St. Lawrence County college presidents, county officials issue statement about returning students
Thursday, March 26, 2020 - 5:35 pm

The presidents of the four local colleges, Clarkson University, St. Lawrence University, SUNY Potsdam and SUNY Canton, have released a statement saying that any students allowed back on local campuses are being fully vetted and subject to self-isolation measures in light of the pandemic.

The statement follows a report that a St. Lawrence University employee has tested positive for COVID-19, the respiratory illness caused by novel coronavirus.

The four presidents — Anthony G. Collins, Clarkson University; Kristin G. Esterberg, SUNY Potsdam; William L. Fox, St. Lawrence University; and Zvi Szafran, SUNY Canton — have issued a joint statement addressing some concerns about students returning to the region.

Also signing the statement were St. Lawrence County Administrator Ruth Doyle, County Public Health Director Dana McGuire, PhD, and Dr. Andrew Williams, MD, FACP, president of the St. Lawrence County Board of Health

“The Associated Colleges of the St. Lawrence Valley, the St. Lawrence County Public Health Department and the St. Lawrence County Board of Health are committed to protecting the health and safety of our students, our employees, and the county’s residents during the coronavirus/COVID-19 pandemic,” the statement said. “We value the inclusion of everyone who makes the North Country such a special place to live, learn and work. Together, we are implementing the ‘New York State on PAUSE’ Executive Order, taking strong action to contain the growing spread of COVID-19.”

The statement goes on to say:

“We recognize some community concerns that students on our campuses, especially those who may have returned from beyond St. Lawrence County, could introduce and spread the virus. Using the guidance of New York State, as well as federal and international experts, the universities and the County are closely coordinating efforts to protect everyone’s health and safety. Like anyone who has been in areas impacted by the virus, students are not being allowed back onto the college campuses without fully vetted approvals and are subject to self-isolation measures. Many never left for Spring Break and have remained in St. Lawrence County since January. Those returning from areas where the virus is more prevalent have undertaken self-isolation measures, as recommended by the Public Health Department and federal guidance.”

The students living on the four campuses are here because they are international students and cannot travel to their home countries; or they do not have a safe or secure place to live away from campus, the statement said. “St. Lawrence County is their home and the only safe place for them,” the presidents and county officials said.

The colleges and county officials will continue to coordinate monitoring, screening, and best practices for isolation to limit the spread of COVID-19, the statement said.