BROCKPORT, NY- Nearly 10 months into the Coronavirus pandemic, the top priority for colleges across the nation is to keep their communities safe and healthy. As students have now become accustomed to the new norm, like wearing masks and social distancing, the threat of contracting and spreading the virus is still alive and well. SUNY Brockport has been very proactive when it comes to containing any potential outbreak and the school continues to work for one major goal; Get to Thanksgiving without an outbreak.
At the beginning of the semester in August, Monroe county, which is where SUNY Brockport is located, was listed at a very low risk level regarding COVID. Now, the county has risen two levels, and is said to be at a “moderate risk” for COVID-19. This has prompted the college to raise its own risk level from normal, or “green,” to a moderate risk, “blue.” On October 12, Brockport President Heidi Macpherson sent out an email to the community, announcing its change from green to blue risk level. Brockport has had only a few cases, although the issue is not super significant.
In the email Macpherson sent out, she ensured students that the change was due to the rising cases in Monroe County, and that the Brockport community still had low numbers. It is important to note that this was a proactive measure, Macpherson told the community. The school currently has just six cases involving members of their community.
Brockport is also holding pool testing for students, which takes place two times a week.
At the time of the President’s announcement, she confirmed the school had zero (new cases) in New York State’s 14-day testing period (Oct. 10-23), and that the change in risk level was because of the concern of cases in Monroe County.
Macpherson continues to encourage students to “Protect the Nest,” which is the school’s slogan this semester regarding COVID and the safety of its community.
Senior Journalism student, Tyler West, knows all too well about what needs to happen to “Protect the Nest.” West lives off-campus and recently quarantined for 14 days, due to her roommate being one of the six positive cases among students.
“I definitely worried about contracting COVID, but after we found out my roommate was exposed and tested positive, my other roommates and I got tested. We tested negative,” West said.
Once her roommate was confirmed positive, West and the rest of her house made sure to do everything possible to stay healthy.
“We stayed in our own rooms as much as possible, wore masks and socially distanced if we ever crossed paths, and cleaned all shared surfaces after we used them.”
The required 14-day self-quarantine is strictly to contain any potential spread to the rest of the community, and West understood how necessary it is.
“We took quarantine seriously,” she said, referring to her and her roommates.
The college’s frequent pool testing is seen as a very effective way for Brockport to monitor cases and ensure the overall community remains healthy, according to college officials. John Follaco, Brockport’s Director of Communications, is a member of the COVID Emergency Operations Team, and agrees Brockport is staying on top of any possible risk of an outbreak.
“(We are) monitoring cases very closely,” Follaco said, and “get results back within 48 hours of a test.”
This turnaround time ensures the college can act as quickly as possible in order to contain any spread of the virus. Follaco said, at the time of the interview, nearly 1700 tests took place in the past two weeks, and the college saw zero positive cases among their results.
“I am very pleased with how the vast majority of students have protected the nest this semester, and I’m proud of where we stand today.”
However, Follaco remains cautiously optimistic, since the semester isn’t over yet, and there’s a big weekend ahead of us.
“If we can get through Halloween weekend without a spike in cases, our chances to get through the semester increase dramatically,” Follaco suggested.
As the second half of the Fall semester approaches, COVID-19 is still a major concern for the college. If cases begin to rise, classes have a good chance of transitioning to completely online. Since that is already the plan for after Thanksgiving, Brockport is trying its best to give its students a proper and somewhat normal education, which means keeping students in the classroom. College officials have taken plenty of precautionary steps so far to effectively contain any potential spread of the virus, and say they are prepared for an outbreak. For now, SUNY Brockport is in its final stretch until the Spring semester begins.
Checkout RochesterFirst.com’s recap of the situation. https://www.rochesterfirst.com/coronavirus/suny-brockport-raises-covid-19-risk-level-with-6-active-cases-reported/