Coronavirus 2019 (COVID-19)

Coronavirus 2019 (COVID-19) Campus Updates

Important Notice: Due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic and for the safety of our community, building hours have been limited to 8:00 am – 5:00 pm.

We are closely monitoring the outbreak of the 2019 novel coronavirus (COVID-19) and have implemented additional cleaning and healthcare protocols. This is a serious and highly contagious illness; therefore, in an effort to educate our community and campus visitors, we are sharing important information about this virus. This novel coronavirus is a respiratory tract illness that presents flu-like symptoms including fever, coughing, and shortness of breath. It was first identified in December 2019 in Wuhan City, Hubei Province, China, and has now spread to several countries, including the US. If you are experiencing any symptoms, please seek medical attention right away. Call your healthcare provider and alert them of your recent travel history, if you have been in close contact with a person known to have COVID-19 and/or your symptoms. If you are a University Eye Center patient or a campus visitor, kindly reschedule your appointment if you are experiencing symptoms or feel ill.

Please see the latest updates and resources below for further information.

Campus communications concerning COVID-19 have been distributed to students, faculty, and staff through their email addresses. We are continuing to coordinate our actions and seek guidance from SUNY System Administration, accreditation bodies, and regulatory authorities.

We take all claims of exposure and possible infection of COVID-19 very seriously. We have done our best to remove or prevent any symptomatic persons from being on campus, implemented social distancing (including fewer people present), and increased cleaning. If we have a suspected case of COVID-19 infection or exposure, we will:

  • Ask the individual to remain home or leave campus immediately.
  • Immediately disinfect the area(s) with which this person may have had in contact.
  • Follow all Department of Health guidelines, including any instructions they provide when we call for guidance.
  • Ask non-symptomatic individuals to remain off-campus in self-quarantine for the time period recommended by the Department of Health.
  • Require that symptomatic people remain away from campus until all symptoms have cleared and their doctor has indicated they may return to work.
  • Follow DOH guidelines, and inform anyone who was in direct contact with the diagnosed individual of their potential exposure.

We are taking all reasonable measures to ensure the health and well-being of our community, and we will continue to keep you updated as circumstances change.

Students, Faculty, Staff, and/or Visiting Scholars:

In accordance with the guidance provided by the CDC, students, faculty, or staff who have traveled in or through countries that have been designated by the U.S. Department of State as Level 2 or Level 3 travel warnings due to the spread of COVID-19 will be subject to a mandatory 14-day quarantine and are not permitted on campus.

As of March 19, all 4th year clinical rotations, including UEC assignments and all external sites, are suspended. In lieu of the remaining time assigned to patient care, students will be enrolled in a distance learning program building upon the patient care experience. Additional details will be provided to the students by the Office of Academic Affairs. Students should check their email frequently.

As of March 16, All first-, second-, and third-year doctor of optometry students lectures will be conducted remotely.  All procedures labs, assessments and clinic assignments in the University Eye Center are suspended for the remainder of the Spring semester.  Academic Affairs and the Instructors-of-Record (IORs) will maximize the use of distance learning and will be developing options to make up any remaining laboratories, assessments and/or clinic sessions.  Additional details will come from the Office of Academic Affairs. Students should check your email frequently.

As of March 11, many Colleges and Universities are moving to an all distance-learning format. As our program leads to licensure, we are more limited and not in a position to significantly change those teaching laboratories that prepare students for clinical practice, nor can we reduce the time assigned to clinical practice. However, we are implementing several action steps to increase social distancing, a core strategy in fighting the spread of the virus.

SUNY College of Optometry’s financial support for official international travel as well as non-essential domestic travel has been suspended for all faculty, staff, and students.

As of March 10, all remaining campus-administered study abroad programs in progress are suspended and any planned programs for the remainder of the Spring 2020 semester are canceled or postponed. This is a precautionary measure designed to protect SUNY students currently studying in countries not yet designated as at-risk locations. SUNY College of Optometry reached out to the students who are studying abroad and is actively working with them on next steps.

As of March 4, all SUNY study abroad programs in China, Italy, Japan, Iran, and South Korea have been suspended effective immediately in response to concerns over COVID-19 and out of an abundance of caution. See the SUNY announcement here. SUNY College of Optometry currently does not have any students studying in the above countries.

Patients and Visitors:

Effective Thursday, March 19, the University Eye Center (UEC) will be scaling back services and schedules including suspending routine care for patients.  The UEC will remain open for patients who have urgent eye care needs Monday-Friday from 9:00 am – 4:00 pm.  Please contact us at 212-938-4001 if you have any questions.

In an effort to ensure the health and safety of visitors and the campus community, we will be expanding our screening efforts upon entering the building. Please be patient and allow some additional time before your appointment or meeting.

Additionally, anyone experiencing any symptoms including fever, cough, or shortness of breath or feeling ill is asked to reschedule their appointment and not enter the building.

Social Events and Activities:

Effective Friday, March 13 at the close of business, activities and events that are not essential to the academic and clinical program are suspended including social events, student club activities, colloquia, etc. until further notice. This will be re-evaluated on April 1 and extended as necessary.

Out of an abundance of caution and care for our community, the following specific events have been postponed or canceled:

  • Eyes on New York Award Celebration
  • Eye Ball
  • Dedication of the new Barbara Saltzman Center for Pediatric Eye Care
  • SIVR Colloquia through April 17

Practice Good Health Habits:

We ask that all campus community members and visitors practice good health habits to prevent the spread of respiratory diseases as recommended by the CDC and WHO:

  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
  • Stay home when you are sick.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe.
  • Follow CDC’s recommendations for using a facemask:
    • CDC does not recommend that people who are well wear a facemask to protect themselves from respiratory diseases, including COVID-19.
    • Facemasks should be used by people who show symptoms of COVID-19 to help prevent the spread of the disease to others. The use of facemasks is also crucial for health workers and people who are taking care of someone in close settings (at home or in a health care facility).
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom; before eating; and after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.
    • If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol. Always wash hands with soap and water if hands are visibly dirty.
    • For information about handwashing, see CDC’s Handwashing website.

Additional Resources: