Coronavirus

COVID-19 Updates

Based on significant guidance from public health experts and in accordance with Governor Lamont’s ReOpen CT Advisory Committee plan, we have determined that the CSCU colleges and universities will reopen their physical campuses to residential and commuter students for fall 2020 with protocols in place

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Covid-19 News

May 29, 2020 - CSCU Campuses Plan to Reopen this Fall

Dear CSCU Community:

Like all other institutions of higher education across the country, we are navigating uncertain times and preparing for an upcoming academic year like no other. Over the past several weeks, campus teams and CSCU steering committees have done great work together to identify opportunities and challenges, and provide recommendations for academic affairs, enrollment management, student life, student support services, logistics, technology, operations, and facilities. We still have a lot of planning to do and more questions need to be addressed in the coming weeks and months.

That said, I am excited to announce that we are planning to return to our campuses in fall 2020 with significant measures in place to make our institutions as safe as possible.

Based on significant guidance from public health experts and in accordance with Governor Lamont’s ReOpen CT Advisory Committee plan, we have determined that the CSCU colleges and universities will reopen their physical campuses to residential and commuter students for fall 2020 with the following protocols in place:

  • The four universities can start bringing residential and commuter students to their campuses on Monday, August 24. Classes will follow the common calendar through Thanksgiving, with the balance of the semester and exams online. Arrangements for residential students to move in are still to be determined. 

  • The 12 community colleges are permitted to offer on ground courses beginning June 1 for those spring semester students who need to complete programs and for new students to enroll in workforce development programs. This summer reopening is allowed under phase 1b of ReOpen CT for Higher Education. Like the universities, community colleges may bring students back for the fall semester on August 24 and courses will follow the common calendar. 

  • Charter Oak State College will continue to offer its catalog of online classes through summer and fall.

  • Plans for the reopening of the campuses for faculty and staff will be developed this summer. Plans for reopening the CSCU system office and Charter Oak State College are being established as well.

  • Classes at the colleges and universities will be delivered in a variety of on ground, online, remote, hybrid and flexible course design models.

  • The community colleges and universities will be prepared to pivot to offer fully remote courses and services if public health conditions warrant.

Before our physical campuses are opened for the next academic year, each campus must write a plan that meets all standards outlined in the ReOpen CT Higher Education phase three framework as well as incorporating recommendations from the CSCU Steering Committees. The ReOpen framework provides guidance on the planning of repopulating campuses with the re-entry of students; monitoring the health of students, faculty and staff; containment of the virus should an outbreak occur; and preparing to shut down physical campuses and transition as seamlessly as possible back to a remote-only model if it becomes necessary.

As I said at the outset, we have many questions to answer and arrangements to make before we reopen. We will share additional details in the coming weeks as we prepare for the fall. These plans will be communicated to the campus communities and I encourage you to monitor your email over the summer. Updates will also be posted soon on the www.ct.edu website along with other ReOpen CT and CSCU planning documents for your information.

Our priority has been and will continue to be the safety of our students, faculty and staff. That will not change as we move forward in our thoughtful and deliberative planning process to welcome students back to our campuses in August.

Sincerely,

Mark E. Ojakian

May 27, 2020 - CARES Report

Section 18004(e) of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (“CARES Act” or the “Act”)), Pub. L. No. 116-136, 134 Stat. 281 (March 27, 2020), directs institutions receiving funds under Section 18004 of the Act to submit (in a time and manner required by the Secretary) a report to the Secretary describing the use of funds distributed from the Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund (“HEERF”).

View the Report (pdf)

May 18, 2020 - What May 20 Means for CSCU

Dear CSCU Community,

As we wind down an unprecedented semester, I want to thank you once again for your incredible efforts to transition as seamlessly as possible to an entirely new means of educating our students. I know it wasn’t easy, but I remain awestruck by your adaptability during extremely challenging times.

As you may know, CSCU has played a major role in Governor Lamont’s task force looking into the safe re-opening of our higher education system, which recently released guidelines to create appropriate conditions for public and private institutions within the state to begin the process of re-opening physical campuses.

I know there has been some confusion about exactly what is happening on May 20, which the governor has identified as the date for the first stage of opening the economy. That day, restaurants, hair salons, offices, and some retail establishments will be permitted to resume operations with significant safety precautions. Colleges and universities – are allowed to open their administrative offices and some specific research programs under that guidance.  However, CSCU's current temporary telework arrangements will continue beyond May 20 while we wait for guidance from the Governor's office on the opening of state offices.  We do anticipate opening some non-residential programs across the system in phases over the summer.  You will be apprised of those openings by your campus leadership. 

