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Coronavirus Updates Archive

  • Yesterday President John Clark of Western Connecticut State University announced that his university would be delaying the arrival of residential students on campus for two weeks due to a spike in COVID-19 cases in the local Danbury area.  I have attached his statement for your review. Western’s  classes will begin as planned on August 26, but only in an online format until further notice.  

    At Eastern, we are fortunate that the incidence of COVID-19 has been low in the Windham area and local public health conditions have been stable for many months.  Based on State of Connecticut guidelines, and the myriad preparations we have made over the summer to safely reopen our campus this week, our plans have not changed. 

    • Freshmen will move in today , Sunday, August 23, 2020, and will follow a carefully planned curbside drop off procedure. 
    • Upperclassmen will move in on Monday and Tuesday, August 24-25, 2020, following the same process. 
    • Classes — on-ground, hybrid and online — will begin as planned on August 26, 2020. 

    We will continue to closely monitor the health of our resident student population throughout the semester, randomly testing 10 percent of the student resident population each week, isolating and caring for students who test positive, and conducting contact tracing as needed.   

    You can help maintain campus safety.  Wear your face mask at all times—indoors and outdoors. Practice social distancing. Wash your hands frequently. Avoid gatherings.  

    Following the rules and making smart decisions is not only in your own interest; it means you care about the people around you.  Let’s each do our part, Warriors!

  • Dear Colleagues:

    I hope that you are all doing well and are enjoying the summer. I cannot believe it is August already!

    Over the past several months, the staff in the Facilities Department, the Office of Housing and Residential Life, and other Eastern personnel have been busy preparing the campus for the fall semester and the return of our students. As part of those preparations, the University has implemented a variety of policies, procedures, and protocols to provide for a safe campus environment this fall.

    Maintaining the health and safety of the Eastern community will always be my top priority. I know I can count on each of you for cooperation and support as we work together to safely manage the COVID-19 pandemic on our campus. We share the responsibility to follow the proper procedures and we need to encourage our students to do the same. Together we can ensure the well-being of the campus community.

    By now all of us are familiar with the CDC’s three main COVID-19 health protocols: everyone — faculty, staff, students, visitors and vendors — must wear a face mask while on campus; practice physical distancing guidelines (by maintaining at least six feet of space); and frequently wash their hands. More than 6,000 signs have been posted to remind the campus community of these and other health and safety protocols.

    To provide you with additional information, I am attaching a detailed description of key elements of our reopening plans, which are important for you to be familiar with as an Eastern employee. You can also find that information on our website at https://www.easternct.edu/reopening/employees.html.

    I am also attaching a separate FAQ document that Provost Salka has sent to the faculty, focused on reopening plans for our academic activities. (This document can also be found at https://www.easternct.edu/reopening/faculty-notices/frequently-asked-questions.html)

    Following these policies and procedures will be critical to our success in safely managing the campus environment this fall. These documents should be helpful references and will be updated as necessary.

    Again, thank you for your hard work, professionalism, and good will in working together to provide our students with the quality public liberal arts education they deserve. The faculty, campus police, facilities staff, and countless others are to be commended for their tireless efforts. To each of you, thank you for all you do to support the University and our students. I appreciate your personal contributions more than these words can express.

    Thank you,

    Elsa M. Núñez
    President

  • To prepare for reopening the Eastern Connecticut State University campus to students, faculty, and staff for the fall 2020 semester, Eastern has developed and submitted a comprehensive reopening plan to the Connecticut Department of Public Health and the central office of the Connecticut State Colleges and Universities System. The plan includes details for the safe reopening of classrooms and residence halls; a range of health and safety measures and protocols that have been put into place; student testing and monitoring procedures; processes for managing any cases of COVID-19; and contingency plans should the University have to pivot to remote instruction due to changing health conditions. To review the complete plan, visit http://www.easternct.edu/reopening/_documents/eastern-reopening-plan-7.29.20.pdf

    Kenneth J. DeLisa
    Chief Human Resources Officer
    Chair, Incident Response Team

  • Health and Safety is Our Top Priority

    As administrative staff return to campus on July 13 on a limited, rotating basis, please review the various procedures, protocols, and protective measures Eastern has put into place to reduce risk of exposure to and spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus.

    • All employees must wear face masks on campus except for individuals in private offices
    • One washable, cloth face mask will be provided to each employee, upon request
    • Employees who are unable to wear a mask due to certain medical conditions must provide medical documentation; and, may need to continue working remotely if possible
    • Pursuant to the Board of Regent’s Office of Human Resources: “Wearing of masks is a requirement per the Governor’s Executive order and will be treated as a work rule. The university will take immediate action if employees do not comply with the face mask requirements. Repeated instances of non-compliance will result in discipline up to and including discharge, in accordance with collective agreement (sic), if the noncompliant employee is represented by a union.”
    • Signage is being posted reminding the campus community to maintain physical distancing (6 feet) in offices, common spaces, in queues for service, and in other locations on campus as necessary
    • Tape is being placed on floors measuring six feet of physical distancing in queues for service and in other locations as necessary
    • Meetings of more than three (3) people must be conducted via Webex or Microsoft Teams; meetings of three (3) or fewer people may be conducted in person with appropriate physical distancing and with all participants wearing face masks

    The following additional safety measures are in place for student-facing staff when social distance cannot be maintained

