Binghamton University shares how they will safely bring back students

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BINGHAMTON, NY – Binghamton University is seeking to allay some concerns in the community over the return of thousands of students to campus in the coming weeks.

The university held a news conference with local elected leaders to outline the steps its taking to keep students, faculty, staff and the broader community safe.

All 7,000 students living on campus will be subjected to mandatory testing inside the Events Center upon their return.

Those who test positive will be isolated for 14 days in a dorm set aside for quarantine.

287 students have been identified as coming from designated hotspot states and will be provided rooms in a local hotel to quarantine if necessary.

And there will be an additional 8 thousand tests used for random surveillance testing throughout the semester.

B-U President Harvey Stenger defended the decision not to require testing of off-campus students.

“This decision is because of the nature of dormitory living, which has a high risk of community spread. Much greater than living in an apartment or house. Asking all off-campus students to be tested would be no more logical than asking all Broome County citizens to be tested, particularly since the downstate infection rates are at or below our county’s low rate,” says Stenger.

Binghamton Mayor Rich David, Broome County Executive Jason Garnar and Vestal Supervisor John Schaffer also spoke about working with B-U on its plans and how important the university is to the local economy.

Mayor David says University Police are going to start responding along with Binghamton Police to large gathering disturbance calls involving students that take place in the city.

“Right or wrong, students are a little more afraid of the university police than they are of the Binghamton police. You can expect to see those vehicles and those officers when you’re not abiding by the rules.”

According to the university’s code of conduct, students can face discipline for infractions that occur while they are off campus.

BU dorm residents will begin returning next Wednesday with 800 to 900 students arriving each day spread over almost a week.

You can read a full release on the Restarting Binghamton plan at below:

NEWS RELEASE: Aug. 12, 2020   Binghamton University announces Restarting Binghamton plan     
BINGHAMTON, NY – Today Binghamton University President Harvey Stenger was joined by local elected officials, along with various campus and community representatives, to announce plans for restarting Binghamton University.
 
University officials have been working diligently with public health experts as well as University professionals to determine the safest way to welcome students, faculty and staff back to campus.

The University’s decision to resume on-campus learning and research activities marks the beginning of a new era of academic life.

As the University reopens, all actions will be guided by public health considerations and best practices around the coronavirus pandemic.
 
“We’ve done our best to prepare for everything that needs to be addressed to keep our students and all members of our campus and community safe from the virus,” said Stenger. “The best way for the semester to be successful is for the entire campus and community to pull together.”
 
Though classes begin Wednesday, Aug. 26, the semester gets underway when approximately 6,800 students move onto campus over seven days, beginning Wednesday, Aug. 19, rather than over two days as in past years. This will keep density down each day and allow the campus to test students for COVID-19 before they enter the residence halls. 
 
Students will be tested using a nasal swab rapid test, with results in about 30 minutes. Those who test positive will be expected to return home until they are medically cleared. If that is not possible, they will be isolated in a dedicated residence hall on campus.

“Even New York City and Long Island, where most of our students come from, are experiencing rates of around 1%,” said Stenger. “And an analysis by the public health department of Upstate Medical University of the risk presented by students returning to SUNY campuses shows that Binghamton University presents a risk level of “very low to low” which isn’t zero, but is the lowest rating achievable in their analysis.”
 
Because the risk is not zero, other ways the campus has adapted in preparation for the fall semester include: Requiring all people on campus to wear face masks at all times in buildings and shared spaces (including classrooms), except when alone in a private room, private office, private vehicle, cubicle space when appropriate social distancing can be maintained or more isolated areas when social distancing can be maintained.

Offering classes in a number of in-person, online and hybrid formats and reducing density in all classrooms to maintain social distancing.

Posting face mask, social distancing, one-way entry/exit reminders and other signage throughout campus.

Modifying ventilation systems to run air systems for longer durations, increasing outdoor air ventilation and upgrading filtration to, typically, MERV 14 and MERV 13 (minimum efficiency reporting value), which are commonly used in hospital inpatient and general surgery applications.

Removing furniture from spaces across campus to assist with lowering density in common areas.

Establishing study and eating areas on campus for both resident and commuter students. Limiting menus and using only carry-out containers for all meals in all dining facilities to speed service and keep density down.

Requiring all students, both on and off campus, to agree to a Statement of Rights and Responsibilities including adhering to all social distancing and other guidelines as a condition of continuing enrollment.

Communicating with off-campus students about locations and eligibility for COVID-19 testing sites.

Learn more about the Restarting Binghamton plan at  https://www.binghamton.edu/restarting-binghamton/?ref=homepage.

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