MORKAL-WILLIAMS: College Campuses Opening Again. Are We Sure It’s A Good Idea?

LETTER from SAM MORKAL-WILLIAMS

College Campuses Opening Again.

Are We Sure It’s A Good Idea?

To the Editor:

This week, Hartwick College began moving students onto campus. SUNY Oneonta will begin the same process on the 22nd.

I am sure that many area residents are wondering the same thing that I am: Why are we opening campuses at all?

Last semester at SUNY Oneonta can be called nothing but a failure, (although the “Retrospective on Fall 2020” on www.oneonta.edu, through a showcase of passive voice and pivoting, says not
everything went poorly!)

Hartwick fared much better, but is easier to manage due to a smaller student population that is almost entirely residential. The two schools were just one patch in a diverse quilt of successes and failures in campus management across the country.

Nobody was sure whether to open campuses in the fall as the country braced for an imminent winter of suffering through increased cases and deaths.

On Aug. 26, when Hartwick welcomed new students to campus, New York’s seven-day average of COVID-19 cases was 591. Yesterday it was 16,424, which is even higher than when students were sent home in the spring.

There were clear difficulties during the fall semester. Lack of planning, communication, and compliance had varied results at different campuses.

The reopening plan released by SUNY Oneonta certainly has some improvements, but it still only plans on testing 10 percent of the off-campus student population each week, only conducting pool testing for those without symptoms, and have set aside less than 350 beds in isolation dorms, less than the number of students who tested positive in the first two weeks of
last semester.

The improvements in planning are not sufficient to confront the increase of cases.

If we were unsure in the fall, there should be nothing but certainty now: campuses should not open for the spring.

SAM MORKAL-WILLIAMS
Oneonta


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