At the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, SUNY Empire State College quickly transitioned to 100 percent online and distance learning and instituted a series of support initiatives to keep our students on track despite new disruptions to daily life. The SUNY Empire State College has released its plan for instruction and services for the spring semester. The plan has been approved by the State University of New York. 

Campus Demographics

At SUNY Empire, we use a collegewide approach for symptom monitoring, health-screening assessment, and COVID-19 testing. Our students, faculty, and staff will have a limited presence at our campus locations through the winter and spring terms. We are offering all courses to our students through distance learning and virtual platforms. We do not have residential students at any of our locations.  

In tallying the maximum number of SUNY Empire students who will be present on campus this semester, we do not anticipate having more than handful of students who will request individual study sessions. Additionally, the maximum number of employees involved in essential and mission-critical services is 50 and spread out across our three (3) main campus locations in Saratoga, Rochester, and Selden.  

Testing Types and Frequency

Symptom Monitoring Begins at Home 

SUNY Empire requires all employees and students who are working or visiting a campus location to complete a daily health assessment questionnaire one hour prior to arriving on campus. This questionnaire asks employees and students if they are experiencing any COVID-19-related symptoms; have traveled in a restricted country or state; have been exposed to another individual who tested positive for COVID-19 and/or have a temperature greater than 100.4. If the answer to any of these questions is yes, they are required to stay home and contact their mentor, supervisor, or human resources for further direction. Detecting these symptoms or potential exposures early, before the employee/student even arrives onsite, will help reduce potential exposure to and spread of the virus. 

two screenshots from COVID tracking app

Pooled Testing 

SUNY Empire conducts weekly COVID-19 pool testing during the spring semester in conjunction with SUNY Upstate Medical University.  A group of four employees have been trained to administer and coordinate the onsite testing. Once the pooled samples have been collected, they are shipped overnight to Upstate Medical’s laboratory for processing. 

A maximum of 50 employees are consistently on campus throughout the work week, which is approximately 5% of our regular employee population. This population will be tested once per week and the day will vary each week to ensure we capture those employees that do not work five days a week. A question and answer document has been prepared to provide details and help answer questions employees may have about the testing process. 

Individual Testing 

SUNY Empire will also provide individual test kits to students and employees that are not located at the Saratoga Springs campus. SUNY Empire has three campus locations that are currently operating at a reduced capacity for in-person services. The employees working at our Rochester and Selden locations will also participate in weekly testing using a kit provided by the Everlywell Corporation. Everylwell will also conduct lab analysis on the samples. This service helps ensure the safety and health of the small staff we have working at these locations. 


We are predominantly a distance-learning institution, continuing to offer classes remotely, so weekly testing will have minimal impact on our students. We do not have any on-campus residences or courses scheduled for the spring term. In the event we begin to offer tutoring sessions or computer labs, those students will be required to participate in pooled testing along with employees and faculty. 

Testing Employees and Students with Signs or Symptoms of COVID-19 

In the event SUNY Empire students or employees experience or display any signs or symptoms of COVID-19, we will direct them to their healthcare provider for further evaluation. If they do not have a primary care provider, their local health department or urgent care center can evaluate and provide further directions for testing. In the event there is a positive test result, employees are required to report their results to our Office of Human Resources. The result will then be entered in the SUNY portal. We also request all students to report if they have a positive test result. This will assist us in providing proper support to our students, as well as undertake necessary contract tracing in concert with local health departments. 

Plan Logistics  

SUNY Empire’s testing plan will be administered by Lindsay Holcomb, interim director of human resources; Joshua Fleming, director of facilities; and Tai Arnold, vice provost for student affairs. Each of these individuals has a leadership role over the three main areas of testing: employees, students, and facilities.  

SUNY Empire is adequately equipped with personal protective equipment, including an abundance of masks, gloves, face shields, sanitizing wipes, sanitizing spray, hand sanitizer, and cleaning solution. PPE has been distributed to all of our open locations and has been set up for any SUNY Empire State College employee to use. Masks, gloves, and hand sanitizers are situated at each entrance to all open buildings. Cleaning stations – including sanitizing wipes and spray – have been set up in all open buildings for employees and students to use in cleaning their areas. 

