Coronavirus 2019 (COVID-19)

Coronavirus 2019 (COVID-19) Campus Updates

SUNY College of Optometry Ramp-Up Plan (updated August 2020)

The SUNY College of Optometry Campus Ramp-Up Plan has been approved by System Administration. The plan details the College’s strategy for continued operation and increased campus activities for the duration of the COVID-19 public health emergency. The plan is subject to modification based on changing circumstances and any additional guidance which may be issued by the CDC, DOH, SUNY Administration, or other regulatory bodies.

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Modified Building Hours
Monday – Friday 7:00 am – 10:00 pm,
Saturday 7:00 am – 8:30 pm and Sunday 10:00 am – 10:00 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.

We continue to monitor the outbreak of and emergence from the 2019 novel coronavirus (COVID-19) adapting to the appropriate regulations and guidance.

The following are our guiding principles for decision making as we move forward and emerge from the pandemic-based restrictions:

  • The safety and well-being of our students, staff and patients come first;
  • The professional and personal success of our students through the continued delivery of our educational programs with on-time completion is paramount;
  • Maintain the fundamental mission of the College, providing the broadest access to world-class teaching, research and eye care services to the public;
  • Providing quality care for our patients through telehealth and in-person services, while using proper safety equipment and processes;
  • Maintain the essential infrastructure and preparedness needed to ensure we are ready to deliver our educational, research and patient care programs as the conditions around the pandemic change.
  • Ensure flexibility and agility in adapting to changing environmental conditions, balancing the needs of the College’s workforce and students with our patient care obligations to the public.

Campus communications concerning COVID-19 have regularly 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:

August 7: Updated Travel Advisory Policy At this time, business travel remains restricted. Additionally, NYS Executive Order 205 enacts travel restrictions, which may include a 14-day quarantine when traveling to and from designated states. Please read the travel advisory policy for details.

Students should check their SUNY Optometry email, in addition to the updated travel advisory policy, for guidance from Academic and Student Affairs. Additionally, students should complete the COVID-19 Awareness and Back to School Safety training prior to returning to campus.

Designated States and Traveler Health Form
International Travel

July 8

  • SUNYOPT COVID-19 Student Policy has been included in the COVID-19 Awareness and Back to School Safety training provided to students by email.
  • Travel Advisory remains in effect. Employees, students, and visiting scholars should read the latest policy which includes guidance on business and personal travel. If you believe an exemption applies to your situation, please reach out to your College contact for further discussion and guidance.

As of June 8: We continue to limit the density of people on campus as we begin to emerge from the pandemic-based restrictions. We ask that guests or visitors who do not have an appointment at the University Eye Center or are not on campus for a direct business purpose refrain from visiting the campus at this time. The University Eye Center is seeing patients and increasing available appointments using updated sanitation and safety protocols.We take of the risk of exposure and possible infection of COVID-19 very seriously. As such, we will continue: Implementing increased sanitization and disinfection guidelines throughout the building including frequent cleaning of high contact areas such as door handles, counters, and elevator buttons.Encouraging hand cleaning with sanitizer located throughout the building and at elevators banks and/or frequent handwashing.

Requiring that everyone wear a face covering over their nose and mouth while in the building, especially in any shared or common spaces such as the lobby, waiting rooms, hallways, etc.

Conducting health and thermal screenings in the lobby and ask that anyone who displays symptoms, has a fever of 100 degrees or higher, feels ill or has been recently exposed to COVID-19 remain home or leave campus immediately.

Using social distancing by realigning furniture, limiting occupancy of rooms, placing signage and cues to maintain 6 feet apart, and employing technology where available and appropriate.

Refraining from handshakes, high fives, and other person-to-person contact with a no-contact zone policy to limit the spread of germs.

If we learn of someone who is symptomatic or has been exposed on campus we will:

  • 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.

As of May 21: NBEO will be resuming board examinations over the summer. Please visit their website here.

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:

The University Eye Center (UEC) will be is beginning to increase services and available appointments. The UEC is open for patients Monday-Friday from 9:00 am – 4:00 pm. Please contact us at 212-938-4001 if you have any questions.

Anyone experiencing symptoms including fever, cough, or shortness of breath or who is feeling ill will be asked to reschedule their appointment and not enter the building.

Social Events and Activities:

Effective Friday, April 1 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 periodically re-evaluated and adjusted as necessary.

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:
    • To reduce the spread of COVID-19, CDC recommends that people wear cloth face coverings in public settings when around people outside of their household, especially when other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain.
  • 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: