After denying anything was official for hours on Friday, the SUNY College at Brockport issued a statement late in the afternoon confirming that the campus is readying itself to possibly take students returning from five coronavirus-affected countries.
Brockport President Heidi Macpherson said up to 95 students can be accommodated in quarantine in the school’s Gordon Hall, and that students could start arriving early next week. A SUNY College at Brockport official said earlier in the day that there was no official word that students are coming to Brockport.
Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo announced on Thursday that approximately 300 students are being called back from their studies abroad in China, Iran, Italy, Japan and South Korea. His announcement mentioned that students, faculty and staff from abroad would be quarantined in SUNY dormitories for 14 days, but didn’t identify the location of those dormitories.
Macpherson noted that students are being offered “the option to undergo precautionary quarantine for 14 days … either at home or on one of three designated SUNY campuses. Brockport is one of the locations being considered because it has the facilities, services, technology, clinical and general staffing capabilities to accommodate (state health) quarantine guidelines.”
She added, though, “we won’t know if our campus will be utilized until we get a final determination from SUNY depending on the number of students that select the dormitory option.”
David Mihalyov, SUNY Brockport’s vice president for university relations, said there are no Brockport students, faculty or staff in the study abroad group returning to the United States.
Macpherson said “Our first priority is the safety, health, and welfare of all students, faculty, and staff and local residents. None of these students that may arrive on our campus will have tested positive for COVID-19 but have visited one of the impacted countries and must undergo precautionary quarantine.”
Friday morning, Monroe County legislators Mike Zale and Jackie Smith, both Republicans, took the Democratic governor to task, saying he has “has been in front of the cameras daily, yet has refused to confirm widespread rumors that these students will be arriving to SUNY Brockport as early as this weekend.”
Zale and Smith both represent parts of the town of Sweden, in which the Brockport campus lies, and adjacent towns.
In Cuomo’s news release about the arrangements being made to bring SUNY and City University of New York students back home, he said:
“It’s important that facts outweigh fear, and the reality is we are getting the testing done, getting the information out and deploying healthcare resources to treat people who need it, so I am reminding New Yorkers that there is no reason for undue anxiety and the general risk remains low in New York.”
Zale and Smith, meanwhile, were raising an alarm because, they said, the proposed quarantine dormitory at SUNY Brockport is not yet furnished nor habitable, and “there has been a lack of communication with area first-responders during the initial planning.”
They said they had heard from numerous Brockport residents who are concerned about the supposed plan.
“The state’s supposed strategy to avoid panic by withholding information is having the adverse effect,” the legislators claimed.
A call to the SUNY public information office for comment on Zale’s and Smith’s statement was not immediately returned.
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