Skip to main contentSkip to main navigationSkip to footer content

SUNY ESF Plan for Academic Continuity and the Health and Safety of Students, Faculty, and Staff Policy for Winter and Spring Terms 2021

Updated 12/17/20

Campus Demographics

SUNY ESF is located in Syracuse NY and is adjacent to the Syracuse University campus. The ESF campus has one dorm currently housing 450 students. Non- residential students will max out at 1750. The typical daily number of employees on campus for the Fall of 2020 semester has been ~150 as determined by mandatory daily COVID-19 screening questionnaire. The overall max employees on campus is expected to be 317.


Students Remaining on Campus During Break

The Campus has implemented a process to allow students to request permission to remain on campus after the fall semester ends and/or during the winter term and for those students who are pre-approved to so remain. This plan includes weekly COVID-19 testing of one half of the campus population and the other half the succeeding week. The exception to this is the period in which the campus is essentially empty between 12/19 and 1/3. Syracuse University and ESF will suspend testing during that period. All needed isolation and quarantine protocols remain in place along with ensuring students have access to meals. All related services remain available with a special focus on monitoring the student’s mental and physical well-being while residing on campus. Furthermore, these students must sign an acknowledgement of the rules that will govern their stay, whether it is an addendum to the housing license or another stand-alone document. There are 3 students remaining on campus over the break.


Students Returning to Campus for Winter and Spring Terms - Testing and Isolation Requirements

Students returning to campus or attending courses on campus for the winter and spring 2021 semester will be tested for COVID-19 prior to return to in person classes. Students residing in Centennial Hall must have been sampled in advance of return to the ESF dormitory and received negative results to permit move-in in accordance with the following specific instructions for Students Subject to NYS Travel Restrictions or Students from New York State or Contiguous States. All residential and non-residential students will participate in surveillance testing that will be available at Syracuse University starting no later than January 25, and this will be required for attendance in the in-person classes starting on February 1. All students who visit campus will be required to participate in weekly testing thereafter throughout the remainder of the semester. Faculty and staff working on campus will have the same pre-testing available and the same weekly schedule for the duration of the spring semester. Testing is conducted at Syracuse University and administered in coordination with ESF staff and volunteers for all staff and students before returning to campus, and weekly throughout the semester on a walk-up basis on any week day. Syracuse University has transitioned to the SalivaDirectTM test (Yale developed and FDA EUA approved) which still employs PCR analysis of pooled saliva that can be reflex tested to identify the positive individual(s). Identified positive individuals will be directed to receive a clinical diagnostic test for confirmation through their health care provider.


COVID-19 Testing and Disclosure Requirements for All Residential Students

  • All residents will be required to:
  • Participate in daily pre-screening for travel history, COVID-19 history and COVID-19 symptoms for two (2) weeks prior to return using the web based surveillance system used throughout the fall semester for employees. This system has been updated to accommodate students and the travel history requirement
  • Attest to completing a 7 day precautionary quarantine before arriving on campus
  • Present evidence of a negative COVID-19 test upon return AND participate in on-campus COVID-19 testing as soon as possible but no later than five (5) days of returning. Students will also have the option to present documentation of a positive diagnostic result for COVID-19 from the prior 90-day period.
  • Answer a standard set of questions to disclose any known exposure to COVID-19 positive individuals or any COVID-19 symptoms
  • Residents will be strongly encouraged to obtain a flu shot before arriving on campus and provide proof of such at move in.


Move-In Logistics for Students Subject to NYS Travel Restrictions

  • Students from states noncontiguous to New York State will move directly into Shapero Hall at OCC with their belongings on either Friday, January 22 or Saturday, January 23rd. Students will also have the option of making personal arrangements for a private quarantine location with documentation provided before move in at Centennial Hall.
  • Students must obtain a COVID-19 test within 3 days prior to arrival
  • Students arriving with a COVID-19 test from within 3 days prior to arrival will conduct the 3 days of required quarantine at OCC
  • Students arriving without a COVID-19 test from within 3 days prior to arrival will be required to quarantine for 14 days per NYS travel guidance
  • A single residence room, meal delivery, Wi-Fi and access to laundry provided at OCC to residents at no additional charge
  • Student Affairs will contact each resident at OCC regularly for health and wellness check
  • A mandatory COVID-19 test on day 4 following arrival will be provided by ESF to students at Shapero Hall
  • Once both COVID-19 test results are received, students will be transported to Centennial Hall by charter transportation to move into their designated rooms
  • Students will participate in remote learning while quarantining at Shapero Hall with a goal to complete quarantine and be cleared for face-to-face instruction beginning Monday, February 1st.


