Wednesday was the final day of in-person classes for students at Syracuse University this semester, as coronavirus cases have resurged among the student body. Starting Thursday, the university will begin online-only classes for the remainder of the semester, the university announced.
On Sunday, Syracuse reported on their COVID-19 dashboard that there were eight new cases of COVID-19 among students in Central New York. That number more than doubled a day later. By Wednesday, the school reported 52 new cases, the largest single-day spike since the beginning of August.
Nearly 500 students are currently in quarantine, according to the school.
Along with students moving to online classes, all on-campus student activities have been paused, the university said. Students will be permitted to attend health or counseling appointments, get “grab and go” dining services and be tested for COVID-19.
“Our community has done an extraordinary job navigating this semester in the face of so many challenges. We were so close to finishing the semester together with in-person instruction and activities on campus,” Chancellor Kent Syverud said in a statement. “I regret we have to pause now, but it is the right decision.”
Syverud went on to say that active cases “remain small in comparison to our population and other universities of similar size.” He also said that no cases have been traced back to in-class exposure.
“Nevertheless, concluding residential instruction now best protects the health and safety of our community as the Thanksgiving holiday approaches,” Syverud said.
Just two weeks ago, Syverud sent a statement to students that “a small number of off-campus parties allowed the virus to spread,” according to university television station CitrusTV News.
“Please, don’t host parties,” the chancellor warned ahead of Halloween weekend. “As we’ve seen, the consequences are real and far-reaching. We are one party away from a spike in cases that would force us to pause all residential instruction and activities.”
Onondaga County, where the university is located, has reported more than 3,000 cases of COVID-19, and currently has nearly 400 active cases, according to the county health website. Those between the ages of 20 and 29 have made up more than a quarter of all confirmed cases, and active cases have more than doubled over the past 11 days, the county reports.
On August 27, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo mandated colleges that have 100 or more cases must move to remote-learning for at least two weeks.