Coronavirus Update -- Afternoon March 11, 2020

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.

As President Sparks shared with you this morning, The Cooper Union is adjusting class schedules in the coming weeks in an effort to help prevent person-to-person transmission of COVID-19.  This message will provide you with the logistics of those changes that are confirmed as of now; additional communications will be sent in the coming days as additional details are finalized.

In summary, the class schedule changes are as follows:

  • Today through Friday, March 13 – Cooper Union classes continue as scheduled.
  • Monday, March 16 – Friday, March 20 – Spring break
  • 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 use this week to study and work on assignments that can be completed remotely.
  • Monday, March 30 – Online classes will begin.
  • Decisions about how long we will continue remote learning will be made the week of March 30.

This Week

Classes will continue through Friday, March 13 as scheduled.  Information Technology staff will also begin scheduling general training sessions this week so faculty and students can familiarize themselves with the online learning platforms.  The campus will close at 12:00 midnight, Friday night.

March 14 and March 15

This weekend – Saturday and Sunday, March 14 and March 15 – the Foundation Building, 41 Cooper, and the offices at 30 Cooper Square will be closed so that the buildings can be deep-cleaned as a precautionary measure.  

March 16 – March 20: Spring Break

There are no classes this week; however, campus buildings will be operating as follows:

  • Monday, March 16 through Friday, March 20 from 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.  
  • Saturday, March 21 from 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.  
  • Sunday, March 22 – Closed  

At the present time, there will be no exceptions to this schedule as ongoing cleaning will be happening during the “closed” hours. We may revise the building hour schedules should departments and/or Schools develop alternative work hours to allow staff, faculty, or students access to space while meeting social distancing health recommendations.

March 23 – 27: Study Week

A study week has been scheduled for Monday, March 23 – Friday, March 27.  There will be no classes held this week; rather we will prepare faculty and students remotely to transition to online learning for the following week.  The IT team will schedule training sessions on the remote learning platform for this week; more details will be shared in advance of March 23. Once again, students should use this week to work on assignments that can be completed outside of the classroom.

Building hours are as follows: 

  • Monday March 23 through Friday March 27 – 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. 
  • Saturday March 28 – 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.
  • Sunday March 29 – Closed

Should any revisions be made to buildings hours, we will communicate that at a future time.

March 30 – April 3:  Online Classes Begin

Online classes will begin on Monday, March 30 and run through at least Friday, April 3.  Decisions about the duration of Cooper’s online learning schedule beyond April 3 will be made during this week.

Building hours will be as follows:

  • Monday through Friday – 7:30 a.m. to 10:00 p.m.
  • Saturday and Sunday – 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.

We recognize that some will have concerns regarding the fact that studio and labs classes cannot necessarily be conducted online. The Deans of Architecture, Art, and Engineering are working on solutions for these situations which will be communicated during the week of March 30. 

For students and faculty who may not have the hardware and/or the Wi-Fi bandwidth to support the online learning platform, we are working on providing dedicated space on campus to accommodate you and implementing various social distancing protocols to minimize the potential of person-to-person exposure to the virus.

Additionally, we are also working on accommodations for the online learning classes to support those with hearing or vision challenges. 

Access to Campus Buildings During Spring Break and Remote Weeks

Although we will be transitioning to remote learning, the campus will remain open. Students, faculty, and staff will be able to enter campus buildings, including the library, during open hours only, to work on individual projects during spring break and beyond. We will be establishing social distancing protocols in all rooms and spaces to keep gatherings and person-to-person contact to a minimum.   Students will not be permitted to have guests on campus during this period.

The Residence Hall

Cooper’s Residence Hall will remain open throughout this weekend, spring break, the study week, and the online learning weeks.   Our campus facilities team will be working with the Residence Hall staff and the students who live there to coordinate deep cleaning rotations of all common areas, hallways, and apartments as a precautionary measure. Based on all current data available, the cleaning of surfaces is one of the key proactive things we can do to control the spread of the virus. 