Move-In Logistics for Students from New York State or Contiguous States

  • Students from New York State and states contiguous to New York will arrive in small groups staggered over the period of January 19th  – January 25th  to achieve social distancing
  • Students from non-travel restricted locations must obtain a negative COVID-19 test result from a sample taken within 5 days prior to arrival.
  • Students who arrive at Centennial Hall move in without a negative COVID-19 test result obtained from a sample taken within 5 days prior to arrival, or documentation of a positive diagnostic result from the prior 90-day period will be directed to move into quarantine facility, Shapero Hall at OCC, until negative test results can be produced.
  • No more than 70 students shall be allowed to register for a single move in day
  • A maximum of  one parent/guardian/guest will be allowed to enter the building to assist with the move in of personal belongings
  • Parents/guardians/guests must leave the building at the end of the assigned 3-hour move in window
  • Emergency contact information and updated health information form verified at move in to ensure we have current parent/guardian contact information and appropriate health information in the event of a health crisis.
  • Students asked to provide a personal cell phone number for urgent communications at move in
  • Parents/guardians/guests will be provided opportunity to opt into email communications from College/Student Affairs

Additional specific requirements are as follows:

  • All students, faculty, and staff will be pre-screened daily for travel history, COVID-19 history and COVID-19 symptoms for two (2) weeks prior to return using the web based surveillance system used throughout the fall semester for employees. This system will be updated to accommodate students and the travel history requirement.
  • Upon returning for winter and/or spring 2021 on-campus activities, any student who will (1) live on campus, or (2) take at least one class on campus, or (3) utilize services on campus (e.g. library, gym, dining), or (4) work on campus, must submit an attestation that they have completed a seven (7) day precautionary quarantine prior to returning to campus AND participate in on-campus COVID-19 testing between January 25-28. Students will also have the option to present documentation of a positive diagnostic result for COVID-19 from the prior 90 day period.

The following limited exemptions are allowed for the seven (7) day precautionary quarantine stated above:

* Medical School and Health Professions students designated as “essential employees” will not be required to quarantine. Since ESF does not have medical and health profession students, this exemption does not apply to ESF.

* Commuter students who are employed may apply to a campus designee for a limited exemption to allow them to work during the quarantine. Exemption requests will be submitted to the Dean of Students and a form is currently in development. To qualify for the exemption, such students will need to document the COVID-19 safety protocols of their employers. Also, the exemption will only apply to their ability to work. When not working, the students will be expected to quarantine from others. ESF will keep specific information on the number of exemptions approved for the semester and be able to report to SUNY system.

  • Students must inform the campus of any known contacts with COVID-19 positive individuals, or of any symptoms consistent with COVID-19, or of a positive test result for COVID-19 (this notification to campus should not replace reporting to a health care provider or local health department).

The SUNY ESF campus has intensified its previously approved and conducted surveillance testing plan as soon as students return to campus. All students, faculty and staff who live on campus and/or plan to be on campus regularly (including instruction, co-curricular activities, and meetings) will be tested weekly according to the new plan.

In cases of possible exposure to COVID-19 on campus, ESF will follow Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidance Testing, Screening, and Outbreak Response for Institutions of Higher Education (IHEs), specifically the section “Tiered approach and inclusion criteria for SARS-CoV-2 testing of persons with possible exposure in IHE setting in the context of an outbreak”.

Students, faculty, and staff who have traveled to/from restricted states/regions or to/from international locations as defined by New York State will be required to follow the New York State Travel Advisory - whether living on- or off-campus—and attest that they have submitted the New York Traveler Health form and will follow the guidance of the governing local health department related to mandatory testing, quarantine/isolation, and timing of returning to campus. Proof of the traveler health form will be obtained by a screenshot of the last page submitted to their supervisor, or the Dean of Students.

Any student, faculty, or staff testing positive for COVID-19 must isolate and follow the New York State Department of Health Order on isolation and the guidance of the governing local health department on length of said isolation and timing of return to campus. Isolation orders are issued by the Onondaga County Health Department in coordination with Dr. Brian Leydet (ESF employee).

