President Enyedi Hosts Virtual Town Hall
President Enyedi met with the campus community via Zoom today in a Virtual Town Hall. His opening remarks are included here:
Good morning, and thank you for joining me today for this virtual town hall.
I felt it important to gather with you today, such as we can, to talk more directly than emails and other smaller conversations. As we have experienced the first set of positive COVID cases this semester, it is important to be open and transparent.
My goal today is to describe for you a clear summary of where we are, provide some further updates and turn to some of your questions. We'll wrap up at 11:45.
Earlier this morning, I met with leaders of the Plattsburgh Alumni Association for their fall meeting. Every other year, it is on campus because this is Homecoming Weekend. Held virtually this year, online programs connecting students, faculty and alumni have been taking place since Wednesday.
More than 300 alums are participating this year. Andrea and I welcomed many yesterday via Zoom. I have more visits at noon and later today.
I bring that up in part because many of you are making that happen. Thank-you.
And because it illustrates what unusual times we are in. Homecoming without going home. It is wonderful. It is also not the same.
That points to the stress and challenges each of us are facing. Simply talking about what we are largely gathered for here today is itself stressful and difficult.
So, before we go farther, it is important to pause for a couple reasons.
First, I am immensely grateful for our faculty, who are managing real and virtual classrooms with new challenges. Our staff -- from janitors and administrators to maintenance workers and counselors -- are making all of this semester happen. Our community living staff, on the very front lines, and each of our students, who are balancing work, studies and, yes, social lives in the midst of this pandemic.
You are each heroes.
I may have not expressed that enough or reached out to enough of you. So for those I haven't expressed this to personally, I appreciate you very much.
Next, more than words are the actions I take and we each take. One of them is self-care and managing our time.
It sounds paradoxical, perhaps because it is, that we must both be vigilant and active yet balance that with pausing and taking time. I have no simple answers other than we must each do both.
Reach out to colleagues, to your peers, to those who can listen and help you process. A willing ear and a friend to lean on is here. This is particularly important to be supportive of faculty, staff and students of color, who are bearing an extraordinary load.
We all need friends and we should all be one.
The New York State Employee Assistance Program is our worksite-based program designed to help employees, retirees, and their families deal with the everyday issues involved in balancing work and life, as well as more serious problems that may impact work performance. For assistance, you can call 518-564-3277 or 518-564-5187. More is on the college website.
For students, resources are in many places. The Student Health and Counseling Center is one. There are also many other faculty and staff who can assist and/or point you in the right direction.
At the end of the day, COVID or not, what we have as a college is a community. This community is each of us.
As a college community we made it seven weeks into the semester with a perfect score - no positive cases. And now comes the rough part of the semester.
But .... Where we are is not unexpected. We planned for positive cases. We knew they would come.
Although we've experienced some cases this week, we are working our restart plan and I remain optimistic about completing the final five weeks on campus.
This morning, here's where we are:
We have recorded 8 positive cases this week. 10 total since move-in week.
These students are in isolation.
We have four students in precautionary isolation on and off campus. Each has had a negative rapid test and is awaiting results of back-up PCR tests.
19 students are in on-campus quarantine as a precaution.
30 students are in off-campus quarantine as a precaution.
30 students are in off-campus quarantine as a precaution.
We thank the Clinton County Health Department with their contact tracing effort which is critical to the active case finding that is at the center of our plan, as well as our own staff assisting. The health department and their director, John Kanoza, are wonderful partners with the college.
As I shared yesterday, we have paused Cardinal Athletics from its first phase of activities and also one of the nursing cohorts. This was not directed by health orders but by a desire to be proactive and careful. There is no magic wand, only medical direction and common sense.
As I said, this is the first test for us. As we work through our isolation, quarantine and other processes, we will adapt the plan to make improvements as needed.
We are working to have a crisper and clearer notification process for faculty, for example, who are teaching classes where a student tests positive so they have all the information they need.
A few other points before I move to questions ....
There are still those among us not taking this virus seriously, ignoring rules and clear directions. This is not surprising. Flouting of masking and gathering limits are on full display on television and online from people who should know better.
Here's my direction, not as a scientist but as a leader of this campus: Follow the rules and take the Cardinal Pledge each day. Keep yourself safe and those you love. This is not the time to let up and become careless.
Others have questioned whether our testing is legitimate or pooled results are fixed. They are not fixed. We send them to SUNY Upstate Medical University each week and they test them just like they do tens of thousands of others. It is a real lab with real results.
It is also worth remembering this: Why we are here and doing all of this. It is for one reason: Our students.
We know being on campus provides the best support for our students, many of whom are first-generation. They are more likely to stay in college with our help and make a difference in the life they choose.
This is what we do and we will do our best for them every day. As I have walked campus and talked with students all semester, the constant theme is they are glad to be here and would not be the same if they were not. Let's give them the rest of the semester to gain from all of us.
With the time we have left, I want to turn to your questions. We will be able to address many of them during this time. I will read through them and aim to address a sort of topical range.
While I am the only face on the screen today, other college leaders and experts are listening in and will provide me direction on items I can fully address. We will do the best we can to cover some ground.
We will review all questions, regardless of whether they are addressed in the Town Hall. They will be used in future communications and to address any gaps.