State University of New York’s new Chancellor Jim Malatras visited Long Island Thursday to check in with Stony Brook University’s and Farmingdale State College’s presidents and see how they were containing the COVID-19 virus.
During the Sept. 24 press conference, Malatras said he especially wanted to visit SBU and praised how well university President Maurie McInnis and the campus community have handled both the pandemic and the school’s reopening. He added that the university continues to remain open while other schools in the state just a few weeks into the semester have had to send students home and switch to fully remote schedules, such as SUNY Oneonta.
“I want to highlight shining examples of campuses that are doing it well,” he said.
The chancellor credited SBU’s success to requiring students to submit a negative COVID test before moving on campus, its regular testing of students and the school’s transparency with a COVID-19 tracker dashboard on its website since the beginning of the semester. The SUNY website now also offers a COVID-19 dashboard tracking all of its 64 colleges and universities.
He also praised faculty, staff and students for their compliance with public health guidelines such as wearing masks, social distancing. He said the administration hasn’t found problems with students throwing parties like other schools seem to have.
McInnis also complimented the campus community’s commitment to following health and safety guidelines.
“Our students really want to be here, and they understand what they do has a direct, positive impact on their peers and all of us at Stony Brook,” she said. “We know especially right now personal responsibility is a social act.”
Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone (D) was also in attendance. Malatras credited Bellone for working with SBU and other SUNY campuses in the county to ensure a robust reopening plan where the community could feel confident in moving forward.
Malatras said while declining enrollment during the pandemic has exacerbated financial difficulties, it was important to quickly set up protocols to contain the virus and ensure the campus community’s confidence.
The chancellor complimented what the SBU community has been doing during the pandemic from lifesaving treatments to “heroes” coming in every day to participating in clinical trials for a vaccine.
McInnis also praised the hospital and said the campus community did “a terrific job of planning to come back safe and strong.”
“SBU and Long Island were hit hard by the virus in the early days,“ she said. “But our hospital was in the lead in responding to the worst of the pandemic. We knew our plans had to be informed by science and implemented with the resources to succeed.”
At the press conference, Malatras also announced that SBU will be expanding its testing protocol by joining with SUNY Upstate Medical University for pool testing, which uses a patient’s saliva to detect the virus instead of a nasal swab. According to the chancellor, the test is easier to administer than the nasal swabs and there is a quicker turnaround for results as numerous samples can be tested at one time.