Message from the President / Health and Safety Updates

To: Paul Smith’s College students, faculty, and staff

Delivered: August 28, 2020

Dear students, faculty, and staff, 

Thanks to Shannon Oborne for compiling these important updates.

I hope everyone is enjoying this spectacular weather. Next week we’ll resume monthly Day 1 reports to share news and information. Meanwhile, it is important to send this separate message focusing on our efforts to protect health and safety. Recently there have been questions, concerns, and even some confusion (imagine that!). Here are key updates and clarifications:


98% of employees and 97% of students have completed COVID-19 testing and the rest will be tested next week. This tremendous response demonstrates how committed we are to upholding the values of the Smitty Safety & Civility Pledge. Thank you very much to all participants. The fastest way to obtain your results is by registering at Random testing will begin next week. 

As of this writing, we have zero positive cases of coronavirus reported in our community. One student is in travel-related quarantine on campus. 

Social Gatherings 

There have been reports of small social gatherings both on and off campus. In the future, we hope to enjoy a thriving in-person social scene. For now, however, party like it’s 2020! Masks and distancing are the new norm. You’ve probably noticed in the media that most colleges and universities that are moving back to online instruction after reopening with face-to-face report that it was social gatherings that forced the move. Our community is too important to lose because a few individuals didn’t respect the safety of their fellow Smitties. 

Students who flagrantly violate our health and safety protocols will be directed to leave campus and complete the semester via remote learning. Students who host or attend large parties of 50 people or more will be subject to disciplinary action, up to and including suspension. 

Campus Visitors 

Our Management Plan prohibits outside guests in the residence halls and at campus events. It did not, however, contain a broader policy on campus visitation. As a result, people are confused. The following guidance has been added to the Management Plan: 

Families, friends, and other casual visitors are not permitted on campus. The following types of guests will be permitted provided they complete our health screening questionnaire, follow our health and safety protocols, and are sponsored by a PSC employee who will be responsible for compliance: 

  • Prospective students with up to two family members 
  • Prospective donors 
  • Guest lecturers and academic presenters
  • Business-critical vendors and partners 
  • Ganzi guests with prior reservations

Personal travel 

Students and employees are strongly encouraged to eliminate or minimize personal travel out of the NY-designated North Country region. I recognize that this can be a hardship as people have jobs and family responsibilities. However, I also stress that anyone who arrives on campus after traveling outside the region is putting our community at risk. Please use common sense and avoid nonessential travel. 

Acceptable Face Coverings 

We are following guidance from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) regarding which types of face coverings are effective. All face coverings, whether disposable or reusable, must:

  • be made with at least two layers of breathable material; 
  • fully cover the nose and mouth; 
  • fit snugly but comfortably against the side of the face; and 
  • be secured with ties or ear loops, allowing one to remain hands-free. 

Recent studies regarding neck gaiters/buffs are inconclusive. Therefore, neck gaiters/buffs are an acceptable face covering.

Face coverings containing valves, mesh material or holes of any kind are not acceptable. 

In some circumstances, such as working in a kitchen or doing food service, a face shield may be a practical substitute for a cloth mask. All use of face shields must be approved by the supervising Vice President. Shields should wrap around the sides of the wearer’s face and extend to below the chin. Disposable face shields should only be worn for a single use. Reusable face shields should be cleaned and disinfected after each use.

NY State Guidance

Yesterday, Governor Andrew Cuomo specified a trigger threshold that, if met, will require a shift to remote learning. This impacts colleges that report the lower of 100 or 5 percent of the campus population COVID-19  cases within a span of two weeks. The natural question, of course, is what about faculty and staff cases? And the simple answer for now is that the Governor didn’t say.  When and if we hear more we will inform you.

With our student population of approximately 650 students, our threshold is approximately 32 positive student cases. These numbers will be finalized next week when our Fall 2020 census is complete. If this threshold is reached, the following State required restrictions will apply for a two-week period:

  • All courses will shift to remote learning 
  • Students may continue to stay in residence halls 
  • No extracurricular or athletic activities can take place 
  • Dining service will be restricted to take-out only

Should we find ourselves in this situation, we will evaluate after the two-week period and hope to see sufficient reduction in cases so that we can resume in-person classes. This will only be possible if we continue to pull together. The spirit of community at PSC is so strong – I’m confident we have the capacity to emerge from this semester as the campus that “got it right”.  



Key Contacts

Campus Safety
Holly Parker, Director
(518) 327-6300

COVID Coordinator
Teresa Grosskopf
(518) 327-6451