other family members. Get rapid testing done in Oneonta parking lot before kids leave for home.

  2. Morris inexplicably claims ‘no fault’ in preparedness for the returning sudents. Her refusal to allow the Mayor of Oneonta to send his letter to them, explaining the seriousness of the situation and the potential penalties, was inexcusable. Her negligence and failure to learn from the examples of other schools was destructively incopetent. She should resign. Or be fired.

  3. This was a “big mistake”, but really taking no responsibility for no testing upon arrival, seemed to be zero plan in place at all for anything. Disparaging and despicable, ” we did not botch this” is her reply, well you are an administrator who did nothing at all to help, no prevention, now our community will pay the price as well as more communities, wonder how long her tenure should last.

  4. Morris should accept full responsibility for her blunder and resign. If not she should be fired.
    She really hurt the community.

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