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

CSU Covid Dashboards

ReOpen CT

Higher Education Subcommittee

Full Plan (pdf)

Campus Plans

Steering Committees

CT State Universities/Charter Oak State College

CSU-COSC Fall Planning Teams & Report Templates (pdf)

Academics/Enrollment Management Steering Committee

Members:
Elsa Nunez, ECSU President; Bob Prezant, SCSU Provost; Shirley Adams, COSC Provost; Jay Murray, WCSU Enrollment Management; Christina Robinson, CCSU Enrollment Management; Jane Gates, CSCU Provost; Patty O’Neill, AAUP

Charge:
Focus on delivery of undergraduate and graduate courses, supplemental instruction, registration/admissions issues, professional development for faculty on remote teaching, schedule/catalog changes

Recommendations (pdf)

Technology Steering Committee

Members:
John Clark, WCSU President; Ed Klonoski, COSC President; George Claffey, CCSU IT Director; Dennis Reiman, SCSU IT; Joe Tolisano, CSCU CIO; Gregg Crerar, SUOAF

Charge:
Focus on identifying and addressing student, staff and faculty technology needs for both on-ground and online education and services, address technology needs of administrative employees for telework

Recommendations (pdf)

Operations/Logistics Steering Committee

Members:
Zulma Toro, CCSU President; Renee Keech ECSU Director of Facilities; Mike Moriarty, COSC CFO; Keith Epstein, CSCU VP of Facilities and Angelo Simoni, CSCU Student Services; Gregg Crerar, SUOAF

Charge:
Focus on reopening of campuses, assess readiness of facilities for on-ground education, consider options for reopening of residential halls and contingency plans for future outbreaks

Recommendations (pdf)

Student Life and Student Support Services Committee

Members:
Joe Bertolino, SCSU President; Keith Betts, WCSU VP of Student Affairs; Michelle Delaney, ECSU Dean of Students; Angelo Simoni, CSCU Student Services; Patty O’Neill, AAUP

Charge:
Focus on delivery of student services provided both by the schools and the community as well as student activities and athletics

Recommendations (pdf)
CT State Community Colleges

Fall Planning Teams & Report Templates (pdf)

Academics/Enrollment Management Steering Committee

Members:
Tom Coley, Regional President; Michelle Coach, ACC;  Duncan Harris, CCC; Tanya Millner, MCC; Mike Rooke, NCCC; Ken Klucznik, Mike Stefanowicz, Alison Buckley and Tobi Krutt, CSCU; Dennis Bogusky, AFT

Charge:
Focus on delivery of credit and non-credit courses, supplemental instruction, registration/admissions issues, professional development for faculty on remote teaching, schedule/catalog changes

Recommendations (pdf)

Technology/Operations/Logistics Steering Committee

Members:
Jim Lombella, Regional President; Rose Ellis, QVCC; Cheryl DeVonish, NCC; Steve Minkler, MXCC; Joe Danajovits and Keith Epstein, CSCU; Larry Salay, AFSCME

Charge:
Focus on identifying and addressing student, staff and faculty technology needs for both on-ground and online education and services, address technology needs of administrative employees for telework.  Identify challenges to reopening of campuses, assess readiness of facilities for on-ground education, and develop contingency plans for future outbreaks

Student Life and Student Support Services Committee

Members:
Rob Steinmetz, Regional President; Daisy Cocco DeFilipis, NVCC; Darryl Reome, TCC; Mary Ellen Jukoski, TRCC; Lesley Mara and Angelo Simoni, CSCU; Maureen Chalmers, 4Cs

Charge:
Focus on delivery of both student direct and wrap around services provided both by the schools and the community as well as student activities  

Recommendations (pdf)

Covid-19 News

September 18, 2020 - COVID Update
  • Western CT State University and the Danbury Campus of Naugatuck Valley Community College joined the rest of the CSCU colleges and universities in welcoming students to residence halls and on-campus classes and student services. 
September 11, 2020 - COVID Update
  • Western CT State University and the Danbury Campus of Naugatuck Valley Community College had experienced a pause in their physical reopening due to a COVID-19 outbreak in Danbury.  Now they have been cleared to open next week for on ground classes and occupying of the residence halls.
  • The testing of residential students is underway at Central, Eastern, and Southern CT State Universities.  The state is experiencing excess capacity in their testing operations and has granted CSCU an increase in testing from the planned 5-10% of university residential students to 25% of residential students on a weekly basis.  Our testing partner, Griffin Health, is ramping up to provide the additional testing. We will test additional groups as recommended by the state if the virus spikes in particular communities.