SUNY ESF maintains an agreement with Onondaga Community College for access to a dormitory reserved for isolation/quarantine with 200 available beds. This space is available for residential and off- campus students.


Mode of Instruction

Winter 2020-21 term

Instruction for the winter term will be fully remote, with the following exceptions: classes with clinical practicums, research, and applied learning experiences that require physical presence.  No classes will be offered face to face before February 1st.  All classes will be virtual the first week starting January 25, and then go to their preferred mode after the 1st of February.

On-campus density will be minimized to the maximum extent practicable and consistent with New York State Department of Health (NYSDOH) guidelines. For all on-campus students, faculty, and staff, the ESF campus shall maintain a testing plan requiring the testing of all on campus personnel. One half of the population will be tested week one, and the other half tested week two.  This pattern will be repeated throughout the winter term.

ESF will notify SUNY System Administration of the courses listed above requiring in-person instruction to For courses that do not fall within the above categories, ESF will request specific exceptions to SUNY System Administration to hold any other in-person instruction.

Spring 2021 term

Spring term Instruction will be remote prior to February 1 in order to minimize additional risks associated with influenza season. ESF will allow students to return to campus residences January 25 in order to pursue remote instruction and meet the mandatory testing requirement outlined above. Spring term start dates prior to February 1 will occur in a fully remote format except for those clinical practicums, research, and applied learning experiences that require physical presence as outlined above. Such acceptable in-person instruction includes licensed professional practicums, teaching practicums, laboratory research, and other types of hands-on applied/experiential learning that takes place in specialized facilities and/or requires specialized equipment.

  • ESF will notify SUNY System Administration of any courses which fall into the above categories. For courses that do not fall within the above categories, ESF will request specific exceptions to SUNY System Administration to begin in-person instruction prior to February 1. Both notification and/or requests for exceptions will be submitted no later than December 1, 2020 to
  • Modes of instruction will ensure safe on-campus density, consistent with New York State and the governing local health department guidelines. ESF will be prepared to execute fully remote plans if the campus meets the threshold for a mandatory pause on in-person instruction as outlined in the Supplemental Higher Education guidance from the New York State Department of Health.
  • ESF’s expectations of students during such a mandatory pause will be clearly communicated to students prior to the beginning of the semester.

Remote Instruction

Working together with campus governance processes and in collaboration with its faculty and support staff, ESF will work to ensure that remote instruction meets or exceeds expectations of regular and substantive interaction. ESF will continue to assist students with access to devices and internet connectivity in order for students to be successful with remote instruction.

Transparency: Before the beginning of each semester, ESF will publish [on their website] the percentage of courses which will be offered in-person and remote.

Regular Interaction: ESF will provide for the opportunity for substantive interactions with its students on a predictable and regular basis commensurate with both the length of time, and the amount of content, in the course or competency, will monitor the student’s academic engagement and success, and will make clear that the instructor(s) are responsible for promptly and proactively engaging in substantive interaction with the students when needed on the basis of such monitoring, or upon request by the student.

International Students: ESF will make all reasonable efforts to accommodate the needs of international students completing coursework from other time zones, e.g. – opportunities for asynchronous instruction, interactions scheduled in a way that takes into account the time zones of the students enrolled in the section, and other such flexibilities.

Substantive Interaction: ESF will engage students in teaching, learning, and assessment, consistent with the content under discussion, while also including at least two of the following:

  1. Provision of direct instruction;
  2. Assessment and / or the provision of feedback on a student’s coursework;
  3. Provision of information and / or responding to questions about the content of a course or competency;
  4. Facilitation of group discussion regarding the content of a course or competency; or
  5. Other instructional activities approved by the institution’s/program’s accrediting agency.

ESF will work with faculty in order to equip them with the knowledge and skill to support remote learning of students with disabilities. ESF will remind faculty members that the standard process for requesting academic accommodation would continue to apply, no matter the mode of instruction.

ESF will work to ensure all faculty and students have access to orientation/training opportunities to familiarize them with instructional technologies and remote pedagogies, especially those faculty for whom such technologies/pedagogies are new and for those students in vulnerable populations.

ESF will provide proactive and regularized advising interventions for all academic programs in such manner that prioritizes student success, and will utilize instructional support provided by SUNY.

