SUNY, CUNY Halting In-Person Classes to Mitigate Coronavirus Threat!

Dear Commons Community,

According to various media,  SUNY and CUNY will largely close down campuses and implement online education for the remainder of the spring semester, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said this afternoon at a news conference.  As reported by Politico.

“That will be a way to reduce density, and that is a good thing,” Cuomo said at a press conference in Albany.

There are 212 confirmed cases of coronavirus, as of Wednesday. Nearly 50 of those are in New York City.

Beth Garvey, Cuomo’s special counsel and senior adviser, said campuses will not be closed entirely, as some classes such as science labs cannot be taught online. In those instances, schools are looking at other steps to minimize gathering, such as by staggering class times.

Cuomo said some campuses may make the transition prior to March 19 to better align with their respective academic calendars. Students are encouraged to return home, and schools will work to accommodate those who need to stay on campus, according to the governor.

“They’re not evicting anyone,” he said. “They’re not closing the dorm and kicking people out.”

Spring commencement ceremonies may also be affected. Cuomo’s top aide, Melissa DeRosa, said the expectation is that “a large number of them will not be happening in person,” though no decision has been made.

SUNY’s Student Assembly said transitioning to distance learning is the right move to ensure students’ health and safety.

“Continuing SUNY’s tradition of inclusive and accessible academic excellence is as important as ever,” the group said in a statement.

The governor and CUNY had been facing calls from students and faculty to close schools. On Wednesday, Timothy Hunter, the head of CUNY’s University Student Senate, called on the governor to immediately close CUNY schools and encourage CUNY to transition to online classes.

The university said all CUNY schools will have a five-day instructional recess from March 12 to 18 and that there will be no physical classes on campus.

During the recess, students, faculty and staff will have to finish their plans to transition all instruction to distance learning. Starting March 19, classes will go remote for the rest of the semester.

CUNY’s 25 campuses — including libraries, dorms, research facilities and essential on-campus services — will remain open despite the cancellation of classes.

A “Save the CUNY Students” petition had garnered more than 20,000 signatures, and the Professional Staff Congress — a union that represents full-time faculty, adjuncts and other staff at CUNY — also sent a list of demands related to coronavirus protocols to CUNY Chancellor Félix Matos Rodríguez.

CUNY had been resisting calls to cancel in-person classes. But on Tuesday night, the university said it learned a student at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice in Manhattan had tested positive earlier in the day. The university said the student had not been back to the campus since becoming symptomatic over the weekend, but announced the school would be closed on Wednesday.”

I support this decision and already have made plans to move my courses online.


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