Movement of Classes at SUNY New Paltz to Online Format Due to COVID-19

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An open letter to the administration of SUNY New Paltz–

If one is closely following the news, they likely realize that the arrival of COVID-19 to our campus and village community is not a question of if, but rather when. Many colleges and universities statewide have either canceled classes or moved classes online due to the quickly expanding impact of this outbreak; while we are aware that the power to make such decisions rests with the Governor’s office, and that the campus has indeed been working with the Governor’s office to create a plan of action, we are collectively shocked at the indecision of this administration and lack of swift action in response to this swiftly-moving issue.

There are numerous reasons for concern with regard to COVID-19, and the present state of emergency that the virus has set off in New York State. Colleges and universities nationwide are responding to this issue with more precautions than lengthy emails essentially telling students and faculty to wash their hands, and these actions are entirely warranted and reasonable in such an emergency situation. A comprehensive list of these campuses and their actions, including many in New York State, can be found here. (https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/19wJZekxpewDQmApULkvZRBpBwcnd5gZlZF2SEU2WQD8/htmlview?sle=true&pru=AAABcOi2TZw*dm3imUeWVc8eDiaC_qixNQ#gid=0

If the college chooses to wait to take action until the virus has already reached our campus or community, this action will be reactionary rather than preventative. This is not only detrimental to students, faculty, and staff, but also a failure to protect the immunocompromised or more susceptible members of our campus community.

In addition, the looming threat of students traveling over Spring Break next week and returning shortly after to sit in crowded public classrooms and other spaces should not be downplayed. It is entirely possible that the virus is already in or near our community, but this could very well be exacerbated departures and returns of students and faculty during break. For this reason, moving all possible classes to an online format seems to be the campus' best bet for safety, as well as a needful measure of community protection.

Finally, precautions must be taken to ensure that students living on campus have not only a place to stay if their homes are not an option, but access to food and other living supplies.

This is not an exhaustive argument for this action, as many other factors contribute to the growing urgency to move to online class. 

Thank you for your time.