What Students Should Know: COVID-19 and Arriving On Campus
As we return to campus in spring 2021, SUNY New Paltz’s first priority is the health and safety of our campus community, including its students, faculty, and staff. The best way to maintain the safest environment possible throughout 2021 and beyond is for each of us to take steps to minimize the risks, not only for ourselves, but for all members of the SUNY community. This includes:
- wearing face coverings (masks)
- hand washing
- social distancing
- participating in testing and tracing
- completing daily screenings
- being mindful of our surroundings and the impact we have
Any of us alone can spread this disease and cause harm to others. But all of us together can build a community that is safe and healthy, where educational success is possible.
Here’s what you need to know and do as SUNY and SUNY New Paltz welcome students back to campus in 2021:
The Office of Communication & Marketing, with support from the President’s Cabinet, produces Daily Digest e-newsletters to provide consistent, timely updates to students and employees while also helping to reduce the overall volume of emails sent. Each digest edition is sent to the campus community via e-mail and is archived and published daily for the campus and general public to read on the College’s Coronavirus Information and Resources site.
The Daily Digest is a central element of the College’s process for reporting new positive cases of COVID-19 to community members. Each issue of the Digest includes a “Coronavirus Update” announcing new, confirmed positive cases among students or employees, if any. Positive cases are only reported for students and employees who have been on campus during the previous 14 days and pose a health risk to the on-campus population.
Our COVID-19 dashboard provides real-time updates on positive cases that could pose a health risk to the on-campus community. The dashboard includes a tally of “active cases,” defined as confirmed positive COVID-19 tests among individuals who have been on campus and may have exposed others. This dashboard does not include tallies of positive cases among students taking online courses from home, or employees who are telecommuting and not coming to campus, as any such cases should not pose an on-campus health risk.
The College also uses its new text notification system, NPForward, to help keep our community informed about our reopening plans and COVID-19 and related issues. This and more information can be found at this website, which includes FAQs and other resources . These updates will also be shared with parents through direct e-mail communication.
Return to Campus Safely – Testing and Isolation Requirements
- You should continue to practice COVID safety while away from campus, including staying six feet away from others whenever possible, wearing a mask that covers your nose and mouth to protect others, and practicing effective and frequent hand washing.
- You must quarantine for 7 days prior to being on campus in the spring. You will have to attest that you have quarantined before being allowed on campus.
- You must complete the Health Screening daily for two weeks prior to being on campus in the spring. The Health Screening has been redesigned for this purpose to track any symptoms and exposure you may have had along with travel to noncontiguous states. You will not be allowed on campus until you have completed this requirement.
- You must get a PCR COVID test (most rapid tests are antigen tests which are NOT PCR) either within three days prior to being on campus in the spring or within five days of being on campus. Pool testing (which is a PCR test) will be offered on campus Monday-Thursday from Jan. 19 through Feb. 4. Individual PCR testing through Enzo Labs will be offered on campus on Jan. 15, Jan. 22, Jan. 29 and Feb. 5. You may get tested off campus but be aware that as numbers of cases have increased, such testing is generally reserved for those with symptoms or exposure and testing results may be delayed. Student off-campus test results should be emailed to this email.
Students will not be able to attend any in-person classes, programming or certain facilities (Athletic Wellness Center, computer labs, academic buildings, the library, and possibly others) before submitting a negative test result from a test taken within the stated time frame.
Get Screened Daily
Everyone coming to campus, including students, must complete a daily health screening. The health screening is found on my.newpaltz.edu. Everyone, students, staff, faculty and visitors, are required to complete a health screening each day they are on campus AND for 14 days prior to being on campus in the spring, per SUNY mandate. If you indicate a positive symptom or exposure on the health screening, you will receive a message not to come to campus and students will be contacted by the Student Health Center for consultation. The Health Center may clear you to come to campus or will provide further instruction.
Get Tested Regularly
Students, staff and faculty who have any physical presence on campus are required to participate in the campus surveillance testing. You are also encouraged to get tested any time you are concerned about symptoms or exposure.
If you are symptomatic, you should NOT participate in pool testing but instead contact the Student Health Center for safe, individual testing at 845-257-3415.
You may test on campus or off campus during your appointed testing week, but be aware that off-campus testing has become limited to those with symptoms or exposure as the number of cases has risen. You may not receive off-campus testing results for more than a week. Only PCR tests will be accepted (most rapid tests are antigen tests which are NOT PCR tests). Off-campus testing results should be submitted to firstname.lastname@example.org. You will not be cleared to be on campus until negative results are submitted; proof that you have tested is not sufficient.
