With all of the uncertainty that COVID-19 has brought for college students, the plan for the spring semester is no exception.
On Nov. 11, the campus notified SUNY New Paltz students of the new plan for next semester. The first change has to do with in-person classes. The semester will still begin on Jan. 19, however, in-person instruction will not start until Feb. 1, about two weeks into the semester.
No more than 25% of classes offered in the spring will be in person. In-person classes include labs, studio art and practicums. However, according to the email the college “will notify SUNY that it would like to begin in-person instruction on Monday, Jan. 25, for some science and engineering lab courses, some art studio courses and other courses that meet the criteria” to be in person.
“The decision to remain with the same mix of teaching modalities as fall 2020 was made based upon the best information we had at the time of schedule planning and in consideration of the safety for our students, faculty and staff,” said College Registrar Stella Turk. “Reduced classroom density will remain in effect for spring ‘21.”
SUNY New Paltz is also taking the initiative to allow students to connect with each other remotely to form study groups through a platform supported by the National Science Foundation called Circle.
“The College has a heightened sense of how much easier it is for students to develop connections with faculty and with each other when instruction occurs in person,” said Interim Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Barbra Lyman. “This is the technology that should prove useful to bolster student academically-related connections and success beyond the time of the pandemic and no matter whether courses are remote or in-person.”
Additionally, students who will be returning to campus in the spring will have to provide a negative COVID-19 test result three days before coming to campus and a negative test result within five days of being on campus.
To accomplish this, the college will provide daily testing testing opportunities Monday through Friday, starting Jan. 19 through Feb. 4. This plan will allow SUNY New Paltz to test about 20% of their in-person population, including staff and faculty, each week.
Students who decide to get a COVID-19 test off-campus should submit their test results to the Student Health Center Portal.
Housing, however, still needs to be worked out.
The college still does not have any details to share about how they will allow students to move into their dorms before in-person instruction while the semester has already started.
“Specific details about spring return to residence halls and implementation of the SUNY-wide requirement that all returning students, faculty and staff who will have an on-campus presence, either provide proof of a negative COVID-19 test within three days prior to arrival or within five days of return to campus will be shared at a later date,” according to the email.
The college is also welcoming students who did not receive housing in the fall and would like to opt for campus housing in the spring.
“We sent emails to all students that would’ve been returners/re-contracts from spring but canceled, as well as all accepted fall first years and transfers, whether they had requested a room or not,” said Vice President for Student Affairs Stephanie Blaisdell.
The campus also has room for more students to live on campus and will be emailing about this opportunity over winter break.