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SUNY cracking down on violators

The State University of New York on Friday said system-wide sanctions for violators of COVID-19 safety protocols.

Student violators now face immediate academic and housing suspension, as well as possible dismissal, and student organizations in non-compliance face a permanent campus ban, SUNY Chancellor Jim Malatras said in his announcement of the new guidelines.

“I have spoken with our SUNY campus leadership and they know both what is at risk as well as their role in preventing new COVID-19 cases by enforcing health and safety protocols,” Malatras said. “Intentional or otherwise, there continues to be some individuals violating these critical measures on campuses, increasing the chances of spreading the coronavirus and shutting down on-campus activity.”

The policy, drafted in consultation with colleges across the system, is intended to help the campuses protect the public health and ensure the schools can remain open. The rules include the usual prohibitions against campus gatherings larger than 50 and consequences for violations of the mask mandate or quarantine order.

It also includes sanctions against students who do not participate in the system-wide COVID-19 surveillance testing program. Students who miss two appointments to provide a saliva sample or fail to fill out daily health screening forms for three consecutive days could face suspension or other disciplinary action.

Campuses must begin communicating the new policy to students, which becomes effective on campuses no later than Oct. 1 and remains in place until further action by the SUNY chancellor.

This policy is part of SUNY’s three-pronged approach to address the crisis to keep campuses open including: SUNY-wide testing, uniform data transparency, and uniform enforcement, Malatras said.

“While a vast majority of our students are complying with the rules, we cannot let a few people ruin it for everyone,” Malatras said. “It is my hope that all students will comply, and campuses will not need to impose any sanctions.”

In Albany County

Albany County has now marked its fifth consecutive day of no new COVID-19 hospitalizations to report, officials said Friday morning, as the number of county residents now hospitalized because of the virus dropped from eight to seven.

The county saw 18 more new cases, County Executive Dan McCoy said, bringing the total since the pandemic to 2,894, of which 90 are active. Of the new cases, 14 had close contact with positive cases, one reported out-of-state travel, one is a health care worker or a resident of congregate setting and two did not have a clear source of infection at this time.

Separately, 11 of the reported positives are associated with the University at Albany.

There are still no patients in intensive care and there were no new deaths to report.

North Colonie case

A second person at North Colonie school district has tested positive, school officials said Friday.

The student is in the district’s remote elementary program and has not been in any school buildings since March. Anyone who has been in close contact with the student outside of school will be contacted by the local