The surveillance testing schedule for spring is as follows:
- Either three days prior or within five days of being on campus in the spring. Pool testing (which is a PCR test) will be available daily Monday-Thursday from Jan. 19 through Feb. 4. Individual testing through Enzo Labs will be available on campus by appointment on Jan. 15, Jan. 22, Jan. 29 and Feb. 5. You may submit off-campus test results to email@example.com.
- Twice during the semester you will be notified by text and email that you must be tested. The testing schedule for students will be based on academic major and published at
- You must test within 10 days of leaving campus at the end of the semester.
Students will not be able to attend any in-person classes, programming or certain facilities (Athletic Wellness Center, computer labs, academic buildings, the library, and possibly others) before submitting a negative test result no earlier than three days prior to being on campus.
Students who fail to test during their appointed week will lose card access (residential students lose card access outside of the residence hall) and are not allowed to be on campus until test results are submitted.
Check the COVID-19 Dashboard
SUNY maintains a comprehensive dashboard of COVID-19 testing and infection rate status across the system and at each campus. Additionally, members of the SUNY New Paltz community are encouraged to visit the College’s COVID-19 dashboard, which provides real-time updates on positive cases that could pose a risk to the on-campus community.
Be Responsible – It’s Easy to Do Your Part
Each of us can take small steps to protect ourselves and the campus community. Because COVID-19 is highly contagious, these simple measures apply both on and off campus:
- Wear face coverings (masks) at all times on campus, including in classrooms, conference rooms and other public spaces, even when you are able to maintain six feet of social distancing.
- Exceptions to this requirement include when students are (1) in their private residential or personal space, (2) eating meals on campus while seated and socially distanced, or (3) by themselves in a lightly trafficked location where no other persons are present. Faculty and staff are likewise exempt when alone in their office or other private spaces.
- Regularly wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds and use hand sanitizer where soap and water are not available.
- Stay home when you are sick or have potentially been exposed to COVID-19.
- Practice social distancing at all times to reduce transmission.
If Exposed, Complete Mandatory Quarantine and Isolation
Students who test positive for COVID-19, have been exposed to individuals who tested positive for COVID-19, or are informed by a state or local health department, or medical or campus official that they are “at risk” for having COVID-19 may be required to quarantine or isolate and follow these policies. Students’ health will be monitored by Student Health Service. Students who quarantine or isolate on campus will be provided with a thermometer and over-the-counter medication, as appropriate, and a refrigerator/microwave, food, laundry and trash services, as well as support and wellness checks.
Follow the Rules or Face Disciplinary Action
When the campus learns of a violation of the rules associated with COVID-19 safety, students may lose access to campus facilities and/or campus housing. Other disciplinary actions may be taken by the Student Conduct and/or Human Resources, Diversity and Inclusion offices. Student conduct is governed by the campus Code of Conduct found at https://www.newpaltz.edu/studentaffairs/regulations.html. Minimum sanctions are outlined in the Uniform Sanctioning in Response to COVID-19 Student Violations . Consequences can include: Suspension from attending in person classes (allowing remote learning only), Suspension from the College for up to a year, or Expulsion/Dismissal from the College. Consistent with SUNY policy, students who are partially or completely removed from the institution due to a violation are not eligible for refunds.
Take Care of Yourself – Physically and Mentally
We understand that this is an exceptionally challenging time. SUNY has resources to help you get the support you need.
The Psychological Counseling Center offers 24/7 triage services, individual and group counseling, and drop-in Let’s Talk sessions. Information can be found at https://www.newpaltz.edu/counseling/services.html.
ReachOut SUNY: https://online.suny.edu/covid19/students/local-state-and-national-resources/.
Thriving Campus: https://www.thrivingcampus.com/.
Middle Earth from the University at Albany: https://www.albany.edu/middleearthcafe/hotlinepeerassistance.shtml.
New York State Office of Mental Health Crisis Text Line: Text GOT5 to 741741.
Understand What’s Being Offered On-Campus and Online
The College will offer a mix of remote, hybrid, and on-campus course offerings similar to the fall 2020 semester. This includes a 75% remote/ 25% seated and hybrid distribution of modalities. All instruction prior to Feb. 1 (with a few exceptions) will be remote.
