ONEONTA – Both local college presidents – SUNY Oneonta’s Barbara Jean Morris and Hartwick’s Margaret L. Drugovich – this evening announced they will be shifting to online instruction, beginning Monday, March 23.
In sending the students home, both are acting out of concern about the unknown dimension of the coronavirus outbreak, which has emerged downstate and in Saratoga County.
In a statement issued at 7:50 p.m., SUNY Oneonta President Barbara Jean Morris said she was following Governor Cuomo’s directive, issued this afternoon, that “instruction across SUNY will move to other modalities.”
ONEONTA – With Coronavirus cases increasing daily, SUNY Oneonta students who hoped to study abroad will have to wait until the fall semester.
“We have cancelled all study abroad programs for the rest of the semester,” said Kim MacLeod, SUNY Oneonta associate director of communications. “And we called back 33 students and faculty members who were already abroad, including four students in Italy and two in Japan.”
None of the students or faculty are in quarantine, but the recall is part of an increasing response to the rise of Coronavirus cases and precautionary measures aimed at reducing the rate of infection in the states.
Hartwick College, Bassett Healthcare, Cooperstown Center and Springbrook are also among the institutions that have issued travel bans, cancelled events and limited visitations to their campuses.
SUNY-wide, Chancellor Kristina Johnson has also issued a prohibition on any travel to countries that the CDC has issued a Level 2 or Level 3 Travel Health Notice on – China, Iran, South Korea, Italy and Japan.
“We may not use state money to pay for professional travel to these countries,” she said in a statement. “Nor may we use Faculty Development Grant money or department OTPS funding to pay for travel to them or reimbursements for travel to them.”
Hartwick College put similar travel bans in place for students, faculty and staff, banning any “non-essential” group or individual travel, and that all college-sponsored personal travel must be approved in advance by the vice president of the relevant school.
On-campus events will still be held; however, the college is not participating in men’s and women’s lacrosse games last week and the next week.
Bassett Hospital has also issued travel prohibitions for their employees, banning business travel to the Level 2 and 3 countries, as well as to any conference where there will be more than 100 participants, throughout the month of March.
They also encouraged that anyone traveling for personal reasons to refer to the CDC recommendations and to let team leaders know about travel so a potential quarantine may be put in place.
With the elderly as the most vulnerable to COVID-19 complications, Cooperstown Center (the former Focus) at Index has also cancelled travel. “We had to cancel our trips to Walmart,” said Lacey Rinker, director of nursing. “The residents are not happy, but it’s too much of a risk.”
All visitors, staff or vendors are screened at the reception area to determine whether or not they are healthy enough to enter the building. “We’ve increased our number of hand-sanitizer dispensers throughout the building, and enforce ‘gel in, gel out,” she said. “You use hand sanitizer when you come in the building and when you leave.”
Similarly, Springbrook has limited visits to emergency and essential visits only, switching instead to phone and video calls or teleconferencing, as well as suspending community visits and postponing our Special Olympics Basketball Tournament, which had been scheduled for Saturday, March 21.
Barbara Ann Heegan, Otsego County Chamber of Commerce president, has reached out to her members with links to the Center for Disease Control, the county Health Department and Bassett. “I think everyone is taking this very seriously,” she said.
She is looking at putting together a program for employers who may be dealing with impacts from Coronavirus on their businesses. “We’re waiting to hear some more direction, but we’re seeing what we can do over email, rather than gathering.”
But with the Chamber’s annual Spring Gala planned for Thursday, May 7, Heegan is hoping that the risk will be significantly reduced enough to host the event.
“I don’t know how realistic that is,” she admitted. “It changes every day.”
At SUNY, the administration is using spring break to begin putting a contingency plan in place. “It’s great that we have a week to work on what we would do if we had an individual who exhibited symptoms,” said MacLeod.
Ahead of the break, SUNY posted a series of health tips for travelers – including hand-washing, cleaning frequently-touched surfaces and carrying a first aid kit.
They also asked students to volunteer to “self-identify” where they were traveling. “Not the entire population told us, but more of them told us than I thought,” she said. “It will give us a better feel for how to handle.”
FILM SOCIETY – 7 – 11 p.m. Cooperstown film society presents Noir double feature ‘The Big Clock’ (1948) & ‘An Act of Violence’ (1949) with special guest Libby Cudmore, author ‘The Big Rewind’ & journalist, joining us for dark discussion of black & white crime. Cooperstown Village Library, 22 Main St., Cooperstown. Visit www.facebook.com/FilmSocCoop/
TRYOUTS – 6 p.m. Children aged 9-12 are invited to try out for Oneonta Little League, Major League. Ages 10-12 are required to try out. First come-first serve, pre-registration required. Alumni Field House, SUNY Oneonta. Visit oneontalittleleague.sportngin.com
DEBATE – 7-9 p.m. Three candidates for two seats on the Cooperstown Village Board – Democrats MacGuire Benton and Joe Membrino, and Republican Mary Margaret Robbins Sohns – will debate in the Village Board room, lower level, at Village Hall, 22 Main. Sponsored by the League of Women Voters. Election is Wednesday, March 18.
POPS CONCERT – 7 p.m. Come support OHS students at final joint concert of the season featuring band, chorus. Auditorium, Oneonta High School, 130 East St, Oneonta. 607-433-8200 or visit www.oneontacsd.org
SUGARING OFF – 8:30 a.m. – 2 p.m. Enjoy full pancake breakfast in the morning then contemporary, historic demonstrations of maple sugar production. Admission, $10/adult. The Farmers’ Museum, Cooperstown. 607-547-1450 or visit www.farmersmuseum.org/stec_event/sugaring-off-sundays/0
OPERA – 12:55 p.m. Performance of “Agrippina,” by Handel, streaming live from Metropolitan Opera House. Cost, $20/adult. Foothills Performing Arts Center, Oneonta. 607-431-2080 or visit www.foothillspac.org
CABARET – 5 – 9 p.m. CCS students present this years Cabaret night. Begins with soup & chili dinners, 2 stage of entertainment featuring local performers, & silent auction. Auditorium, Cooperstown High School. 607-547-8181 or visit www.cooperstowncs.org
OOBLECK – 6 – 7:30 p.m. Celebrate birthday of Dr. Seuss and make the mysterious substance from the book ‘Bartholomew and the Oobleck.’ Learn about the strange properties of non-Newtonian fluids. Huntington Memorial Library, 62 Chestnut St., Oneonta. 607-432-1980 or visit www.facebook.com/hmloneonta/
YULE BALL – 8 – 10 p.m. Dress up with your friends for Harry Potter themed ball featuring mocktails, food, games, some vendors. Admission, $5 with proceeds to support charity Reading is Fundamental. Ballroom, Hunt Union, SUNY Oneonta.
WINTER PROGRAMS – 1 – 3 p.m. Bring the kids for some learning fun over February break. Choose from programs ‘Forest as a Habitat’ featuring interactive games on how action of animal & humans affect the forest, or ‘New York State Breakout Box’ families try to open the Breakout Box with their knowledge of NYS social studies. Free, open to public. Oneonta History Center, 183 Main St., Oneonta. 607-432-0960 or visit www.oneontahistory.org/index.htm
SUNDAY PROGRAM – 3 p.m. Presenting ‘2020: Science, Policy, & Capital Converge on Climate Change – What Will Happen?’ talk with Paula DiPerna. Cooperstown Village Library. 607-547-8344 or visit www.facebook.com/VillageLibraryOfCooperstown/