Coronavirus Update: March 16, 2020

Dear Cooper Union:

So much has changed in our city and our community in just a week. As our country grapples with important changes to our everyday routines in a monumental effort to stop the spread of the 2019 novel Coronavirus (COVID-19), it is more important than ever that we support each other, find new ways to connect with each other, and communicate with each other.

I write this morning with another update. Since our last communication, we learned that, yesterday, a Visiting Professor in the School of Architecture tested positive for COVID-19.  He was last on campus on Tuesday, March 10 and had no symptoms at that time. I am pleased to report that he is already feeling well and is following the mandatory protocol of self isolating at his home.  We have reached out to the Department of Health about this confirmation and, following their protocols, have separately contacted the students, faculty, and staff who we believe may have been in close contact with him. 

While I had anticipated that we would eventually have a confirmed case at Cooper given the increasing number of cases in New York City and the emergence of cases at other colleges and universities in New York, I know that news of the first reported case, as well as the knowledge that there will likely be additional reported cases as the availability of testing increases, may feel unsettling. Your deans, department heads, and I are all here to support you. If you have a question, reach out. If you have a concern, reach out. If you have an idea, reach out. We will continue to reach out to you as well.

Here is what you should know:

  • Monitor your health. If you develop symptoms – fever, cough, or shortness of breath – call your medical provider right away.
  • For 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. There is no cost for this service to Cooper students, and you do not need to use health insurance for this.  Register at
  • Taking care of your overall wellness and mental health are equally important at this time and always. To access resources for support, please check this list of resources.
  • For Faculty & Staff:  Please be in touch with your primary care physician or visit an urgent care center for medical care if you develop symptoms or have concerns. You can also access counseling support through the EAP at 800-252-4555.
  • If you do feel you have been exposed to a positive case of COVID-19, the recommended protocol is to self isolate at home for 14 days.
  • We are expanding our cleaning protocol in all Cooper buildings including the Residence Hall apartments.
  • This case has been reported to the Department of Health to ensure best practices for the containment of the virus. 

Working to limit the spread of the virus is the quickest way we can return normalcy to our communities which is why, last week, we made the decision to close the campus to all but a small number of essential personnel and are moving instruction online beginning March 30.  As previously indicated, we will announce a timeline for online instruction that week.

As I said last week, I have been so appreciative of and impressed by the way our community has pulled together in this unprecedented situation.  My thanks to all of you.  For ongoing updates, please check the Cooper website as well as the CDC website.  If you have any questions, please email

Wishing you peace and good health,

Laura Sparks

  • 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.