Cuomo's college closures? NY governor throws a wrench in campus COVID plans

The move comes as colleges around the country taken actions against students attending large gatherings.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced new restrictions that would force colleges to close if they reach certain COVID-19 case thresholds.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo mandated that colleges with 100 coronavirus cases or more will have to switch to online classes for two weeks. 

During a conference call on Thursday, Cuomo told reporters, “We’re going to set a threshold that says if a college has 100 cases or a number of cases equal to 5 percent of their population or more, whichever is less, they must go to remote learning for two weeks, at which time we will reassess the situation,” the New York Post reported. The 5 percent metric includes both students and faculty.

Cuomo also made the announcement via Twitter. 


Before Cuomo’s new mandate, Cornell University had committed to considering a shutdown if more than 250 community members tested positive within the span of a week. However, Cuomo’s plan would require the college of more than 34,000 to shift entirely online once infections hit 100. 

[RELATED: Cornell students compile massive list of courses on race and racism]

Syracuse University, which had a total student enrollment of nearly 23,000 in 2019, previously announced that 200 positive cases could trigger a shutdown. Under Cuomo’s plan, that number will be in half to just 100 infections.

According to data compiled by the New York Times, New York State experienced fewer than 60 deaths in the seven days before Cuomo announced the new restrictions. The seven-day moving average on August 27, the day of Cuomo’s announcement, was eight deaths.

[RELATED: Cornell student ‘ambassadors’ help others ‘adhere’ to COVID-19 ‘Behavioral Compact’]

In terms of cases, the seven day average in New York State on August 27 was 618, with 789 cases reported that day. 

Cuomo has drawn criticism for sending elderly COVID-19 patients back to nursing homes for treatment, which critics say led to thousands of more deaths. The U.S. Department of Justice recently requested data from five state-run nursing homes, which Cuomo called “all politics.”

Lacey Kestecher, a student at Binghamton University in New York State and Campus Reform Correspondent, told Campus Reform that Cuomo’s new restrictions are unreasonable given the minimal number of COVID-19 cases among college students. 

She lamented the fact that “universities are forcing students to continue school online while paying for a less effective, overpriced education.”

Kestecher said she also believes that Cuomo has “made the coronavirus pandemic a political issue rather than a health concern.” 

As such, the “forced shutdown of universities minimally affected by the virus is purely a grab for power,” she added. 

Campus Reform also reached out to Cornell and Syracuse for comment.

Follow the author of this article on Twitter: @BenZeisloft