Isolation and Quarantine Protocol 

We do not have a campus location that provides residential housing for our students. In the event a student tests positive for COVID-19, they would be required to isolate and quarantine at home per CDC and New York State Department of Health (DOH) guidelines. If a student has come in contact with an individual that presents with symptoms (test status not confirmed) or tests positive, we would ask them to isolate and quarantine based on DOH guidelines. Our student services staff is available to walk through their individual scenarios to determine when they could safely return to campus if direct faculty interaction is required. 

Employees at SUNY Empire follow the guidelines set forth by the Governor’s Office of Employee Relations and SUNY System Administration. If an employee tests positive for COVID-19, the data will be entered into the portal, and the employee will work remotely and/or take a medical leave, as applicable. 

Data Management 

Regarding data management and campus safety, the points of contact for SUNY Empire are Lindsay Holcomb, interim director of human resources and Joe Centanni, director of safety and security. Lindsay Holcomb will enter the testing data on a daily basis. The Office of Human Resources will triage all incoming questions and forward them to student services and facilities.  



Effective April 6, 2021, all New York State residents 16 and older will be eligible to receive a COVID-19 vaccination. Since it is following a distance-learning model, at this time SUNY Empire will not be conducting on-campus vaccinations.  As such, students, faculty, and staff must schedule their own vaccine appointments.

If you are a New York State resident, visit the state's COVID-19 eligibility portal to schedule your single or two-dose vaccination. Many private hospitals and pharmacies are also providing appointments. Contact your health insurance provider for additional details.

For faculty and staff, state law permits up to four hours of excused leave for each administration of either a single-dose or two-dose vaccine. For students who have questions about scheduling around coursework, please reach out to your mentor and/or professor.


Spring 2021 Term Action Plan at a Glance

Approx. 5% of our regular workforce works onsite at one of our locations

Academic instruction offered online and distance learning

Downstate faculty continue to provide virtual support for students in their independent studies

Limited operations at our Saratoga administraive locations, along with weekly pool testing

SUNY Empire’s Spring 2021 Term Action Plan

SUNY Empire has more than two dozen locations and learning hubs spanning every region of New York state. At the present time, most of our locations will operate under a distance learning model through the spring term. This map helps you find your SUNY Empire location and determine if it is open by appointment only or following a distance learning model:

Locations that will be open to students by appointment only:

  • Capital Region Campus at 111 West Ave in Saratoga Springs

Locations that will be fully distance learning:

  • Albany
  • Auburn
  • Binghamton
  • Brooklyn
  • Buffalo
  • Corning
  • Fort Drum
  • Harlem
  • Harry Van Arsdale Jr. School of Labor Studies
  • Hartsdale
  • Hauppauge
  • Lakewood
  • Latham
  • Manhattan
  • Olean
  • Queensbury
  • Rochester
  • Rockefeller Institute of Government (Albany)
  • Saratoga
    • 2 Union Ave Administrative Offices
    • 111 West Ave
  • Schenectady
  • Selden
  • Staten Island
  • Syracuse

Note: Our Rochester, Saratoga (2 Union Ave; 111 West Ave, 113 West Ave), and Selden locations are equipped with eduroam, a higher education roaming WiFi service that provides internet access to students using their same SUNY Empire network credentials even from the building's exterior.

As vaccine distribution advances, SUNY Empire is continually evaluating all contingencies related to student, faculty, and staff safety. Any re-opening plan will be done so in consultation with SUNY administrators, as well as federal, state, and local authorities.

Academic Support Services

Educational and Emerging Technologies offers faculty the ability to book one-on-one support at a distance with an Educational Technologies or other campus expert to for support on topics such as course design, LMS/Moodle training, accessibility review, or training on SUNY Empire supported communications platforms. In addition, we have increased the number of synchronous technology training and professional development opportunities for both faculty and students to better facilitate the transition to incorporating remote pedagogies in their teaching and learning. The college service desk offers flexible hours for faculty and students to receive technical support through the use of the newly enhanced online portal. 

International Student Services

Beginning in April 2019 and continuing in the Fall 2020-21 and Spring 2021 terms, all international travel for students and faculty has ceased.   All SUNY Empire classes previously held in a classroom-based capacity abroad were converted to a completely online format with synchronous classes held multiple times per week in all cases.    

Online classes will continue at all sites in Europe, the Middle East and in Latin America through the current Spring 2021 term.   

Student Support Services

SUNY Empire continues to offer robust student services virtually, including:

At the limited-open locations noted above, we will offer the following in-person services by appointment only:

  • Student services
  • Academic support
  • Computer labs

Mental Health Resources

In addition to the mental health resources that SUNY provides all students, as well as our own health and wellness offeringsSUNY Empire also partners with ThrivingCampus, an application providing access to local mental health professionals. This application allows students to find local mental health options by filtering for the types of requirements they are looking for in a mental health provider. Students without health insurance are able to find providers who work on a sliding scale based upon income for payment.  

Campus Activities

  • Campus activities were moved to virtual for summer 2020.
  • There may be some special exceptions, which must be approved by the Office of Administration.
  • SUNY Empire will celebrate and recognize our spring 2021 graduates with a virtual commencement ceremony on June 5 beginning at 12pm. We have successfully celebrated two other sessions of graduates in a virtual setting. 

Location Expectations and Protocols

Social Distancing and Face Coverings

  • All students, faculty, staff, and visitors will be required to adhere to social distancing restrictions and wear face coverings in public areas and in individual office spaces (unless alone)
  • SUNY Empire employees are required to wear face coverings when in direct contact with members of the public
  • reasonable accommodation request will be needed if wearing a face covering would inhibit or impair the employee’s health

Personal Protective Equipment

  • PPE will be available to all students, staff, and faculty who enter into one of our open facilities
  • PPE will be distributed at the entrances to all of our buildings and shall include masks and hand sanitizer
Protocols for locations that will be open on a limited basis:
  • No more than 25% personnel
  • Only personnel designated by the college as mission critical
  • Pre-approval required
  • Staff may be placed on staggered work schedules
  • Wearing of masks at all times except when alone
  • Student services by appointment only
  • Meetings will satisfy social distancing protocols
  • All faculty, staff, students, and visitors will sign in upon entry to all SUNY Empire buildings to assist identification in the event that contact tracing or other emergency notification is required.
  • Classrooms, computer labs, and all meetings rooms are arranged to ensure compliance with social distancing guidelines
  • Office space in the college will be designed and marked to ensure path-of-travel as well as entrance and exits to avoid two-way doorways
Office space protocols:
  • Shared offices will be reduced to a single person
  • Employees in cubicle space, if deemed mission critical, will have staggered work times to limit density
  • Bathrooms will be addressed by closing every other stall and sink
  • Floors will be marked for path-of-travel to paper towels and garbage receptacles
  • All employees will be required to follow good hygiene and infection control practices including hand washing, encouraging staff to stay home when sick, and encouraging proper respiratory etiquette for coughs and sneezes
Protocols for out-of-state travelers:
  • Any visitor, student, or employee at a SUNY Empire location who is traveling from or has visited one of the states listed in the New York State Department of Health's COVID-19 Travel Advisory must complete a mandatory 14-day quarantine.
  • All travelers from out of state must complete the New York State Department of Health's Traveler Health Form. The form may be completed online, or a student, employee, or visitor may take a screenshot of the final page of the form and submit it to Director of Facilities Joshua Fleming at

Who is Mission Critical?

  • In conjunction with Human Resources, directors and program leaders will determine which employees are necessary to carry out the mission critical functions of each department.
  • The Office of the President has final authority on designations.

Vulnerable Populations

  • SUNY Empire is able to accommodate students and employees that are concerned about returning to on-site work and studies due to health concerns and personal circumstances
  • Accommodations may include but are not limited to: use of remote working agreements, online courses, staggered work schedules, and reasonable accommodation requests

Cleaning Protocols

SUNY Empire Leased Space

  • Each custodial service provider (external contractor) will be required to submit their COVID cleaning protocols and procedures to the Office of Facilities, which will review each plan to ensure it complies with New York State and SUNY Empire guidelines and maintain a copy on file. Checks will be completed by the Office of Facilities and the Office of Safety and Security to ensure quality control on at least a monthly basis.
  • SUNY Empire cleaning staff will coordinate their daily cleaning schedules based on pre-approved staff that are working on site and the surrounding common areas. The custodial staff clean and disinfect common areas including entrance doors, kitchens and bathrooms on a daily basis.
  • SUNY Empire will continue the cleaning and disinfection of high-density and high-touch areas at an increased frequency. These areas include building and elevator lobbies, restrooms, common area furniture and fixtures, countertops, shared conference spaces, and building mats and handrails. Office of Human Resources will coordinate with Facilities regarding supplemental cleanings as part of contact tracing and suspected infected employee or student protocols.
  • HVAC/air filtration systems are tested on a regular preventative maintenance schedule. SUNY Empire also works closely with property management staff to ensure that all leased properties also are in compliance with air quality regulations and preventative maintenance