  • Weekly testing results are available on each university website and at the links below.  
  • The universities have teams of contact tracers who are working closely with their local departments of public health to monitor conditions on and off campus.  In addition, the CT Department of Public Health now holds weekly office hours with the contact tracing leads from each university to answer questions and make adjustments to current practices.
  • Weekly office hours with DPH and the COVID Coordinators are helping to address questions as they arise.  For instance, DPH has now indicated that offices on college and university campuses can open at full capacity but should follow mitigation guidelines and consider cohorts working together so that not all would be exposed should a positive case occur.  Additionally, DPH has clarified that the current guidance for indoor gatherings is capped at 25%.  For academic purposes only, that cap can be exceeded as long as 6 feet of social distance is maintained.  This will allow campuses to hold classes in their largest theater or lecture hall spaces at greater capacity while maintaining safety.
September 3, 2020 - COVID Update
  • The twelve community colleges and three of the four universities had a good start to the semester. Western CT State University and the Danbury Campus of Naugatuck Valley Community College had a pause in their physical reopening due to a COVID-19 outbreak in Danbury.  However, students started all of their classes online and hope to be on the campuses in the near future. 
  • The testing of residential students has begun at Central, Eastern, and Southern CT State Universities.  The state is experiencing excess capacity in their testing operations and has granted CSCU an increase in testing from the planned 5-10% of university residential students to 25% of residential students on a weekly basis.  Our testing partner, Griffin Health, is ramping up to provide the additional testing beginning next week. 
  • Weekly testing results will be available on each university website.  All universities will report information on the number of weekly tests performed on each campus, the number of positive cases and the positivity rate as well as cumulative results as we progress through the semester.  They will also share information on the number of residential students in quarantine and isolation due to exposure to the virus. Next week’s COVID update will include links to the university dashboards as they are developed.  
  • The universities have teams of contact tracers who have completed a Johns Hopkins online 6-hour training as well as two training sessions with the Department of Public Health.  Campuses are managing residential students in quarantine and isolation as needed and working closely with their local departments of public health on contact tracing.  
August 28, 2020 - COVID Update
  • The twelve community colleges and three of the four universities welcomed students back to campus as well as starting remote and online classes this week. Western CT State University had a pause in their physical reopening due to a COVID-19 outbreak in Danbury.  However, WCSU students started all of their classes online and hope to be on campus in the near future. 

  • Seven community colleges finalized their reopening plans for their childcare centers and look forward to welcoming children back on campus this fall.   
  • The COVID Coordinators from each CSCU institution and System office met with the Department of Public Health and their colleagues from UCONN and the private colleges to identify best practices, ask questions and address concerns, and support one another in the reopening of the college and university campuses. 
  • The testing of residential students began this week at Central and start next week at Eastern, Southern and Western CT State Universities.  Weekly testing results will be available on each university website and the CSCU website starting September 4th.  The weekly report will provide information on the number of tests performed on each university campus, the number of positive cases and the positivity rate. 
August 20, 2020 - COVID Reporting Guidelines

Dear College Employees,

We are approaching the first days of class and the return of students to our campuses.  As you know, each of us will play a key role in keeping the campus environment safe. 

As a reminder, CSCU policy is that all individuals on campus must wear a mask for face covering.  That policy has been reinforced by a recent executive order from the Governor.  The only times masks should be removed is when individuals are outside and at least six feet from other individuals, or when individuals are in an isolated office with good air exchange. Those unable to wear a mask for medical reasons should speak with the HR staff before coming to campus.

 In addition, employees should monitor their own health daily for the following CDC-defined symptoms:

  1. Fever
  2. Chills
  3. Repeated shaking with chills
  4. Muscle pain
  5. Headache
  6. Sore throat
  7. New loss of taste or smell

Employees MAY NOT come to work if they are experiencing these symptoms.  All employees should contact the COVID Coordinator immediately to report their conditions and seek medical attention.   Employees must also follow their campus policy and practice for reporting their absence from work if they are scheduled to work on campus.

Additionally, employees should be aware of others they are in contact with and their health.  The CDC defines exposure as someone who has been within 6 feet of an infected person for greater than 15 minutes starting from 2 days before illness onset (or 2 days prior to testing for asymptomatic individuals).  Anyone who has been officially notified of exposure by a local department of public health or has been in contact with someone who has tested positive MAY NOT come to work and should notify the COVID Coordinator immediately.  Employees must also follow their campus policy and practice for reporting their absence from work if they are scheduled to work on campus. Employees should contact their medical professional and self-quarantine for 14 days from the last exposure to the infected individual.

