06:32:55 pm on
Wednesday 14 Apr 2021

NY Road Trip Part 2
Matt Seinberg


Oneonta Fountain

Click here to read part of one.

Too much has happened since I wrote Part One of this story. The hard part, now, is deciding where to re-start; the ride from Clifton Park was uneventful and we arrived home in time for a nice nap. I've learned to take naps whenever I can.

Fast forward two weeks.

Reports are coming out of the State University of New York (SUNY) Oneonta that Covid-19 cases were spiking and there would be a two week pause of in-person classes, which would go on-line only for that period. The dining halls were closing; the students would have food delivered to their rooms. That sounded all well and good, but it wasn't.

The food delivered was inedible. I'm talking stale bread, moldy food and bottled water. This is not what we paid almost $3000 for in food service.

Then the other shoe dropped. The school announced they were closing the campus, because there were now over 500 cases of Covid-19. How did that happen? There were some students that ignored social distancing guidelines and mask wearing. They had a party and Covid-19 spread as wildfire from there. To think it all started because five idiot students thought to have some fun.

Melissa was devastated to say the least. She spent two years at home, with the promise of going away for two years; now that dream was quickly becoming a nightmare. She liked her roommate and was making new friends.

I joined an Oneonta Parents group on Facebook. I found out we were all going through the same things with our kids. None of them were happy.

Then we found out we must make a round trip to Oneonta, that Friday, to pick up Melissa and her belongings. I dislike long drives and having to drive eight hours round trip in one day did not make me happy. There are several ways to get up to Oneonta and we took the all-highway route this time, both ways.

What a mistake. It probably added up to forty-five minutes each way, along with some miles. I didn't realize how out of the way this route was; I would never go this way again.

Well, guess what? I don't ever have to go to Oneonta again. Ever.

The kicker came as we kept reading of Oneonta on-line. The Covid-19 cases kept going up. As of now, it is over seven hundred confirmed cases in a population of roughly 14,000.

When Melissa was still on campus, she and her entire dorm tested negative. When her roommate got home, she tested positive. Melissa had to test, again, and this was the Sunday before Memorial Day. I went to work, as if all were okay, but got a call on Sunday night saying I couldn't come in on Monday or at all until Melissa's test results came back.

Melissa was negative for Covid-19.

Thank goodness, though. On Tuesday, her test came back negative. I was able to return to work on Wednesday.

Melissa decided that online classes weren't for her and withdrew from all her classes. I call this her lost semester. Michelle had two of them, so why couldn't Melissa have at least one?

Since no one had any idea what Oneonta was going to do for the spring semester, Melissa decided to stay home and return to SUNY, Farmingdale, and change her major from Political Science to Criminal Justice. Both are routes to becoming a lawyer, just different twists and turns. For some reason she is interested in serial killers, so I told her this could be a route to the FBI. That would certainly be interesting.

Staying home is much less expensive than going away. We pay only her tuition. No more room and board, which is insanely expensive.

Last week Melissa called Oneonta and officially withdrew; she did her application for SUNY Farmingdale, too. Now she must await an official withdraw notification from Oneonta and she's set. Now, we wait to see if Farmingdale will have in person classes or online only. If it's online, she will skip the semester and start again next fall.

Another shoe dropped last week when the president of Oneonta, Barbara Morris, resigned "for another opportunity." I'm betting the SUNY Chancellor, Jim Malatras suggested she resign, gracefully, or he’d fire her. Dennis Craig, former president of SUNY, Purchase, replaced Morris.

Craig tamed Covid-19 in Purchase by limiting the number of students living on campus and kept in-person classes small, as well. That's his plan for Oneonta, as well, with only 17% of students allowed to live on campus. That's 1139 of 6700 students. Those decisions, by Craig, made the decision to stay home easier for Melissa.

wonder how the Oneonta was going to decide which students the school would allow to stay on campus. My first thought was whoever lived furthest away. Yet, politics, schools and logic don't mix well together; so, forget it.

All we ask of Melissa is to get a part-time job, of some sort, to help pay for school, since she is now ineligible for the New York State Excelsior Scholarship. Because she withdrew, she can't collect it anymore. I also think that with all the financial problems New York State is having, that scholarship won't have any funding left anyway.

Covid-19 changes expectations.

This is not the college experience we wanted for Melissa. Covid-19 sucks the joy out of everything. Changing schools is a pain, but better than the alternative.

Matt Seinberg lives on Long Island, a few minutes east of New York City. He looks at everything around him and notices much. Somewhat less cynical than dyed in the wool New Yorkers, Seinberg believes those who don't see what he does like reading about what he sees and what it means to him. Seinberg columns revel in the silly little things of life and laughter as well as much well-directed anger at inept, foolish public officials. Mostly, Seinberg writes for those who laugh easily at their own foibles as well as those of others.

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