We will move to reopen our colleges and universities only when we are able to meet all safety standards outlined by public health experts and adopted by the Reopen Connecticut Advisory Group: 

  • The prevalence of the disease must be low enough to allow the safe resumption of campus operations;
  • Institutions that will be housing students 24/7 must have access to enough COVID-19 tests so that entering students can be tested upon arrival, and those students testing positive must be immediately isolated; and
  • An adequate capacity for contact tracing must be provided to the higher education institutions.

We will continue to keep you updated as we work toward the eventual re-opening of our campuses and resumption of in-person instruction.

Thank you once again.

Mark E. Ojakian

May 8, 2020 - Thanking Our Nurses

Dear CSCU Community,

As we kick off our weekend, albeit while social distancing, I want to take a moment to recognize a group of people who remain hard at work: our nurses. The Covid-19 outbreak has been a heartbreaking reminder that nurses have always been at the front lines of our health care system, putting themselves in harm’s way to help their patients. Over long hours and facing unimaginable circumstances, the men and women of our nursing field inspire us every day with their courage and selflessness.

I am proud that so many of Connecticut’s nurses are graduates of our colleges and universities. To the nursing faculty – many of whom are practicing nurses themselves – who make our nursing programs so strong, I offer a heartfelt thank you.

So, this National Nurses Week, on behalf of the entire CSCU community, I would like to express my sincere gratitude to the medical professionals who allow our hospitals, health centers, nursing homes – and, frankly, our lives – to run. And, in honor of our medical professionals, please continue to stay home and stay safe.

Sincerely,

Mark E. Ojakian

May 6, 2020 - Recommendations for a Phased Reopening of Colleges & Univerities

Dear CSCU Community,

This afternoon, I participated in a news conference with Governor Lamont regarding the state’s efforts to reopen institutions of higher learning.  I have been asked by the Governor to be the state lead and liaison to his administration to continue the work of the ReOpen CT Higher Education Advisory Group that has been meeting for the past two weeks to develop guidance for reopening.   Working with our partners at the independent colleges and UCONN who serve on the Advisory Committee and with the leaders of our 17 campuses, we have lots to consider and plan for in the coming weeks.

The details of the full recommendations of the Governor’s Re-Open Connecticut higher education working group are below, but there are a couple of important points you need to know.

First, the report outlines a number of thresholds that must all be met in order to resume in-person instruction, and we will rely on public health experts in the decision-making process. We will use this information to determine what types of student services as well as credit, non-credit, undergraduate and graduate programs might be offered on-ground, online or both at the colleges and universities.  

Second, as a system of 17 institutions, we are working together to formulate consistent and specific plans in response to the Advisory Committee guidance to the Governor. To that end, teams of campus leaders, faculty, staff, students and administrators are working both as separate institutions and across institutions to develop recommendations for statewide consideration and implementation.  Decisions will be made once this campus and systemwide planning process is complete. 

Finally, the health of our students, faculty, staff, and everyone working on our campuses is and will continue to be our top priority. In other words, as much as we all want to get back to campus, we will not move forward on opening until all  public health thresholds are met and we can give reasonable assurances that our campuses are safe.

As you know, this is an ever-changing situation, and I will continue to provide you with updates in the coming days and weeks.

Sincerely,

Mark E. Ojakian

Recommendations of the Governor’s Re-Open Connecticut Higher Education Working Group

April 22, 2020 - Update on Pass / Fail policies

We know that the Covid-19 pandemic has presented you with a new set of challenges as you pursue your education. CSCU is committed to doing everything in our power to help you succeed. That’s why I am happy to report that, at Connecticut State Colleges and University President Mark Ojakian’s direction we, along with all other Connecticut community colleges, have adopted a pass/fail (credit/no credit) procedure for the spring semester.

That means you now have the option to convert any of the grades you earn in your spring 2020-semester courses to Pass (Credit) / Fail (No Credit) grading so that the courses do not affect your GPA.

Please go to the Spring 2020 Grade Conversion website for more information and instructions about how to apply for the option.

Community College Spring 2020 Grade Conversion

I hope this option gives you some peace of mind as you approach the end of the spring term.

CSU & COSC Pass/Fail Info

April 15, 2020 - Important update on summer classes

I am writing today to provide you with an update on the community colleges’ plan for the summer session. As you know, while there have been some encouraging signs that social distancing has slowed the spread of the virus, the Covid-19 outbreak in Connecticut continues to disrupt our daily lives and threaten the health of individuals and communities. While I know all of us crave a return to normalcy, it is clear that the re-opening of our campuses will need to be a well thought out and deliberative process in line with the state’s recovery framework.

