On March 22, 2020, Hunter College President Jennifer J. Raab shared this update:
To the Hunter community,
We hope today’s communication finds you and your family healthy and well. We also want to extend our gratitude to our faculty and staff who have done so much to make the incredible feat of moving our instruction online happen. You have all gone above and beyond, and we are incredibly grateful. As we continue this transition, we know we will encounter challenges and hiccups, and we appreciate your understanding and flexibility as we address each in turn.
You have likely seen news of Governor Cuomo’s New York State on PAUSE executive order, and we wanted to share some updates about how Hunter is responding to the evolving COVID-19 outbreak in New York City. Thanks to the tireless efforts of our faculty and staff, we have already moved the majority of Hunter’s operations and staff off campus, including reducing hours of operation and significantly restricting the number of staff on site. We are continuing to scale down in-person operations, and only a very small number of essential personnel will be on campus for the foreseeable future ensuring that basic operations, such as building and lab maintenance, mail pickups, and public safety, will continue. Essential personnel will receive direction from their supervisor or director about these limited assignments. Accordingly, access to campus is limited to only necessary functions and for limited periods; the majority of services have transitioned online and can be accessed remotely.
The conditions in New York City continue to evolve, and we will bring you up-to-date information as we have it. Below are some important updates before we head into the next week. You can also check the Hunter Coronavirus website page for regular updates, and I will continue to reach out as we receive new information.
REMOTE INSTRUCTION UPDATES
Remote instruction has already begun, and we deeply appreciate your patience and understanding as we work through the challenges along the way. I am confident that we will be able to navigate through this difficult time and ensure all students can continue to learn.
If you are a student, please continue to check your email and Blackboard for communications from your professors about remote instruction. If you haven’t heard from your instructor, please reach out to that instructor directly. If you don’t hear back within 24 hours, please contact the Dean of Students office, and let them know which class and section you are in so they can help troubleshoot. Remember, some classes are synchronous and taught at the same time as usual, and others will be recorded or available for you to do at your own pace.
If you are faculty, all undergraduate students received a text message reminding them that remote classes started March 19th. If you are faculty and you cannot get in touch with one of your students, please contact the Dean of Students office. If you have any other difficulties, please email your chair, program director, or dean.
As we move to distance learning and remote work, we want to remind faculty, advisors, tutors, and others who have moved to online platforms that we need to continue to adhere to FERPA guidelines. These can be found in the Faculty Handbook (pp. 16-17). Further information is available online, and questions regarding the application of this rule should be directed to the Provost’s office.
To reduce essential personnel and ramp down in-person operations as much as possible, building hours have been adjusted, and facilities, where appropriate, have been closed; more updates are included below. Faculty who need to access their offices to collect personal or work-related materials should let their chair, program director, or dean know so that arrangements can be made to access them.
Our 68th Street campus will remain open to ensure essential operations, but will have a limited cleaning and security staff. The Cooperman Library, which had remained open for limited hours, will now be closed. Many thanks to our public safety staff for keeping the space open for students to access technology during this challenging last week. Please be assured, our dedicated librarians are of course still available to support our students and faculty, and library services are available online. For more information, please see the remote access guide, access the guide to online resources, or contact a librarian through Ask-a-Librarian.
The Silberman campus will be closed as of Monday, March 23, at 1:00pm, as will our campus at 205 Hudson Street. These closures will allow us to reduce the number of public safety and facilities staff needed on campus and to shift our resources to the 68th Street and Brookdale campuses.
The Brookdale Campus remains open for the students who have chosen to remain in the Brookdale Dormitory and on a limited basis for faculty and staff needing to access the academic buildings. As a reminder, faculty and staff who need to access their offices should let their chair, program director, or dean know so that arrangements can be made to access them.
At this point, our 79th Street Dormitory is also open for students who have chosen to remain in residence. Students in both dorms are reminded to maintain social distancing and sanitary practices as recommended by the CDC.
SERVICES AND RESOURCES
The majority of Hunter’s services and resources have transitioned to remote already, and our goal is to provide the same high levels of support remotely throughout the semester.
We are so grateful to our alumni and donors who have contributed more than $300,000 to support long-term technology loans and emergency funding for our students. To request a long-term laptop loan, students should fill out our form. Our laptop loan program will be moving to Student Services in 417HW, and there will be a very limited number of non-library personnel on campus Monday, March 23rd, and Tuesday, March 24th, to distribute laptops. We are working to also implement this program by mail and to create local centers for pickup; we will share more information once it is available.
We continue to give out emergency funding through the new Coronavirus Emergency Assistance Fund to provide support to students who have lost wages, have unexpected medical costs, or have other financial needs related to the coronavirus crisis. Some faculty and staff have expressed interest in contributing to this fund. If you would like, you can make an online contribution; any amount is greatly appreciated. Students are encouraged to fill out an application. Please contact the Dean of Students with any related questions.
Both our 68th Street and Brookdale food pantries remain open, and we are committed to keeping them stocked. We are continuing to adjust the hours of operation to best meet student demand and encourage you to check the hours before visiting.
Childcare Centers remain open, with protective measures in place, in anticipation of activation for the Governor’s program to support the needs of first responders’ families. If you need to utilize our childcare services, please make an appointment ahead of time to ensure that we have sufficient staffing. Please fill out an application or send an email. Childcare center staff should contact their supervisors on a regular basis regarding the need to report to work.
All research projects must ramp down their on-site research activities and move their research activities off site. Emergency protocols related to animal care, laboratory equipment, and research materials are being activated across Hunter. For more specific guidance and information, please see these guidelines and contact the Provost with any questions.
OUR HEALTH AND SAFETY
Lastly, you may have now heard that there are several confirmed cases within our community, as well as across CUNY. Working closely with the CUNY Central team, we are coordinating with department chairs, program directors, and deans on each case to identify individuals who, according to the Department of Health guidance, need to be notified that they might have been exposed or that they should take precautions and self-quarantine. Through all of this, we are working to protect the privacy of the individuals who have tested positive while ensuring that we share the information needed to keep our community safe. If you hear from colleagues or students that they have tested positive, please have them contact Galia Galanksy, Assistant Vice President of Human Resources, as soon as possible so we can work through the appropriate protocols.
Once again, we want to give extra thanks to our dedicated facilities and public safety teams who have remained on campus to ensure that Hunter remains functional and safe. Thanks also to all of you who have either remained on campus as essential staff, finalizing the details of this transition, or supported these efforts from home. You should all feel very proud of your hard work and perseverance. I could not imagine belonging to a stronger or more supportive community during these challenging times.
Jennifer J. Raab