Update on the COVID-19 Virus: March 10, 2020

To all members of the Cooper Union Community:

We continue to monitor closely the latest developments concerning the 2019 novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) and are doing so with the safety and wellbeing of our community as our top priority.

Current Situation

As of now, there are no members of the Cooper community (faculty, students, or staff) who are known to be infected or diagnosed with COVID-19.

On Saturday March 7th, Governor Cuomo declared a State of Emergency for New York with regard to the COVID-19 virus.  The intent of the Governor’s declaration was to enable state access to additional aid, resources, and testing capabilities to combat the spread of COVID-19.  The Governor’s declaration of emergency does not require that we modify any of our current protocols. The Cooper Union has made no changes to classes, activities, operations, and events on our campus.

Our Information Technology Department is currently enabling an online platform to support online teaching, learning, and working should circumstances change that would affect ongoing operations on campus.

We continue to follow guidelines issued by the World Health Organization, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the Centers for Disease Control, and our state and city departments of health and education as they pertain to these developments.  For the latest information (as well as an archive of past notices), please go to the coronavirus/COVID-19 update page.

Building Management

The Cooper Union facilities team is continuing its elevated cleaning protocol on campus, using an FDA-approved disinfection solution to clean all the Cooper Union buildings and offices.  In addition, hand sanitizing stations have been installed on all floors throughout the campus, and the team has been monitoring soap dispensers to insure they are full.  As an added precaution, during spring break our facilities team will be deep cleaning classrooms, hallways, and offices.

New Guidance:  Spring Break & Travel

Spring break for The Cooper Union is scheduled to begin on Saturday, March 14, and we are continuing to monitor for updated travel advisories and related news.  In recent weeks, the U.S. Department of State and the CDC have raised travel advisory levels and issued alerts for several countries.  New Guidance:  Cooper Union is recommending that you consider not traveling internationally during this time.  If you do intend to travel internationally, we are asking you to complete the informational travel form, which will help inform our potential response preparation, and submit it to healthandsafety@cooper.edu 10 days prior to your departure date.  (The form will also be available at the coronavirus/COVID-19 update page.) Depending on your destination, you may have difficult decisions to make regarding changing or canceling travel plans to ensure your wellbeing and timely return.  In many countries, entry and exit control measures could change, or quarantines could be implemented, with little notice. These actions could severely impact your plans and/or delay your return home.  Should you experience any delays in returning to campus, notify your academic dean and/or supervisor.

Cooper’s Community of Respect & Support

We also hope we can be sensitive to each individual’s circumstances in this time of uncertainty. We must count on every member of our community to make sure that the discrimination, shunning, and bullying that sometimes accompany an outbreak never occur at Cooper Union.  We have every confidence in our community’s ability to pull together with kindness, care, respect, and concern for the common good.

Prevention & Healthy Habits

The World Health Organization has advised that people can catch COVID-19 from others who have the virus. The disease can spread from person to person through small droplets from the nose or mouth which are spread when a person with COVID-19 coughs or exhales. These droplets land on objects and surfaces around the person. Other people then catch COVID-19 by touching these objects or surfaces, then touching their eyes, nose or mouth. People can also catch COVID-19 if they breathe in droplets from a person with COVID-19 who coughs out or exhales droplets. This is why it is important to stay more than 1 meter (3 feet) away from a person who is sick.

Symptoms of COVID-19 include fever and symptoms of lower respiratory illness such as cough and difficulty breathing. These symptoms may be similar to the flu or the common cold. In more severe cases, infection can cause pneumonia and other complications, especially in infants, older individuals, and those with underlying health conditions.

One of the best things we can do collectively is remain calm and follow the practical tips below.

  • Wash your hands frequently with soap and warm water for at least 20 seconds or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
  • Cover coughs and sneezes with your arm or tissues, not your bare hands.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Stay home if you are feeling sick. 

Accommodations for Higher Risk Individuals

If you are at higher risk for serious illness from COVID-19 because of your age or because you have a serious long-term health problem (such as heart disease, lung disease, diabetes, etc), it is extra important for you to take actions to reduce your risk of getting sick with the disease. Students who are at higher risk should reach out to the Dean of Students Office to make sure that accommodations are made available to you. The Student Affairs Office may direct you to Cooper Cares. Faculty, staff or administrative personnel who are at higher risk should reach out to their supervisor and/or human resources to ensure that accommodations are made to limit your risks.

If you have been in close contact with a person diagnosed with COVID-19, you may want to consider self-quarantining/home isolation for a period of 14 days to prevent infecting others.  Should you experience any symptoms, please seek medical attention right away, stay home, avoid contact with others until you are well, and please notify your academic dean and/or supervisor.  As an added precaution, it is recommended that you keep an additional 14 days of any medication that is prescribed to you.

  • Students: Through Cooper Care, you have 24/7 online access to medical professionals who can assess and diagnose your concerns, prescribe medication/treatment, and/or refer you to in-person medical visits, as necessary.   Cooper Care is a telehealth service that is accessible via an app on your mobile device or computer. To access Cooper Care, you must be registered at www.cooper.care. There is no cost for this service to Cooper students, and you do not need to use health insurance for this. You can also visit local Urgent Care Centers, including: Mount Sinai DoctorsCity MD, and Northwell Health Urgent Care.
  • Faculty and Staff:  Please reach out to your primary care provider.

For more information, please consult the following resources:

US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Situation Summary
World Health Organization (WHO) Information about Coronavirus
NYC Department of Health Information About Coronavirus 

We know this is a particularly challenging time and many of you are having concerns for friends and family in impacted areas.  Please know that The Cooper Union is here to support you.  Should you have any questions, concerns, or information to report, please email healthandsafety@cooper.edu and someone will respond promptly.

Wishing all the best for our community,

Thomas Tresselt, Director of Campus Safety and Security
Ruben Savizky, Ph.D., Campus-Wide Faculty Safety Coordinator

  • 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.