Coronavirus / COVID-19 FAQ

Online Learning -- Students

I read that the State of New York is reducing its funding of the TAP grant program by 20%. Does that mean I’m getting 20% less in financial aid? I rely on that grant for my tuition. What can I do?

Due to severe budget challenges at the state level, New York’s contribution to the TAP grant program is being reduced.  However, at Cooper, we recognize that this need-based assistance is extremely important for our students who qualify and as such, we have made the decision to augment our grant program by an amount equal to the amount lost by this State reduction. In short, if you are a student who received the TAP grant, and it is reduced by 20%, Cooper will replace that amount dollar-for-dollar. If you have any questions, please contact us at financialaid@cooper.edu

I don’t have reliable access to internet. What should I do?

The Information Technology Department may be able to help provide a Wi-Fi hotspot or suggest another solution. Please email IT at itsupport@cooper.edu.

Will there be changes to Library operations?

Yes. In preparation for the Fall 2020 semester, The Cooper Union Library is adapting and improving services to better meet the research needs of students, faculty, and staff. While ensuring safe access to information means that more services and resources have moved online, the Library will be providing contactless pick up for books and other physical materials. 

What will the grading system be like for fall? Will it remain Pass/No Credit like it was for spring 2020 semester?

In the fall, grading will return to A-F. We believe that with the additional time to adapt the syllabi, and with clear expectations for each course, it is an appropriate time to resume the grading system. If you have questions, please reach out to your advisor or professors.

How can I meet with my academic advisor/professors in the Fall 2020 semester?

Your academic advisors and professors are eager and available to meet with you, albeit in a virtual format. Please contact your academic advisor/professor directly on how to set up an appointment with them. Professors are encouraged to hold their regular office hours virtually (via Teams or Zoom).

Will there be trainings or workshops to prepare for online learning?

Yes, the Information Technology Department will be hosting trainings. In fact, first-year students have already had one such session introducing them to Outlook, Teams, and other common platforms that might be used in their learning. Students, faculty, and staff should check their Cooper email for announced workshops.

What if I’m not back on campus and in another time zone, do I have to be online at the class during its scheduled time?

The Information Technology Department has worked closely with the Academic Deans to provide the technological infrastructure necessary to allow for both synchronous and asynchronous learning as appropriate. Wherever and whenever possible, the faculty and students will be provided with the necessary hardware, software, and internet resources to ensure access to online classes for all students.

It doesn’t sound like I really need to be on campus for the fall – is that true?

Our goal is to make it possible for students to continue their education from anywhere so all formal classroom and studio teaching will continue online. Some lab and project courses will allow students building access to take full advantage of our laboratory resources, but courses will not require that students access our buildings. Cooper materials will be shipped to students when appropriate. We are aiming to accommodate the wide range of health-risk profiles and family circumstances within our community, to limit the spread of the virus, and to maximize flexibility should we need to close campus due to a local outbreak or a sizable second wave of the pandemic and a requirement for another PAUSE by local and/or federal government.

Won’t students who can use the in-person studios, labs, and fabrication spaces have an advantage over those who don’t?

All three schools are creating kits that will be mailed to students’ homes so they may have similar learning experiences as those who are able to take advantage of tools and spaces on campus. For example, School of Art will supply each first-year student Foundation student with a kit that includes materials and tools necessary for the first year as well as increase the budget for each class to purchase materials for students. School of Engineering is creating “Cooper Boxes” for project courses that contain materials and components so that the hands-on, project-based component of the courses can be retained. School of Architecture will send first-year students specialized materials, tools, and resources needed for the courses they are taking, whether remotely or working in the studio. These materials will support drawing and model building, and other hands-on work whether on campus, at home, or anywhere around the globe. Also, the digital tools available in the AACE and Media Labs will be available to all students to utilize either remotely or in person.

I have friends/siblings attending other NYC-area schools and they seem to be adopting more of an in-person, on-campus approach. Why will Cooper be primarily virtual in the fall?

