On March 12, 2020, Hunter College President Jennifer J. Raab provided this update:
To the Hunter Community,
I write with additional updates about Hunter’s response to the COVID-19 outbreak. We all know this is a rapidly evolving and very challenging situation. Our number one priority remains the health and safety of our community, and we are simultaneously committed to ensuring our students can complete the spring semester and to supporting our faculty’s research and scholarship.
Hunter Remains Open
As we previously announced, we are transitioning on March 19th to remote instruction. I want to reiterate that Hunter College remains open and a safe place for our community. All of our campuses and buildings are being regularly cleaned, and we have added hand sanitizer and disinfecting wipes across our campuses to help you stay healthy.
We are committed to serving and supporting our community. Student Services are open for both in-person and remote advising and consultation for students; deans and faculty will be communicating with students directly about faculty advising hours and methods.
At this time, many offices and support services across campus will be open to support our community, with cleaning and other modifications as needed. This includes the cafeteria, the Food Pantry, the library, tutoring services, and the fitness center. Athletic programs will continue without spectators.
Transition to Remote Instruction
As we make the transition to remote instruction as a community, each day will bring both new information and new questions. We understand that this can be incredibly difficult as we all grapple with changes no one anticipated even a few days ago. We hope the following information will provide some additional clarity on how we will balance the health and safety of our community with ensuring quality instruction for our students. In addition, all students will receive an email or other communication from their instructors regarding specific plans to move their courses to remote instruction.
Please note: Classes that are taught in real time will follow previous schedules. This will ensure that students are not asked to participate in two classes at the same time. Other classes or course sessions may be taught by recorded lecture or other means that allow students and faculty the flexibility to complete at their own pace.
At this point CUNY has not determined if it will extend the semester or if any make-up classes will be required. We will keep you informed as we better understand the duration of this disruption.
In a limited number of cases, such as certain lab sciences, performing arts, and studio art courses, we will offer the option of small group, in-person learning opportunities. We will of course provide synchronous remote experiences for these same classes for students who are unable or choose not to come to campus.
We have been able to make a variety of technological tools available to faculty to facilitate remote instruction. There is more information at the end of this email about specific resources for faculty as they develop their remote instructional plans. If you have questions about access to these tools, please contact the HelpDesk.
For Staff: Planning for Flexible Work Schedules
CUNY has now given the colleges permission to institute flexible work schedules for employees in certain situations. We have already begun conversations with Deans and Vice Presidents about various options, and we will provide you with more information very soon.
For Students: Additional Support Available
We recognize that these are challenging times and that the uncertainty of what remote instruction will bring can be very difficult to navigate. Please know that your health and safety are at the heart of every decision we are making and that we are committed to ensuring that you are able to complete your spring coursework with minimal disruption.
We understand that many of you may lose employment or wages in the coming weeks or incur additional financial hardship. We are committed to mitigating that burden for you and to that end have created an Emergency Assistance Fund through the Hunter College Foundation using private funds to help students impacted by the coronavirus outbreak. We encourage you to reach out to Vice President and Dean of Students Eija Ayravainen to learn more or request financial support.
The transition to remote instruction will impact all students differently, and many of you might be worried about how you’ll access your courses remotely or whether you’ll have the technology you need to be successful. Campus remains open, and we have over 400 computers on campus that you can use. Please note, our enhanced cleaning procedures include regular cleaning and disinfecting of computer labs and all public, high-touch areas. In addition, our goal is to obtain additional laptops and equipment through private donations for students to use off-campus over the next several weeks. All students will shortly receive a survey about their access to technology; please complete it as soon as possible. Your responses will help inform the resources we make available in the coming days and weeks. If you anticipate you will need to utilize this program, contact VP Ayravainen.
For Faculty: Tools and Resources for Remote Instruction
We continue to work with faculty to provide a multitude of resources to support you as you prepare your remote instructional plans. We have also created this checklist as a guide to aid in your planning and this technology FAQ that will be updated on an ongoing basis. We suggest reviewing the comprehensive overview of approved available technologies; if you need a specialized software that is not included in that list, please contact your dean.
We recommend that you go to ACERT Drop-In Office Hours to meet with experienced online instructors and get one-on-one support for transitioning your course to remote instruction. The first session will be tomorrow, March 13th, from 10:00am to 4:00pm in 1203 Hunter East (Charlotte Frank Room). Blackboard Tutorial Sessions will be offered both in-person and virtually; information about upcoming sessions will be posted.
Online webinars will be offered regularly in the coming days on a variety of tools and topics, including Blackboard (Fri. 3/13 at 2:30pm), Best Practices in Online Teaching (Mon. 3/16 at 11:00am) and Blackboard Collaborate (Tue. 3/17 at 3:00pm).
Our Community Values
Hunter College affirms our longstanding institutional values and commitment to diversity and inclusion. We remind you to be aware of assumptions and prejudice that could lead to targeting or exclusion of people who have visited or are perceived to be from countries where the coronavirus has been widely reported. As we move to distance, remote, and online learning alternatives, Hunter and CUNY Equal Opportunity and Non-Discrimination Policy remain in effect. If you witness or experience an incident of discrimination, harassment, or exclusion related to the coronavirus threat, please report to a Public Safety Officer if you are in immediate danger or file an online complaint on the Office for Diversity and Compliance website.
Thank You and Additional Updates
This is a challenging time for all of us. We are incredibly grateful to our dedicated faculty and staff who have been working tirelessly to prepare for this transition and to ensure that the College can remain open and operational during this time.
We will continue to share information as it becomes available, and encourage you to check Hunter’s website for more information about resources and support that is available to you.
Jennifer J. Raab