    • Plexiglass dividers are being installed in areas that have student facing interactions; areas where desk locations do not provide adequate physical distancing; and reception areas
    • Protective shields will be installed at classroom podiums
    • Signage (wall and floor taping) is being installed to promote appropriate physical distancing, ingress and egress control, directional signage for stairways, maximum occupancy signs for conference rooms, face mask signs at entrances, in corridors, bathrooms, entrances to offices, and breakrooms
    • Informational signage re. COVID-19 symptoms/testing, etc. will be placed in common areas, at building entrances, in bathrooms, breakrooms, and throughout residence halls
    • Hand sanitizing stations are being installed at building entrances, outside of classrooms and other heavily traveled areas throughout buildings
    • Facilities staff will remove extra furniture in classrooms, common areas, and the library to ensure appropriate physical distancing (at least 6 feet) to promote social distancing or designate certain areas as “out-of-service”
    • Staff will provide services in person by appointment, or through appropriate queuing for services, i.e., floor markings showing six feet distancing; signage asking visitors to call into offices before entering; services will also be provided by staff working remotely
    • Face shields and gloves can be provided to staff for in-person transactions, and processing certain monetary or other “high touch” transactions

    The following cleaning protocols are in accordance with State of Connecticut and CDC guidelines

    • Facilities staff are deep cleaning buildings in accordance with relevant CDC and State of CT guidelines
    • Facilities staff have received and will continue to receive training on new cleaning protocols, and safe and proper use of approved cleaning chemicals and disinfectants
    • Public bathrooms with high-traffic volume, such as classroom buildings, will be cleaned twice daily as well as sanitized each night; all other bathrooms will be cleaned and sanitized daily
    • Students will be trained in proper cleaning protocol for shared suite bathrooms in the residence halls, and will be provided with requisite cleaning supplies to clean bathrooms daily
    • All buildings will be cleaned daily and sanitized each evening
    • “High touch” areas will be cleaned daily and will receive additional disinfecting/cleaning each evening
    • Disinfecting wipes or disinfecting spray and paper towels available at copiers, in classrooms and at other “high touch” equipment and areas
    • Fresh air intake in buildings will be adjusted to increase the number of air changes per hour, and nightly purges of air intake will occur
    • All HVAC filters are being changed to high efficiency microbial filters, starting with buildings with administrative and support staff returning on July 13, including Gelsi-Young, Student Center, Sports Center, Library and Wood Hall
    • HVAC filters will be replaced on a quarterly basis
    • The Purchasing Office is coordinating with Facilities Management & Planning to procure masks, face shields for employees
    • The Purchasing Office is coordinating with Facilities Management & Planning to procure masks and PPE for employees who need those items to safely perform their duties
    • The Purchasing Office is coordinating with Facilities Management & Planning to create an inventory for dispensing masks, face shields, and PPE as required
    • Additional cleaning and disinfecting equipment has been ordered, i.e. disinfecting electrostatic sprayers; training for Facilities staff will occur when the equipment is received
    • Facilities staff is receiving additional training on proper cleaning and disinfection of bathrooms, classrooms, general office areas and high touch surfaces

    Eastern’s Official Reopening Plan

  • Dear Colleagues:

    Our Eastern Connecticut State University campus community has been diligent the past three months, serving our students while working from home, and waiting for guidance on when we will return to campus. I want to thank everyone again for your commitment to our students, for staying unified even as we work remotely, and for your professionalism and hard work. Eastern is stronger because of you!

    As we begin to prepare for our students’ return to campus for the fall semester, I have more information to share with you.  First of all, I would like to announce that we are reopening the campus to administrative and student support functions on Monday, July 13.  (Southern and Central will also open that day; Western will open on July 1.)  We will do so with the underlying principle that the health and safety of our students, faculty, and staff is our first priority. If the circumstances on ground change such that the health and safety of our campus community is threatened, we will adjust our operations.

    We are reopening under guidance from the Connecticut State Colleges and Universities System Office, which is directing the state universities to limit the number of staff in our offices and rotate them on a “shift" basis.  Your vice president will communicate details on that staffing configuration with you by next week.  We have also adjusted our cleaning protocols and other health and safety procedures. Please find additional information below regarding the reopening of campus offices and services.

    Human Resources:

    As Ken DeLisa, Chief Human Resources Officer, shared last week, employees may be eligible to continue to work remotely, based on certain documented medical conditions.  Employees who wish to request a medical exception or have questions about this process should contact Maria Weinberger in Human Resources at weinbergerma@easternct.edu for further information.

    Academics:

    Faculty members are working with the Center for Instructional Technology (CIT) this summer to prepare courses for the fall and/or to learn new instructional pedagogy related to delivering hybrid and online courses. On July 8, at 2 p.m., CIT will be offering a training session on teaching hybrid courses; more information on this session will follow. Next week we will also host a virtual forum to continue discussions about teaching and learning this fall. Provost Bill Salka has also shared protocols with faculty for instructional modalities to be used. 

    Reopening Offices:

    When administrative and support service employees return to work, the following protocols will be in place:

    • Office capacity will be limited to 50% staffing
    • Each vice president will establish and communicate a schedule to rotate staff between on-campus workdays and working remotely.
    • Employees, students, and visitors will be required to wear face masks in public areas and open office spaces (all but private offices) to comply with the University’s social distancing protocols.
    • Meetings of three or more people must be conducted on WebEx or MS Teams.
    • Hours of operation for all offices will be posted and services will be identified as being offered on-ground or remotely.

