KEUKA PARK — While the number of COVID-19 cases at Keuka College has gone down significantly, officials announced Friday that distance learning will remain through the end of the fall semester.
Plans are to resume on-campus instruction at the start of the spring 2021 semester.
“As much as we hoped to welcome our students back this semester, it’s in the best interest of their safety — and the community’s safety — to limit their travel and have them complete the semester remotely,” Keuka President Amy Storey said in a news release. “While this decision is disappointing, we feel it’s the best strategy given the continuing public-health climate and the relatively short time period before the planned end of on-campus instruction on Nov. 20.”
Among the specifics Storey outlined to students, faculty and staff:
• There will be no changes to the academic schedule. Remote instruction will continue through Dec. 5, with final exams to follow the next week.
• Students who remained on campus or who would prefer to return to campus to complete the fall semester owing to educational obstacles at home (housing insecurity, lack of access to WiFi, etc.) will be welcomed and accommodated.
• The college will offer a room and board credit for the weeks when students were unable to live in residence halls.
• A variety of resources will be provided to support students as they continue their remote instruction, or pursue clinical and experiential learning opportunities.
• Faculty and most staff will continue to work remotely for the rest of the semester.
After stopping most on-campus operations in March at the outset of the coronavirus pandemic, Keuka resumed operations in August. Students returned the week of Aug. 17 and in-person instruction began the following week.
With what college officials called robust on-campus public safety safeguards and policies in place, Keuka saw just a single positive coronavirus case over the first seven weeks of the semester.
However, cases began to climb Oct. 7 following a non-sanctioned, off-campus “social gathering.” The college then went to remote learning with students staying on campus, but a short time later officials discontinued on-campus operations and asked healthy students to return home.
Officials said positive cases among the college community have since decreased, from more than 70 on Oct. 15 — when the college announced its decision to suspend on-campus operations — to about a dozen on campus today.
Even with the lower number, college officials decided continuing the remote-learning model is the safest course of action.
“While this certainly isn’t the fall semester experience that any of us wanted, it is the experience that — for the duration of the fall — will help keep all of us safe,” Storey said.