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ESF announces plan for fall semester

By Eric Reinhardt (ereinhardt@cnybj.com)

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The SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry (ESF) plans to begin classes for the fall semester on Aug. 24 and continue until Thanksgiving break, with final exams conducted online the week after that. (Eric Reinhardt / CNYBJ file photo)

SYRACUSE, N.Y. — Classes for the fall semester at SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry (ESF) will begin Aug. 24, including classes scheduled on Labor Day.

Classes will continue through Nov. 24 and then students will leave for Thanksgiving break and not return to campus afterward. Final exams will happen online the week following Thanksgiving, and the fall semester will conclude Dec. 9.

ESF sent an email to students, families, and guardians outlining aspects of the college’s plan for restarting, following the March transition to distance learning, the school said in a Thursday news release.

ESF will require all students, faculty, and staff to follow the guidelines issued by New York and the Onondaga County Health Department, including the requirement to wear face masks in situations where it’s difficult to maintain social distancing.

The college plans to offer a mix of face-to-face instruction for some classes with less than 30 students, flex/hybrid classes in which some face-to-face instruction will be offered simultaneously with online content, and online-only courses.

ESF says it has measured all classrooms and created new, reduced-seating guidelines “to ensure social distancing.” Some classes will also be held on the Syracuse University campus, the college noted.

“The health and safety of everyone in our community is our top concern,” Joseph Rufo, ESF’s officer-in-charge, said. “ESF is working with Upstate Medical University and Syracuse University for screening and testing protocols.”

ESF will use a novel RNA (ribonucleic acid) testing approach in Centennial Hall, ESF’s residence hall, to monitor whether the virus is present in the population.

“If the COVID RNA is found in the dorm’s wastewater, that would be the signal to begin more intensive group and individual testing of students in the dorm,” said Rufo.

Capacity in Centennial Hall will be reduced through the elimination of triples and the temporary creation of a limited number of single rooms. ESF will also reduce occupancy limits in common areas.

ESF’s Ranger School will also be in session for the fall 2020 semester. Staff at the Ranger School have a plan for maintaining student health while delivering its standard teaching and living program. Outside interaction for Ranger School students “will be limited,” and screening and testing will be done to ensure student wellness.

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