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SUNY to use distance learning for rest of spring semester due to COVID-19

Updated: Mar. 11, 2020 at 5:28 PM EDT
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ALBANY, N.Y. (WWNY) - Governor Andrew Cuomo announced Wednesday that all SUNY (State University of New York) and CUNY (City University of New York) campuses will move to distance learning for the remainder of the spring semester.

He said the change will go into effect on March 19.

It’s all because of concerns over the new coronavirus, also known as COVID-19.

Officials said the campuses are not closing, but the plan is to reduce the density of students.

The governor said students will be released from campus, but those who have no place to go may make arrangements to stay in dormitories. He also said some classes, such as labs, will continue with smaller numbers of students.

7 News visited the campus of Jefferson Community College, which is part of the SUNY system, to get reaction to what the governor has ordered. We found some students with a lot of questions and concerns.

“I’ve been hearing about it on campus. I didn’t know that that was a legitimate thing. I personally don’t like online classes, but I’d rather be safe, a lot of people in my life - the coronavirus would affect them really badly, so it’s better to be safe,” said Heather Gage, a zoo technology student. “I think a lot of people are going to be upset. I know, me personally, this is my last semester so if I’m not able to finish, I’d be really not happy about that."

“I think online learning will be fine, but I’d kinda rather stay on campus if I have the choice because I don’t want to sit home, I’d rather be on campus,” said Angela, an accounting student who wished to withhold her last name.

The governor reiterated move is a precaution and people need to keep this in perspective. He pointed out the flu has killed more people this season than COVID-19.

SUNY and CUNY are joining a growing list of colleges and universities in New York -- including St. Lawrence University and Syracuse University -- that are suspending classes due to concerns about the coronavirus.

Cuomo also announced that 212 people in New York now have COVID-19. He said 32 are hospitalized.

The governor said the state has performed 5,000 coronavirus tests to date and that New York has decided to contract with private labs to increase testing capacity.

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