To that end, summer classes will be offered online-only until at least August 1 with the exception of some of the on-ground courses for students almost ready to enter the workforce in immediately critical non-credit and credit programs – such as CNA, Paramedic, Nursing, Medical Assisting, Phlebotomy, Respiratory Care, Radiologic Technologists, Advanced Manufacturing and Electro-Mechanical courses – which could begin as early as July 20. 

All other on-ground/skills-based courses should be scheduled for the hands-on components/ lab classes after August 1, including hands-on laboratory courses that were not completed in the spring. The lecture portion of the course can be scheduled online prior to August 1 with the hands-on component scheduled starting August 1. If the pandemic prevents the colleges from being opened by August 1, we are exploring options for the hands-on portion to be offered in condensed sessions at the start of the fall semester.   Additionally, the number of students allowed in a laboratory classroom may be limited by social distancing guidelines. This may necessitate offering multiple laboratory sections with a small number of students.

This was a difficult decision, and please know that it was not taken lightly. At CSCU Provost Gates’s direction, we convened a Remote Teaching and Learning Crisis Team to develop a comprehensive set of recommendations, which our campuses will adopt. The complete recommendations are attached.

Thank you once again for your incredible work over the past several weeks and months.  We will continue to keep  you apprised on the state's plans to reopen non-essential businesses and the implications for the colleges.

Stay safe.  

Sincerely,
Mark E. Ojakian

March 25, 2020 - State Universities to Credit Students for Unused Room & Board

Yesterday, in consultation with institutional leaders, CSCU President Mark Ojakian directed the four Connecticut State Universities to credit student accounts for unused room and board. This action will be completed by next week. Thereafter, any credit balance will be refunded to students. Each institution is currently in the process of reaching out to students to outline the timeline and procedures.

Amounts will vary based on university, type of housing, and other factors, but students who paid room and board fees should expect a credit covering the period beginning with the closure of residence halls through the end of the spring 2020 term.

This is a complex process, but our universities are working to issue credits and refunds as expeditiously as possible, President Ojakian said. We understand that these housing refunds are important monetary sources for our students as they begin to adjust to a new normal of online learning. I applaud the leaders of our universities for taking this important action.

The Board of Regents is committed to ensuring all students have the tools necessary to continue their education during this turbulent time, Board of Regents Chair Matt Fleury said. By ensuring students and their families quickly receive refunds for unused housing fees, our universities are helping ease the financial burdens caused by the COVID-19 outbreak and ensuing economic downturn.

March 25, 2020 - An Update from CSCU

Dear CSCU Community,

This morning, I received a briefing from our academic team, and I am happy to report that, thanks to the incredible work of our faculty at the colleges and universities, the transition to online-only learning has been going smoothly overall.  It took a herculean effort to upend our educational delivery system in just a few days, but our dedicated faculty have stepped up to the challenge.  Though our students are resilient, they will need a great deal of support, both personally and academically, during this time and I want to thank the staff who are working hard to get their advising, counseling, library and other resources available remotely for students.  I'd like to thank our union leaders who have met with us daily to identify both challenges and solutions as we've moved to telework and the system office staff for continuing to provide – through telework – many of the essential services that keep our colleges and universities running. And lastly, I greatly appreciate the college and university leaders and administrators who have been working around the clock to make this crisis as manageable as possible for all.  

Over the past week, we at CSCU have taken several important steps to keep our students, faculty, and staff as safe and healthy as possible while playing a central role in the state’s efforts to mitigate the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on our communities. 

  • Paying employees.
    We have made the determination that while the campuses and system office remain shuttered, employees are directed to telework and will receive their pay as normal. Student workers will  also continue to be paid through the end of the semester.

  • University housing.
    We have been working closely with the state’s emergency response team and have received specific requests to use residence halls at Southern and Western. The institutions are currently in the process of clearing those spaces and expect them to be available by the end of the week. Central and Eastern are also preparing for similar requests in coming days and will make residence halls available to meet the state’s emergency needs.

  • Moving to pass/fail.
    This morning, we  made the decision to allow all community college students the option to convert any or all of the letter grades they earn during the spring 2020 semester to credit/no credit grading. This change will potentially ease anxiety about the quick move to online learning while not impacting the student’s GPA. The state universities are working individually to ensure similar options are offered to students.

