How Hudson Valley Colleges Are Dealing With the COVID-19 Crisis


Plus, what their in-person and online reopening plans look like for students, employees, and the community during the fall 2020 semester.

What does school look like in an era of COVID-19?

Not just in the Hudson Valley, it’s the question of the day for administrators, government officials, and families across New York State. While the decision about public schools remains largely in the hands of the state government, local colleges must decide what the future looks like for their campuses and their students. Throughout the region, some colleges plan to keep courses exclusively online, while others will offer limited in-person classes and others will introduce a hybrid experience.

Here’s where colleges and universities from Albany on south stand with classes and the coronavirus. This information is subject to change as new state regulations are introduced.

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Bard College


Students: In partnership with Nuvance Health, Bard College plans to reopen for in-person classes during the fall semester. As detailed in its COVID-19 information portal, the college’s COVID-19 Response Team’s reopening plan includes staggered arrival dates with increased arrival documentation. The semester will formally end on December 21, although, depending on the state of the public health situation and students’ travel plans, classes may switch to an online format after Thanksgiving.

In regard to classroom operations, face masks will be required in classrooms and public spaces, including residence halls, where social distancing cannot be observed. Face coverings and disinfectants will be provided to students and employees as needed. In the dining areas, staggered dining, takeaway, and decentralized dining in two additional locations will be available.

To further address the pandemic on campus, Bard debuts a number of new courses for the 2020/2021 semester, including Epidemics, Society, and Culture, which dives into epidemics across history and society, and Alternate Worlds, which focuses on J.R.R. Tolkien and the relationship between fantasy, escapism, and reality.

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Employees: For professors, non-essential travel is prohibited, and in-person meetings should be limited or adapted to a remote format. All employees must conduct a daily health screening prior to arriving on campus and wear a face mask when onsite.

Community: To ensure the safety of Bard’s immediate community, Bard’s classrooms, residence halls, labs, dining areas, and sporting facilities will be closed to unauthorized and non-essential visitors.

Bard has installed over 100 new sanitizing stations, with additional cleanings scheduled across campus.

The College of Saint Rose


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Students: Within its comprehensive restart plan, Saint Rose announces its implementation of staggered move-ins throughout August. Classes will be a mix of in-person, remote, and hybrid setups to allow all students the chance for in-person learning. All in-person instruction will conclude at Thanksgiving break, with courses during the remainder of the semester operating remotely. Notably, Saint Rose will not charge students room and board if they do not return to their residence halls following this break.

In class, students must wear masks and maintain six feet of distance. Study abroad programs have been suspended for the academic year. In-person dining will be available, along with the option for takeout. Reusable cups and to-go containers will not be permitted for the time being.

Although students are not prohibited from traveling, they are not allowed to have guests in the residence halls.

Employees: Prior to arriving on campus, employees must complete an online health questionnaire. Mask are required inside college buildings, and the college will provide face coverings for any individuals who need them. Plexiglass barriers will be installed in public areas.

Community: The campus is limited to visitors, and employees who plan to bring a visitor must register that person in advance. The college has more than 400 hand sanitizer stations and will be increasing this number prior to the start of the semester. Classrooms will be sanitized twice a day.

The Culinary Institute of America

Hyde Park

Students: As detailed in its reopening plan, the Hudson Valley’s premier culinary institution will welcome students to campus for in-person and online classes beginning in early September and continuing through December 18. The CIA recommends against traveling over Thanksgiving break. Prior to arriving on campus, all students must complete a pre-screening questionnaire and sign the college’s CIA SAFE Pledge.

In the classroom, students must wear face masks and undergo daily temperature checks. Teaching kitchens and bake shops will be marked to ensure everyone maintains six feet of distance.

Employees: Onsite staffing will be reduced, and all employees must wear masks and participate in daily temperature checks.

Community: Guests will not be allowed on campus, including to the CIA’s restaurants, until September at the earliest. The number of hand sanitizing stations will increase. The eighth annual Menus of Change Leadership Summit will occur as a six-week, virtual series beginning July 22.

Marist College


Students: To aid students in need of financial support, Marist College offers COVID-19 Emergency Relief Grants as outlined in the Title IV Higher Education Act. It also chose not to raise tuition for the 2020/2021 academic year. Courses will begin in-person on August 24, which is one week earlier than originally planned. After November 24 and Thanksgiving break, the semester will continue online only and end on December 11.

Employees: Many staff members are working from home. Marist operates in accordance with CDC guidelines and requires the use of face masks and social distancing on campus.

Community: Social gatherings are currently prohibited, with more information to come as the semester progresses. All facilities have hand sanitizer stations in their lobbies, with Sani-Hands wipes available in offices across campus.

Mount Saint Mary College


Students: Mount Saint Mary College invites students back to campus beginning at the end of August. Classes will take place in-person and online as part of the college’s Mount Hy-Flex approach. After November 24 and Thanksgiving break, classes will move to an online format until winter break.

Employees: Dates are still being finalized for a phased return for staff to campus.

Community: Mount Saint Mary requires the use of face masks and has enhanced its daily cleaning routines as well.

Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute


Students: On its COVID-19 portal, RPI outlines its Return to Campus-Based Operations Plan to reactivate university operations. For the fall semester, only freshmen, seniors, and graduate students will be allowed on campus. Juniors will return to campus for in-person instruction during the fall semester before moving to an Arch away semester in spring, while sophomores will do the reverse. Courses will be held both in-person and online so as to minimize class sizes and interactions.

Residential density will decrease by 55 percent, and the Greek Life Commons will remain closed. In the dining halls, tables will be spaced to six feet apart, with an online reservation and ordering system available to avoid lines and promote hygiene.

RPI’s Testing, Tracing, Tracking, Surveillance, and Quarantine/Isolation (T3SQsm) policy requires that students, faculty, and employees be tested upon return and on a recurring two-week period to monitor COVID-19 on campus.

RPI teams will not participate in NCAA intercollegiate athletics during the fall season.

Employees: The number of faculty and staff on campus will be reduced. For those required to be on campus, PPE will be required, with social distancing in full effect.

Community: The Rensselaer community must observe New York State health and safety protocol by wearing a face mask and maintain six feet of distance.

Rockland Community College


Students: After submitting its fall 2020 Restart Plan to the state for approval, SUNY Rockland has the OK to open for classes on September 1. To do so, it will continue to prioritize its remote courses, with in-person instruction available for labs, clinical experiences, and select courses. In total, no more than 30 percent of the campus population, including faculty and staff, will be allowed back on campus.

All classrooms will have social distancing layouts in place. Students on campus will be provided with two reusable face coverings. The cafeteria remains closed, but the Hawk’s Nest on the first floor of the Student Union will be open on a limited basis. Pre-ordering will be available.

Employees: Many employees will continue to telecommute in order to reduce density on campus. Any employees working onsite will be provided with two reusable face coverings. Employees must self-monitor health prior to arriving on campus.

Community: SUNY Rockland installed plexiglass screens in areas where interaction between students and staff is high. The bus line has been rerouted to a location across the street from the main campus, and visitors are not allowed on campus without permission. For those driving to campus, the college requests abiding by a one-person-per-vehicle policy as often as possible.

SUNY New Paltz

New Paltz

Students: SUNY New Paltz looks forward to its fall semester at the end of August. As with other Hudson Valley colleges, it offers a medley of in-person and online classes on campus until Thanksgiving break, when it shifts to an online-only format for exams. Residence hall capacity and class sizes will be reduced, and students must quarantine for a period before the start of in-person courses.

All students must complete a daily health screening for two weeks prior to arrival and each day they are on campus. Events and gatherings will occur on a very limited basis, and the dining spaces will operate as grab-and-go to start, with plans for socially distant dining in the future.

Employees: All employees must take a daily health screening. Office hours and advising will move online, with phone, video conference, or email meetings replacing in-person ones.

Community: Visitors can visit the Dorsky Museum of Art and have limited access to the Speech-Language and Hearing Center for audiology services. The outdoor walkways and grounds are open to the public as well.

University at Albany, SUNY


Students: As per UAlbany Forward Together Task Force policy, courses will resume on August 24 and be held on Labor Day to eliminate fall break and progress straight through to Thanksgiving. After the break period, all final exams will be held remotely. Courses will occur as a mix of in-person, hybrid, and fully online sessions.

On-campus housing will be available only as single and double rooms, and no more than two guests will be allowed in a room at a time. Overnight guests are prohibited. In terms of on-campus dining, mobile ordering and quick pickup will be available, with limited seating in dining halls. Limited gatherings will take place in-person and online.

Employees: Employees who cannot perform all or parts of their job must return to campus beginning June 15. For all others, telecommuting is available. Occupancy inside office spaces is limited to 50-percent capacity. Any employees on campus must complete a health assessment daily before or within one hour of reporting to work. Read up on Albany’s returning to work policies here.

Community: Everyone must wear face masks in buildings and when six feet of social distance cannot be maintained.

United States Military Academy

West Point 

Students: R-Day (Reception Day) staggers across July 12-14, and cadets will be tested for COVID-19 upon arrival. All incoming cadet candidates will receive face coverings, gloves, and individual hand sanitizers.

Employees: Faculty and staff must operate in accordance with West Point’s policies and procedures for cadets, staff, faculty, and families who live and/or work on campus.

Community: The West Point Visitors Center, Museum, Auto Skills Center, and Tronsrue Marksmanship Center are closed to the public until further notice. The golf course is open with takeout food and beverages available.

Vassar College


Students: Vassar College does plan to invite students back to campus this fall, although it will be a little different than past semesters. To start, the phased return to campus begins August 15, with courses beginning on August 31 and proceeding through November 20. There will be a one-week break for Thanksgiving, but students must remain on campus for the entire first part of the semester prior to that. Once the break arrives, students must return home to complete their last week and a half of courses, the study period, and final exams online unless circumstances prevent them from doing so.

Face masks and social distancing are required within the classroom and in communal areas. Students must complete a COVID-19 test three to five days prior to arrival. As for dining, grab-and-go meals will be available for the first part of semester, with the potential for expanded offerings as the weeks progress.

Employees: Faculty will teach at least some of their classes in person, although they may teach remotely if preferred. Some administrators and staff will continue to work remotely in order to reduce overall density.

Community: Arlington-area businesses and vendor will be supported with on-campus services.

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