    Testing:

    • The State of Connecticut is providing testing to Eastern through third-party vendors, with costs to be covered by student health insurance.  We are working with the State to implement the following protocol to test all resident students and RAs this fall.
    • Resident students must have documentation of COVID-19 testing that has occurred within 14 days prior to their arrival to campus.
    • Students with positive tests must quarantine until 10 days without symptoms have passed since the test was taken.
    • All resident students arriving on campus must submit an initial self-screening questionnaire on arrival and then daily for the first seven days they are on campus.
    • Students arriving without testing documentation will be tested within seven days of arrival, quarantining until they test negative for COVID-19.
    • 5-10% of the residence hall population will be tested weekly, including random and targeted testing.
    • Contacts of students and staff who test positive will also be tested.
    • To ensure testing can take place safely without interruption to students’ academic schedules, resident students will be allowed to move back the week of August 10, 2020.
    • Commuting students who exhibit symptoms should self-quarantine and be tested; those with positive tests must quarantine until 10 days without symptoms have passed since testing. 
    • As was the case this spring, any faculty or staff members who experience COVID-19 symptoms should consult with their medical provider for testing; those with positive tests must quarantine until approved to return to work by their healthcare provider.

    Contact Tracing: We are also working with the Connecticut Department of Public Health and other authorities to develop a contact tracing program to limit exposure and spread in the event positive COVID-19 cases are identified on campus.

    Health and Safety Protocols:

    In addition to a stringent daily system of disinfecting and cleaning based on CDC and CT Department of Public Health guidelines, the following measures are being implemented:

    • Partitions, Plexiglas shields, podium shields, and other enhanced safety measures will be installed.
    • The University will supply each member of the campus community with one reusable, cloth face mask on request.
    • Per faculty request, faculty will be provided face shields for use during on-ground classes.
    • We have significantly increased the number of hand sanitizer stations on campus, which will be available at all building entrances, all classroom entrances, in food service areas, and in other high traffic areas in buildings.
    • Wipes or disinfectant spray and paper towels will be available for use in high contact and frequently used areas, including classrooms prior to each class meeting.
    • Signage and floor tape will be used to remind the campus community of social distancing requirements, the mandatory wearing of masks, and other health and safety protocols.
    • Housekeeping, food service and other employees in high contact areas will use protective equipment as needed to ensure their safety and that of the campus community.

    I will be back in touch with the campus community with additional information as our plans for the summer months and fall semester develop.  While the circumstances we are managing are unprecedented, we share this challenge with colleges and universities across our nation.

    I believe we will have the resources we need to provide our students with an exemplary public liberal arts education this fall.  I also believe we have the determination and solidarity to succeed. 

    Again, all our plans to resume campus operations are based on our commitment to the health and safety of students, faculty, and staff as our first priority.  If circumstances change and the health and safety of our campus is compromised, we will adjust our plans accordingly.  As always, I thank each of you for your patience and understanding.

    Sincerely,

    Elsa M. Núñez
    President

  • Eastern to Reopen Campus for Fall Semester

    Eastern Connecticut State University will be open for on-campus classes this fall to provide our students with the high quality, residential liberal arts education they expect and deserve. Classes will begin on August 26, 2020.

    We are currently developing a combination of face-to-face and hybrid courses and also expect to have students return to our residence halls. Throughout our planning, we are committed to ensuring that all students, faculty, and staff can learn and work in a safe and healthy campus environment.

    We are working diligently to adapt campus operations to ensure that we are compliant with state and national health and safety protocols related to COVID-19. Recognizing that circumstances can change suddenly, we are also preparing for alternative scenarios should we need to pivot to online instruction.

    Additional information will be shared with the campus community as further details of our reopening plans are finalized.

  • FACE COVERING POLICY - COVID-19

    Effective immediately and until further notice, all employees working at Eastern Connecticut State University are required to wear a facemask when entering a building or when social distancing is not possible; this includes times of brief interaction between co-workers or friends. Employees working alone in their offices do not need to wear mask, but anytime someone is within six feet of another person, the mask needs to be on.

    Governor Lamont’s Executive Order 7BB https://portal.ct.gov/-/media/Office-of-the-Governor/Executive-Orders/Lamont-Executive-Orders/Executive-Order-No-7BB.pdf further states “any person in a public place in Connecticut who is unable to or does not maintain a safe social distance of approximately six feet from every other person shall cover their mouth and nose with a mask or cloth face-covering.”

    Due to limited supplies of facemasks, all employees are strongly encouraged to use their personal facemasks — that all should have — while at Eastern Connecticut State University.  If an employee does not have a facemask, they should contact the Office of Environmental Health and Safety.

    This link from the CDC should be used when making your own facemask.

    The use of a face covering can potentially slow the spread of the virus and help people who may have the virus and do not know it from transmitting it to others.

    Face Covering Do's and Don'ts

    Face mask dos and don’ts

    Facemasks are only effective for protection if they are handled, worn, stored and disposed of properly. Experts continue to strongly urge everyone to maintain at least 6 feet of social distancing when possible—even with the use of facemasks.

    • Do practice proper hand hygiene. Before and after handling the mask (to put on, adjust, or take off), either wash your hands or use hand sanitizer to reduce cross-contamination risk. The outside of the mask is considered dirty.
    • Do mark the outside of the mask in some way so you can easily identify which side is the outside of the mask and handle it accordingly. Some individuals mark the outside with their initials in permanent ink.
    • Do keep a paper bag handy for storing the mask every time you take it off; an open plastic Ziploc-style baggie is an alternative if a paper bag is not available. Always store a mask in a clean place. Never store it in a purse or pocket.
    • Don’t touch the outside of your mask while it is on your face.
    • Don’t pull your mask below your chin while you are wearing it. Leaving the mask dangling or improperly fitted to your face creates opportunities for cross-contamination

    How often should I clean my cloth face covering?

    Your cloth face covering should be routinely washed depending on the frequency of use. Regular machine washing and drying is sufficient. If part of your face covering, you may need to remove and discard elastic or rubber bands prior to washing and drying, then replace when the fabric portion is clean

    How do I safely remove a used cloth face covering?

