SUNY Chancellor Visits North Country
Feb. 8, 2021
SARANAC LAKE -- State University of New York Chancellor Jim Malatras visited North Country Community College’s Saranac Lake campus Monday as the college begins testing of students, faculty and staff who will be on-campus for classes starting next week.
Chancellor Malatras reviewed the college’s pooled surveillance testing operations, located in the Connector, and unveiled SUNY's updated COVID-19 Tracker, which will give provide additional trend and comparative data, with the same real-time results. The upgrades allow greater transparency on SUNY's 64 colleges and universities, so campuses have the most information to isolate and respond to emerging cases on campuses.
"As North Country Community College and the last remaining campuses reopen, we are encouraged by low levels of the virus detected on our campuses going into the semester—particularly as positive cases have been higher across the nation," said Chancellor Malatras.
"Weekly testing and our ability to monitor multiple levels of data will keep campus leadership informed to make swift decisions as cases happen, but our greatest weapon in fighting back this virus is everyone on campus doing what is necessary to stay safe—and with each visit to SUNY campuses I have the honor of meeting students who are ready for in-person classes, and for what they have to do to keep cases low within their community."
North Country began the spring semester Feb. 1 with the first two weeks of classes entirely remote. Most instruction will remain remote but starting next week a limited number of North Country students – primarily those in the practical nursing, radiologic technology and massage therapy programs – will be able to attend in-person classes. Prior to doing so, these students must have a negative COVID-19 test, either through pooled saliva surveillance testing provided by the college or through PCR testing from a provider. Students also must quarantine for seven days before returning to campus, complete a daily health assessment, wear masks at all times and maintain social distancing while on campus.
Monday marked Chancellor Malatras' first visit to North Country since his tenure began last fall. In addition to reviewing the college’s surveillance testing operation, he toured the campus and met with college leaders, including North Country’s student trustee, Jessica Kemp of Saranac Lake.
“With the Spring 2021 semester underway, we welcome the Chancellor to North Country and extend our thanks to him, the SUNY system, and our local public health partners for their help in navigating these challenging circumstances safely,” said college President Joe Keegan. “In-person classes begin the week of February 15th, and we have been able to expand the number of students participating in face-to-face learning in large part due to their help. From daily COVID-19 screenings to SUNY Upstate's pooled surveillance testing methodology, we are able to offer our campus community an additional form of assurance that we are doing all we can to help our students, our employees, and the communities where we learn, work and live, stay healthy and safe."
More information about North Country’s spring semester plans and protocols is available at www.nccc.edu/spring-2020.
The enhancements to SUNY’s COVID-19 Tracker dashboard announced by Chancellor Malatras this week include:
- Testing data broken down by faculty/staff and students; including total tests, positives, and positivity rates
- Quarantine/Isolation space capacity calculator system-wide and by campus
- State-Region-County-Campus positivity rate comparisons, mapped with filtering capabilities
- Monthly aggregate testing trends
- Historic trends mapped system-wide and by campus
Those visiting the dashboard will continue to review vital information on daily and weekly test and positivity data. Chancellor Malatras announced last month that all SUNY campuses will increase the frequency of SUNY's mandatory COVID testing to weekly testing of all students, faculty, and staff who regularly report to campus. Since the 2020-2021 academic year began in August, SUNY has conducted 857,103 tests with a 0.54 positive percentage rate.
The seven-day positivity rate across SUNY is 0.44 percent, versus 4.42 percent in New York State. As the semester progresses, SUNY will continue to revisit and recalibrate policies and procedures to ensure the safest possible communities for our students to learn and thrive.
The COVID-19 Case Tracker dashboard launched in September provides a case count for all SUNY campuses and for individual campuses. The data is reported by campuses every 24 hours and added to the dashboard in real time. The dashboard also includes vital information on the different types of tests administered, daily and weekly test data, overall positivity rates, available quarantine and isolation space, and hospitalizations. Since its launch in September, the dashboard has been viewed more than 633,000 times with over 551,000 unique viewers.