The following enhanced support and resources will be available to students this spring:
- The expanded S/U grade option, which extends from this fall through the spring 2021 semester.
- Piloting of a National Science Foundation supported program called CircleIn, which supports students in effectively studying remotely whether alone, in study groups, or with the help of College tutors.
- The Student Blackboard Online Training Orientation short course, which remains available and in which students can earn a certificate.
- “Mind Body Spirit” (MBS) days designed in lieu of Spring Break and involving the three dates of Tuesday, Feb. 23, Wednesday, March 24, and Thursday, April 15. There will be no class meetings or classes of any modality on these dates. In addition, faculty are encouraged to consider front-loading test and assignment due dates, scheduling these a bit ahead and not immediately after the MBS days. Structured student activities are being planned for those days and will be announced as dates approach.
Get Instructional and Technology Help
Faculty and students will continue to have access to training and technological tools to support a robust, consistent and engaging remote teaching and learning environment.
- Faculty Training and Support
- All faculty have 24-7 New Paltz self-help access:
- In the Bb LMS to “Developing a Blended Learning Course” (a set of remote teaching training modules).
- In the Bb LMS to the “Accessible Classroom Faculty and Staff Toolkit” (a set of training modules) and to the WCAG (Web Content Accessibility Guidelines) standards.
- In the New Paltz Knowledge Base
- In the New Paltz Remote Teaching, Learning & Working webpage
- To the SUNY New Paltz Help Desk and ticketing system for one-on-one assistance.
- All faculty have 24-7 SUNY Online self-help access:
- All faculty may schedule a meeting with an instructional designer.
- All faculty should contact the campus’s Disability Resources Center for assistance with supporting students with disabilities.
- All faculty are encouraged to attend an array of live and archived web-based training sessions offered by our campus and by SUNY Online.
- We have established a team of Online Teacher Mentors to provide peer-assistance for faculty who need support.
- Student Training and Support
- All students have 24/7 New Paltz self-help access in the Bb LMS to “Student Online Learning Orientation” (a set of learning modules, the completion of which leads to a certificate of completion).
- Monitoring student engagement:
- In addition to reaching out to students through email, faculty will use Starfish, our advising portal, to notify students and advisors when students have not shown engagement in their courses, or who have fallen behind on work, or are failing the course.
- International Students:
- Advisors will work with international students to make course selections that take into consideration time zone issues.
- Faculty will also consider time zone issues when giving exams.
- Students with Disabilities:
- Disability Resource Center/Office of Instructional Technology will provide faculty with updated information and access to training to support students with disabilities.
- As noted above, faculty are provided information about how to accommodate students with disabilities in remote learning through the Accessible Classroom Faculty and Staff Toolkit available in Bb.
- Advising interventions:
- The Center for Student Success and Academic Advising will continue to provide support, both remote and in-person, that prioritizes student learning.
- Adoption of “CircleIn,” an app that enables students to create supportive online peer study groups.
- Early and mid-term evaluation of student success with follow-up processes.
- Increased use of Starfish flagging and tracking mechanisms.
- Availability of tutoring in courses with high DFW grade rates.
- Expanded availability of the Satisfactory/Unsatisfactory grade option to allow students two additional S/U grades in fall and spring, to be used after consultation with advisor.
- Mental health support:
- SUNY student mental health resources, including the Thriving Campus app, tele-counseling through Upstate, UAlbany hotline, and QPR training, will be actively marketed to students
- Campus resources will continue to include 24/7 triage services, one-on-one counseling, support groups and drop-in “Let’s Talk” sessions provided by our Psychological Counseling Center, peer counseling offered by OASIS/HAVEN and proactive outreach by the Psychological Resilience Advocates
Request Accommodations for Disabilities
Students who wish to disclose covered disabilities and receive reasonable accommodations for their disabilities should contact the Disability Resource Center at 845-257-3020. For more information see https://www.newpaltz.edu/drc/
Follow Housing and Dining Updates
Similar to the fall semester, residence halls will continue to be open in the spring with reduced density to allow on-campus housing for about 2,900 students. Residences will be organized by double-occupancy (two students per room).
There will be no tripled rooms this spring.
New Paltz Dining Services continues to maintain protocols that help ensure that students can safely enjoy meals on campus. Grab & Go dining was used, in part, during the fall semester and will be implemented in the spring, as needed.