  • Donating personal protective equipment and ventilators.
    Governor Lamont and state officials have requested donations of personal protective equipment (PPE) such as masks, gloves, and gowns to meet the needs of frontline health care workers combatting the virus. Our colleges and universities have stepped up in a big way. As just one example, Central donated 6,000 nitrile gloves, 250 procedure masks, 180 N95 masks, and other equipment to the Hospital of Central Connecticut. Across the system, we have also donated several ventilators to local hospitals and health care facilities as well as PPE from our allied health programs. 

  • Donating unused food. Our campus food pantries and dining services have donated hundreds of pounds of perishable food to local foodbanks to help fight food insecurity during this difficult economic time.  

  • Implementing technology solutions
    Thanks to the hard work of IT staff at the CSCU system office and the IT staff on our campuses, both hardware and software is being prepped for faculty, staff and students so they can work and learn remotely.  Thanks to the campus foundations who have helped to get more equipment into the hands of students as well! We still need more equipment to meet the needs and ongoing software training and support but these IT staff have worked tirelessly to help us all do our work in new ways. 

This will continue to be a challenging time, and I ask you to follow the advice of state and local public health professionals. In order to stop the spread to the best of our ability, we must stay home as much as possible, and stay safe. There are great, free opportunities online to practice self-care through exercise, meditation and yoga classes, museum exhibits, and much more. Please take care of yourself and be in touch if I can be of assistance.

Thanks again for all of your work on behalf of our students.

Mark E. Okakian

March 17, 2020 - Moving Online for the Rest of the Spring Semester

Dear CSCU Community,

Over the past several days, my team and I have been in constant discussion with college and university leaders, and the Board of Regents. In consultation with them, I have made the difficult but necessary decision to continue our move to all-online education for the remainder of the semester at all 17 CSCU institutions. I understand that this is a new direction for faculty and students alike, but it has become clear that the COVID-19 pandemic will continue to affect our state well beyond April 5. We must do everything in our power not just to keep our students, faculty, and staff healthy and safe, but also to slow the spread of the virus.

To that end, all physical campuses will be closed to the public through at least the remainder of the semester. All faculty and staff except those designated by their individual institution as Level 1  and that number will be extremely limited  will continue to work from home.

Unfortunately, this also means that all in-person spring commencement activities will be canceled. I know how hard students and faculty have worked to get to this point, and we are looking at all options to ensure they receive the recognition they deserve in addition to the diploma they have earned.

By the end of the week, the president or CEO of your institution will reach out with information and details on the move to distance learning and which courses can be moved fully online, the logistics of the transition to telework, and the orderly coordination of safely helping students collect their belongings from residence halls. We recognize that a number of our university students may not have a place to go if forced to vacate their lodging, and our university leaders will of course ensure they have necessary accommodations. Finally, our university leaders will communicate with resident students to outline a process and timeline for issuing refunds for room and board payments.

I understand this is a stressful time for all of us, and as I indicated yesterday, self-care remains essential. Social distancing is critically important to the states public health efforts to slow the spread of the virus, but it does not mean shutting our lives down  so remember to check in (virtually) on your friends and family, look for online yoga or exercise classes, and take a minute to relax and breathe deeply.

Sincerely,
Mark E. Ojakian

March 12, 2020 - COVID-19: CSCU Update

This is an update on the COVID-19 situation at the Connecticut State Colleges and Universities (CSCU).

Beginning today, CSCU President Mark Ojakian has instructed all employees who can to begin teleworking. This includes the state’s 12 community colleges, four state universities, Charter Oak State College, and the CSCU system office. All campuses are closed to the general public.

Current status (as of 3:30pm) of all CSCU institutions:

