Dear Members of the City College Community,
I am writing with some updates to our response to the COVID-19 outbreak. In this memo I'll talk about travel restrictions that we're putting in place, as well as restrictions on large, non-essential gatherings.
First, however, I'd like to address on-line instruction. The hotline that we've put in place is up and running, and many of the calls are from students who, for one reason or another, feel particularly vulnerable in the face of the virus. Some have pre-existing health conditions, or compromised immune systems. Others live with older relatives or someone who is otherwise at greater risk, and many are interested in taking advantage of on-line learning options.
I've asked for everyone to test out and select a platform that works—including, I should say, the technologically simple option of recording a lecture into a power point deck and then leading an on-line discussion forum. Faculty should now all be prepared to respond favorably to students who are asking for the on-line option. There are challenges in moving to this approach, including how we give tests and figuring out what happens in lab or studio classes—and I hope that you will work with and learn from one another to address and develop what may be discipline-specific responses. But students will be asking for this accommodation and I want to make it clear that we are committed to making it available to them.
Last night, CUNY issued guidance canceling all University-sponsored international student travel for the rest of the semester. Beyond those measures, we are putting the following restrictions in place:
- Travel to CDC Level-3 countries is prohibited.
- All College-related (i.e. funded by the College, CUNY or The Foundation) international travel is prohibited. Grant-related non-essential international travel is strongly discouraged.
- All personal international travel is strongly discouraged.
- The Provost Office must be notified on any international travel by e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org
- All College-related non-essential domestic air travel is prohibited. Grant-related non-essential air travel is strongly discouraged.
- Personal domestic air travel is discouraged.
As you make your travel decisions, we are asking that you carefully weigh your private plans against the need to protect yourself, and those around you, from this virus. If you have questions about whether or not a trip you've planned should be regarded as essential, please consult your chair, the dean or the provost.
A second element of CUNY guidance last night urged that we consider limiting or eliminating non-essential gatherings of more than 50 people. At the moment, we are considering any gathering other than classes to be non-essential, and so we're asking that you cancel events that are not classes but will produce gatherings of 50 or more people. This means that most lectures, conferences, workshops and performances should be canceled. I know that this will come as a huge disappointment to those of you who have been working hard to put one or another event together. Still, these are not usual times, and we need to make adjustments that will be painful, but are necessary. I'm asking for office heads, chairs, and deans to reinforce this message, and make sure that no event of this nature goes forward.
At the moment, we are asking that these cancellations take place up through the end of spring break. At the start of April, we will assess this restriction and see if evolving conditions allow us to lift it for the rest of the academic year.
I want to remind you, finally, that the best place to find updates about our campus response to the virus will be the webpage set up for this purpose. There is a banner at the top of the college's home page that will bring you to our documents about the virus.
We'll continue to keep you apprised of our latest measures we're taking on campus, and the latest steps the university is taking. Our next guidance memo, which you can expect in the next day, will address workplace guidelines for CCNY employees.