Those who intentionally report to work with symptoms or who have been in contact with those who have tested positive will be subject to discipline.

Working together we can have a safer fall semester.  Your support is both expected and appreciated. 

August 20, 2020 - COVID Update

This week:

  • The CT Department of Public Health read the 17 college and university plans and has offered feedback and suggestions for some of those plans regarding how the mitigation strategies to be implemented might be bolstered or streamlined, where possible.  The 17 plans are posted on our website

  • Seven community colleges met with the Office of Early Childhood (OEC) to share their draft reopening plans for their childcare centers.  The OEC responded to questions and offered technical assistance resources to support the colleges. The OEC Commissioner joined the call to thank the campus leaders and staff for supporting working families by reopening their programs this fall. 

  • The COVID Coordinators from each CSCU institution and System office are now part of a statewide team and will meet weekly with the Department of Public Health and their colleagues from UCONN and the private colleges to identify best practices, ask questions and address concerns, and support one another in the reopening of the college and university campuses.

  • The four universities formalized their partnership with Griffin Health who will perform testing of residential students per the state’s public health guidelines.  The testing begins next week at Central and the following week at Eastern, Southern and Western CT State Universities.

  • The Governor updated his travel advisory.  See more information at https://portal.ct.gov/Coronavirus/Travel 

  • The Governor issued Executive Order 7NNN now requires medical documentation for not wearing a mask in public spaces. https://portal.ct.gov/-/media/Office-of-the-Governor/Executive-Orders/Lamont-Executive-Orders/Executive-Order-No-7NNN.pdf
August 14, 2020 - COVID Update

This week:

  • The colleges and universities continued to prepare for the start of classes including final pushes for fall enrollment, changes to their physical plants to promote social distancing, updates to technology, and purchasing of personal protective equipment (PPE).
  • The Governor removed Rhode Island from the states included in his travel advisory but added others. See more information at https://portal.ct.gov/Coronavirus/Travel
  • Seven community colleges are making plans to reopen their childcare centers this fall with the support of the Office of Early Childhood.
August 7, 2020 - COVID Update

This week:

July 31, 2020 - COVID Update

This week:

  • Our universities finalized and shared their Phase 3 plans for fall reopening.
  • Plans for the reopening of community colleges and Charter Oak State College will be finalized and shared next week.

  • The Governor issued an updated list of 36 locations included in his travel advisory directing 14-day self-quarantine for anyone traveling into Connecticut.  See more information at https://portal.ct.gov/Coronavirus/Travel

  • On Monday July 27, President Ojakian, members of the CSCU executive staff, Dr. Joe Bertolino, President of Southern CT State University and Dr. Duncan Harris, CEO of Capital Community College participated in an Appropriations Committee informational hearing on the fiscal impact of COVID-19 on the CT State Colleges and Universities.  The hearing is available for viewing online.

  • On Wednesday July 29, the Board of Regents held a special meeting and heard a presentation from President Ojakian and CSCU executive staff on reopening plans.  Watch the presentation

  • BOR ex officio member, Dr. Deidre Gifford, Acting Commissioner of the Department of Public Health participated in the meeting and provided additional information on the state’s testing guidance and answered Board member questions on number of public health matters.  Watch that segment of the meeting.
July 24, 2020 - COVID Update

This week:

  • Our colleges and universities are finalizing their Phase 3 plans for fall reopening.  
  • The Governor issued an updated list of 31 states included in his travel advisory directing 14-day self-quarantine for anyone traveling into Connecticut.  See more information at https://portal.ct.gov/Coronavirus/Travel
  • On Monday July 27 from 1-4pm, President Ojakian, members of the CSCU executive staff, Dr. Joe Bertolino, President of Southern CT State University and Dr. Duncan Harris, CEO of Capital Community College will participate in an Appropriations Committee informational hearing on the fiscal impact of COVID-19 on the CT State Colleges and Universities.  The hearing is available on CT-N.com
July 17, 2020 - COVID Update

This week:

July 10, 2020 - COVID Update

This week:

  • Our colleges and universities continued their campus-based planning for fall reopening. 
     
  • University and colleges finalized plans for the reopening of their administrative and student services offices in July and shared with their campuses.  
     
  • As state lead, I am working with the Departments of Public Health and Administrative Services to understand how the Governor’s travel advisory impacts out of state students returning to the universities. I will issue updated testing guidance next week to incorporate changes associated with this new information. Read the CT Covid-19 travel advisory
     
  • As the state lead on higher education reopening, I issued Update #7 to the state’s higher education report answering questions on opening of residential halls, cleaning of residential suites, and the operations of food services on campuses.
     