Academic Calendar

Spring Term Start Dates

In-person instruction for spring term will not occur at ESF prior to February 1. Pursuant to Section 2 above, ESF will notify SUNY System Administration of any courses which require in-person instruction prior to February 1st (e.g. clinical practicums, research, and applied learning experiences). For courses that do not fall within the above categories, ESF will request specific exceptions to SUNY System Administration to begin in-person instruction prior to February 1. Both notification and/or requests for exceptions must be submitted no later than December 1, 2020 to

Spring Break

Given the current risks associated with COVID-19 spread, spring break and any other spring holiday periods will not be permitted. ESF may build in single-day midweek ‘reading days’ throughout the semester as an alternative pause of instruction while discouraging/prohibiting travel away from campus. Any on-campus services in support of religious observance will follow the density, quarantine/isolation, and face covering requirements that are already incorporated into the campus reopening plan.


Commencement exercises ordinarily occurring at or near the close of Spring 2021 semester will be considered in accordance with guidance from New York State. ESF will begin to plan and message virtual commencements and/or safely distanced methods of recognition and degree dissemination for their graduates.


On-campus Activities

Federal, State and Local Guidance

All in-person activities will continue to follow the mandatory NYSDOH guidance for social distancing as well as the strictures of the approved campus reopening plan.

To the extent possible, activities will be held outdoors or in a well-ventilated location, and CDC recommendations implemented to improve ventilation (Considerations for Institutions of Higher Education).

ESF will continuously assess and confirm that all cleaning protocols are in compliance with NYSDOH Higher Education Guidance and CDC guidance (Interim Guidance for Higher Education during the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency and Reopening Guidance for Cleaning and Disinfecting Public Spaces, Workplaces, Businesses, Schools, and Homes).

Face Coverings (Masks)

Face coverings (masks) must be worn by all members of the campus community on campus at all times, including in classrooms, conference rooms and other spaces, even when six-feet social distancing exists. Exceptions to mask wearing include when students are (1) in their private residential or personal space, (2) eating meals on-campus while seated and social distancing is appropriately enforced, or (3) by themselves. Faculty and staff are likewise exempt when alone in their office or other space. Any request for a medical, religious, or other accommodation to this policy will be reviewed on an individual basis in accordance with relevant laws and campus procedures.


The Chancellor’s Uniform Sanctioning in Response to COVID-19 Student Violations implementing uniform sanctions System-wide for COVID-19 related violations, remains in effect for the Winter and Spring 2021 terms and will be used as enforcement guidelines as applicable for violations of this re-opening plan.


Mental Health Supports, Services and Referrals

Given the unprecedented times for students, ESF will strive to do the following to increase the support for mental health services among our campus community:

  1. Promote on-campus and community-based mental health treatment and resources, including:
    1. ReachOut SUNY.
    2. Thriving Campus.
    3. Middle Earth from the University at Albany.
  2. Highlight therapy groups and other peer-to-peer support strategies
  3. Advertise the availability of crisis services, including Crisis Text Line, including: NYS OMH Crisis Text Line: Text GOT5 to 741741
  4. Publicize the availability of free online QPR suicide prevention training for students, faculty, and staff.


Daily Dashboard

ESF will continue to report daily COVID-related information to the SUNY COVID-19 Tracker in accordance with guidelines set forth by SUNY. ESF also maintains its own COVID-19 dashboard and will keep the data in its dashboards consistent with the SUNY COVID-19 Tracker at all times.

Instructional Modalities

ESF will report to SUNY System Administration, as a continuation of fall semester reporting procedures, periodic statistical summaries of the distribution of instructional modalities between face-to-face, hybrid and remote methods as adjustments are made during the conduct of the academic semester.


What Students Should Know: Transparency

ESF will disseminate a clear, plain language notice on “What Students Should Know” to all students. It is understood that SUNY System Administration will develop a template for campuses to customize. This notice should provide information that includes but is not limited to: testing requirements; mandatory quarantine and isolation; uniform compliance; and the percentage of courses which will be offered in-person, and virtual so they can make informed decisions about their educational experience.

The informational “What Students Should Know” notice will include links or additional information about the specific policies. For instance, students will be provided a copy of the Chancellor’s Uniform Sanctioning in Response to COVID-19 Student Violations and additional Campus-specific sanctioning so they are aware of the penalties for failing to comply with all COVID-19 related testing and safety protocols. The “What Student Will Know” Document will be completed by January 14 and will be disseminated by the Student Affairs Office to the students and stakeholders via email.

SUNY ESF Campus Safety Monitor: John Wasiel;; 315-470-6896