Eighteen SUNY students returning from study abroad in Italy will call the College at Brockport home for the next two weeks. SUNY officials took immediate measures to return the students to New York, whose programs were in countries at the center of the novel coronavirus pandemic.
The students from various campuses across the state have agreed to undergo a 14-day precautionary quarantine period in Gordon Hall, a previously vacant dormitory. SUNY chose Brockport after considering Buffalo State College and Stony Brook University, as well.
Brockport student Deane Forester says she feels uneasy over the decision to host students on campus who could potentially have the coronavirus.
“We’re kind of accusing people of having it when they might now have it. So that’s wrong of us... it’s just scary to hear they might (have it) and there’s a chance," says Forester.
Brockport student, Taylor Hatchett says she feels that the decision to place the students at Gordon Hall puts students who are living in the adjacent dorms at risk.
“I just feel like it’s unfair, especially since we pay to come to a school. We shouldn’t be worried about getting a virus from our own school," says Hatchett.
The College at Brockport issued a statement about why the campus was chosen to host the quarantined students in an email sent to the campus community Sunday. The statement says that Gordon Hall is one of the few vacant dormitories across SUNY that can comfortably accommodate students.
The College at Brockport statement also said:
“The students in Gordon Hall have repeatedly shown no symptoms of the Novel Coronavirus and are undergoing this precautionary quarantine as a preventive measure because they traveled from an impacted country where the coronavirus is prevalent.”
There were reports over the weekend of people in the Brockport community rallying to help the students who were quarantined on the campus, doing things like sending them care packages of snacks and other items.
Kevin Johnson, the Town of Sweden Supervisor who initially had been critical of the way information had been released about SUNY students from abroad coming to Brockport, had an update on his Facebook page on Sunday
Johnson says that during a conference call, state officials confirmed that there are more SUNY study-abroad students arriving in New York state Monday from South Korea and Japan. He says that depending on the number of students who chose to spend their quarantine time in an institutional setting, some of them may be coming to the College at Brockport, joining those who already have been placed there.
Johnson says that state officials describe this as a voluntary quarantine, and if a student wants to leave, they will be allowed to do so, but appropriate notifications will be made to local officials. He also says that there are many other students returning from the study-abroad programs who have chosen to voluntarily quarantine at home.