How will WNY colleges deal with positive COVID-19 cases?

Posted at 5:44 PM, Aug 21, 2020
and last updated 2020-08-21 17:44:32-04

AMHERST, N.Y. (WKBW) — There are just over 700 new cases in New York State. At least two of those positive cases have surfaced here in WNY at college campuses, but some say that is good news.

"What we were able to do were is capture a positive test before they were around everybody else and infect people," said Dr. Greg Nayor, VP of Strategic Initiatives at Daemen.

Daemen has reported one positive case of COVID-19, after a testing event. That student is asymptomatic and isolated off-campus. Dr. Nayor says catching this case means their system is working.

"We are the only school in the area that is requiring testing of all faculty staff and students before the semester starts," said Dr. Nayor.

They've conducted 550 tests so far. SUNY Fredonia also reported a positive COVID-19 case this week.

"Even with all the precautions in place, we are faced with the reality that there will inevitably be positive cases on campus. Indeed, we have had our first student test positive this week. All exposed students are quarantining in off-campus locations," said Stephen H. Kolison, Jr., Ph.D., President and Professor at SUNY Fredonia.

So if a student tests positive, what happens?

  • At Buffalo State
    • Anyone they believe might have reasonably been exposed or become symptomatic, they have rapid testing available to determine how long and where people need to be moved to that isolation space, according to Timothy Gordon, VP of Student Affairs
  • At Daemen College
    • They have a system for quarantining that individual, with food delivery and help with the mental and physical aspect
    • They have a contact tracting system in place to monitor anyone else they may have come in contact with
    • There is on-campus and back up off-campus quarantine space
  • At SUNY Fredonia
    • Any member of the Fredonia community (student or employee) who tests positive for COVID-19 will be isolated in accordance with the campus Reopening Plan. Contact tracers will identify and notify individual(s) who may have had close contact with an infected individual and will be provided information on steps to take to quarantine for 14 days, according to their website.
    • They also have a webpage to keep students up to date on the latest information on COVID-19.
  • University at Buffalo
    • UB has deployed a daily health screening tool
    • The university has in place mandatory and precautionary quarantine protocols for confirmed cases of COVID-19 as well as those “under investigation” (being tested for COVID-19). If a person has tested positive for COVID-19, whether or not they are displaying symptoms, Erie County Department of Health will take over supervision of that individual. The DOH will provide direction to UB at that time. The individual who tested positive may be placed in Required, Mandatory Isolation on campus. UB has designated several floors of a residence hall for quarantines and isolation when there is a positive case or suspected positive case. The students wills be provided food and care while they are in quarantine, according to their website.

Most, if not all colleges are also strongly discouraging partying to make sure there are no campus clusters, as seen by other colleges around the country.

"For you to stay in Fredonia this semester, and for all the hard work and the planning to pay off, you simply cannot host parties. The police departments in both municipalities work closely with Fredonia’s Office of Student Conduct, and violators are subject to appropriate disciplinary action. Remember, Fredonia’s Student Code of Conduct applies to students off campus as well as on campus," said Mayors of Fredonia and Dunkirk.

Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown gave a similar message for the University at Buffalo and Buff State.

"It's an absolute challenge and any institution that thinks we can control that is being naive. It's gonna take a village, everybody's gonna have to do their part and if they're doing that, we have the best chance for success,"said Dr. Nayor.

Classes at Daemen start on September 8th. Classes start on Monday at SUNY Fredonia. Classes start at UB and Buff State on August 31.