  • CSCU System Office shared guidance with the colleges and universities on opening of childcare centers on campus. View childcare guidance (pdf)
     
  • On July 14 at 12pm, there will be a legislative hearing on reopening plans that includes CSCU, University of Connecticut and the CT Conference of Independent Colleges.  For more information, view the agenda (pdf) on how to join the Zoom meeting. 
July 6, 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”). Section 18004(c) of the CARES Act requires institutions to use no less than 50 percent of the funds received from Section 18004(a)(1) of the CARES Act to provide Emergency Financial Aid Grants to students for expenses related to the disruption of campus operations due to coronavirus (including eligible expenses under a student’s cost of attendance such as food, housing, course materials, technology, health care, and child care). On April 9, 2020, the Department published documents related to the Emergency Financial Aid Grants, including a letter from Secretary Betsy DeVos, a form Certification and Agreement for signing and returning by institutions to access the funds, and a list of institutional allocations under 18004(a)(1).

View the Report (pdf)

June 25, 2020 - COVID Update

This week:

  • Our colleges and universities continued their campus-based planning for fall reopening. University and college leadership are finalizing their decisions for academic schedules/modalities and communicating those to faculty, staff and students. 

  • As the state lead on higher education reopening, I issued interim guidance in coordination with the state Department of Public Health on testing for residential students and residence hall directors (pdf).  Note: the CSCU will require residence hall directors and any student residential staff to follow the same protocol as residential students. Further guidance related to athletes and personnel will be forthcoming.

  • In addition, that guidance allows residence halls to be repopulated beginning as early as August 14 to manage the process of moving in given social distance guidelines.

  • CSCU secured a grant for $350,000 from the Connecticut Health and Educational Facilities Authority for the "Support a Student Relief Fund for Undocumented Students." Grants will be given to undocumented students impacted by the pandemic who were not eligible for federal support.

  • CSCU System Office prepared a planning template (pdf) in alignment with Phase 1 of the state's reopening plans for staff to begin returning to work at the universities on July 13.

  • Return to work plans have been developed for CSCU system office.
June 24, 2020 - Recommended Template for Phase 1 Re-Opening for staff offices at universities

This template is intended to support planning for the reopening of administrative and student services offices on the 17 campuses including:

  • Administrative offices including but not limited to:
    • Academic and student affairs
    • Finance/Bursar
    • Human Resources
    • Information Technology
  • Libraries
  • Enrollment management services including admissions, financial aid, registrar
  • Advising/tutoring centers
  • Disability services
  • Food pantries
  • Student activities/life
  • Computer labs
  • Counseling/health service
  • On-campus transportation services

*note: reopening childcare centers will require separate guidance.

Plans should anticipate staff returning to on campus work on July 13, 2020 and students being allowed to access on-ground services beginning on August 3, 2020.  However, these dates are subject to change if public health concerns warrant. 

A completed template must be submitted to CSCU system office no later than July 6, 2020. 

Plans for the re-opening of offices/student services should limit capacity to 50% occupancy with rotating staff schedule and creation of staff “teams” to control number of people working together at any one time.  This capacity may be increased or decreased as public health guidance warrants. Employees should be provided a reasonable recall notice of no less than 3 but preferably 5 working days. 

Additionally, schools can limit each office schedule to 1 day per week for small schools and 3 days per week for large schools with remote services offered daily.  Services with short durations might be available on first come first serve basis while others such as advising might be offered by appointment.   

DAS further recommends that in person meetings be limited to 33% of the normal room occupancy with at least 6 feet separation of those in attendance.

These plans should be made in coordination with the campus HR staff to determine process for any staff who indicate they are unable to return to work on campus based on medical needs or telecommuting arrangement (if applicable consistent with any collective bargaining agreement).  