The plan was developed based on the best available information as of now keeping in mind Cooper’s high-quality learning experience for students while providing a safe environment for our community. With the assumption that vaccines and/or readily available therapeutic responses to the COVID-19 virus will not be widely available by Fall 2020, the Cooper Union created a plan for online learning along with a plan to allow for access to the campus and spaces critical to the learning experience of our undergraduate students in Art, Architecture and Engineering. Our goal was to accommodate the wide range of health-risk profiles and family circumstances, to limit the spread of the virus, and to maximize flexibility so that our approach can transition smoothly should circumstances change.

On Campus -- All

Will everyone be required to wear a face covering while on campus?

Yes, everyone will be required to wear a face covering while on campus -- including those who must make in- person visits (deliveries, inspections, contractors, etc.). Two cotton, reusable masks will be provided to all students, faculty, and staff, and masks will be provided to any non-essential visitor who does not have their own. See Preparing for the Fall 2020 Semester for more details.

What is the policy on physical distancing while on campus?

Based on current guidelines, we are implementing both reduced capacity levels and social distancing protocols of 6ft of minimum spacing between occupants. In certain spaces where traffic flow and individual interaction may not be able to meet the 6ft social distancing, plastic shielding will be installed to separate individuals. Signage will be placed throughout campus, including in the residence hall, to help reinforce social distancing and best practices, including pedestrian traffic flows. Access to campus buildings must be scheduled to ensure that social distancing and reduced density guidelines are always maintained. The Director of Security and Safety is responsible for all campus visits. See Preparing for the Fall 2020 Semester for more details.

How will policies on face coverings and physical distancing be enforced? Will there be consequences for students/staff/faculty who do not follow the protocol?

All members of the community (students, faculty, and staff) will be asked to sign a social contract pledging they will follow campus guidelines for the entire community’s safety. We hope that our community members will respect each other and maintain these guidelines. The Student Code of Conduct is also being updated to communicate required standards of practice under COVID-19 to keep everyone safe.

Will hand sanitizing stations be placed throughout campus?

Yes, hand sanitizers will be available in all classrooms, workspaces, hallways, and lobbies. In spaces such as maker spaces, studios, and laboratories, disinfectant wipes will be available for tools and equipment. The Facilities Department will be responsible for replacing depleted dispensers on a regular basis.

How will public spaces be cleaned and sanitized?

The Facilities Department will increase frequency of cleaning in high-traffic locations, such as classrooms, hallways, restrooms, public reception areas, and elevators. Custodial staff will disinfect frequently touched surfaces at a minimum of twice per day, typically in the early morning and mid-day. Products used for disinfection routines will be EPA/NYSDEC-approved to be effective against COVID-19.

Also, we are cleaning all air ducts in the Residence Hall, the Foundation Building, and 41 Cooper Square, and have updated HVAC coils and filters with the latest parts approved for COVID -19 air protection. Filters will be replaced once a month instead of the standard three-month cycle to provide maximum air protection.

What is Cooper doing to keep facilities and security personnel safe from COVID-19?

Custodial staff are trained on the appropriate use of cleaning and disinfection chemicals, will wear appropriate PPE, and practice appropriate social distancing guidelines. We have ordered supplies of gloves and masks for these teams to ensure their safety. Plastic shielding has been installed at all the security desks to protect staff.

Does Cooper student and employee health insurance cover COVID testing?

Most COVID testing is free. For any faculty, staff or student who is looking for a free site for COVID-19 Testing, New York State has a website that lists free testing sites or call the NYS COVID -19 Hotline at 888-364-3065. You can find sites where testing turnaround is within 48 hours.

What is the status of campus in-person events/gatherings?

The Cooper Union will not generally provide campus space for external events in fall 2020. Current NYS guidelines limit gatherings to 25 or fewer if physical distancing protocols are in place. In light of that guidance, all departments and programs are encouraged to host virtual events. Campus events that cannot be done virtually or within applicable federal, state and local social distancing guidelines will be postponed to a time when guidance permits these types of events.

What is the protocol for visitors to campus?

Access to campus buildings must be scheduled to ensure that social distancing and reduced density guidelines are maintained at all times. The Director of Security and Safety is responsible for all campus visits. Please note visitors will not be allowed in the residence halls, and the Cooper Union discourages non-essential visitors to access the other buildings. Virtual visits and appointments should be used to transact business whenever possible. See Preparing for the Fall 2020 Semester for more details.

