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ESF Outlines Plans to Bring Students Back to Campus in the Fall


The SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry's (ESF) plan for students to return to campus for the fall semester has been approved by state officials.

An email was sent to students, families and guardians outlining aspects of the College's plan for restarting, following the March transition to distance education due to Pause New York regulations.

Classes for the fall 2020 semester will begin Aug. 24 and will be in session on Labor Day. Students will finish fall coursework on Nov. 24, after which they will leave for break and reading week. Finals will take place online the week following Thanksgiving. The fall semester will close on Dec. 9.

Three academic pedagogies will be used during the fall 2020 semester: face-to-face classes for some classes less than 30 students, flex/hybrid classes in which some face-to-face instruction will be offered simultaneously with online content, and online-only courses.

All classrooms have been measured and new, reduced-seating guidelines have been created to ensure social distancing. Some classes will also be held on the Syracuse University campus.

"The health and safety of everyone in our community is our top concern," said Joseph Rufo, officer-in-charge. ESF is working with Upstate Medical University and Syracuse University for screening and testing protocols."

ESF will use a novel RNA testing approach in Centennial Hall, ESF's residence hall, to monitor whether the virus is present in the population. "If the COVID RNA is found in the dorm's wastewater, that would be the signal to begin more intensive group and individual testing of students in the dorm," said Rufo.

Capacity in Centennial Hall will be reduced through the elimination of triples and the temporary creation of a limited number of single rooms. Occupancy limits in common areas will be reduced..

The Ranger School will also be in session for the fall 2020 semester. Staff at the Ranger School has a plan for maintaining student health while delivering its standard teaching and living program. Outside interaction for Ranger School students will be limited, and screening and testing will be done to ensure student wellness.

All ESF students, faculty, and staff will be required to follow the guidelines set forth by the State of New York and the Onondaga County Health Department, including the requirement to wear face masks in situations in which social distancing cannot be maintained.

"Two things have become increasingly clear," said Rufo. "This is a work-in-progress, and we will succeed when we all work together. We look forward to welcoming our students back to ESF in August."