by Anthony Vassallo
The administration at SUNY Purchase addressed several burning questions about the 2021 Fall semester at April’s Town Hall meeting.
“A lot will change in May and in June, we are being both hopeful and optimistic, but we also need to start with a beginning point that is accurate and that reflects the guidance and the policies as we know them,” said Provost Barry Pearson.
Without new CDC guidelines, as of now, the rules and regulations that have limited the college experience are still active for the upcoming fall semester.
Adrienne Belluscio, the Administrative Director of Health Services at Purchase said that there will be no mandated requirement for the COVID-19 vaccination at this point, and there will likely not be one until the FDA approves the vaccine.
There will be 526 online courses and 461 courses that will be at least partially in person for the fall semester. “The 461 number is an increase of about 60% of what we’re able to do this semester,” said Associate Provost Gregory Taylor.
Dual delivery is also making a comeback for fall 2021. This means some students will be in the classroom receiving in-person instruction, while other students are taking the class remotely. There will be 34 dual courses available for the fall.
Patricia Bice, the interim Vice President of Student Affairs provided an update on residential living. There are 900 students were living on campus this spring and the school’s goal is to have 1250 students living on campus this coming fall. This would be an increase of 500 students in comparison to fall 2020.
“Our hope is that we will be able to accommodate more than 1250 students safely, as more students get vaccinated,” said Bice.
Regulations regarding visitation between the dorms will likely change as more students get vaccinated, but as of right now it is not allowed. Students are also still prohibited from having outside guests stay overnight in their rooms.
Melissa Glazer, the Assistant Dean for Student Affairs said, “We are hopeful for the fall that we can increase visitors within the residence halls.”
The school will also be changing its quarantine policy in the upcoming semester. Belluscio said, “Fully vaccinated students do not have to be quarantined if they are in direct contact of a person who becomes ill with COVID-19 unless you're symptomatic.”
Students are eager to return to campus, and for freshmen going into their sophomore year, this is their opportunity to get back what they lost the previous year.
“I hope that most people are vaccinated by the time we get back, just so campus life can kind of resume as normal because I've never seen campus life and I would love to know what it’s like,” said Erin Fenster, a freshman journalism major.
Positivity and vaccination rates are the two major variables affecting Purchase’s decisions. Regarding the success of next semester, Fenster said, “I think it will go well, I think a lot of people are going to come back vaccinated, and I think the people that aren’t vaccinated are going to be a lot more hesitant to go out.”
“The current expectation is that we hope to meet the minimum immunity threshold of 70% of students vaccinated,” said Taylor.
34.3% of the student body at SUNY Purchase has received at least one shot of the COVD-19 vaccine, and 14.1% are fully vaccinated. This percentage does not include students who have been vaccinated outside of NYC and the state of New York.
President Milagros Peña expressed her empathy for the students, “Please know we totally understand the frustration of really wanting to have that experience that many of us had as college students,” said Peña. “For our students, we really strive for that.”
In an email from Bice following the town hall, students were informed that for the fall semester, whether or not a professor has in-person classes, faculty will be on campus.
“Face-to-face learning is really important to us,” said Taylor. “It's at the core of who we are as an institution, it's what we do and it’s how we’re built.”
The entire town hall can be viewed below: