NORTH COUNTRY, NY- Colleges and universities across the country are working hard to welcome back students safely. That means reconfiguring dorms, expanding COVID-19 testing, and figuring out social distancing in classrooms.
On Monday, North Country Congresswoman Elise Stefanik spoke with New York state colleges including SUNY Plattsburgh and North Country Community College to see where they are at in the process.
Many higher education institutions in the North Country said they are grateful for CARES Act funding they have been able to use for reopening, but they’ll need more funding to ensure the health and safety of all students.
“I am pushing for additional funds both to the state and local level, but additional funds directly to our higher ed institutions on top of the $25 million already allocated by the CARES Act,” said Rep. Stefanik.
President of SUNY Plattsburgh Alexander Enyedi said a majority of the CARES Act funding they received was used to give money back to students, as well as refunds with their housing and dining facilities.
However, Enyedi explained that the school is investing in many safety measures that require a lot of funding.
“We are increasing our testing supply capacity, we are making a tremendous amount of infrastructure modifications on campus, we are updating our health center and providing infrastructure there for surveillance and testing, we are acquiring as everyone is doing a lot of PPE,” said Enyedi.
Joe Keegan, president of North Country Community College said the college will be operating mostly online, but they are facing many additional challenges.
“Many of the students that we support who are not college ready or who need a number of supports to be successful and when they come to it are able to be successful, that requires extra funding,” said Keegan.
Congresswoman Elise Stefanik said she is currently working on and supporting bills to get federal funding to colleges and universities and bills for student loan relief.