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Coronavirus Updates and Resources and Services 3.19.20
Dear Members of the Syracuse University Community:
Over the past several weeks, many in the Syracuse University community have been working diligently to keep you informed related to our COVID-19 planning and preparedness efforts. Our approach to that effort, given the urgency and uncertainty associated with the situation, has been to purposefully focus on clearly and simply communicating facts. That said, it’s true that sometimes our “just the facts” approach to communications has the unfortunate and unintended consequence of not adequately acknowledging how overwhelmed many of us are feeling about the present and the future.
The coronavirus pandemic is upending families, wreaking havoc on some of our most stable institutions and inflicting lasting economic consequences on our communities. In the face of this crisis, it is true that we’ve asked many members of the Syracuse University community—particularly our faculty and staff—to assume new and different roles, and to shoulder unplanned obligations on behalf of students and the institution. To do so has real consequences for those individuals and families. This reality is not lost on me, or on those other Syracuse University leaders who are conscientiously and humanely working to navigate this truly unprecedented time in the history of our institution.
I share this acknowledgment—before returning to “just the facts” communication—as an expression of both empathy and gratitude for your efforts and your partnership.
As for today’s important news and COVID-19 guidance:
For University Community:
Commencement and Convocations: As the University continues to monitor developments associated with the spread of COVID-19, we are also evaluating the status of events and rescheduling, postponing and canceling as appropriate. Specifically, we are working now to assess—based on guidance from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and other public health agencies—whether it is in the best interest of the health, wellness and safety of our students and their families to host Commencement activities as planned. We will make a decision and provide guidance to students and their families very soon. We recognize the uncertainty is frustrating, and the prospect of Commencement being postponed or altered is disappointing. We appreciate your patience and understanding while we continue to evaluate this complex and challenging situation.
For Students and Families:
Students Remaining on Campus: Yesterday, the Dean of Students Office reached out to the students who have applied to stay in on-campus housing due to circumstances preventing them from returning home. These students have been asked to remain in their current on-campus housing location for the time being, as longer-term housing accommodations are prepared. We will follow up with these students shortly, after the majority of move-outs conclude at the end of this week.
Academic Deadlines and Pass/Fail Option: In a message to all undergraduate students yesterday, Associate Provost for Academic Affairs Chris Johnson provided important information to help students navigate the remainder of the spring semester as we transition to online learning, including:
- Dropping a class: Full-time undergraduate students may drop classes so long as they remain registered for 12 credits or more. Advisors will help students ensure that they will not jeopardize progress toward their degree by dropping one or more classes. The deadline to drop classes has been extended to April 3.
- Switching to Pass/Fail: Specific rules for taking classes pass/fail vary from college/school to college/school, and remain in place. Generally speaking, undergraduate students may not take more than 24 credits pass/fail during their program of study. Furthermore, schools, colleges and programs have identified specific courses and sets of requirements that may not be taken pass/fail, and those rules remain in effect. Your academic advisor will help you navigate any specific rules of your school or college. The deadline to switch to pass/fail has also been extended to April 3.
- Financial Aid Implications. Dropping classes and switching to the pass/fail grading option have potential consequences for financial aid. Before dropping below 12 credit hours or switching any classes to Pass/Fail, please speak with your financial aid counselor to ensure that your financial aid is not affected in future semesters.
For further details, read the full message from Associate Provost Johnson.
Dining Options: With many students remaining in University housing, we are working hard to ensure they have access to several food options. The latest Food Services information can be found by visiting the Food Services hours webpage. It is updated regularly, so please check back often.
- Shaw Dining Center is open from 7:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. and is serving breakfast, lunch and dinner for take-out only. Students on a meal plan will use a meal swipe when they arrive at the dining center. Students not on a meal plan can pay with their SUpercard Food funds or with a credit or debit card.
- Sadler Dining Center is open from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. and is serving breakfast, lunch and dinner for take-out only. Students on a meal plan will use a meal swipe when they arrive at the dining center. Students not on a meal plan can pay with their SUpercard Food funds or with a credit or debit card.
- Goldstein Dining Court on South Campus is open 10 a.m. to 8 p.m., and is offering take-out options only. Students can use a meal swipe from their meal plan or use SUpercard Food funds or a credit/debit card when picking up their food.
- Both the South Campus Express and West Campus Express convenience stores will be open from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Students can use their SUpercard Food or Plus funds to purchase items from these stores.
- Campus vending machines are stocked and accept SUpercard Food funds, among other forms of payment.
- Campus Catering is open and can offer services to departments with essential staff members.
- In order to follow public health best practices, Food Services employees may ask you for your SUID number or to scan the GET app on your phone instead of handling your SUID card. Instructions on how to download and manage the GET app are available on the Answers website.
For Faculty and Staff:
New Remote Work Directive from New York State: The University greatly appreciates the efforts of faculty and staff who continue to work remotely. In an Executive Order this morning, New York State Governor Cuomo mandated that effective immediately, all employers should act to reduce their on-site employees to less than 25 percent of total workforce. In accordance with the message from Andy Gordon, senior vice president and chief human resource officer, on Sunday, March 15, all faculty and staff should be working remotely unless your supervisor has contacted you and advised that you must report to campus. Supervisors should submit flexible work arrangements notifications using the online system. Please visit HR.syr.edu for more Human Resources news.
Creating Accessible and Inclusive Online Content: As we shift to online instruction, delivering content that is inclusively designed and accessible is essential. The Accessible Technology Toolkit on Answers and Blackboard’s free Accessibility Checklist are great resources to help faculty create inclusive online content. Blackboard Ally also is included in our learning management system and enables us to build a more inclusive online learning environment.
Carebridge Services Available: The global coronavirus pandemic’s impact is broad and far-reaching, impacting individuals personally, professionally and in so many other ways. Yesterday, I mentioned some of the expanded services available through Carebridge, the University’s faculty and staff assistance program. I want to take this opportunity to remind you of resources and services that are always available through the program.
They include, but are not limited to:
- Telephonic Consultation
- Life Management Services
- Developing a preparedness plan for COVID-19
- Creating care plans for dependents
- Talking to children about the outbreak
- Managing finances during difficult times
- Coping with personal stress, anxiety and uncertainty
- Financial Consultation
- Legal Support
Faculty and staff with questions or concerns should contact HR Shared Services at 315.443.4042 or email@example.com. Faculty and staff at our abroad centers in London, Madrid, Florence, Strasbourg and Santiago can also access services through an expanded alliance with Carebridge’s international partner, Chestnut Global Partners Faculty and Staff Assistance Program. Visit their website or email firstname.lastname@example.org to learn more.
Thank you for your attention. The University will continue to do everything it can to safeguard our community, provide support and resources to our students, faculty and staff and communicate often with clarity and as much detail as possible.
J. Michael Haynie
Vice Chancellor for Strategic Initiatives and Innovation