    Be careful not to touch your eyes, nose, or mouth when removing your cloth face covering. Wash your hands immediately after removing and handling prior to laundering.

    How else can you protect yourself at work?

    • The single, most important thing you can do at work is to wash your hands frequently for a minimum of 20 seconds, as recommended by the CDC.
    • Use hand sanitizer if you are unable to wash your hands right away
    • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth
    • Cover your cough, sneeze, and yawn
    • Wipe down surfaces before you start your work tasks and at the end of your shift
  • CARES ACT and Eastern Connecticut State University

    New federal requirements have been released that limit student eligibility for distribution of CARES Emergency Funding.

    To be eligible for an automatic payment under the CARES Act, students must meet the following criteria:

    • been enrolled in classes as of March 27, 2020;
    • filed a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) for the 2019/2020 financial aid year;
    • been determined to be Title IV eligible as outlined in the FAFSA; and
    • completed all Office of Financial Aid verification requirements.

    We strongly encourage students who have not filed a 2019-20 FAFSA to do so by June 30, 2020 at www.fafsa.ed.gov, so that your eligibility for CARES funding can be determined. Upon completing the FAFSA, please be sure to use the Eastern school code (001425) so that it will be routed to us for processing.

    We expect to receive the funds as early as next week and will begin to disburse the automatic payments at that time. Students do not apply for payments; the University will issue payments to eligible students.  Eligible students will receive automatic payments based on credit hours; amounts will vary based on the students full-time or part-time status. Pell students will receive additional funds based on guidance provided by the Federal Government. 

    Disbursements of the automatic payments will be made using the eRefund system and for students who are not registered for e-Refund individual checks will be mailed to their home address.

    If you have not registered for eRefund, please register TODAY!

    We expect refunds made by eRefund will get you your money approximately one week earlier than anyone receiving a refund check in the mail.

    There is no fee to set up an eRefund and this is the quickest way to get your money.

    1. Go to eWeb
    2. Go to your Student Account
    3. Click "view account, make deposits/payments and set up payment plan"
    4. Select Electronic Refunds in the top menu
    5. Follow the prompts
  • Commencement Announcement:

    A Message to Graduating Seniors

    In normal times, the Eastern campus is bustling in April.  Students are outside studying on the lawn, and the faculty and staff are beaming with pride as they prepare to celebrate the accomplishments of our seniors.  We would be only weeks away from our annual Commencement Exercises at the XL Center in Hartford, Connecticut, when a thousand graduates join faculty, staff, and 12,000 enthusiastic family members for a joyous celebration.  COVID-19 has changed our plans this year. As you know, we will not be at the XL Center on May 19, but this should not diminish your sense of accomplishment.

    If circumstances permit and we can safely have a commencement event this fall for our graduates and their families, we are committed to doing so and will notify seniors and families well in advance.

    In the meantime, I am pleased to announce that I will be hosting a “virtual commencement” on May 19, the same day we had originally scheduled to be at the XL Center.  We will be providing seniors with a YouTube video link that will go “live” at 6 p.m. that evening.

    • Prior to May 19, we will mail you:
      • The Commencement program, which will include a list of all graduating seniors
      • Your diploma cover
      • A commemorative mortarboard (“cap”)
    • Sometime after final grades are posted for the spring semester, we will mail your diploma to you.
    • In order to receive your commencement package and diploma, you must confirm your mailing address by May 1. We will not be able to mail you a commencement package or your diploma unless you fill out the form at
      https://34.selectsurvey.net/easternct/TakeSurvey.aspx?SurveyID=94L04653#
    • Without our graduates and their families in the audience, the program will be shorter than usual, while still providing the appropriate degree of dignity, grace and celebration. In addition to remarks by me and other Eastern officials, I am pleased to share with you that Mark Boxer, Executive Vice President and Chief Information Officer of Cigna, will be our guest speaker to deliver an inspirational message.
    • We encourage you to join in the celebration at home by wearing your cap and gown that evening. While we will be mailing your cap to you, you will need to order your commencement gown separately. You can do so by visit https://ecsu.shopoakhalli.com/purchasewizard/Welcome.

    • Keeping in mind social distancing, we hope you can take photos that evening with your family to commemorate this milestone in your life. We are compiling a slide show for our website, consisting of photographs you take with your family in your cap and gown on May 19 (or other settings and dates—your choice).  Our professional photography company will be contacting you to gather those photos, at no cost to you.
    • Please fill out the form by May 1 to ensure you receive your materials. We will not be able to mail you a commencement package or your diploma unless you fill out the form.
    • We will be sharing additional information shortly with our seniors and their families. In the meantime, I urge you to order your cap and gown and ask you to confirm your address.

    Thank you.

    Elsa M. Núñez
    President

  • Federal Emergency Funds

    Today I am sharing the following information with Eastern students and their parents, as well other members of the University community, regarding federal support being provided to the University through the Coronavirus Assistance, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act. Funds have been approved by Congress and will be distributed to state governments for various purposes and directly to institutions of higher education for emergency funding.

    Eastern will receive $4,433,725 in emergency funding through the CARES Act.  Of that amount, $2.2 million will provide partial relief to the University to offset lost revenues and additional expenses incurred due to COVID-19.  In addition to more than $6 million in housing and meal refunds disbursed to students, the University has incurred other expenses related to COVID-19 and continues to maintain its operations remotely, paying employees and covering all other normal operating expenses.

    The other half of the emergency funds — $2,216,863 — will be used to provide direct financial relief to students.   Eastern is working with the other three state universities and the Connecticut State Colleges and Universities System Office to finalize the distribution model, including the amount students will receive and eligibility requirements. Once the model is finalized, disbursements will be made using the eRefund system and for students who are not registered for e-Refund individual checks will be mailed to their home address.

