July 9, 2020 - 12:23pm

Dear New and Returning Lakers:

For the past few months many of us at SUNY Oswego have been planning for the reopening of our campus with the top priority being the health and safety of our students, faculty and staff. While we are still in the COVID-19 public health emergency, we recognize a true college experience on campus relies on the ability for our students to engage with faculty and staff, socialize with peers and have opportunities outside the classroom. These student life experiences are vital to your campus experience so our goal, in light of the pandemic, is to create ways these experiences can still happen while maintaining our commitment to your health and safety. That is why, wherever possible, we will continue to offer in-person programming for small groups in the residence halls as well as virtual student activities and programming.

Since President Stanley’s announcement in late June, indicating that we would be welcoming students to campus for the new academic year beginning in late August, my office has received many questions from students. I know you are wondering about the residence hall experience, what’s a Pod, how move-in will work this year, what’s included in Welcome Week, and how you will experience student activities and navigate the dining facilities. I hope the following information will serve to answer your questions, and help you plan for August and beyond.

Residence Halls
We are planning to operate at normal capacity to provide a traditional residential experience for all students living on campus. First year and transfer students will move-in first (Aug. 14-16) to attend the on-campus Welcome Week Orientation Programming. Returning students will move in a week later (Aug. 20-23). Students will move into a double-room with the roommate of their choosing. For students looking to have a more family-style living experience, with the ability to engage in social activities with groups of students up to 10 people, they will have the option of signing up for a Pod. Pods are social quarantine bubbles, as described by Melinda Moyer in the New York Times.

In Pods, students are allowed to socialize with one another without regard to social distancing – but outside the Pod, students must follow the recommended social distancing rules. Living in residential housing, Pods function like a family or a unit that protects their family members and home, and whose members take the necessary steps to protect the health of each other.

Pods allow students to socialize safely but it is important to stress that no student will be forced into a Pod. New students can remain in a double-room or choose to be in a Pod during their first week on campus. Returning students may already have a Pod (of friends) they have as roommates. You will receive more information on Pods within the next couple of weeks, such as how to form a Pod, ground rules for Pods, etc. In this atypical environment, we want to create the best experience possible for you through the use of Pods, however we know some students may decide to stay in a double room.

Our staff will be providing programs, services and opportunities for students to build community with their peers and residential staff, while we navigate a “new normal” during the COVID-19 pandemic. Engagement will be online as well as in-person, depending upon the situation and guidance received from public health experts and campus leadership.

Move-in Information

  • Move-in for first-year and new transfers will begin Friday, August 14 and end Sunday, August 16.
  • Each residence hall will have a specific move-in day, and students will register for a move-in time slot.
  • Registration for move-in time slots for new students will open on Monday, August 3.
  • Move-in for returning students will begin Thursday, August 20 and continue through Sunday, August 23.
  • Residents are strongly encouraged to register for a move-in time slot so that we are able to maintain the highest level of safety. Anyone arriving for move-in who is not scheduled will experience a delay in accessing their residence hall.
  • Registration for returning students for move-in time slots will open on Monday, August 10.

Welcome Week Orientation: August 16 – 23, 2020
These Welcome Week events create opportunities for students to meet their peers in a safe and socially responsible manner, and include a diverse range of virtual events and some in-person experiences. Small group connections are a priority throughout the Welcome Week Orientation schedule. We are committed to creating a schedule where all events, virtual or in-person, are accessible.

  • Welcome Week Orientation will begin on Sunday, August 16.
  • New students will continue to receive mentorship and support from Laker Leaders and Success Coaches for the duration of Welcome Week.
  • Events will be required for all incoming new students.
  • The schedule will be delivered to new students in a digital format in early August, however Alumni Relations and the Oswego Alumni Association have already confirmed that the traditional Welcome Torchlight Ceremony will be held on Friday, August 21.
  • Welcome Week social activities will begin on August 24, and run through August 28. Here is a snapshot of what is being planned:
          - 8/26 - Virtual Playlist Bingo: Cash Prizes amounting to $200
          - 8/27 - Virtual Paint and Sip (non-alcoholic drinks): first 10 participants who sign up will get supplies delivered to them.
          - 8/28 - SAPB Benefit Concert

Students Living Off-Campus
Students who are planning to live off-campus in the Oswego community should contact their landlords or property managers for information about move-in as well as any pertinent details related to health and safety expectations and requirements.

Student Activities and Programming
We are working on a wide range of activities and programming through Student Involvement and across campus. Events will be adapted to make them accessible to all. Details about events and programs will be released later this month on our Events Calendar.

  • Plans to host Campus Recreation Center activities for limited outdoor use that follow public health guidelines are still being decided.
  • Residence halls will offer programming and activities for small groups (in person) and virtual events.
  • Student Life departments will each offer services to students, though they may be delivered virtually rather than in-person.

Dining Services
Dining Services will open and begin serving meals to coincide with Move-In dates. Meal plans start with brunch on Saturday, August 22. Students have the choice of dine-in based on dining capacity numbers or take-out. The Get Food app will also be available to order food from off-campus from local food establishments.

Facilities, Services, Cleaning and PPE
Some on-campus facilities will be closed to visitors or offered on a limited basis, but you will always have access to the services you need. Students will find that the campus may look a little different: hand sanitizer stations will be all over the campus and signage will serve as powerful reminders that we must wear face coverings outside in public spaces, and maintain proper physical distancing (at least six feet apart) when in public. We will do our part by taking care of cleaning all campus facilities, buildings and rooms after each use for your safety. In return, we expect each student to take personal steps to ensure your safety and that of others, including wearing masks (proper face coverings), maintaining proper physical distancing and washing your hands. Everyone in our campus community must accept personal responsibility and accountability to keep us all safe and healthy.

It’s likely that your last school year ended differently than you expected, whether it was completing coursework virtually, canceled sports programs, or for new students – a canceled campus visit to Oswego. We know this next academic year will be different but the SUNY Oswego campus community of faculty, staff and administrators are doing everything we can to deliver an exceptional residential college experience. You can count on us, especially the staff members across the division of Student Affairs, to help you achieve your educational and experiential goals.

We know plans will continue to evolve throughout the summer as we receive additional health department and State guidelines. As we receive updates on reopening plans, will we be sure to keep you informed. You will also receive regular updates from me on aspects of COVID-19 screening, testing and student life. If you have any questions, please submit them via an online form that we've set up for your convenience on the Oswego Forward website.

Until then, please enjoy your summer and stay safe. We’re looking forward to welcoming you to campus in a few short weeks.

Best Regards,

Dr. Jerri Howland
Vice President for Student Affairs