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LI higher ed institutions, for now, avoid virus outbreaks during pandemic 

Join the presidents of Adelphi University, Farmingdale State College and Stony Brook University, as well as a Molloy College student, as they discuss the pitfalls, fears and triumphs so far at local universities, and answer your questions. Moderated by Newsday Columnist and Editorial Writer Lane Filler.

Three institutions of higher education on Long Island have — so far — avoided campus outbreaks of coronavirus and the consequent need to close down dorms and stop all in-person learning, according to a presidents’ discussion hosted Tuesday by Newsday.

At Adelphi University, there is 0.4% positivity, about 15 cases, all of whom are quarantining for a required 14 days, said Christine Riordan, the university president.

At Stony Brook University, over the last 14 days, there have been 2 cases among students, with a significant portion of the campus tested, said university president Maurie D. McInnis.

And at Farmingdale State College, of the last 1,000 tests in the most recent two-week period, there has been 1 positive case, said college president John S. Nader.

Some other colleges, including the State University of New York branches at Oneonta and Cortland, have had to stop in-person instruction due to spikes in cases.

The local success comes amid online coursework, limited in-person meetings, intense cleaning regimens, dividers made of acrylic sheets, and rules such as at Adelphi, which restricts "how many students can gather socially," Riordan said.

"Our students are not allowed to go from dorm to dorm or residence hall to residence hall," she said. "We pretty much have asked all of our students, like the other universities, to take a pledge of responsibility, which is to keep each other safe, be smart, you know, stay in smaller groups, wear your mask, engage in social distancing."

Tuesday’s discussion, moderated by Newsday columnist and editorial board member Lane Filler, was the latest in the news organization’s "LIVE CONVERSATIONS" webcast series during the pandemic.

Wednesday at noon, there’s a discussion on "Winter & COVID-19: How to Safely Enjoy LI Life."

Tuesday’s panel included the university presidents, joined by a student, Molloy College sophomore nursing student Marcella Dimino, who said that distance learning "has definitely been interesting — to say the least."

"It was a little tough at first, looking at the screen all day, whether it be because I have a Zoom call for a class or homework assignments to complete," she said. "However, it’s an adjustment that’s coming with time. So, now, not only is my phone attached at my hip, but also my computer and charger."

Speaking from what appeared to be her college dorm, Dimino said that so much time learning online "made me miss the classroom, a lot," and she said she relishes those times when her courses meet in person.

"When we do meet in person — it was just, it was wonderful," she said. "Just seeing people and being with my friends, some who I haven’t seen since March."

At Stony Brook, McInnis said, there are fewer foreign and out-of-state students, who tend to pay higher tuition, which "has a significant financial impact" on the university coffers.

Still, she said, the university is enrolling roughly the same head count as in ordinary times: "We went deeper into our wait list than we would normally to make additional offers to students this year."

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