New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) tightened public health regulations for colleges and universities Thursday, announcing if a school has 100 Covid-19 cases or an outbreak equal to 5% of the campus population, it is required to transition to remote learning for two weeks while the situation is evaluated, Forbes reports.
At a press briefing Thursday, Cuomo said students already on campus will be allowed to take courses remotely from their dorms or apartments.
Cuomo warned that several colleges in other states have seen large outbreaks since reopening and that schools should be prepared, saying, “when you have large congregations of people, anticipate a cluster.”
Colleges and universities in New York have struggled with how and if they will physically reopen with Covid-19 cases on the rise in a number of states, mandatory two-week quarantines for people traveling to the state from 31 states or territories and other public health guidelines, including mask-wearing and social distancing.
While Columbia University made the decision to host all undergraduate classes remotely, citing the two-week quarantine and stringent guidelines, New York University and Syracuse University are two New York schools dealing with the challenges of reopening.
At NYU, students are complaining on TikTok and other social media platforms about the two-week isolation period and the lackluster meals some said the school provided, prompting strangers to send Venmo donations and NYU to announce changes.
Syracuse issued interim suspensions to 23 students last week who violated guidelines intended to curb the spread of the virus, including gathering on the campus quad.
The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, University of Notre Dame and University of North Carolina Charlotte and other schools moved to remote learning after there were Covid-19 outbreaks in Greek houses and residential halls. Schools including Columbia, Princeton University, Johns Hopkins University, University of Massachusetts Amherst, Howard University, Loyola University Maryland and Smith College all changed plans and moved to fully remote learning before the start of the fall semester.
Students and parents have protested tuition prices at colleges and universities that have moved to mostly or exclusively remote learning for the fall. Although some schools have offered discounted tuition, most have resisted arguing that remote learning and other public health measures are making their operations more expensive, according to the New York Times. Some colleges and universities have added new Covid-19 related fees to help cover the extra cost of testing and necessary campus changes. The fees range from $50 to $475 a semester, according to the New York Times.
Less than a quarter of America’s 5,000 colleges and universities are committed to providing instruction primarily or completely in person, according to the Chronicle of Higher Education.
431,340. That’s the number of confirmed Covid-19 cases in New York since the start of the pandemic, according to Johns Hopkins University data.