Courtsey of the Post Star

SUNY and CUNY students will be staying home after spring break.

They will finish the semester using distance learning, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced Tuesday.

"You don't want to shut down society, because that's massively disruptive, but it's a public health crisis," he said. "It's balancing the two."

But in a press release an hour later, the governor's staff clarified that he wants to "reduce density" at campuses.

Each campus will develop curriculum-specific needs plans to reduce the number of students on campus. They will use distance learning and "other options" that will be developed in the next two weeks, the press release said.

Many private colleges have also switched to distance learning.That will require teachers to use videos, livestreams and online testing, which some teachers have never used before. Others have used Blackboard, for example, as a common way to send in papers. But teachers say that at community colleges, they have students who couldn’t use Blackboard because they don’t have computer or Internet access at home.


Among the other challenges: science lab work, which requires materials and equipment not generally available (or safe to use) at home.This may mean that college plays and other performances, which have been in the works for months, will be cancelled.Staff are trying to solve all those problems in the next two weeks, before the end of spring break, which is being extended by a week at many schools.

SUNY Adirondack and other colleges were struggling to respond to the announcement, which took officials by surprise.They had been aware of the possibility but said they weren't expecting the announcement Tuesday.The changeover is effective effective March 19.

SUNY Oswego was one of several colleges acknowledging that many courses require hands-on work.

"There may be a few exceptions where face-to-face on-campus delivery of academic content will be allowed (labs, etc.)," the college said in a letter to students. But it went on to say that students should take valuables and important personal items with them for spring break and not plan to return soon.

"After spring break, if you have left campus, we encourage you to remain off campus to avoid the possible introduction and spread of the virus on campus," the college said.

It's not clear how students could stay off campus and still go to campus to complete science labs. Many students live too far away to commute for labs.

Colleges were also setting up appointments with their IT staff to help students who don't have the equipment to do distance learning, so that they can leave campus prepared.


You can reach Kathleen Moore at 742-3247 or Follow her on Twitter @ByKathleenMoore or at her blog on