By LIBBY CUDMORE • Special to www.AllOTSEGO.com
ONEONTA – With five days of zero COVID-19 cases, SUNY Oneonta is finally breathing a sigh of relief.
“It’s the longest since the college’s first cases were reported on Tuesday Aug. 25,” said Hal Legg, chief communication & marketing officer. “We’re very encouraged.”
With a total of 712 cases since the outbreak, including one employee, the Oneonta campus is seeing cases decline substantially. Between Thursday, Oct. 1, and Wednesday, Oct. 7, there were nine cases. From Thursday, Oct. 8, to Tuesday, Oct. 13, there were only two.
“We’re pleased the numbers have dropped off,” said Legg. “It’s a trend we hope to continue.
By press-time Tuesday evening, Oct. 13, at Hartwick College only one case has surfaced since Oct. 8, with no cases the previous week and two in late September. The student is quarantining at home, and no students are in quarantine on campus.
In all, 21 Hartwick students tested positive following the SUNY outbreak.
“We have been very vigilant in all our precautions,” said Karen McGrath, VP for enrollment & student experience. “We made it clear what our expectations were – wearing a face covering at all times, practicing social distancing – and we held students to those expectations. I think it really had a dramatic effect on our rate of transmission.”
Classes have returned to in-person after a two-week campus lockdown, and although in-person dining has reopened, McGrath said dining options have been expanded to better suit students who might not want to eat even in a socially distanced dining hall.
“We’ve got a mobile app for to-go orders, and we’ve added a food truck on the opposite end of campus from the dining hall,” she said. “We expanded these options to better meet the needs of the students who’d rather get their meals to go.”
They’ve also added a delivery app, where Aramark, the food service company, will bring basic groceries, such as milk, bread and cereal, to dorm rooms. “It’s our version of Instacart,” she said. “This way, they don’t have to leave campus to get groceries.”
“All of these dining changes were ones we were thinking about pre-COVID,” she said. “Students want more dining options, while still giving public health considerations.”