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35 SUNY Albany Students to be Flown Home Amid COVID-19 Outbreak

By Jalynn Walker

UAlbany holds a town hall meeting on the novel coronavirus (Bailey Cummings / ASP)

Thirty-five UAlbany students studying abroad in countries that have been severely impacted by the novel coronavirus will be flown home to New York by charter planes as soon as possible as a precautionary measure, officials said Thursday.

The evacuation of the 35 students follows Governor Andrew Cuomo’s announcement on Wednesday that he was suspending SUNY and CUNY study abroad programs in the five countries on the state’s watchlist. Those countries are China, Italy, Japan, Iran and South Korea.

According to UAlbany’s study abroad program, the university will be flying home 10 students studying in Italy, 14 in Japan and 11 in South Korea. Of the university’s 89 students enrolled in the university’s abroad program, none are studying in Iran, and the university canceled its program in China in January at the start of the outbreak in Wuhan province. At that time, the university had no students studying in China but had one student scheduled to attend in February.

The 35 students are to be flown to New York Stewart International Airport, and at the time of this reporting, it is unclear the specific date of the students’ return. Once the students arrive at Stewart, they will be given the choice of 14-day isolation in a dormitory setting or in their own homes according to Governor Cuomo in his press briefing and Vice President for Enterprise Risk management Keving Wilcox at the UAlbany town hall meeting.

UAlbany will not be used as an isolation location Wilcox said. It is not yet clear where these dormitory settings will be located.

Each student returning home has been given an academic review and plan to follow once they are cleared to return back to campus. During Wednesday’s town hall meeting, Kristen Swaney of the COVID-19 Academic Accommodations Work Group said a few options that will be given to students include cross-registration between universities, independent study options, and automatic readmission after withdrawal.

According to Commissioner Elizabeth Whalen of the Albany County Department of Health, the University at Albany campus remains at low risk of being impacted by COVID-19 because the virus seems to affect those from the ages of 30-79 more frequently and most likely suffering from existing repository issues.

According to officials, 80% of coronavirus have taken on a flu-like course and self resolved. Based on the latest data, The World Health Organization has declared the mortality rate from the virus to be 3.4% globally.

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention has more information about the virus on its website. Prevention, treatment, symptoms and testing information can be found on the COVID-19 page. As of right now, testing cannot be done through your physician and is only done through the CDC.

The Albany Student Press will continue to track this developing story.


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