New York State has laid out guidelines for colleges, universities, and other higher education institutions when regions enter the final phase of reopening amid the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis.
Those institutions fall under Phase 4 of New York’s economic reopening plan. The Hudson Valley and Long Island regions are on track to enter Phase 4 in approximately two weeks.
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said that before opening up for classes, universities will have to address four considerations: a reopening plan, a containment plan, a monitoring plan, and a shutdown plan in case the virus spreads across any campus.
According to the state, “all operators of higher education institutions are accountable for staying current with any updates to local, state, and federal requirements related to higher education and auxiliary activities and incorporating those changes into their operations.”
Face coverings will be required for students and staff, and any institution must work with local health departments to ensure any student exposed to the virus have their necessary daily needs met. More stringent disinfecting and sanitizing practices will also be required as set forth by the CDC and Department of Health.
When colleges reopen, there will be mandatory health screening practices for employees, students, and visitors. Those coming to campuses will be asked if they’ve displayed COVID-19 symptoms in the past two weeks, had a positive test, or were in close proximity to someone who contracted the virus.
Anyone who tests positive for COVID-19 or displays symptoms will be sent home or to a designated quarantine location.
According to a survey from the Chronicle of Higher Education, 73 percent of those polled are planning in-person instruction this fall. Fifteen percent are waiting to decide what to do, while 5 percent are considering a range of scenarios or proposing a hybrid model.
Under hybrid learning plans, students will have the option to take any course, or portions of courses, online or in-person, with the exception of courses that have been pre-designated as distance learning classes.
“We’re asking colleges to develop plans,” Cuomo said. “But we still need more data between now and September before we can make any diminutive determination. Colleges will be following the same guidelines as K through 12 schools.
“Colleges can go and get examples of considerations, but we need reopening plans, monitoring plans, containment plans, and shutdown plans,” he added.
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