SU testing 2,000 students, pausing in-person campus activities after increase in COVID cases


SYRACUSE, N.Y. (WSYR-TV) — Syracuse University confirmed as of 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, there are as many as 45 positive COVID cases linked to an off-campus party from last week.

The party took place on Walnut Avenue last week or over the weekend and students who attended should go to the testing center at the Dome starting at 10 a.m. on Wednesday. SU plans to test 2,000 students on Wednesday. The university tested nearly 3,000 on Tuesday, as it works with Onondaga County to contain the spread.

As of Tuesday evening, all in-person student activities are paused, except for classes, associated coursework and intercollegiate athletics. Students can still do the following:

  • Schedule appointments to visit the Barnes Center and/or Flanagan for health and counseling appointments
  • Access dining services
  • Use libraries and other academic support spaces
  • Attend academic and support-related appointments

The university is also adjusting their “Stay Safe Pledge” to only allow five people who aren’t living together to gather, instead of 25.

Read the full letter from Syracuse University below:

“As communicated earlier today, the University is currently taking action to address what our investigation suggests is an emerging cluster of COVID cases, associated with one or more off-campus gatherings that took place late last week. As of this writing, our clinical and surveillance testing indicates as many as 45 positive COVID cases associated with last week’s off-campus gathering, and we fully expect to confirm additional cases in the days to come.

In response, and in consultation with the Onondaga County Health Department, we have taken aggressive action to organize immediate testing and quarantine of close contacts associated with all those newly confirmed COVID-positive cases, and we have enhanced surveillance testing of the off-campus student population. At the same time, our Student Experience and Barnes Center teams are now focused on supporting a significant number of students who must now enter isolation or quarantine status.

We ask that any student who suspects exposure stemming from social gatherings on Walnut Avenue last week or over the weekend, to report to the testing center at the Stadium beginning tomorrow at 10 a.m.

This is a serious situation, and as I said in my previous message, it will take quick and coordinated cooperation of the entire campus community to prevent this situation from expanding beyond our ability to control. To that end, to further contain the spread of COVID-19 on campus, and to allow sufficient time for the contact tracing team to identify and isolate instances of potential exposure, the University is directing these immediate actions:

1. Until further notice, all in-person student activities, with the exception of classes, associated coursework and intercollegiate athletics, are paused temporarily. This includes all student organization and University-sponsored events, such as Orange After Dark, University Union, the Barnes Center at The Arch (and all satellite indoor and outdoor recreation facilities and activities), Tennity Ice Pavilion, Greek life and other school/college/student organization-sponsored activities. For the time being, many of these activities will transition to online modalities. Please be sure to visit the University’s events calendar to identify virtual activities and events. In the meantime, students may continue to:

  • Schedule appointments to visit the Barnes Center and/or Flanagan for health or counseling appointments;
  • Schedule and attend flu clinic appointments;
  • Access dining services, including at cafés and campus express;
  • Use libraries and other academic support spaces to continue their studies; and
  • Attend academic and support related appointments (e.g. financial aid counselor, academic advisor).

2. Until further notice, the provision of the Stay Safe Pledge that allows for social gatherings of 25 individuals or less is amended such that, with the exception of classroom activity, social gatherings on- and off-campus may not exceed five individuals who do not live together.

3. For the time being, we are asking and strongly encouraging Greek houses to adopt a “no-visitors” policy (beyond those who reside in those houses), akin to the policy in place for on-campus residence halls.

4. Until further notice, we are asking all students to remain vigilant and rededicate themselves to best health practices, including social distancing and the use of face coverings.

Finally, we are aware that some of our students have hosted outside visitors in recent days and weeks. Please, as a reminder to our students, their families and friends: The University continues to ask parents, families and friends to refrain from visiting Central New York for at least the duration of this semester.

The University will continue to provide updates as new information becomes available. In the meantime, please be accountable to protect yourself, each other and our community.”

TUESDAY, OCTOBER 6, 1:00PM — Syracuse University alerted students, parents, and staff of an emerging cluster of COVID-19 cases that appears to be associated with an off-campus party from last week.

According to a letter from J. Michael Haynie, the Vice-Chancellor for Strategic Initiatives and Innovation, the “initial investigation suggests that this emerging cluster is the result of one or more students returning to campus after traveling outside of Central New York to visit another college late last week.”

It is believed those individuals then attended an off-campus party. The university is asking anyone who attended a party or social gathering last week or over the weekend at an apartment complex on Walnut Avenue to shelter in place and immediately contact the COVID Program Management Office by calling 315-443-6180 or emailing

Syracuse University has confirmed 13 positive cases that can be traced either directly or indirectly back to this event and campus officials expect to see more cases as contact tracing and testing continues.

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