Board cautions students against gathering as COVID-19 cases spike

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Ryan P. Cruz, Associate Editor

The City College Board of Trustees met Thursday for the first time since early October where Superintendent-President Utpal Goswami provided an updated report on COVID-19 at the college, where there have only been a few cases of students testing positive.

“The number of students who have contracted COVID probably you can count on two hands,” Goswami said.

Only cases reported through athletics or in-person activities are being kept track of so the college has no official number of cases.

He said the few cases that have been reported were “not because of being on campus,” and the higher-risk departments like athletics are being especially proactive.

“We have been very diligent and strict in adhering to our protocols and certainly with our athletic teams our expectations are much higher,” Goswami said.

The athletic department is attempting to get everything in place to have live competitions in the spring, which would require all participating players and staff to be tested within 48 hours of each game.

Athletes would also be allowed an additional year of eligibility, taking into account the shortened length of the season and the risk of infection. The official decision on athletic competition will be made in late November or early December.

Goswami also spoke on the recent COVID-19 spike in the community, and what the college is doing to encourage students to maintain safe practices, especially during the upcoming holiday season.

He said the college would be sending out messages to students in the coming weeks alerting them to be very cautious if they are traveling.

Trustee Jonathan Abboud suggested the board create an actual policy to set guidelines preventing those who recently traveled out of the area for the holidays from spreading the virus on campus, in an attempt to maintain a low number of cases.

Abboud said the leadership should be concerned about people potentially spreading the virus on campus.

“When people travel and come back it’s a higher risk,” he said.

Goswami said there were no policies at the moment but that the administration would think about implementing similar guidelines in the future to prevent any long-term spikes.

“Looking at things long-term makes no sense,” Abboud said. “The spikes are happening again now, and we should be proactive and take our action now.”

The board approved a resolution honoring outgoing trustee Craig Nielsen, who has been a member since 2012 and often a voice of dissent.

He was recognized as an outspoken advocate of the SBCC Foundation and Promise Program, and as someone who always fostered lively debate at meetings.

“I can say that I have truly valued trustee Nielsen’s participation,” said Trustee Peter Haslund. “At the end of the day, we could still talk and enjoy each other’s company and it’s one of the things that has really positively defined the board because we can disagree.”

Nielsen has served on the board for eight years and is moving on to pursue other ventures.

“It’s one of the most interesting things I have done in my life,” Nielsen said. “Because of the broad impact that my actions would have.”