Coronavirus Update -- March 11, 2020
Dear Cooper Union:
I know that many of you are deeply concerned about COVID-19 and its implications for your own health and for your friends and loved ones. As we have shared with you over the last several days and weeks, a team of people here at Cooper has been actively monitoring the evolving developments and guidance surrounding the response to the 2019 novel Coronavirus (COVID-19).
Many of you have reached out to offer your opinions. Differing viewpoints on how best to proceed in a time of uncertainty are to be expected. There are passionate advocates on all “sides” of the issue – whether to stay open as some schools have, move to remote/online teaching and learning as other schools have, and/or send everyone home for the semester as still others have. What is clear to me is that everyone who has reached out is focused on the health and well-being of each other, and in a time of uncertainty, it is reassuring to see this kind of support in our community. We have read every email, listened in every conversation, and considered the concerns you expressed while also working to balance that input with the unique learning needs of our institution and the advice of the CDC and federal, state, and city officials during this evolving situation.
After weighing the facts and the input from many, we will adjust our academic schedule in the coming weeks to help prevent person-to-person transmission of the virus. Here is the revised academic schedule:
- Today through Friday, March 13 – Cooper Union classes continue as scheduled
Students, faculty, or staff: If you are someone with a high-risk profile, live or are in regular contact with someone who has a high-risk profile, or otherwise are concerned about your susceptibility to COVID-19, please speak with your dean or department head to identify reasonable accommodations.
- Monday, March 16 – Friday, March 20 – Spring break
Following a precautionary deep cleaning of our buildings over the weekend, our administrative offices will remain open. Our IT team and others will finalize preparations for remote/online learning. Again, if you have concerns about your individual situation, please be in touch with your dean or department head/manager.
- Monday, March 23 – Friday, March 27 – Study Week
There will be no classes held this week; rather we will prepare faculty and students to transition to online learning. Students should continue their reading, writing, and any other work that can be completed independently and remotely.
- Monday, March 30 – Online classes begin
We are working now to make sure that everyone can access the online learning technology. If you don’t have the hardware or high speed Internet access to support the online learning platform remotely, we will have designated space at Cooper to accommodate you.
Administrative offices will remain open throughout these changes, with the same caveat as above. If at any time, you are concerned about working in your Cooper location, please speak with your dean or department head/manager to determine if remote working can be an option. Each Department/School will work with their employees regarding alternative work options.
Decisions about how long we will continue remote learning will be made the week of March 30. Should it be determined that students and faculty can return to in-person classroom instruction before the end of the semester, we will give everyone a reasonable amount of time to travel back to campus.
Our residence hall will remain open during this period to support our students who live here.
There are, of course, many additional details related to this shift in the schedule. Our Health and Safety Committee will follow up with a message later today with many of these details. As additional pieces are finalized in the coming days, we will continue to communicate those, as well. For example, we are keenly aware that some areas of study here at Cooper, particularly studio-based courses and lab work, are not as well suited to remote learning. We are determining the best path forward for those classes as well and will have more to share in the coming days.
The decision to suspend classes following spring break was not made lightly. As I’ve said previously, as cases of COVID-19 began to reach the U.S. and New York, we have been examining all options, relying on the facts and medical-based guidance of national, state, and local health agencies and experts, considering how best to mitigate any contribution to the spread of the virus, especially among more vulnerable populations, and also determining how to enable all of us to continue our work to the greatest extent possible within those parameters. I want to thank everyone at Cooper who has been working diligently for the last several weeks to prepare for this possibility.
It’s important to note that there continue to be no reported cases of COVID-19 among the Cooper community. While we are reassured by this, we understand that this fact, alone, does not alleviate the concern that some have. So in addition to continuing to advocate that we all adhere to the CDC’s recommendations for healthy habits that can prevent the spread of the virus and other illness, please be sure to use the resources for health and wellness support that are available to you:
- Students: If you have not yet done so, please register for Cooper Care. You can access physical and mental health care services 24 hours a day, 7 days a week from any location through this telehealth service app on your phone or computer. Register at www.cooper.care. You do not need to use health insurance, and there is no cost to use this service.
- Faculty & Staff: Please remember to be in touch with your primary care physician or visit an urgent care center for medical care. You can also access counseling support through the EAP at 800-252-4555.
It’s important that we take care of ourselves and each other at this time and always.
Again, a second email will be coming to you today with the operational details and logistics that will accompany our schedule changes. In addition, we will be posting a full list of Frequently Asked Questions to our COVID-19 page shortly so you can also look for ongoing updates there soon.