  • Central Connecticut State University – Campus closed; classes canceled through the end of the week; moving to online-only after spring break; all employees teleworking.
  • Eastern Connecticut State University – Moving to online-only after spring break; all employees teleworking.
  • Southern Connecticut State University – Campus closed; classes canceled through the end of the week; moving to online-only after spring break; all employees teleworking.
  • Western Connecticut State University – Campus closed; classes canceled through the end of the week; moving to online-only after spring break; all employees teleworking.
  • Asnuntuck Community College – Campus closing at 5:00pm; remaining classes will be canceled through the end of the week; moving to online-only after spring break; all employees teleworking.
  • Capital Community College – Campus closing at 10:00pm; remaining classes will be canceled through the end of the week; moving to online-only after spring break; all employees teleworking.
  • Gateway Community College – Campus closed, classes canceled through the end of the week; moving to online-only after spring break; all employees teleworking.
  • Housatonic Community College – Campus closed; classes canceled through the end of the week; moving to online-only after spring break; all employees teleworking.
  • Manchester Community College – Campus closed; remaining classes will be canceled through the end of the week; moving to online-only after spring break; all employees teleworking.
  • Middlesex Community College – Moving to online-only after spring break; all employees teleworking.
  • Naugatuck Valley Community College – Moving to online-only after spring break; all employees teleworking.
  • Northwestern Connecticut Community – Campus closed; classes moved online; moving to online-only after spring break; all employees teleworking.
  • Norwalk Community College – Campus closed, classes canceled through the end of the week; moving to online-only after spring break; all employees teleworking.
  • Quinebaug Valley Community College – Campus closing at 10:00pm; remaining classes will be canceled through the end of the week; moving to online-only after spring break; all employees teleworking.
  • Three Rivers Community College – Campus closing at 5:00pm; remaining classes will be canceled through the end of the week; moving to online-only after spring break; all employees teleworking.
  • Tunxis Community College – Campus closed; classes canceled through the end of the week; moving to online-only after spring break; all employees teleworking.
  • Charter Oak State College – Physical campus closed; employees teleworking; classes continuing as normal.
  • CSCU System Office - All employees teleworking.

Yesterday, CSCU announced a move to an online-only class format from Monday, March 23 through at least Sunday, April 5. Spring break is the week of March 16. 

“This is a fast-moving situation, but not an unexpected one,” said CSCU President Mark Ojakian. “We are taking all necessary steps to mitigate the spread COVID-19. We will continue to closely monitor the spread of the virus and take all necessary precautions to keep our students, faculty, and staff healthy.”

March 9, 2020 - New Campus Directives

Dear CSCU Community,

Over the weekend we saw the first diagnosed cases of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) in Connecticut.  As the disease spreads around the world and in the United States, we have long expected it to land in Connecticut and have taken all necessary steps to mitigate the effects of the disease on our campuses.

Previously, we issued guidance that included a suspension of institutionally-sponsored travel to any Level 2 or 3 country (China, Iran, Italy, South Korea, and Japan), and a requirement that those who have traveled to those countries not return to campus and self-quarantine for 14 days.

Today, in coordination with Governor Lamont's office, we are taking the following additional steps to keep our colleges and universities as safe and healthy as possible.

  • An immediate freeze on all institutionally-sponsored travel outside of Connecticut until further notice.  Any requested exceptions must be approved by the chief executive of your institution in consultation with CSCU Chief of Staff.
  • All students, faculty, and staff are strongly discouraged from personal travel outside of the state of Connecticut, particularly during spring break. If you do decide to travel, you may be required to not return to campus and directed to self-quarantine for 14 days. Your institution has provided, or will soon provide, communications that include a process to self-report your planned travel before spring break starts. For the safety of all on your campus, please follow that process. This does not apply to faculty, staff and students who commute to campus for work or classes.
  • Any employees planning in-person meetings with out-of-state individuals should evaluate whether these activities can proceed remotely though teleconference or online collaboration for the time being and, if possible, should take that approach.
  • Students, faculty, and staff are directed to postpone, cancel, or adjust all campus events and meetings, other than classes, that are expected to have 100 or more participants through at least April 30. This could include using technology to allow remote participation. Any requested exceptions must be approved by the chief executive of your institution in consultation with CSCU Chief of Staff.
  • For events or meetings with people within arm’s length of each other, encourage those who are higher risk due to age (70 or older), cardiovascular disease, diabetes, cancer, heart disease or chronic lung diseases like COPD, as well as those with severely weakened immune systems not to attend or dial in.
  • For employees who have CSCU or institutionally-issued laptops, get in the habit of bringing your device home each night to ensure maximum flexibility.
  • Property management firms and cleaning contractors have been directed to utilize disinfectants to clean state buildings and to increase the frequency of disinfectant cleaning including common touch points.

We will remain in close contact with state and local officials, and will work with your campus leaders to clarify questions and address requests for exceptions to these procedures as they arise.  Working together, the CSCU system office and your campus leader will continue to keep you updated as this situation unfolds.

As a reminder, everyone should continue to follow basic steps to keep themselves and others healthy:

  • Wash hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use alcohol-based sanitizer.
  • Avoid shaking hands as a greeting.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Stay home when you are sick.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.

Thank you for your continued commitment to the health and safety of our campuses, our employees, and our students.

Stay healthy,
Mark E. Ojakian