    If you have not registered for eRefund, please register TODAY!

    We expect payments made by eRefund will get you your money approximately one week earlier than anyone receiving a check in the mail.

    There is no fee to set up an eRefund and this is the quickest way to get your money.

    1. Go to eWeb
    2. Go to your Student Account
    3. Click "view account, make deposits/payments and set up payment plan"
    4. Select Electronic Refunds in the top menu
    5. Follow the prompts

    While some details remain to be finalized, I can tell you that eligible students will receive funds based on credit hours, amounts will vary based on the students full-time or part-time status. Pell students will receive additional funds based on guidance provided by the Federal Government.  In total, we plan to distribute $2 million directly to students, with an additional $200,000 — 10 percent — available to support emergency requests.  Currently we are developing the process to request consideration of support from the $200,000 emergency fund. We will make more information available to you as details are finalized. 

    Thank you,

    Jim Howarth
    Vice President for Finance and Administration

  • Dear Colleague,

    I have much to share with the Eastern campus community in today’s update. Let me start by expressing my continued gratitude for the goodwill, collaboration and “can do” spirit evidenced by everyone at Eastern who is teaching, studying, and working at home during the COVID-19 pandemic. In addition to the faculty and our students — who are finding opportunities for growth and expanded knowledge in the new virtual world in which they find themselves — I want to thank all individuals and groups who are collaborating to effectively conduct Eastern business away from campus.

    You may have read the news story about how several dozen Eastern volunteers have made more than 100 masks for local senior centers and other facilities.  In addition, our Office of Environmental Health and Safety donated 1,200 surgical masks to the Windham Emergency Management Office. We are also readying more than 1,500 residential beds for possible emergency use by the state during COVID-19, as well as preparing other campus spaces should the State of Connecticut need to use our facilities for healthcare and other relief efforts. I am pleased that Eastern can serve our state even as we focus on serving our students and their families.

    This past week, through the strong  leadership of Professor Andrew Utterback, the University Senate met remotely and expedited passage of a one-semester change in our “Credit/No-Credit” policy. The Senate also approved our new Liberal Arts Core Learning Outcomes and the related assessment rubrics. This reduced the liberal arts set of skills  expected of our students from a large number of over 100  learning outcomes down to a manageable  group of five core skills we expect all students to have upon graduation. 

    The Committee on the Future of Eastern (COFE III)  and the Employability Council are also wrapping up their work before we complete the academic year, a major accomplishment considering our circumstances. In addition, the Ad Hoc Budget Committee continues its important work to share budget information with the campus committee as we continue to promote fiscal responsibility and transparency. An email from Vice President Howarth  will go out shortly.

    The most recent guidance from President Mark Ojakian of the Connecticut State Colleges and Universities is that we will continue to work from home at least through the balance of the semester.  Even so, University offices and departments — from our Campus Police, who are on rotation 24/7 despite the campus being empty, to Fiscal Affairs, Student Affairs and other organizational units — are diligently moving ahead to maintain campus operations remotely. During their daily tasks from home, members of our Eastern community are showing kindness, discovering new ways of doing things, lifting each other up, and demonstrating personal courage in a time that is unprecedented in human history.  I could not be prouder of our staff and faculty!

    We are beginning week four of our virtual semester, and I continue to hear of examples of faculty and student innovation and collaboration taking place in this new teaching and learning environment. I want to commend the faculty and our students for their hard work and ingenuity during these unprecedented times. I am gratified by the patience and thoughtfulness shown by the vast majority of our students while studying at home. They have truly been part of the solution as we have implemented extraordinary changes this semester.  To give students some flexibility, we are providing students with the option of taking any class “credit or no-credit” for the spring 2020 semester only. Details are found at https://www.easternct.edu/coronavirus/academics.html

    We also are moving ahead for the fall.Advising and registration for the fall semester started on April 6. Details can be found at https://www.easternct.edu/coronavirus/academics.html  In addition,  with the distinct possibility that we will not be on campus in time for our regular SOAR (Summer Orientation, Advising and Registration) sessions, we are working with an online platform to deliver a robust virtual orientation experience this July.  We will have more information available to admitted students and their families shortly.

    Since early March, when COVID-19 began to disruptnormal life on Eastern campus, we have been committed to holding students harmless as we navigate this unprecedented global health crisis.  An important component of our COVID-19 response has been the consideration of student finances.  I am pleased to report than more than 1,700 students and their families have now been credited with unused room and board for the balance of the semester. Most students used the e-Refund option to receive direct deposit refunds. Paper checks to students not using e-Refund were mailed on April 3.  As previously noted, students on payment plans with unpaid balances should continue making payments. If they  need to work out adjustments to  their payment plan, they should  contact the Bursar’s Office at bursar@easternct.edu

    The University is assisting in helping our students manage their finances during these difficult times with a reduced credit card payment administration fee. for credit card payments has been reduced to .01 percent, with a minimum charge of $.01, down from 2.85% and a minimum of $3.00, through June 30, 2020; debit card/ACH bank transfer payment services are being offered at no charge. 

    Eastern has also changed some of our normal financial practices to ease the burden on students.  Student account holds have been removed for all returning students who have balances of $2,500 or less, allowing them to register for fall classes and participate in the housing selection process. Housing deposits also have been waived for returning students. As noted previously, all student workers are being paid for the balance of the spring semester.

    With a large residential community — more than 50 percent of all students live on campus — another disruption to Eastern’s daily routine has been the need for all residential students to vacate campus and take their belongings home. As of April 5, 2020, almost all students had removed their belongings from the residence halls. For those students who were unable to retrieve their belongings, the University is packing and temporarily storing those belongings. Those students will be notified when they can retrieve their belongings at a later date.

