Hunter’s Response to Coronavirus
On March 11, 2020, Hunter College President Jennifer J. Raab announced the following:
To the Hunter Community,
By now you have likely seen the Governor’s announcement and the Chancellor’s update about suspending classes for an Instructional Recess from March 12th to March 18th and the move to remote instruction beginning March 19th for all CUNY and SUNY schools. All Hunter College campuses will remain open and campus operations will continue. This includes student advising, the cafeteria, athletic facilities, the library, the AccessABILITY office, Human Resources, and ICIT.
Our number one priority is your health and safety. We are simultaneously committed to our students completing the spring semester and supporting our faculty’s research and scholarship. Working with our dedicated faculty and staff, Hunter has been making preparations in case a transition to remote instruction was necessary, and we are confident our faculty will be able to provide students with high-quality remote instruction that meets our accreditation standards. There will be many questions and updates in the coming days, and we will continue to provide updates by email and on our website as more information becomes available.
Instructional Recess – 3/12-18
From Thursday, March 12, through Wednesday, March 18, all campus-based classes will be suspended so students, faculty, and staff are able to prepare for the transition to remote instruction. However, all fully online courses will continue without interruption.
Please note: All of Hunter’s campuses will remain open, including the main campus on 68th Street; our Brookdale health science building on 25th Street and FDR Drive; our East Harlem campus which includes the Silberman School of Social Work; the 41st Street home to our animal behavior program (i.e., our former MFA building); our two freestanding buildings on 65th Street, Parliamo Italiano and Roosevelt House; the Hunter College Campus Schools; the Belfer Research Building we share with Weill Cornell; our Studio Art MFA at 205 Hudson; and the home to our PRIDE Consortium at 36th Street. Below is some specific guidance for our students, faculty, and staff about what to do during this Instructional Recess period.
We understand that this shift to remote instruction will impact students differently, and we are committed to making it as smooth a transition as possible. Computer labs, libraries, student union, and other spaces on campus will be open to provide additional access to technology and space for students to study both during the Instructional Recess and after. We will do the best we can to ensure that students have access to the technology needed for remote instruction. In addition to computer labs and space on campus, we are exploring an off-site laptop loan program as well as increasing the number of computers available on campus. Students who need additional accommodations to facilitate remote instruction should contact the AccessABILITY office as soon as possible to make appropriate arrangements.
Hunter and CUNY have been working closely to investigate the potential impact this transition could have on student financial aid regulations. At this point, Higher Education Services Corporation (HESC) has indicated that it will work with colleges to ensure “continued eligibility for awards under all circumstances related to the coronavirus.” We will share more information as it becomes available.
We are working to provide additional support for students. The Food Pantry will remain open, and we will continue to provide the Fresh Food Box program. We are working with student government to identify additional areas where students need support. Through the Hunter College Foundation, we have created an Emergency Assistance Fund to help students impacted by the coronavirus outbreak, including those who lost their employment or wages; please email Vice President and Dean of Students Eija Ayravainen for more information.
For students living in student dormitories—including Brookdale and 79th Street dorms and our leased dorm rooms on 3rd Avenue and also on 92nd Street—the dorms will remain open. You will receive additional guidance from your residence hall director about proactive steps being taken in the residence halls to ensure the health and safety of our students. Please reach out to your residence hall director with any questions or concerns.
Students should continue to report to their clinical/field placements, internships, and student teaching programs unless they have been otherwise instructed. We understand that some sites have been suspended and anticipate additional disruption. Impacted students will hear directly from their deans, chairs, and program directors with more information.
The Instructional Recess is a time for you to prepare remote instructional plans for your courses in coordination with your department chair, program head, and dean. Please work with your chair to outline your plans for teaching remotely for the duration of the spring term and identify resources such as software that will be needed to facilitate this transition. We have created this checklist as a guide.
Remote instruction plans will be reviewed to ensure they address learning outcomes and meet accreditation standards. We want to reiterate that there are a multitude of resources available for faculty as they consider how to teach their courses remotely. The preferred platform for teaching is Blackboard Collaborate, which meets Hunter’s privacy and security needs and is supported by ICIT. An online technology FAQ is available to help prepare. To assist faculty, we will hold training sessions on each campus and share resources and online guides; the HelpDesk is available to provide additional technical support. If Blackboard Collaborate does not meet your academic needs, please speak with your dean about alternative products; you will need approval from your dean before using a different tool in order to ensure compliance with Hunter ICIT policies.
During the Instructional Recess and for the remainder of the semester, Hunter will remain open with the support of our committed staff. Hunter staff will maintain their normal schedules. Those with an underlying health condition should speak with Human Resources to discuss leave options such as the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA).
Remote Instruction Starts 3/19
Beginning March 19th, instruction will move to remote instruction. Faculty will provide information to students about specific instructions for each of their courses. Please monitor your email for specific guidance, which we will provide in the coming days and weeks.
CUNY has suspended all international student travel and study abroad. We are currently working to identify trips that will not present a risk to student health and safety and will be seeking exceptions as appropriate. However, students who are currently abroad and not in a high-risk country are not required to return to campus. Hunter’s Study Abroad office has been in direct contact with all impacted students about their plans to return to campus or continue with their program. Hunter-led or -sponsored faculty and staff travel is still permitted, except to level 2 and 3 countries. Please ensure department chairs and deans are aware of all such travel plans so we can best support you if conditions change.
There are currently no restrictions on Hunter-led or -sponsored travel within the United States. As a reminder, Hunter-led or -sponsored travel to both Level 2 and Level 3 countries is restricted; currently Iran, South Korea, China, and Italy are classified as Level 3 countries, and Japan is the only country classified as Level 2. If you are returning from a Level 3 country (Iran, South Korea, China, and Italy), you are required to self-quarantine for 14 days before returning to campus. Similarly, if any present or upcoming visitors to campus are returning from Level 3 countries or otherwise meet the guidelines for self-quarantine, they must postpone their visit to campus until after they have completed the self-quarantine period. We will update you if the situation changes and additional restrictions are put in place.
Events and Gatherings
Events and gatherings are being evaluated on a case-by-case basis, and event guidelines have been adjusted to promote health and safety. Please contact Director of Special Events Jill Vanzino if you have any questions about specific events. Hunter has the capacity to livestream events to reach those who are not able to attend in person; please contact the HelpDesk for more information about livestreaming technology. In addition, venues are being cleaned regularly, hand sanitizer is available throughout campus, and catering is supplying single-serve and pre-packaged items.
We are committed to ensuring continuity of our research operations and to supporting faculty and student scholarship in this challenging time. Our facilities, including our science labs, will be open to continue scholarship and research. We will be reaching out directly to researchers with additional guidance in the coming days. Please contact the Provost with any questions or concerns regarding your research.
We will continue to monitor the evolving situation and coordinate with all appropriate bodies. We will send email updates, and you can see all recent announcements on the Hunter website. In addition, CUNY has a Coronavirus Update web page, and the CDC is routinely updating their guidance.
Support For Our Community
I want to reiterate that Hunter has a number of excellent resources for faculty, staff, and students for managing under these stressful conditions. I encourage faculty and staff to reach out for free, confidential counseling through EAP. We also have resources for students through our Counseling Center.
We hope this guidance has been helpful. We will keep you updated as additional information becomes available. We appreciate your support and cooperation during this challenging time.
Jennifer J. Raab