During this time no residential guests will be permitted.  Only students assigned to the residential spaces will be permitted to enter the Residence Hall.  Students wishing to connect with the Office of Student Affairs or the Center for Career Development in person should speak to the guard at the security desk.

Guidance for Faculty

  • IT has been working diligently to provide options for remote delivery of courses. Most if not all of the tools that you need to deliver your courses remotely are available through the TEAMS platform. TEAMS is a collaborative, online tool that is already available to all Cooper Union faculty, staff, and students through the Microsoft platform.   Training will be offered at the end of this week and continuing during the week beginning on Monday March 23rd.
  • It is crucial to remain in contact with your students during this time, via either email, telephone, text messaging, or through other available methods.

Guidance for Staff

  • While we work to keep everyone safe and continue to support our students, Cooper’s administrative operations will remain open, and the expectation is that staff (including part-time) report to work.
  • If you believe that reporting to work puts your health in jeopardy, or that of someone you live with who is in a high-risk category, please speak to your supervisor to discuss your extenuating circumstances and the possibility of working remotely.
  • Supervisors and employees should be clear about expectations and responsibilities and be sure that everyone has all the necessary technology and resources to carry on their duties from home, if approved. 
  • You should minimize group contact, non-essential meetings, and unnecessary travel.
  • Managers/Supervisors may develop alternative work hours to allow for employees to come in to work during non-peak hours and to work in an environment that is respectful of social distancing recommendations.
  • Please contact Human Resources if you have questions or need support. 

Guidance for Students

  • Students should use the week of March 23rd as a time to work on projects and/or assignments that can be completed remotely (i.e. reading, finishing papers, doing research, etc.).
  • As we are working to set-up the online learning platform, you will receive prompts to join classes through TEAMS. There will also be information from the Information Technology Department regarding training on how to log onto the TEAMS platform. Information will be emailed separately on the training schedule. 
  • In addition to online classrooms, the Writing Center is working on providing online support. Once the support is available, we will be sure to communicate with all students.
  • Cooper Care is available and free of charge for all enrolled students – both for physical health and mental health needs - 24 hours, 7 days per week.  Cooper’s network of off-campus counselors also is available for support. Student Affairs will be providing additional information to students.

Guidance for Student Workers

At the current time, we anticipate that student work hours will not be interrupted and that students will continue to work as planned. Students should check with their supervisors to verify their work hours during this period. Students will be notified as soon as possible should any change in work hours be necessary.

Cooper Events on Campus

  • For student shows, guests will be limited, and a guest list will need to be approved by the appropriate Dean.  Shows will be held during regular building hours.
  • Any Cooper Union gathering should be limited to no more than 100 people and should follow appropriate social distancing (6 feet between individuals) recommendations. If there are any exceptions, they must be presented by the Health and Safety Committee for review and approved by President Sparks.
  • We will be evaluating the possibility of potential changes for the End of Year Show, Graduation, Reunion, and other future events as part of the longer planning process.

Continuing Education, STEM, Retraining Program for Immigrant Engineers Program, and Saturday Program

We are suspending the precollege programs during the time frame outlined above and will re-evaluate the programs the week of March 30.  Communications regarding future plans will be sent to precollege participants.   The Director of Continuing Education will communicate to the Continuing Ed certification initiatives, Type@Cooper (Extended and Condensed), and RPIE separately as to arrangements.  Many of the other Continuing Education evening and weekend programs will be cancelled, and students will be notified by the Director. The STEM Program will be temporarily suspended as the Director of STEM evaluates our ability to restart any or all of the program in the coming weeks.

Alumni on Campus

At the present time, we are limiting the buildings to current students, faculty, staff, and administration. Alumni will not have access to the buildings or the library. Alumni events are cancelled until further notice. Any alumni who needs to come on campus should reach out to Alumni Affairs.

Access to the Cooper Union Library

Only current Cooper Union students, faculty, staff, and administration will have access to the Library.

If you have any questions as it relates to any of the information in this email or other topics related to the control of the COVID-19 virus on campus, please email

We will continue to communicate to the Cooper Union community as any further decisions are made. Past and future updates can be found at the Coronavirus / COVID-19 Update page.

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.