    I want to thank our Housing staff, the Facilities and Grounds team, our students, and their parents for the hard work and patience shown during the move-out process.  Our goals were to vacate the campus in anticipation of possible use by the State of Connecticut during the pandemic; allow students to retrieve their belongings; and do it as safely as possible.  From what I am told, we accomplished those goals. Thank you to all!  A note from one thankful parent: “To Eastern staff:  Thank you so much to all of you who made this an awesome experience for this mom.  You guys are like family with supportive advice and recommendations.  I cannot thank you enough.”

    We recognize the strain and stress that COVID-19 is placing on our employees.  In addition to the guidance and advise on telecommuting provided in the Human Resources section of our COVID-19 website, keep in mind that EAP is also available. Please also visit the human resources section of Eastern’s COVID-19 website to learn about expansion of the Federal Family and Medical Leave Act.

    As federal and state authorities continue to stress, the best thing each of us can do now is stay home and maintain social distancing. The good news is that Eastern is doing so while providing our students with an outstanding liberal arts education, one that leads to rewarding professional careers. We will get through COVID-19  period  as a stronger and more unified community.

    Thank you.

    Elsa M. Núñez
    President

  • Dear Colleague,

    I have been meeting daily with the Senior Staff since the COVID-19 pandemic began, and I wanted to share the following with the Eastern “virtual community” to start the week.

    Teaching and Learning

    Today is the start of our second week of online learning, and I am heartened by the response of the faculty and students to this unanticipated challenge.  Provost Salka tells me that we are fully operational online.  Software and hardware have been distributed to faculty and students who needed technology support and we are resolving the few wrinkles we encountered last week.

    Faculty are using a range of technology platforms — including Webex, Office365 Teams, Zoom and Google platforms — to deliver courses.  (The VPN, for instance, is averaging more than 500 users a day.) A number of innovative approaches are also springing up, ranging from an art exhibit of posters being designed by Yulia Tikhonova’s graphic design class that reflect the social implications of being away from each other, to Ross Koning using a microscope adapter for his cell phone as a way to demonstrate a lab exercise virtually.  In addition, Theatre Professor David Pellegrini is curating a virtual mini-film festival for Theatre, Film, and New Media Studies students using the Kanopy streaming movie platform. I invite other faculty to share their challenges as well as discoveries so that we can continue to point to best practices and sources of inspiration. Just email your stories to editor@easternct.edu.

    Student Accomplishments

    It is also important for our virtual community to find opportunities to celebrate student accomplishments, even if we cannot do so in person.  I am pleased to hear that a number of our honor societies will still be inducting new members, despite the fact they will not be hosting induction events this semester. We have also selected this year’s Barnard Scholars and will be announcing those results shortly. Our biggest celebration each year is Commencement — we are all disappointed we will not be together on May 19 at the XL Center this year.  However, we are close to having a plan to acknowledge this year’s seniors in fitting fashion, and I hope to be able to announce those alternative plans soon.

    Committee Work

    I have asked our campus leaders to continue their committee meetings, using the virtual tools at our disposal, so that we do not slow down the progress being made to improve our University.  I know that the Strategic Planning Committee met last week, and tomorrow the University Senate, led by Professor Andrew Utterback, will convene for the first of four virtual meetings for the balance of the semester.  The new LAC Learning Outcomes — complete with rubrics and an implementation plan — are on the agenda for discussion, and I want to thank the faculty who have worked hard to advance this critical component of our liberal arts education.

    Housing

    I want to acknowledge and thank the Housing and Facilities staff for their efforts to help students move out of the residence halls — this is exhausting work under trying circumstances. I am very proud of the staff for their commitment to getting this completed quickly for the safety and benefit of our students. 

    It has been gratifying to see the positive response we have received from students and their families as we have worked with them to vacate their rooms.  One student had to accelerate his move-out plans as he has been called up by the Army Reserves. Housing staff were able to accommodate him and his mother writes, “Thank you LaMar and Paul for your assistance with the change in move-out day.”  Another parent writes, “Very easy moving my daughter out this morning. Thank you for the sweatshirt, Eastern.  See you in the fall.” One more parent tells us, “As an emergency manager for a Hartford suburb, I appreciate the planning and effort the school put into making the move out as easy and safe as possible. As we have commented during the good times of the school year, Eastern rocks!”

    Student Financial Accounts

    Tomorrow we hope to have all room and board refund calculations in place so that we can begin to credit student financial accounts.  Our students have pitched in to quicken the process — more than 600 new students signed up for e-Refund through this past Friday as we continue to encourage students to use this option. This will shorten their wait for refunds by a week, providing much appreciated financial relief to Eastern families.

    We also are working with students who have payment plans. Here’s a note from a grateful parent: “I received our updated payment plan amounts with the credits noted today.  I have to say Eastern is really on top of things and moving along quickly!  I give them a lot of credit for all they are doing during this crazy time.”

    I truly appreciate the work of Housing, Card Services and the Bursar’s Office for their work on the housing and meal plan refund process.  This process was an unexpected and out-of-the-ordinary task involving several thousand students.  I know our Eastern families appreciate the quick work to release these funds back to them.

    Adjusting Deadlines and Other Procedures

    Due to the need to vacate the campus and teach, study and work remotely, we have moved back a number of deadlines and various procedural schedules, including:

    • Housing and tuition deposits moved back two weeks to May 15
    • The housing deposit was waived for returning students
    • Registration for returning students was also moved back
    • Credit card fees on payment plans have been reduced to one-tenth of one percent (usual rate is 2.85%) through June 30, 2020. Debit card/ACH bank transfer payment services are also being offered at no charge.  

