College life on Long Island will look different this fall, with frequent screenings for coronavirus, limited in-person gatherings and, for some, a mix of remote and face-to-face instruction.
“We’re being as flexible as we can be with our students, but it’s safety that counts, following all the protocols and wearing masks,” said Kathy Coley, spokeswoman for Farmingdale State College. “It’s going to be quite a semester.”
And some students won’t be moving in at all, while others will undergo mandatory testing for COVID-19 before they step on campus.
In-person classes at Stony Brook University, for example, will be capped at 45 people.
SUNY Old Westbury won't offer housing this fall, "reducing the approximate population of 1,100 resident students to zero," according to the college's plan.
And Farmingdale State College has converted its campus center, theater and multipurpose event rooms to allow for more instructional space at a limited capacity.
State University of New York Chancellor Kristina M. Johnson recently approved the reopening plans from Stony Brook University, Farmingdale State College, SUNY Old Westbury, Empire State College and other campuses.
State universities and colleges had to submit plans to restart campus operations to their respective chancellors for approval, while private and other nonpublic institutions submitted plans to the state Department of Health for approval.
Most reopening plans for the fall semester allow college students to choose courses entirely online, in person, or a mix of in-person and remote instruction, referred to as a “hybrid course.”
“This is to enable each individual to make the decision that best serves them and their progress toward graduation,” said Stony Brook University President Maurie McInnis in an email.
Across the board at public institutions and some private colleges on Long Island, the semester will start on or near Aug. 24 and all in-person classes will end after Thanksgiving break. Stony Brook's fall break scheduled for October will be eliminated, "to control for travel and potential spread," McInnis said.
SUNY Empire's Selden campus will be open on a limited basis this fall, while the campuses in Garden City and Hauppauge will operate online, said representative Jamie Tario in an email.
Though Molloy College and Adelphi University are awaiting approvals, the institutions posted reopening plans on their websites for students to review. Both institutions say that any in-person classes will operate at a reduced capacity to maintain social distancing.
Of the 1,411 classes available at Molloy College in Rockville Centre this fall, 89 are hybrid, 356 are face-to-face and 966 will be online. The college prioritized first-year students in specialized disciplines and students with experiential-type classes such as performance and science labs to return to campus, according to its plan.
Colleges also say there will be mandatory testing for the virus before individuals can move in, and they emphasize self-screenings in their plans.
Hofstra University expects to submit its reopening plan “within the next several days,” university spokeswoman Karla Schuster said in an email. The plan will include mandatory health screenings and virus testing for “all residential and international students, as well as those from quarantined states,” Schuster said.
Farmingdale State College partnered with local clinical labs Enzo Biochem to offer free testing for the virus and antibodies, said spokeswoman Kathy Coley. The college plans to have several scheduled testing clinics on-site each month. But any campus member who needs an immediate test will be prioritized at one of the labs near campus.
Faculty and staff at Stony Brook University will be required to perform daily health screenings using the college's newly developed app that "mirrors the screening being used currently by our researchers," McInnis said.
School officials caution that even plans that are approved by the state can ultimately change if the transmission of coronavirus increases.
“Our plans for the fall will be refined as the situation evolves, and we will keep you informed,” McInnis said to the Stony Brook community in an email. “As such, the information we are sharing today may change as the facts change and will remain in accordance with CDC and NYS guidelines and assessment.”