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Potsdam, Prepared

SUNY Potsdam is hard at work preparing to welcome students, faculty and staff back for the Fall 2020 semester. Our Restart Plan reflects the utmost care and concern for our campus community.

Restart plan


We developed our plan in keeping with all New York Forward higher education regulations and SUNY requirements, with everyone’s health and well-being at the forefront, in consultation with public health officials and community leaders.

As of July 1, SUNY Potsdam’s Restart Plan has been certified and approved by SUNY System Administration. As we move forward with implementation, we will continually update campus about the details and fine points in the days and weeks to come.

Please remember that—as for all industries and institutions in every region across New York State—our Restart Plan is subject to change, due to any new or changing information, guidance or direction from the state.

Academic calendar

  • Classes are now scheduled to begin on Monday, August 31, with students arriving on campus 7 to 10 days prior, see residence life section below.
  • The academic calendar will be compressed, so that fall break is canceled. Students will return home at Thanksgiving break, at which point all remaining instruction and finals will be virtual.


  • All students will be required to complete a self-quarantine at their homes for at least seven days prior to coming to SUNY Potsdam and will be instructed to not come to campus if they develop symptoms during this time.
  • SUNY Potsdam will require and will conduct COVID-19 tests of returning students, based on final guidance and approval of the St. Lawrence County Public Health Department.
  • The College is still finalizing our testing approach as we monitor the rapidly changing guidance.
  • As always, any student with symptoms may receive a test through Student Health Services or their local healthcare provider.
  • Any employee who reports symptoms will be asked to get a test through their health provider and quarantine until they receive the results.
  • All campus case numbers will continue to be tracked on the SUNY Potsdam website, in the interest of transparency.
  • SUNY Potsdam has protocols and residential spaces identified for quarantine/isolation, as needed for residential students, consistent with current NYS/public health guidelines.


  • SUNY Potsdam currently has certified contact tracers on campus, who are prepared to assist the St. Lawrence County Public Health Department with tracing related to our students or employees as needed.
  • Additional staff and advanced students in the community health program will also be considered for contact tracing.
  • The Associated Colleges are working with the County to identify a single application that can be used among the four campuses for contact tracing.

Public health measures

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  • Face masks will be provided for all students and employees. Personal protective equipment may be provided where applicable to approved employees.
  • SUNY Potsdam will continue to clean facilities that are in use more frequently and keep high-touch areas sanitized and disinfected.
  • Access to campus will continue to be restricted to residential students and approved employees this semester.


  • We are actively planning a mix of in-person, virtual and hybrid learning experiences for the fall.
  • Information for students who cannot or do not feel comfortable returning to campus in the fall but who want to take their courses via distance learning will be available in the near future.
  • Depending on the final county and state guidelines on testing, tracing, and isolation of residential students, the first two weeks of instruction may need to be fully virtual.
  • Considerations for each course format will differ, depending on a number of factors. Academic Affairs is working diligently now on scheduling and final course development, and Computing and Technology Services is assisting with instructional technology needs.
  • Performing arts, science labs, studio art and seminar classes will have priority for hybrid/socially-distanced face-to-face formats as the situation permits.
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  • Where it is impossible to gather all students in a class into one space, access to streaming equipment will allow some to engage virtually.
  • Teaching faculty have been asked to ensure that their courses are prepared for a full 15 weeks of virtual instruction, both to support students who may be quarantining or isolating at any given time during the semester, or in the event of a rise in cases.
  • The College will communicate about the format of each course as soon as this information is finalized.

Residence Life

  • We are prepared to house all students who wish to live on campus.
  • First-year students and new transfer students are in the first priority group to be housed on campus, because we know that in-person instruction and engagement with peers is so vital as students start their path here at Potsdam.
  • Students with hardships, including international students, are also included in the first priority group.
  • Move-in times will be staggered over several days leading up to Welcome Weekend and the first day of classes, to ensure proper social distancing and hygiene.
  • Additional details on your assigned arrival date and procedures for move-in will be communicated as we finalize plans.
  • Students with health concerns will be supported to complete their studies virtually, or to receive accommodations through the medical housing process.
  • Access to residential halls and buildings will be restricted to individuals living there.

Student activities

  • We will have many engaging opportunities for student activities both online and outdoors in Fall 2020.
  • Campus Life will also provide support to student clubs and organizations to transition their operations online through platforms like Get Involved, with some limited opportunities for face-to-face events.
  • A limited number of in-person indoor events may be allowed with fixed seating, as long as the space allows for proper social distancing, ventilation and cleaning protocols before and after use. Attendance will be monitored to allow for contact tracing afterward, if needed.
  • Pending guidance, outdoor events with social distancing may be offered. Athletic and student performance-based events may take place with limited or no audiences.


  • Potsdam Bears Athletics will follow the guidelines articulated by the NCAA, as well as the SUNYAC, NEWHL and NEAC Conferences, in addition to all health guidelines. 
  • The SUNY Athletic Conference will split into two divisions in the sports of men's and women's soccer, and in the sport of women's volleyball, for the 2020 athletic season. Depending on the scenario, fall sports pre-season and non-traditional seasons may be eliminated to reduce the impact on facilities and the interaction among student-athletes, coaches and other students.
  • The Maxcy Hall Athletic Complex will only be open to students and employees, with public health measures in place for the use of shared spaces and equipment.


  • PACES Dining Services will encourage take-out services and more grab-and-go options.
  • PACES adheres to all public health guidelines for employee and food safety.
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  • The total available table seating will be reduced by 75% overall in dining halls, with seating spaces 6 feet apart to allow for social distancing.
  • To ensure a contact-less process, students undergoing quarantine or isolation will call in dining orders, to be delivered outside of their residence hall doors. Employees who deliver food will be required to wear proper PPE, including masks, gloves and eye protection.

Student Services & Support

  • Caring for our students remains our calling. We will continue to be there for all our students, whether on campus or off.
  • To help maintain social distancing and cut down on traffic, many offices across campus will continue to offer virtual and online support as alternatives to in-person visits.
  • Offices will be reconfigured and equipped with dividers as needed, to ensure social distancing and to maintain cleanliness and hygiene.

Contingency Plans

  • In the event that conditions and regulations change, SUNY Potsdam is prepared to ramp down on-campus operations as required.
  • Faculty are busily preparing in the event that they need to go to remote learning at any time as this situation is rapidly changing. Faculty are spending significant time engaging in professional development to maintain a high-quality academic experience.
  • During the fall semester, students will identify any technology needs that they might have in the event of a need to shut down.
  • PACES Dining Services would continue to operate depending on campus needs for any students that remain due to hardship.

Helpful Links

Our commitment to each other

The North Country has one of the lowest incidences of COVID-19 in New York State. By taking responsibility to protect ourselves and each other, we can keep it that way.

Every SUNY Potsdam student and employee returning to campus will be asked to adhere to strict protocols recommended by public health. Inspired by our Potsdam Pledge, we will commit to protect each other’s health and safety by:

  • Always wearing a mask in all common areas (unless you are alone in an individual office or your dorm room).
  • Completing a health screening online and/or using a new smartphone app. Anyone with health symptoms consistent with or possible exposure to COVID-19 will be asked to quarantine and be tested.
  • Adhering to restrictions on social gatherings, and maintaining social (physical) distancing in the presence of others in all campus spaces.
  • Agreeing to complete quarantine or isolation periods when required. Violations of these requirements would be taken very seriously and would be handled under the student conduct system.
  • Practicing good hygiene, through frequent handwashing and disinfection of shared surfaces.
  • Being considerate of others, especially those at high risk.