During the fall semester, the College and its food service provider coordinated student-led focus groups that provided feedback on meal options. Based on their input, a new meal plan will be offered for the spring semester that provides 100 anywhere, anytime meals and $1,100 in dining dollars. The meals can be redeemed at any campus locations designed to give maximum value while allowing maximum flexibility.
The following food service outlets will be open this spring and accept this new meal plan: Peregrine Dining Hall, Nesters, Grill at Student Union, Chick-n-bap, Pomodoro’s, SUB Connection, Hissou Sushi, Atrium Brew, Roost Convenience Store, Starbucks, and Sweets & Treats.
If We Have to PAUSE, Follow These Rules
If the campus must switch to a two-week (or longer) pause, the following rules apply.
SUNY New Paltz is prepared to pause all in-person classes and pivot to fully remote instruction for a period of two weeks if so directed by New York State, SUNY or local health authorities.
All courses that include in-person instruction will move online for two weeks. Students and faculty will have access to resources and technical support to ensure a smooth transition.
Lab and studio classes, like other course sections, must be provided remotely during this two-week pause. Faculty are encouraged to communicate with students about what accommodations will be possible to continue course activity in a remote learning environment.
Some arts and science labs will remain open to a limited number of students. Academic departments will make these determinations on a case-by-case basis and will prioritize granting access to graduate students and undergraduate students near graduation.
The campus will remain open during the pause and pivot, and all core operations will be sustained.
During this two-week pause, residence halls will remain open and all resident students will be strongly encouraged to remain on campus. Students will continue to have access to critical campus resources including dining, medical and counseling services. Our policy of not allowing visitors inside residence halls will continue.
Dining will be provided by grab-and-go only, with delivery options provided for any students who are in quarantine or isolation on campus. Students can place to-go orders using the GrubHub app.
All in-person programs and events, including athletic team activities and Admissions tours of campus, will be halted during the two-week period. We will be offering virtual programming during this time to help students manage anxiety, provide support and answer questions. Students are encouraged to continue monitoring campus email and texts for more information.
While some indoor spaces will be closed, others will be open with access and capacity limitations, to provide on-campus students with places to work and use computers and other technology. The Sojourner Truth Library late-night study space and the Athletic & Wellness Center will remain open to students with capacity limits in place, according to existing protocols.
Human Resources, Diversity & Inclusion
Offices will be encouraged to strictly observe low density staffing levels or plan for fully remote staffing (where possible) for the two-week period, while ensuring continuity of business and campus operations.
The Telecommuting Pilot Program will remain in effect during the two-week pause. Many employees who are able to perform their job duties from home will not be required to come to campus, nor will they be required to use their accumulated leave time.
Some employees who are identified as “essential” may be required to continue performing their on-campus job duties in order to ensure the safe operation of the College. The Office of Human Resources, Diversity & Inclusion, in cooperation with bargaining units, will notify these employees of their essential status and communicate their expected work obligations for the two-week pause.
Student workers will be able to continue in their roles during the pause and pivot. They should communicate to their supervisors that they intend to continue working, and supervisors should work with students to provide alternate work assignments that can be completed remotely. This policy will apply to Work Study students and TAs and GAs as well.
COVID-19 testing, tracing and communication
On campus COVID-19 testing will continue during the pause and pivot, but it will be available only to resident students, essential employees and others who are required to be on campus.
Any members of our community who have been directed to quarantine or isolate in place must comply with these orders.
The College will communicate details about the pause and pivot to our campus community using email, text message, institutional web pages, social media accounts, and posters and other physical media. During the pause and pivot, we will continue publishing important news and information in our existing Daily Digest email newsletter, our online COVID-19 Dashboard, our social accounts and the college text alert system.
If We Have to Pivot to Remote Instruction, Follow This Plan
If we have to pivot to remote instruction for the remainder of the spring semester, we will follow many of the guidelines established under the pause section of this document.
Students will need to adhere to current campus and SUNY policy for any move-out plans, which will likely include a mandatory “Test Before You Go” process.
Changes and Updates
The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic creates a fluid situation that may require unexpected changes in our response. Updates to scientific knowledge, public health guidance, or laws and regulations may mean SUNY and SUNY New Paltz have to make changes to our standards and rules, including those indicated above. SUNY and SUNY New Paltz will try to minimize these changes and their impact. We will keep you informed of new developments.
Thank you in advance for everything you are doing and will do to make 2021 safe for you, your fellow students, and the campus community and beyond.