Update: August 31, 2020, 5:00 p.m.
Today marked the first day of what will undoubtedly be a unique semester at Buffalo State College. I was encouraged to see our students, faculty, and staff members on campus wearing masks while walking across the Plaza and heading to class, the library, or the Student Union. I urge each and every member of our campus community to continue to mask up and take the proper precautions, both on and off campus.
Last week, Governor Cuomo raised a caution flag for Western New York as the COVID-19 infection rate hovered around 2 percent—more than double the statewide average. This past weekend, rapid testing revealed that the positivity rate in the City of Buffalo was more than 5 percent. Those of you who may think the pandemic is over and the virus is behind us are wrong. COVID-19 is prevalent in the City of Buffalo and circulating in the Western New York community.
Over the weekend, we learned of an off-campus gathering that took place earlier this month that was attended by a commuter student who later tested positive for COVID-19. Through contact tracing efforts, multiple students who attended the gathering have since tested positive. More positive tests will likely result from this reckless behavior. We have required those in attendance at the gathering, as well as those in close contact with attendees, to isolate and be tested.
Please know that any student who fails to adhere to critical public health and social distancing guidelines could be subject to interim suspension and referral to the Student Conduct and Community Standards Office. Resident students who violate protocols are also subject to removal from the residence halls, and any student who hosts an off-campus gathering could face a fine of up to $1,500 by the City of Buffalo.
You might think that because you are a commuter student or because you are attending a gathering off campus, you are not subject to campus policies. This is not true. In addition to the above sanctions, other penalties may be levied on students. Although we are still conducting our investigation, initial information indicates that student-athletes hosted this gathering. For those students and their teams, all practices and training sessions have been suspended indefinitely, and we are reviewing the possibility of canceling their playing seasons this winter and spring because of these actions.
The virus doesn’t care if you are tired of wearing a mask. If you let your guard down, even for one night, you put yourself, your friends, and this semester at risk. Please do your part.
To those of you who are rising to the occasion and following protocols, thank you. Just as New Yorkers banded together to crush the curve last spring, I am counting on all members of the campus community to do their part to keep one another healthy so we can safely remain together this semester.
Please continue to monitor coronavirus.buffalostate.edu for the latest updates, positive case numbers, and guidance from public health officials.
President, Buffalo State College
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