St. Lawrence County Reopening Task Force welcomes return to colleges

CANTON, NY — As local colleges welcome students back to the area, the St. Lawrence County Reopening Task Force wants to continue building on the recent success the County has seen controlling new COVID numbers and moving through the reopening phases for the economy.

According to St. Lawrence County Reopening Task Force Chair Patrick Kelly, also the CEO of the County IDA, “the economic impact of the colleges in the County is clearly significant.  The five colleges and universities have approximately 13,000 students, 3,000 employees and have an annual economic impact to the local economy that can be measured in the hundreds of millions of dollars.”

The annual economic impact from the colleges results from many aspects of operations: salaries, construction spending, local procurement, spending by thousands of annual visitors, and more.  Notably, the returning students and college employees are customers to our local businesses and members of our communities.  The students not only enrich our communities, many are from local communities and stay after graduation as members of the local workforce.

The universities have collaborated hand-in-glove with numerous local entities in structuring their return to campus plans.  In addition to coordinating with the Reopening Task Force, SLC Public Health, the local hospitals, municipal governments, law enforcement, chambers of commerce, economic development, the North Country Regional Control Room, and the NYS Department of Health, many others have been engaged in the process of planning the return of students to the colleges.

Much of the information regarding the return to campus plans has been shared already and is available from each of the colleges.  Information on the plans for each of the colleges in Canton and Potsdam may be found at

Careful consideration of every aspect of campus operations and life is demonstrated in the plans from testing, contact tracing, quarantine planning and surveillance, and changes to the physical plant, classrooms, residential life, dining, and athletics. Highlights of the plans include:

  • Students are required to sign “social contracts” for responsible behavior and safe practices when on-campus and in SLC communities;

  • Campus plans and procedures are in alignment with guidance and regulations from SLC Public Health, NYS Department of Health, and the Centers for Disease Control; and

  • These plans were developed by dozens of workgroups on each campus and in consultation with local community entities and national experts.

In order to best ensure the success of the return of the students and the restart of classes, as well as the ongoing positive local COVID control efforts, the Reopening Task Force encourages students, local businesses and all citizen to please make sure employees and customers are wearing masks, practice social and physical distancing, wash your hands, stay home if sick, and stay local and limit unnecessary travel out of the area.