Will Cooper do contact tracing and how?

Yes, contact tracing will be initiated, implemented, and managed by the New York City Healthcare Department with support from the Cooper Union Contract Tracing Team. Cooper Union has a team of twelve individuals certified by the Johns Hopkins Contact Tracing Program to provide additional resources and to coordinate with the City’s contact tracers. See Preparing for the Fall 2020 Semester for more details.

With limited campus activities, how will Cooper build community?

We are looking to cultivate spaces for social connections virtually, including a potential 24 hour virtual meeting space and additional hubs for extra-curricular ideas. Student Affairs - who has already been hosting a variety of virtual events this summer including a night of spoken word poetry - and the Schools will send further information via Cooper email throughout the semester.

How will move-in be handled?

Residence Hall move in will be phased from mid-August until the start of classes. Students living in the residence hall are scheduling their move in date and time directly with the housing team.

I am an international student and cannot travel to New York/secure a visa for travel. Won’t I be at a disadvantage to be 100% virtual for the fall?

Our goal is to make it possible for students to continue their education from anywhere. All three schools are creating kits that will be mailed to the students’ home –even internationally--so they may have similar learning experiences as those who are able to take advantage of tools and spaces on campus. We created this plan keeping in mind Cooper’s high-quality learning experience for students while providing a safe environment for our community. Also, the digital tools available in the AACE and Media Labs will be available to all students to utilize either remotely or in person.

General

My family is facing financial challenges due to COVID-19. Are there additional opportunities for financial aid?

We are making emergency funding available for any Cooper student adversely impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, and we are also making additional funds available for students who are not eligible for CARES support. For more, including deadlines and the application form, see Emergency COVID-19-Related Funding for Students

Is there additional emergency funding support available? How can I receive money from the CARES act?

All Cooper Union students are eligible to be considered for emergency support as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Keep in mind students who have previously received COVID-related emergency funds/financial assistance from Cooper will NOT be eligible for additional emergency funds from the CARES ACT or the COVID Emergency Fund. For more, including deadlines and the application form, see Emergency COVID-19-Related Funding for Students.

President Sparks’ community message mentioned that Cooper intends to honor the part virtual/part in person model through the spring semester. Does that mean we’ll be primarily learning virtually for the whole academic year?

In order to ensure consistency in instruction so that no students are disadvantaged if their personal circumstances prevent them from coming to New York – even in the spring should NYC guidance allow the school to open further -- students will be able to continue their education remotely. We believe that we need to plan for resurgences to occur at any point during the year and have crafted a plan that will enable us to limit on-campus activity at any point should that be necessary.

I am a student who has had a work-study scholarship previously. How does this decision to stay primarily virtual impact my ability to hold a work-study job?

Student work will continue in Fall 2020, despite the challenges associated with COVID-19. Most work will be done remotely, and all of the processes will be handled virtually/digitally. See the enrollment update for more details.

Remote Working – Faculty & Staff

Should staff plan to work remotely indefinitely?

Employees who can perform their work remotely will continue to do so throughout the semester. It will enable us to lower the density of people on campus to allow space for those who need to be in the offices, shop, studios, and labs. As some positions require staff to be on campus, these individuals will be provided proper PPE and an appropriately cleaned and maintained workspace.

  • Founded by inventor, industrialist and philanthropist Peter Cooper in 1859, The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art offers education in art, architecture and engineering, as well as courses in the humanities and social sciences.

  • “My feelings, my desires, my hopes, embrace humanity throughout the world,” Peter Cooper proclaimed in a speech in 1853. He looked forward to a time when, “knowledge shall cover the earth as waters cover the great deep.”

  • From its beginnings, Cooper Union was a unique institution, dedicated to founder Peter Cooper's proposition that education is the key not only to personal prosperity but to civic virtue and harmony.

  • Peter Cooper wanted his graduates to acquire the technical mastery and entrepreneurial skills, enrich their intellects and spark their creativity, and develop a sense of social justice that would translate into action.