Update: September 3, 2020, 4:30 p.m.
Bengals, the first week of the semester is coming to a close and please know that we all appreciate your work in helping keep yourselves and fellow students safe. As you know, this upcoming weekend is the Labor Day holiday. While it may be tempting to attend large gatherings, I encourage you to explore Buffalo, and engage with your peers, in safe ways. That means small gatherings, wearing masks, and remaining six feet apart. We know that large events are tied to the potential to spread of the virus and I want all our Bengals and their families to remain healthy.
On Monday, President Conway-Turner shared with you an update about the rising infection rate in Western New York, as well as an example of how one off-campus gathering without precautions led to multiple positive cases within our community. It is simple, if you wear a mask, maintain social distancing, and avoid large gatherings, you will keep yourself and your community safe and healthy. If you don’t take these precautions, you are putting yourself, your friends, and this semester at risk.
Last week, Governor Cuomo announced that any college or university with 100 positive cases (over a rolling 14-day period) among its campus community will be required to shift to remote instruction for at least two weeks while the local and state departments of health assess the situation. SUNY Oneonta already experienced this two-week pause, offering us a glimpse into the changes in campus life that result with the temporary shift to remote instruction. For example, all resident students at Oneonta were required to quarantine in place for two weeks within the residence halls and are not allowed to leave campus, all commuter students were urged to quarantine in place in their off campus homes, dining halls were closed and meals were delivered to resident students, all campus facilities including Oneonta’s library were closed, and of course in-person courses were temporarily shifted to remote instruction while health authorities assessed the spread of the virus. And just this afternoon, SUNY Chancellor Jim Malatras announced that Oneonta is shifting to remote instruction for the remainder of the semester because of wide community spread on the Oneonta campus, halting all on campus activities, and sending resident students home for the semester. One or both of these scenarios might be necessary at Buffalo State if students do not take the proper precautions and our positive cases increase. However, if we ALL do our part, we can remain together safely and continue with our semester as planned.
Looking ahead to this weekend, it is important to remember that the City of Buffalo, including police and inspectors, will continue to monitor near-and-off campus behavior. They are aware of the guidelines set by Buffalo State, and will notify us of any concerns or large gatherings that involve Buffalo State students. 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.
I know being socially distant is not always easy. Let’s stay focused on supporting each other, and the fact that we all represent something greater. Although there have been examples of peers on other campuses not succeeding, that is not the Bengal way. There are many ways to connect with your fellow students, either through the Bengal Ambush virtual programming, or by setting up group message or video chats. I want to emphasize that violations of the guidance we have issued could send us back to that awful March period where we shut down. Many of us watched those around become infected with the virus, some lost loved ones, and many had our lives upended. I want all of you and your families to remain healthy and safe. Be smart and hold your peers accountable to what we have agreed to this semester—here is a resource if you need some help with this. Also, if you have concerns to report, you can do so by contacting the Dean of Students office. Be clear that we will continue to take actions to prioritize the health and well-being of our students, faculty, staff, campus, neighbors, and adjacent communities. We need your help in continuing the semester in the fashion in which it started.
Remember these safety strategies:
Be well, Bengals!
Vice President for Student Affairs
Buffalo State College
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