Plans should document the following information:

  1. Timeline for each office/service to be opened
  2. Daily schedule for each office on campus/Total number of staff to be on campus each day (daily log should be kept of all individuals on campus for contact tracing if needed)
  3. Plan to maintain masking and 6 feet of social distance in offices, in lines for services and other common areas
  4. Plan to provide additional safety measures for student facing staff when social distance cannot be maintained (plexiglass shields, remote services, appointments, etc.)
  5. Plan for cleaning regime in accordance with relevant State and CDC guidelines
  6. Plan for communication to staff, students and community on the hours of on ground and remote operations
June 19, 2020 - Recommended Template for Phase 1 Re-Opening for staff offices at community colleges

This template is intended to support planning for the reopening of administrative and student services offices on the 17 campuses including:

  • Administrative offices including but not limited to:
    • Academic and student affairs
    • Finance/Bursar
    • Human Resources
    • Information Technology
  • Libraries
  • Enrollment management services including admissions, financial aid, registrar
  • Advising/tutoring centers
  • Disability services
  • Food pantries
  • Student activities/life
  • Computer labs
  • Counseling/health service
  • On-campus transportation services

*note: reopening childcare centers will require separate guidance.

Plans should anticipate staff returning to on campus work on July 6, 2020 and students being allowed back for services beginning on July 20, 2020.  However, this date is subject to change if public health concerns warrant. 

A final repopulation plan must be submitted to CSCU system office no later than June 29, 2020. 

Plans for the re-opening of offices/student services should limit capacity to 50% occupancy with rotating staff schedule and creation of staff “teams” to control number of people working together at any one time.  Staff should sign in each day they are on campus to support contact tracing should it be necessary.  This capacity may be increased or decreased as public health guidance warrants. Employees should be provided a reasonable recall notice of no less than 3 but preferably 5 working days. 

Additionally, schools can limit each office schedule to 1 day per week for small schools and 3 days per week for large schools with remote services offered daily.  Services with short durations might be available on first come first serve basis while others such as advising might be offered by appointment.  The usability of Microsoft O365 for scheduling appointments is being researched at this time to ease student access. 

DAS further recommends that in person meetings be limited to 33% of the normal room occupancy with at least 6 feet separation of those in attendance.

These plans should be made in coordination with the campus HR staff to determine process for any staff who indicate they are unable to return to work on campus based on medical needs or telecommuting arrangement (if applicable consistent with any collective bargaining agreement).  

Plans should document the following information:

  1. Timeline for each office/service to be opened
  2. Daily schedule for each office on campus/Total number of staff to be on campus each day
  3. Plan to maintain masking and 6 feet of social distance in offices, in lines for services and other common areas
  4. Plan to provide additional safety measures for student facing staff when social distance cannot be maintained (plexiglass shields, remote services, appointments, etc.)
  5. Plan for cleaning regime in accordance with relevant State and CDC guidelines
  6. Plan for communication to staff, students and community on the hours of on ground and remote operations
June 19, 2020 - Covid-19 Update

This week:

  • Our colleges and universities continued their campus-based planning for fall reopening.

  • Steering Committee reports were finalized for the universities, Charter Oak and the community colleges and posted to our website.  This information on academic affairs, enrollment management, technology, operations and logistics, and student life will be very valuable as campuses do their fall planning.  Thank you to the campus leadership, system office staff and union representatives who participated in this important effort.

  • I am in ongoing conversations with the state administration and public health experts on testing protocol for fall reopening.

  • CSCU System Office prepared a planning template in alignment with Phase 1 of the state's reopening plans for staff to begin returning to work at the community colleges on July 6. 

  • A plan for the return to work at CSCU system office is expected next week. 

  • A planning template for the return to work of staff at the universities will be released next week.
June 12, 2020 - Covid-19 Update

This week:

  • Our colleges and universities continued their campus-based planning for fall reopening with new guidance provided in the Phase 3 ReOpen framework.

  • As state lead for Higher Education Reopening, I reissued Update #2 to the ReOpen CT Higher Education report to indicate programs eligible under Phase 2 can open on June 17 rather than June 20  as long as they've submitted their plan to my attention and filed with Department of Public Health.

  • As state lead, I issued Update #5 which provides additional information related to residence hall planning, cleaning products, campus transportation and athletics.

  • To date, all community colleges as well as SCSU and WCSU have initiated programs under Phase 1b or 2.

  • OPM reimbursed CSCU a total of $5.5M from the Coronavirus Relief Fund for COVID-related expenses at the campuses and system office submitted to date.

  • CSCU System Office submitted a grant proposal to provide grants to undocumented and DACA student ineligible for federal relief payments.

  • CSCU System Office has procured and has PPE (face masks, KN-95 masks, gowns, face shields and hand sanitizer) ready for distribution to campuses.

  • CSCU System Office staff is working with campus representatives to develop procedures to ensure student PPE compliance.

  • I am in ongoing conversations with the state administration and public health experts on testing protocol for fall reopening.

  • CSCU System Office is working on a planning template for staff return to work in line with recently issued guidance from the state administration.
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