OSWEGO — The State University of New York’s executive said Wednesday he’s “supremely confident” in SUNY Oswego’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic after meeting with college officials.
Dr. James Malatras, appointed by the SUNY Board of Trustees in August to oversee the 64-campus, 400,000-student system through its greatest crisis in generations, was welcomed by President Deborah Stanley and Port City Mayor Billy Barlow. Malatras has been touring campuses across the state as college and universities cope with learning under pandemic conditions.
“[SUNY Oswego] is an example of a good plan well executed,” Malatas said addressing a media group outside the Marano Campus Center and the Richard S. Shineman Science Center. “We’re seeing the resiliency of our SUNY community saying, ‘we can get through COVID and get back to doing what we do best: educating students and giving them a great, bright future and career.’ That’s what I’m seeing, and what I want to see.”
The new chancellor pointed to three specific components (among many) deemed critical by officials and used by the state to judge an institution’s success in effectively controlling COVID spread beyond just the number of positive cases: increased testing, greater isolation space and working with local officials.
“I’m confident in reviewing the plan with the president and her team and the mayor, it’s under control here: we have the testing in place, we have the isolation in place, if it does get to a point where we need more mitigation efforts they stand ready to do that,” he said.
Officials stressed the concept of “one community” when it comes to the city and college working together to stop problems before they start. Malatras said that while college students’ desire to behave like college students is incurable, coordination between law enforcement agencies would be effective.
“The relationship between the city police department and the university police department is going to pay dividends in keeping down the amount of large gatherings and unofficial events that shouldn’t be happening,” he said.
Barlow said Stanley and her cabinet had been “great partners,” and sought to re-assure city residents who live near students that “proactive” outreach was occurring including sending Oswego police officers and codes officials door-to-door in college rental areas.
“We’ve been very clear on our rules, expectations and guidelines when it comes to late-night parties and disruptions to prevent them from happening,” Barlow said. “We wanted to lay it all out on the table first before we go with the enforcement mechanism — which we’re, of course, willing to do,” Barlow said.
Fielding a question about enforcement of isolation and quarantine on campus, Stanley said that while the college would not “post people at your doors,” the entire community was “relying on the students” to do the right things.
“Our students want this to succeed,” she said. “I talk to students all day long, every day, and they want the campus to stay open. Students are starting to get the message that this is a really big responsibility.”
According to the SUNY Oswego COVID-19 dashboard, which Malatras and Stanley called a critical piece to transparency, a total of 6,013 students had been tested since Aug. 12 with 47 total positive cases.
Fifty-two students are in on-campus quarantine and 37 are in on-campus isolation. Find more information, including the COVID-19 dashboard, at Oswego.edu/Oswego-forward