Dear Members of the CCNY Community,
Today, we will begin to implement a new plan in relationship to our campus buildings. To this point, we have kept all buildings open, but that is no longer feasible. Yesterday, I announced the closing of the library spaces around campus. Previous to that, I announced that the Spitzer School of Architecture would be closing for deep cleaning. Each of these closing were to take place in response to specific news about an individual who had (or was suspected to have) contracted the coronavirus and spent time in that space. Today, we undertake something new, something more expansive.
We are now past the point where it makes sense to attempt to deep clean places on campus that we think have been exposed. The truth is that we don’t know how long someone can carry the virus without showing symptoms, or if everyone who can spread the virus will ever even display symptoms. As the number of New York cases grow, we must assume that any crowded space is a dangerous space.
There is also no real evidence of how effective or necessary deep cleaning is. Can we pinpoint the places and the people someone with the virus has exposed? Does the virus live out of the human body for hours or days? At what point is a patient likely to be contagious (when they are symptomatic only? Before that?) How effective are deep cleaning methods anyway? We simply don’t know precise answers to these questions.
Instead, as we begin distance learning today and move into more extensive telecommuting, we will begin to identify buildings, and places within buildings, that these steps have depopulated. We will specifically identify small numbers of individuals who will have access to specific parts of a building, and only allow those people to come in and out—but we would like to reduce this number to a bare minimum, ideally to zero. Where possible, we will close off portions of buildings to all traffic, and allow them to remain empty. Most buildings will be closed to all traffic.
We will keep a small number of public spaces open to everyone—the food pantry, and Hoffman lounge will remain accessible. The tech center is currently closed but will reopen on Monday (for the time being, people who wish to use wifi or computer equipment will be directed to the information desk on the ground floor lobby to be set up someplace else). Remaining staff on the ground floor of the administration building, for as long as staff remain there, will be accessible. Teaching studios in the tech center that allow the production of on-line classes, and are supported by personnel from the tech office, will remain accessible. Apart from that, you will not have access to CCNY buildings and you should stay away from campus, unless coming here is unavoidable.
Where we can, we will physically lock closed buildings and portions of buildings; in all cases, we will post signs to indicate the boundary between closed and open spaces. Importantly, we will no longer service closed buildings or areas. We will not ask facilities crews to clean them. We will not deep clean these areas if for some reason we hear that a sick person has entered one of them. Nobody will be allowed into closed areas and it is incumbent on each of us to abide by those restrictions to maintain the safety of the community. This particularly applies to those of us who may have key cards that permit you to enter a closed space. We will regard entry into a closed space as a fundamental and serious violation of rules designed to protect our entire community. If you are not one of a small number of designated essential staff, you must stay home. If you are a student, you should make every effort to avoid the campus, using our resources only if you have no other alternative.
We will fully implement this policy by the end of the day on Friday. Everyone who is telecommuting and putting distance learning materials together should have used the instructional recess to take whatever materials they need from their offices—but you’ll still have until Friday evening to come get whatever else you need. I urge you to be judicious in deciding, even now, to come to campus. The less people who come in, the better off we will all be. The same thing applies to everyone who will be telecommuting; you should have used the instructional recess to set yourself up at home, but if you absolutely need anything from your office, you’ll have access until Friday. On a case by case basis, emergency, escorted visits to a closed space will be possible thereafter, but these will need to be arranged through your supervisor. We all need to do everything possible to limit traffic on campus.
Research and laboratories
We recently issued guidelines for the ramping down of research activity and the closing of labs. On a case by case basis, where long running experiments need to be sustained, or special equipment needs to be tended, we will allow limited access to labs—with the view that all on-campus research activity should be winding down, and even those with sensitive equipment should minimize their need to come in and take care of it. These plans will be lab and experiment specific, and worked out explicitly with chairs, deans and the provost. I know that many of you have already begun this work.
Teaching Labs and Studios:
Ideally, no on-line instruction should require access to a lab or studio. Instructors should have spent, and should continue to spend, time and effort discovering alternatives to using their laboratory or studio spaces for teaching. In the event that there is no alternative to teaching from those spaces, you will be given limited access to your lab space for the specific purpose of teaching. You should secure that access via your chair and dean. Nobody should expect to be able to access their labs without specific permission. I want to reiterate that, to the extent possible, we should all be examining alternatives to in-person, in-lab arrangements, and under no circumstances should you ask students to come to campus for in person labs.
We are retaining a skeletal staff in student service offices, but will continue to push more and more of our work on-line and off campus. Every student service website will have instructions for moving things like document submissions and appointments to an on-line profile. The development of these services is an ongoing thing, and an office that may need to be open today could well move to a fully electronic presence in a week or so.
Health and Well-Being
Wellness and Counseling have opened up virtual counseling, and the counseling center has begun providing clinical services to students over the phone. The wellness center will also soon be opening up a ZOOM channel so that members of our community can receive on-line medical advice. In addition, counseling has begun to develop workshops to assist students when the campus returns to normal. Accessibility Services is set up for phone sessions and will be opening up a Zoom channel to interact with students.
The food pantry remains open and accessible. However, since most of the time the pantry is staffed by students and we are asking students to mainly stay away, access to the pantry will often need to be arranged. If you find the pantry open when you come to campus, use it as you normally would. If you find it closed during office hours, someone will open it for you. Under those cases please call Dee Dee Mozeleski at 914.216.9797, or President Boudreau at 212.650.7285.
Starting on Friday afternoon, we expect only the following campus spaces will be open:
- The ground floor (only!) of the administration building
- The first two floors (only!) of NAC.
All other buildings will be closed to general traffic, and only specifically permitted essential staff or people with explicit and time bound permission will be allowed to enter these buildings.
Buildings and space that will be entirely closed are the following
- All libraries on campus;
- Aaron Davis Hall
- The Spitzer School of Architecture
- Baskerville Hall
- Shepard Hall (except for the office of human resources)
All other campus buildings will be closed to anyone who does not have explicit entrance permission.
These measures represent a fundamental repositioning of our campus, and will be inconvenient for many of us. I would not take these measures if I did not think they were absolutely necessary.
They also represent a step in what I think will be an ongoing progression—as we shut down spaces, we will move more and more people to non-essential, telecommuting of off campus positions.
I wish you all the very best, to take care of yourself and your neighbors, and to think, all the time and every day, about how we can work together to make the situation better.