SUNY Potsdam welcomes chancellor, returning students

WWNY SUNY Potsdam welcomes chancellor, returning students

POTSDAM, N.Y. (WWNY) - The head of the SUNY school system took a tour of the north country Thursday.

SUNY Chancellor Jim Malatras’ first stop was SUNY Potsdam. But, it’s not his first time stepping foot on campus.

Malatras says he was a student at the school in 1996.

More than two decades later, he’s back to talk with school officials and tour SUNY Potsdam’s COVID-19 testing site.

Malatras says from the schools he’s visited so far, he has seen people willing to follow health and safety rules.

“I think what you’re seeing here is an enthusiastic student body. Ultimately, you can put all the rules into place. But, if the students and faculty and staff aren’t complying with those rules, it doesn’t really matter,” he said.

While SUNY Potsdam welcomed the chancellor, it also welcomed back the first round of students moving in for spring semester.

Their first stop: a COVID-19 test.

While it’s different from years past, students say the school made the process fast.

“This was pretty quick. Just walk right through,” said Skyler Tessier, SUNY Potsdam senior.

“Yeah, you just walk in and you walk out,” said Jeimi Toribio, SUNY Potsdam sophomore.

SUNY Potsdam President Dr. Kristin Esterberg says there will be tests every Monday for students and staff.

“We’ll start early in the morning and then we’ll go to 5 o’clock and we believe we should be able to get every student tested,” she said.

Dr. Esterberg says, even with health and safety measures in place, SUNY Potsdam does have a backup plan in case the campus sees a spike.

“If the positivity rate goes up too high or we get too many students who are positive, then we will revert back to online learning,” she said.

Malatras applauds the work SUNY Potsdam has done in keeping positive cases down.

“Since September, they’ve done just about 18,000 tests and their positivity rate has been .13 percent. That’s really great work,” he said.

Potsdam was just one stop on Malatras’ north country tour. He was scheduled to visit SUNY Canton right after.

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