By: Brian Ponte, Victoria Fennell and Miranda Marte Velez
Governor Andrew Cuomo announced today that SUNY and CUNY campuses will be effectively closing next week, amid efforts to stop the spread of COVID-19, also known as coronavirus. Most classes will be moved online for the remainder of the semester.
“CUNY and SUNY, starting March 19, will move to a distance learning model,” Cuomo said in a press conference this afternoon. “CUNY will help reduce density in New York City, and SUNY will help reduce density in downstate New York.”
Cuomo cited Purchase specifically as one of the SUNY schools in downstate New York that will "close on March 19 or thereabouts." The governor pointed out that “downstate is where we have the highest density of cases right now.”
The move comes just days after Purchase announced via a campus-wide email that as a trial period, the school would transition to online learning platforms, like Zoom, for the remainder of the week.
“We don't want to spread the virus to anyone, in addition to our community around us, but we understand that some classes are more difficult to move online than others,” said Purchase Media Relations Specialist Betsy Aldredge. “During the meeting that we had [on Monday], we were discussing the specific challenges that some students in the sciences have, obviously students of School of the Arts. This is really weighing heavily on us.”
Aldredge added that Purchase’s emergency response team, which includes the provost, president’s office and chief of police, has been “working around the clock” during the crisis.
The residence halls have been a major concern for many students, and the announcement today has only stoked anxieties that students may have to leave campus.
“If you’ve got a parent at home who’s old or has illnesses or some could possibly have a terminal illness. That might make things worse,” said Nick Sapienza, a senior creative writing major.
As of now, the campus will remain open as will the dorms.
"For now I can confirm that we are not closing the residence halls," Aldredge said.
The responsibility, however, to take care of students that might face hardships should the residence halls close will be placed on the schools.
"If students have hardships where they have nowhere to go, and they’re dorm students, then I'm sure an individual campus would take that into consideration," Cuomo said.
In an email sent by Provost and Vice President of Academic Affairs Barry Pearson, SUNY guidelines have set out ways for the college to limit possible exposure on campus, including the possibility of splitting necessary in-person classes.
With conservatory and arts programs being such a big part of Purchase, many classes would not translate to an online learning platform.
“There’s a lot of students that need to be hands-on with their majors," said Rain Maher, a journalism senior.