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Fall Planning Update

June 25, 2020

Dear Stony Brook Campus Community:

I am hopeful that you and your families are healthy and well and that you are finding ways to relish these beginning days of summer. This message is intended to update you on our continued planning for the fall semester, following up on the June 4 message.

There is still much about the fall that remains unknown. Ultimately, all of our decision-making will be guided by the state of the public health situation. If it is safe to do so, it remains our intention to resume some on-campus learning and activities in the fall.  For that to be possible, we will all have to adhere to important public health strategies. That includes doing a daily symptom check, wearing face coverings, washing hands frequently, social distancing in classrooms and other campus areas, and quarantining when needed. We will also make adjustments to the schedule, shifting some classes to different times, in order to reduce the density on campus at popular times. We will also ensure that we have robust capabilities in COVID-19 testing and contact tracing.

Our efforts to ensure a safe environment for our students, staff and faculty have been predicated on the guidelines established by the CDC, New York State, and SUNY. New York State recently released Higher Education Guidelines providing a thorough checklist of requirements and additional suggestions for campuses to implement during the remainder of the COVID-19 public health emergency. Following these guidelines, we have submitted a plan for the fall semester to SUNY and await their approval.

Once we receive SUNY approval to operate in an on-campus fashion, we will send you a far more detailed communication that highlights the many questions you likely have about what campus life might look like. I hope that we will receive our approval by early July and, if so, we will be ready to communicate in greater detail to the campus community then. In the meantime, I share with you the following changes for the fall semester that we anticipate will be approved as part of the plan for fall 2020:

  • The academic calendar will be adjusted with the elimination of the fall break and on-campus classes ending just before Thanksgiving. Courses and exams that take place after Thanksgiving will take place remotely. The Health Sciences schools may have calendars that differ from this schedule based on factors that include professional training and clinical activities.

  • Students will be able to choose from courses in different formats. Some courses will be entirely on-line, others will be in person, and still others will be hybrid, meaning that some students may attend in person while others attend remotely. Our schools and colleges are working to ensure that we can provide a robust range of courses to meet the needs of our students.

  • In general, small classes will continue to meet in person in larger venues, but larger lecture classes will be delivered remotely. Class formats will be determined by individual schools, colleges and academic units. Each classroom has been evaluated to ensure that we can maintain appropriate social distancing. This has resulted in moving smaller classes to larger rooms and making changes to class layouts for student seating. 

  • Residence halls will be open, and we will reserve some units to serve as quarantine housing as needed. Density in dining halls will be reduced and more grab and go meals will be offered.

  • We will provide two cloth masks to all members of the campus community, and we will require the wearing of masks. Hand sanitizer will be available throughout campus. 

  • We will emphasize the critical importance of all students, faculty and staff getting a seasonal flu shot, staying home when sick and closely monitoring any symptoms of COVID-19 or other illnesses.

  • We will have testing options and requirements and are building capacity for additional contact tracing for those who are infected.

  • Faculty and staff will be able to perform their own health screenings via a newly developed app that can be accessed through their phones. This new tool is in a testing phase and mirrors the screening being used currently by our researchers.

We are aware that many faculty, staff and students have concerns about returning to on-campus learning, teaching and work. We are continuing to develop processes around protecting vulnerable members of our community.  More details will be forthcoming about these plans in the next few days.

This is a complicated time filled with challenges, but I am confident that, together, we can continue to reach new heights in research and scholarship and that we will be able to offer a fall semester filled with many of the things that make Stony Brook such a special place. I am grateful for your patience and your thoughtful guidance as we navigate these challenging times and work together to plan a thoughtful, safe return to campus.

mcinnis signature

Maurie McInnis
President- Elect