Stony Brook University praised for handling of coronavirus pandemic

New York state has launched a COVID-19 dashboard to keep track of cases at SUNY schools, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Sunday.
Photo credit John Paraskevas/Newsday RM via Getty Images
By WCBS Newsradio 880

STONY BROOK, N.Y. (WCBS 880) — A Long Island college on Thursday was hailed as an example as to how higher learning institutions should be handling the coronavirus pandemic. 

SUNY Oneonta, in upstate New York, was closed for in-person classes after reporting 670 cases, but in Suffolk County, Stony Brook University was hailed for having one of the safest campuses in the state.

There are 4,700 students who live on Stony Brook’s campus and every one of them must receive a weekly COVID-19 test to certify that they are healthy enough to attend in-person classes. 

As the pandemic has progressed, so has testing, and SUNY Chancellor Jim Malatras praised school officials at Stony Brook for being able to adapt while keeping infection rates extremely low.

SUNY Chancellor Jim Malatras

Overall, the campus has only had a few dozen cases of the virus since opening on Aug. 28.

Malatras credits distant learning and frequent reporting for the low numbers.

"We require that every campus file with us everything that is going on, on the campus. How many COVID cases?  How many hospitalizations? Stony Brook has been doing this right out of the gate,” the SUNY chancellor said. “Stony Brook was recently given, by Harvard, an A for their transparency.”

Additionally, many students continue to do remote learning. In fact, 80% of the student body is participating in online classes. 

Though, Stony Brook president Maurie McInnis says the school could certainly handle a larger student body.

“We easily think we can accommodate many more students but, the first thing we needed to do is de-densify our classrooms and that's going to be true in our spring semester as well,” she explains.

Beginning next week, around 1,500 commuter students will be required to test weekly as they begin returning to some in-person classes. 

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