SUNY New Paltz has seen unprecedented times in the midst of the COVID-19 outbreak across the country. In New York alone, the Governor has taken significant steps to respond to the virus, which has dramatically impacted the current landscape of campus life. Classes have moved to remote instruction only, employee density on campus has been considerably reduced and 2020 Commencement has been postponed.
“We recognize how stressful and even sad this time is for our campus community because the semester looks so different than expected,” said President Donald. P. Christian. “But our job is to continue to keep our community safe and healthy and to provide assurances and clear direction as this global situation evolves.”
On March 11, Governor Cuomo announced that all SUNY and CUNY campuses would implement plans to maximize distance learning and reduce in-person classes for the remainder of the spring semester.
As a result, SUNY New Paltz extended its spring break by one week and developed plans to support remote learning on campus. Faculty moved instruction for all courses, including labs and studios, online and participated in campus-led trainings and peer-to-peer mentorship opportunities. Despite these significant transitions, the College still plans to complete the semester on its original schedule.
“Our faculty are making extraordinary efforts to provide all students with excellent remote learning experiences,” said Assistant Vice President for Graduate and Extended Learning Shala Mills. “Seeing the generous exchange of information and resources among faculty as we moved courses to the online format makes me so proud to work with such terrific people.”
For graduating seniors, this time has been particularly stressful and there is great sadness among students as they consider the missed opportunities to celebrate their academic achievements.
The decision to postpone — not cancel— Commencement 2020 was recognized by President Christian as “one of the most painful decisions” of his career. However, the College is committed to ensuring seniors have the opportunity to complete degree requirements and is actively working on ways to keep all students connected in order to preserve the sense of community and engagement that defines New Paltz and find alternate ways to celebrate graduating seniors and graduate students’ achievements.
As the College continues to respond to COVID-19, a sense of grief contrasts with the prevailing hope and commitment of the greater SUNY New Paltz community, from students and faculty to essential employees, friends of the College and alumni.
“I must say once again how grateful I am to all students, faculty and staff for their resiliency and creativity in meeting this unprecedented challenge,” said Christian. “Our collective response to the coronavirus has already helped to slow its spread, and the sacrifices we have made and continue to make are saving lives.”