SUNY Empire Owned Space

  • SUNY Empire cleaning staff will coordinate their daily cleaning schedules based on pre-approved staff that are working on site and the surrounding common areas. The custodial staff clean and disinfect common areas including entrance doors, kitchens and bathrooms on a daily basis.
  • SUNY Empire will continue the cleaning and disinfection of high-density and high-touch areas at an increased frequency. These areas include building and elevator lobbies, restrooms, common area furniture and fixtures, countertops, shared conference spaces, and building mats and handrails. Office of Human Resources will coordinate with Facilities regarding supplemental cleanings as part of contact tracing and suspected infected employee or student protocols.
  • HVAC/air filtration systems are tested on a regular preventative maintenance schedule and will be maintained in compliance with state regulations and guidelines. SUNY Empire also works closely with property management staff to ensure that all leased properties also are in compliance with air quality regulations and preventative maintenance

Transportation, Mail and General Delivery Services

SUNY Empire continues to provide mail services to all of our locations twice per week and will expand this service to three days per week when limited staff return to on-site operations. The mail room sorts the mail by department and scans documents to the requisite departments based on their instructions.

Shutdown Contingency Plan

In the event the State of New York determines there is a significant risk of a second phase of COVID-19 to students and staff at higher educational institutions, SUNY Empire has prepared a Shutdown Contingency Plan that is activated under the direction of the college president.

The scope of the plan includes the administrative operations of the college as well as academic activities, including those performed online or from a distance. An essential component of the plan is mission critical activities (MCAs). These are activities that cannot be stopped for the given time period and examples include the disbursement of financial aid, student academic services or the disbursement of employee paychecks.

The plan is based on a process that can be followed to activate continuity measures within 12 hours of notification.

Testing and Tracing

 The CDC has provided institutions of higher education with a resource guide on testing students and staff for COVID-19. The guide located at Testing, Screening, and Outbreak Response for Institutions of Higher Education (IHEs) Updated Dec. 16, 2020 was referenced when deciding the testing regimen that would be implemented at SUNY Empire. This section of the plan provides an overview of our health screening assessment tool through pooled testing and an update in these guidelines for the spring semester. 

  • We will continue to work closely with local health departments to participate in the region’s contact tracing program in case of any COVID-19 positive cases.
  • Any individual may get a COVID-19 test at a state location. Find a testing site near you.
  • A mobile application has been developed by SUNY that will aid in screening and tracking employees reporting to on-site work. It is also available as a web-based application.
  • SUNY Empire will utilize this technology to ensure that we are meeting our density targets as well reaffirming our daily COVID screening questions.
  • This application will help us work with state and local health departments’ contact tracing program to ensure the fastest possible notification in the event of a positive case.

Campus Planning Task Force

SUNY Empire has created a planning task force including representatives from every area of the college. The group also represents every geographic region that makes up SUNY Empire’s footprint. The task force will review the Onsite Restart Plan every two weeks and adjust protocols and procedures as necessary.

Task Force Members:

Jennifer Bent

Eric Bridges

Joseph Centanni

Diane Conard

Joan Dubois

Joshua Fleming

David Fullard

Julie Gedro

Treavor Gilday

Andrea Hennessy

Lindsay Holcomb

Jillian Johnis

Jeanine Jones

John Lawless

Deborah McEligot

Todd Myles

Robin Oliver

Constance Rodriguez

Sadie Ross

Debbie Staulters

Kim Stote

Heather Trela

Lauren Webb

Chris Whann

LeeToya Young


Contact Us with Questions or Concerns

COVID Response Group:

Students: Contact the Student Information Center at or 1-800-847-3000, ext. 2285.

Employees: Contact Director of Facilities Joshua Fleming at

Media: Contact Assistant Vice President of Communications and Marketing Solomon Syed at

Note: You will need Adobe Acrobat Reader to read PDF documents. If Acrobat Reader is not installed on your computer, you can download it for free from Adobe.