    Private Fundraising

    Another critical function at Eastern is the philanthropic work of the Division of Institutional Advancement. Their most important cultivation event each year is the Eastern Celebrates alumni reunion, planned for May 16 this year. We were forced to cancel it along with all campus events for the remainder of the academic year.  Despite that, staying in touch with alumni and other donors is doubly important in the current healthcare crisis — we hope to enlist alumni in supporting our students during what for many is a difficult financial time. This week we are mailing 6,000 alumni and emailing countless more, asking them to give generously to the Annual Fund or to an endowed scholarship fund of their choice.   The Development Office has also contracted with a third-party mail house to manage the spring fundraising campaign we normally staff with student workers on campus. The campaign will include a short audio message from me, reminding donors that students with unmet financial needs are especially vulnerable at this time. The continued support of our alumni and friends has never been more important.

    Thank You!

    From what the vice presidents are seeing, it is clear all our employees are working diligently and with great purpose from home to manage the daily work of the University.  These are truly extraordinary times — in our own lives and perhaps in human history. The way in which our faculty and staff have stepped into the breach continues to inspire and motivate me.

    These unparalleled times are straining the fabric of our society and the world community. In such times, I am amazed by the tenacity, resourcefulness, ingenuity and kindness displayed by people.  These are the same words I think of when I look at what is happening within our Eastern community.  I know each of you will continue to put your best effort forth in supporting each other and our students.  Because of all of you, I know we will succeed in our efforts to provide a quality education to all our students. Thank you.

    Elsa M. Núñez
    President

  • Eastern is refunding residential housing and meal plan charges covering the balance of the spring 2020 semester. Prorated credits will be applied toward each applicable student account by March 31, 2020. After any outstanding unpaid balance is deducted, any remaining credit balance will be refunded by the Bursar’s Office.

    • Refunds will be issued via direct deposit if you have set up the e-Refund option in your student account. We strongly recommend this option as the fastest way to receive your refund.
    • To set up the e-Refund option:
      • Go to e-Web
      • Go to your Student Account
      • Select Refunds in the top menu
      • Follow the prompts
    • Refunds will be issued by paper check, payable to the student, if the e-Refund option has not been set up.
    • Parents will be issued refund checks if the credit balance is due to a Parent Plus Loan and the parent has requested a refund issued in their name at the time of the loan.
    • Accounts paid by third-party agencies such as the Connecticut Department of Children and Families will be issued a refund payable to the third-party agency.
    • Students on payment plans will have their plan adjusted to reflect any room and board credits. If you have scheduled an automatic payment that posts before we have adjusted your account, the refund will reflect your payment.
    • For questions or concerns, contact the Bursar’s Office at bursar@easternct.edu
  • Today marks the first day that Eastern Connecticut State University is delivering instruction to its students exclusively online for the rest of spring semester.  This is not a scenario we anticipated or planned for at the beginning of the semester two short months ago. Nonetheless, our faculty, students, and staff have stepped forward with determination to implement our plan so that students can complete their spring courses, earn the related course credits, and — if they are seniors — graduate with their degree as planned.

    I could not be prouder of the faculty for their hard work, innovation, and diligence over the past two weeks. I am keenly aware of all the training that has taken place to prepare to teach online; the creativity and time necessary to adjust curriculum to accommodate online learning; the arrangements made for hardware and software; and all the other things necessary for us to get to this day. The faculty have worked hard — without complaint.  I am confident that, with their guidance and support, our students are going to do well in the online portion of their spring semester coursework.

    I would like to commend Provost Salka, Deans Cid and Scott, their staffs, the department chairs, and everyone else who has worked together to be ready to launch our online program today. Through their coordinated efforts and leadership, we are now able to execute our academic contingency plan.

    I also want to acknowledge the staff in the Center for Instructional Technology, the Help Desk, and their other colleagues in Information Technology Services for their extraordinary efforts to support our faculty and students. With their leadership, we have been able to provide the necessary computer hardware and software to continue to offer an outstanding Eastern education — online.  As well I should acknowledge our Public Safety department, a group of brave men and women who keep our campus safe 24/7.

    Finally, to all our other employees, working at home so that Eastern can continue to operate while we provide our students with online courses for the balance of the semester, I want to express my most sincere gratitude. We have always been a strong, vibrant academic community because the entire campus supports the teaching and learning process.  That includes our Facilities Department, Student Affairs, Food Service, the Library, Administration and Finance, Institutional Advancement — everyone.

    It will continue to take our entire campus community — working together but off-campus — to keep us moving ahead. I have full confidence that we will do that. Your collective commitment to our students is inspiring and reminds me that the strength of our University continues to be the people who teach and work here.

    The COVID-19 pandemic has hit the world community hard, touching each of our communities as well as individual people, causing disruption, heartache and loss. To overcome this public health emergency, all of us must together, taking the health threat seriously, doing our part to minimize exposure to COVID-19 and its spread, and finding ways to bring some normalcy and relief to our daily lives.

    It is a difficult, challenging time, but it has not stopped Eastern from fulfilling our mission as Connecticut’s public liberal arts university.  Stay safe, stay home, stay connected.  Monitor your email and https://www.easternct.edu/coronavirus for updates.  I will continue to update you as conditions change and decisions are made in the best interests of our students, faculty, and staff.

    Elsa M. Núñez

    President

  • Dear Members of the Eastern Community: 

    These are extraordinary times — perhaps unique in our lives — as the COVID-19 coronavirus has spread across the globe and our nation at an alarming rate. 

