by Diana Gilday
Bringing back life to SUNY Purchase in the fall is the main goal for the continuity of programs and services committee.
As of the CPS town hall on March 3, there are currently two plans for the upcoming fall 2021 semester, the goal and the transition.
The goal, according to Barry Pearson, the Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs, is to have enough students and staff vaccinated by the fall so that the majority of the classes are back to in person. In this scenario, however, people would still be required to wear masks and social distance.
The transitory plan would be to expand the number of students who are currently on campus for the spring by 300. This would bring the total on-campus population to around 1200 students. In this plan, there would also be more in-person classes to allow more students to be commuters.
According to Director of Residential Services and Interim Director of Residence Life and Housing, Antony Ware, no matter if a student has in-person classes or not in the fall, they are welcome to apply for housing. Housing applications, says Ware, will be coming out by March 20.
On the housing application, instead of having students pick specific living arrangements, they will be asked to fill out preferences. The application will ask who a student would like to room with, as well as list out where they would like to live, whether that be an apartment or a dorm. Ware pointed out that it is critical for students to answer the questions fully since housing is still up in the air.
Like the spring semester, all students on campus will be living in a single and no living area will be filled to full capacity. Ware explained, for example, if a person is living in Alumni Village, where the apartments can house four students, there will only be three assigned to the apartment.
Residential services are currently planning on having all housing applications and deposits due by May 7 and assignments will be given out to students by June.
The college is also planning on bringing back the loop in the fall, according to Pearson, because its absence was felt and impacted the community. The loops schedule will be determined based on how many people are living on or commuting to campus, as well as around class times.
Besides discussing plans for the fall semester, the town hall also went into further detail about how the contact tracing and quarantine process works on campus.
According to Adrienne Belluscio, the Administrative Director of Health Services, there are currently nine contact tracers who were trained by John Hopkins online training, which she says is the “holy grail.”
The way the tracing works is that when a student either shows symptoms for COVID-19 or tests positive, they are put into isolation for a 10-day period. Health services are the first to find out about the results and then they tell the contact tracers and Department of Health.
Health services will contact the positive student and tell them how to monitor their symptoms, tell them to check them twice every day and remind them to fill out the daily screening.
The contact tracers then talk to the positive individual and see who they have had close contact with within 48 hours of either their first symptoms or positive test result. Close contact counts as being within six feet of a person for at least 10 minutes within an hour. The contact tracers will then alert anyone who they feel needs to quarantine. They are sure to never tell any contacts the name of the positive case.
The team is aware contact tracing isn’t full proof and they urge people to take proper precaution.
According to Interim Vice President and Dean of Students Patricia Bice, Purchase’s quarantine protocol is best practice from the Department of Health. When a person is told they have to move for quarantine they are moved to one of the “Big Three,” meaning Big Haus, Crossroads or Farside. Only students who live with a roommate are told to move.
The quarantine rooms have been equipped with micro-fridges and students are brought meals throughout their quarantine period. For those who live in the apartments and may not have a meal plan, there are emergency grants that will be applied to a student’s spring bill to cover the costs of quarantine meals.
Before a student moves into a quarantine room, facilities will inspect the room, and 72 hours following a student leaving a room, it is disinfected.
Between the fifth and seventh day of quarantine, health services will administer a PCR test, unless a student reports symptoms before then. That reason, according to Bellusico, is why it is crucial for students to complete their daily screenings.
Bice said that the care team is constantly listening to feedback from students who were quarantined and making changes. They are currently making plans to give “quarantine kits” to students. These kits would include toilet paper, hand sanitizer, thermometers, disinfectants and an information sheet with quarantine guidance and important after hour numbers students can contact for the various needs they may have while in their quarantine.
To watch the entire town hall visit https://vimeo.com/521939779/9a4d18d009