Editor’s note: The following message was sent to the Colorado State University community on March 16, 2020, from President Joyce McConnell. For the latest information about CSU’s response to the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic, go to safety.colostate.edu/coronavirus
Dear University Community,
Last week, I communicated with you our decision to move courses online through April 10, at which time we would reevaluate. Due to the speed at which the COVID-19 global crisis is evolving we in higher education around the world find ourselves in unprecedented territory, with new information emerging each day. Please know that all our decisions are driven by our commitment to you, to your health and wellbeing, and to all of those whom we educate, serve, work with, and consider to be valued members of our community and Ram family. I know that many of you are working incredibly hard right now, driven by this same commitment. I deeply appreciate all you are doing and know that your care, concern and commitment are what distinguish CSU as a higher education community.
All classes continuing online for Spring 2020 semester
With the advice of public health officials and weighing many public health factors, we have made the decision to extend online course delivery through to the end of the Spring 2020 semester. In keeping with this decision, we are also advising the suspension or online delivery of off-campus educational programming and events (including in CSU Extension and Continuing Education) for the remainder of the semester.
Moreover, this morning, in partnership with CSU International Programs, we advised our international students who want to return home to do so for the remainder of the semester.
I know that every new decision we make raises many questions for all of you. We will answer them as quickly as we can in the coming days. But I want to emphasize again that public health—your health—is our priority. While we are unaware of any positive case of COVID-19 in association with our CSU community, the virus continues to spread, and no community is immune. If we were to have a positive case among our staff, faculty, students or guests, we will consider new recommendations, precautions, and constraints on campus-based interactions.
Spring break gives us the opportunity to plan for the transition to online course delivery beginning March 25, though I know — as a faculty member myself – many of our faculty will essentially give up their break to redesign their courses for online computability and remote teaching and learning. Thank you. I know that you do what you do because you care about your students. I also recognize to pivot this way may mean you do not have the time over break to devote to your family, your scholarship, and your community engagement. Furthermore, we have heard from faculty who are concerned for students with limited or no computer access off-campus, limited or no internet, and other complicating factors. I assure you that we are working to make accommodations for those students. We have made arrangements for additional student laptops and are looking at creative ways of continuing work with students even if it means through written correspondence delivered by U.S. Postal Service, UPS, FedEx or other delivery services.
I also assure you that even as many of us work to set up systems to support academic and business operations for the remainder of the semester, our custodial staff will take the opportunity of fewer people on campus during Spring Break to perform extra cleanings. Our amazing custodial team and facilities leaders are committed to the health and safety of these frontline workers and are on top of providing appropriate protective gear and training.
Impacts to students who live in university housing
The decision to move course delivery online has the most obvious implications for our students who live in university housing.
We are asking students who live in university housing who have left for Spring Break NOT TO return to campus immediately. In the interest of public health, Housing & Dining Services needs time to create a plan that implements public health and social distancing best practices while providing an orderly way for students and families to make decisions about campus housing moving forward.
Housing & Dining Services is committed to emailing all campus residents by close of business on Tuesday, March 17, regarding your residence hall and meal plan options. We want to assure apartment residents that the university apartments will remain open year-round as they typically do. Housing & Dining Services is committed to working with students who are experiencing housing insecurity and at least some residence hall housing and dining will remain open for the semester to serve students who need to remain on campus.
Spring Break housing will continue as planned and students who have remained on campus for break are welcome and encouraged to stay as future plans are developed.
Pending decisions about working remotely and maintaining university operations
Again: our greatest responsibility is to the health of our university staff, faculty and students. Our decision to move courses online is one of several decisions and clarifications we will communicate in the coming days. Like you, we are working to define and clarify the outcomes of each decision.
During the coming week, as soon as possible, we will provide clear guidance to our staff and faculty, as well as to student employees who wish to continue working on campus. This guidance will help with decisions about how to balance university operations and the duties of staff and faculty, including information about telecommuting.
In the interim, I want to convey that I am committed to each and every one of our faculty and staff members and I promise you: You will continue to be paid. We find appropriate telecommuting or in-person assignments that support the university’s mission, while providing you with support and equipment to minimize health risks.
We appreciate your patience
I — along with the university’s Preparedness Planning Team — thank each of you for your patience as we work through these uncharted waters and answer your many valuable, necessary and important questions.
President, Colorado State University