Dear Colleagues: Syracuse University’s Public Health Team continues to monitor pandemic conditions, as well as current and new public health guidance. As we continue to experience improvement in key public health indicators, the University is assessing the status of current…
Coronavirus Updates, Guidance and New Action 3.26.20
Dear Members of the Syracuse University Community:
As we near the end of the first week of online instruction and remote work, I want to thank those members of the Orange family who continue to step up and selflessly serve others in need. Thanks to the graduate students and faculty from the Falk College who are volunteering to staff the Onondaga County social welfare hotline, providing counsel and comfort to families and individuals impacted by the COVID-19 health emergency. Thanks to those faculty and staff in the School of Architecture, the College of Visual and Performing Arts (VPA) and the College of Engineering and Computer Science who are right now manufacturing 3D-printed face shields and other protective equipment for medical staff and first-responders. Thanks also to staff from the VPA and Syracuse Stage, who are using their costume design expertise to sew masks and gowns for our local hospitals. And I could go on. These efforts and many other examples demonstrate that while our community is physically apart, we continue to be connected in meaningful ways through learning, teaching and, most importantly, through our collective efforts in support of each other and our community.
New York State officials continue to provide daily updates on our state’s fight against the global COVID-19 pandemic. Confirmed cases continue to rise—making it all that more important that we continue to adhere to social distancing guidelines. Our decision making will continue to be informed by the guidance of local, state and federal officials, as well as key public health agencies, specifically the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. We are committed to keeping you informed and updated as we take new action and position new resources to support our students, faculty, staff and community.
Today’s updates include:
For University Community
Working Remotely Extended to April 17: On Sunday, March 15, Andrew Gordon, senior vice president and chief human resources officer, announced that faculty and staff—with the exception of those deemed essential—would need to transition to remote work. We had originally designated March 30 as the date to return to normal operations. However, consistent with Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s “New York State on PAUSE” Executive Order, our faculty and staff will continue to work remotely through at least April 17. Any questions about changes to your remote work arrangement should be discussed with your supervisor or senior HR business partner. We will continue to monitor guidance from the state and share any new information.
Vera House Remains Open: Our friends at Vera House—a comprehensive domestic violence, sexual assault and elder abuse service agency—remind the Syracuse University community that victim services are available despite the global pandemic. Vera House is open and available for anyone needing support. Information is available anytime 24/7 by calling 315.468.3260. Available services include, but are not limited to:
- Remote options—including counseling, advocacy and group sessions—are available.
- Vera House shelters are open and available for immediate safety needs.
- If you are currently away from the Syracuse area and you need immediate help, please call the national domestic violence hotline at 1.800.799.SAFE (7233).
For Students and Families
Commencement 2020: The entire Syracuse University community is saddened that Commencement 2020 will not be held as originally planned. We were eager to celebrate the Class of 2020, and for that reason I want to clear up any confusion related to the University’s prior communication on this subject.
Specifically, it is true that on-campus Commencement activities previously planned for May 12 have been canceled. However, it was not the intent of our prior communication—as some have inferred—to suggest that Syracuse University will not hold an on-campus celebration for the graduating class of 2020. We apologize for any confusion on this issue. In fact, tomorrow all members of the Class of 2020 will receive a survey, soliciting input regarding several alternative Commencement ceremonies and celebrations. These alternatives will include on-campus Commencement options that would take place once public health officials agree large public gatherings are safe and appropriate. We know the tradition of Commencement is important to our graduates and their families. Therefore, we’re asking for your input as to the most appropriate and meaningful alternative. I hope everyone who is scheduled to graduate will take the time to fill out and submit the survey.
Writing Center Moves Online: The Writing Center has gone fully online for the remainder of the spring semester. All Writing Center appointments will take place digitally. Students, faculty and staff can continue to log into the schedule, select Face-to-Face (Spring 2020) schedule, and reserve an appointment. Rather than meet with a consultant in the Writing Center, users will now be receiving electronic feedback from consultants. Please also note that while the Writing Center is operating exclusively in an online format, appointments must be made at least 48 hours in advance. Contact Ben Erwin with any questions about Writing Center policies or procedures.
Attendance during Synchronous Online Sessions: Although we have shifted to online instruction, expectations regarding attendance remain the same. Your professors will do their best to find times for classes to meet with the least possible disruption to students’ schedules. Despite these efforts, there could be times when you must get up early or stay up late in order to attend class. Be sure to maintain regular contact with your instructor and check your email and Blackboard often.
For Faculty and Staff
Web Work-Arounds: Depending on your students’ circumstances or location, they might encounter issues accessing certain online resources. In these situations, the ITS Service Center might be able to suggest an alternative. For example, if one of your students cannot access YouTube, the student likely could access video content on Ensemble. Please contact the ITS Service Center if you need to find a technological work-around to support student success.
I appreciate the many ways our community members are working to protect the well-being of our peers, colleagues, friends and loved ones. Our shared commitment to health, wellness and safety is critical to flattening the curve—both here on our campus and in the broader Central New York community.
J. Michael Haynie
Vice Chancellor for Strategic Initiatives and Innovation