Coronavirus Update -- March 13, 2020
Dear Cooper Union:
As you know, we continue to monitor the developments across New York City and the nation regarding the 2019 novel Coronavirus (COVID-19). The situation changes daily. Yesterday, NYC declared a local state of emergency to help strengthen efforts and access additional resources to help mitigate the spread of the virus. As a result, Broadway theaters, Carnegie Hall, the Metropolitan Museum, MoMa, the Intrepid, and, of particular importance, the Schools of the Archdiocese, serving 19,000 students, announced their decisions to close. In addition, yesterday, all non-essential employees at NYU were strongly advised to telework until further notice. This was in addition to the national announcements of the suspension of major sports leagues, March Madness, and Disney World.
We care deeply about the health of our students and employees. As a result, as an administration, we have decided to close our academic and administrative buildings beginning Saturday, March 14 through Sunday, March 22 and will move to a remote work environment for the week. Only essential personnel will be asked/permitted to be in the buildings. The Residence Hall will remain open and staffed to support our students who live there.
Our Cabinet will be meeting via video conference daily next week in a focused effort to plan for the weeks to come. We will use the time each day to carefully plan how we will resume on-campus operations after Spring Break, including the operations of our buildings, shops, studios, and labs, as well as our transition to remote/online learning.
Our IT team is dedicated to supporting Cooper Union and will be working through the week to prepare everyone for remote/online learning. To that end, they have put together a triage team, associating an IT member with each department. Additional information will follow from the IT team, including information about online training sessions and other supports for faculty, staff, and students.
Of course, all of this is subject to evolving guidance and mandates from our federal, state, and city governments, as well as any newly released guidance from experts in science, medicine, and public health. As the situation evolves, so will we. I appreciate everybody’s flexibility and care for one another during this time.
Students & Faculty
Due to Spring Break starting March 16th, students and faculty will be less affected by next week’s building closures. However, this decision does mean that faculty and students will not have access to Cooper Union buildings, including offices, studios, shops, labs, and the library during the week of Spring Break. We understand that students need access to these spaces to complete their projects. We will use the time next week while we are all working remotely to develop safety protocols for spaces requiring multiple people to touch the same equipment and to be in close proximity to one another. We understand that this presents challenges, but in light of potential health risks, we are erring on the side of caution and believe this decision is in the best interest of our entire community. It will also provide time for us to better prepare for the Independent Study Week that begins March 23rd and for the remote learning environment that will follow.
If you have any questions about the campus closure, please contact your dean.
For most staff, we ask that you make preparations today to begin working remotely as of Monday, March 16, 2020. The Cooper Union will remain open next week, just in a different format. Our work to support our students, faculty, staff, alumni and broader community continues. If you do not have access to a computer at home, please ask your dean or supervisor to contact Information Technology to see whether there is an available Cooper laptop for you to use at home. Loaner laptops are limited, so please only request one if you have no other options at home so that those who truly need one can get one.
A small number of employees who perform essential duties that are directly related to maintaining the campus have already been contacted by their supervisors with further information on reporting to work next week.
If you have questions about communication, remote work, essential services, or anything else related to the campus closure next week, please contact your supervisor or email the Health and Safety Committee.
We will continue to share updates as frequently as necessary, and you can continue to check our website for the latest information.
I want to thank everyone for pulling together – faculty, staff, and students, alike – as we have worked our way through an unprecedented several days. The collaborative and measured decision-making, the thoughtful consideration of countless scenarios, and the support across schools and departments, particularly as things are changing so rapidly, have been tremendous and incredibly heartening.