August 21, 2020
From Alfred State College:
Alfred State College (ASC) successfully began welcoming students back to campus on August 2 including a protocol upon arrival for COVID-19 symptom screening and use of an app for all students, faculty, and staff to attest to good health every morning.
The college now has additional tools for testing and monitoring. Alfred State signed an agreement to join other institutions in using SUNY Upstate Medical’s pool testing and will begin testing hundreds of students each week beginning as early as next week. These tests will allow the college to monitor infection rates on campus by testing 12 students in a single test, doubling back to test students individually in the event of any positive results.
Alfred State has already received four Becton Dickinson Veritor Plus Analyzers and kits to perform rapid tests for Influenza A+B and Strep to help eliminate the “white noise” of illnesses that produce similar symptoms to COVID. ASC Health and Wellness Services will coordinate use of these new tools. The Veritor Plus is FDA-approved to also test for COVID-19 and the college expects those test kits next month. Taking the investment in testing even further, Alfred State also has two Quidel Sofia2 analyzers on order to further ensure adequate testing capacity at Alfred State; those units are also expected soon.
“With the addition of pool testing happening as soon as next week, multiple analyzers, and imminent rapid testing capacity on campus, we have even more resources at our disposal,” said Alfred State President Dr. Skip Sullivan. “We have partnerships established with St. James Hospital in Hornell, Jones Memorial in Wellsville, and the Allegany County Health Department for a network of local support working closely with our Health and Wellness Services Office.
With the recent FDA approval of the SUNY Upstate Group Saliva Surveillance Testing, the college will now be able to perform weekly pool surveillance testing where groups of 12 can be tested in a single PCR test at the Upstate Medical Center labs. With this capability, any positive pools will follow additional protocols for individual testing and precautionary quarantine while awaiting a second round of test results. This process will allow the campus to monitor groups across campus for additional testing, as needed.
Recently some misinformation has been spread questioning ASC’s response to COVID-19 and preparedness. The college will take this opportunity at the start of the semester to remind the public of some of the many precautions that are being taken including the newly announced testing capabilities.
Contact tracing has been in place since March 16 and details related to each incident and current statistics are listed at www.AlfredState.edu/covid-19/cases. Alfred State has reserved an entire residence hall to be available for any students who need to be in precautionary quarantine and additional townhouse space is held in reserve for dedicated isolation space.
The reopening plan approved by the state and SUNY was compiled with input from a large cross-section of the campus. Membership on the 12 task force groups included faculty members, along with many administrative and professional staff.
Once the reopening plan was approved, ASC held virtual town hall meetings to discuss it and shared details during the month of July. The Employee Town Hall was extended from 60 to 90 minutes to cover more faculty and staff questions. While most of the questions asked were redundant, college leaders responded to a total of 50 questions that were submitted.
The state approved Alfred State’s request for in-person instruction to continue our college’s mission for applied learning in every major. In order to facilitate hands-on learning opportunities, there is a greater need for in-person instruction.
ASC has greatly increased the frequency and intensity of cleaning and sanitation. This includes making supplies available to faculty, staff, and students. Plastic barriers are one of many additions made to office and classroom environments in combination with a number of additional precautions. These barriers are recommended and commonly used in many public settings. Since social distancing is not possible in halls, elevators, and other confined physical spaces, ASC is requiring face covers in all non-residential buildings. For all decisions related to sanitation and facilities improvements, ASC relies on guidance from CDC, WHO, and NY Forward.
Class and lab schedules have been altered to accommodate more COVID-19 precautions. Additional technology to assist with instruction includes the installation of 150 new hovercams that provide faculty with both a document camera and web cam. These tools arrived in time for class start despite a heavy demand on the supply chain due to the needs of universities, colleges, and schools all preparing for fall.
“I’m proud of all the work we are doing to prepare but it’s important to note that no one can guarantee that coronavirus will not appear on campus,” said Sullivan. “Every business and public facility is battling this virus. I call on all of our students, faculty, and staff to closely follow our new protocols and work together to make us stronger.”
Alfred State recently updated its reopening plan as it is a living document that now captures the transition from planning to action. All colleges are asked to constantly evolve and adapt their plans to the changing conditions and regulations around operating their campus community. Online at www.AlfredState.edu/covid-19/reopen-plan some of the newest information includes plans if in-person instruction must be curtailed, information for international and out-of-state students, and the latest information regarding testing and monitoring. A campus safety video also illustrates many of the ways ASC operations have changed due to the coronavirus.
Caption: Students have returned to Alfred. Priyanka Karki and Erin Congdon are following rules for using face covers on the Alfred State College campus.
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At Alfred State College, hands-on experience leads to career success. An emphasis on real-world training enables students to reach goals and develop the skills needed to thrive at in-demand jobs. With more than 80 majors, 100 clubs and civic groups, and 17 NCAA Division III sports, Alfred State prepares students to become leaders, achievers, and Pioneers who are ready to Hit the Ground Running …