WATERTOWN, N.Y. (WWNY) - North country colleges are starting to brainstorm what the fall semester may look like. Officials shared their concerns and plans with Congresswoman Elise Stefanik on a conference call Wednesday.
Clarkson University President Dr. Tony Collins says the school is planning for hybrid courses, both in person and online, but predominately in person if possible.
He says it's expected the university will do a phased return of students starting in mid-August. He also says the college would send students home at Thanksgiving.
"Hopefully we would decouple a second round of COVID-19 and the flu season by ending the semester at Thanksgiving. We actually have plans to continue their education between Thanksgiving and Christmas and then return to normal in spring. All of that, of course, dependent on what happens," said Dr. Collins.
SUNY Potsdam's plan is similar to Clarkson's, with a mix of online and face-to-face courses, perhaps bringing students to campus on a staggered basis and sending them home at Thanksgiving to finish the semester online.
SUNY Canton is also planning for a hybrid opening.
"We're looking at various models, we're looking at an online first model, phasing in face to face classes over time allowing students from various areas of the state and beyond to come back at different times and be able to quarantine and make sure we don't spread the infection," said Lenore VanderZee, executive director for university relations, SUNY Canton.
St. Lawrence University is trying to plan for multiple scenarios, like compressed calendars, remote learning and phased returns to allow for flexibility.
As for Jefferson Community College, President Dr. Ty Stone says she's put together a team on campus to work through a reopening plan and, like other colleges, is waiting guidance from the state. Stone says at this time, the college doesn't believe it will have the capacity to do all of its classes face to face.
She also says the college is evaluating its residence hall.
"We are also exploring whether it makes sense to bring that up to speed halfway or even some instance where we may not do it all, we may not reopen at all. So all of our plans at this point are pretty tentative," said Dr. Stone.
Officials also say COVID-19 testing availability will be critical as faculty, students and staff come back to campus.