CORTLAND, N.Y. — State University of New York-Cortland will move its classes from in-person to all virtual for two weeks after it passed the state threshold for positive COVID-19 tests in a 14-day period.

According to a release from the school, SUNY-Cortland now has 101 cases, surpassing a state-mandated limit of 100 that triggers a two week move to online classes. The announcement was made yesterday by SUNY Chancellor Jim Malatras and SUNY Cortland President Erik Bitterbaum. The school will now initiate testing of every student and increase punishment for safety violations, including suspensions, expulsions, campus bans and SUNY ineligibility.

The school claimed that “Many of the cases are from off-campus students.” Greek life and athletics had already been suspended on Sept. 13, and the school said they will remain suspended. In accordance with state Department of Health guidelines, all campus dining and food service options are now takeout/delivery, remote learning for all classes (though in-person labs and research can still take place per local health department consultation), no in-person athletics and all residential facilities should remain open.

A decision to return to in-person learning, according to the school, will be made by recommendation from the Cortland County Department of Health if case numbers locally and among the student body stabilize in the next two weeks.

“Now that SUNY Cortland must pause and shift to remote learning the college must redouble its efforts to stabilize and contain the virus on campus,” Malatras said. “It’s up to the entire campus community to come together and bend the curve so that every student has the chance to enjoy their campus experience.”

The SUNY system has held up fairly well during its return under the coronavirus pandemic, though there have been some hiccups. SUNY Oneonta went to all virtual learning in September in response to COVID cases, and SUNY Oswego just returned from a two-week online class period.

“The health and safety of our community has always been our top priority, so making this shift in our operation is the best action to take given our circumstances,” Bitterbaum said. “The next two weeks will be challenging. But it’s what we need to do in order to continue functioning as a campus and a concerned member of the Cortland community. We can’t let up. That’s not what members of the SUNY Cortland family do.”

Matt Butler

Matt Butler is the Education & Public Health Reporter at the Ithaca Voice. He can be reached by email at mbutler@ithacavoice.com