    This evening, Mark Ojakian, President of the Connecticut State Colleges and Universities System, issued directives to all 17 institutions in the system, designed to minimize exposure to the coronavirus while also making sure that our students continue their studies this semester. Our faculty and staff received Mr. Ojakian’s email, and I have forwarded it to our students. 

    To summarize today’s directives, we want to ensure that students can complete the semester and that seniors can graduate.  Therefore, in addition to providing all instruction online for the balance of the semester, we are closing campus to all but personnel deemed essential by Eastern, with all other employees working from home until further notice. There will be very few employees on campus. By moving students from campus to home for the remainder of the semester, we can also dramatically reduce potential exposure to the COVID-19 coronavirus.  

    I deeply care about the health and safety of each person who calls Eastern home, and I appreciate all that each of you is doing to ensure your own health and safety and that of those around you. I want to thank the faculty for working tirelessly to ensure that we can teach courses online in the coming weeks.  I also want to express my appreciation to employees working from home to keep our University running.  Finally, I want to especially acknowledge those staff and faculty who have continued to work on campus this week. This dedication to our students means everything to me. 

    While unprecedented, the current public health emergency has not left Eastern unprepared.   The senior staff and I are meeting daily to monitor the situation and take necessary actions to protect the welfare of our students, faculty and staff.  Our Continuity of Operations Team is operating under an emergency management plan and meeting frequently to ensure that campus operations continue during this period. We will continue to manage Eastern’s response to the pandemic as the situation changes. 

    As I have counseled the campus community these past few weeks, please continue to practice the healthy habits outlined by the CDC and shared on our website. And please continue to monitor your email and https://www.easternct.edu/coronavirus to receive updates. 

    I have no doubt that Eastern will continue to do what we have always done — care about each other, work together, and focus on our students.  Ours is a strong community, and that strength will see us through this. 

    Elsa M. Nunez
    President

  • The University has been advised that a faculty member has tested positive for the COVID-19 Coronavirus. Federal health privacy law prohibits the University from releasing the name of the person involved.  Students in the faculty member's classes have been notified. In addition, the faculty member's office, rest rooms, elevators, and other high traffic areas in the building have been cleaned by a private contractor.

    We ask all students, faculty, and staff to continue to self-monitor their own health while practicing social distancing and healthy personal hygiene as outlined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-nCoV/index.html

    Should you exhibit symptoms or believe you have been exposed to someone with COVID-19, self-quarantine and contact your physician.  As a reminder, Coronavirus symptoms include:

    • Fever
    • Fatigue
    • Cough
    • Shortness of Breath
    • Muscle/body aches 

    Please continue to visit https://www.easternct.edu/coronavirus for updates.

    Thank you.

     

     

  • (Issued by President Nunez on March 12, 2020)

    In consultation with public health officials and in keeping with Governor Ned Lamont’s directive that state and private employees should begin working from home whenever possible, Mark Ojakian, President of the Connecticut State Colleges and Universities System, has directed all CSCU campuses to temporarily implement telecommuting plans. 

    At Eastern, I have asked the vice presidents to work with their staffs to determine what core campus functions are essential to our operations and what staff members must continue to report to work.  Those functions where a campus presence is required should have employees work on a scaled-down or rotating basis wherever possible. While we will remain open, everyone except those necessary to maintain basic campus services will be asked to stay at home, telecommuting with the approval of their supervisor, beginning Monday, March 16, 2020, and extending through at least April 5, 2020. 

    Full-time and hourly employees will continue to be paid during this time. Individual department heads have been asked to determine which employees can work remotely from home.  We are in the process of making sure that employees who can work from home have computers and other necessary equipment to perform their job functions. In addition, effective at the close of business, Friday, March 13, 2020, all buildings are closed to members of the public not affiliated with Eastern. 

    Please continue to follow guidance regarding healthy habits as outlined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html).  Practice personal hygiene; stay clear of with people who are sick; avoid unnecessary social contact/large gatherings; and consult your physician should you become ill.  

    We will continue to communicate directly with the campus community as necessary during this public health emergency. For all Eastern communications and related information on the Coronavirus, visit https://www.easternct.edu/coronavirus

    I am extremely grateful for the support and cooperation I have received from members of the Eastern community.  Thank you for continuing to work together to ensure a healthy campus for all.

    Sincerely,

    Elsa M. Núñez

    President 

  • (Issued March 11, 2020)

    Out of an abundance of caution and with the health and safety of our campus community in mind, Eastern will close the residence halls and conduct classes online for two weeks following the upcoming Spring Break.  Spring Break will commence this Saturday, March 14, 2020, and run through Sunday, March 22, 2020. After the break, students will not immediately return to campus. Instead, classes will be taught online from March 23, 2020 through April 4, 2020. At this point, we expect students will return to campus and on-ground courses will resume on April 6, 2020. During this two-week online instruction period, faculty are expected to continue their courses through distance learning, but will have access to their offices and other instructional facilities without interruption. Staff will continue to report to work as normal. 

    I want to emphasize that Eastern will continue to operate, although classes will be conducted via online instruction for only two weeks.  

    Students are advised to bring their class notes, laptops, and other course materials home with them over Spring Break so that they will have them when instruction resumes remotely on March 23.  The residence halls will be closed, except for students who have been authorized by the Division of Student Affairs to remain on campus. Additional information for those students is being issued by the Division of Student Affairs. 

    Health protocols in place for the campus community will continue during this time:

    • Students who are on campus and feel sick should contact Student Health Services at (860) 465-5271
    • Anyone who goes to Student Health Services with acute flu symptoms will be transferred to the hospital for evaluation
    • Students with flu-like symptoms who cannot go home will be isolated in facilities that have been set up on campus and treated by the campus physician 

    While students are away from campus, please continue to practice the personal hygiene measures identified by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) to help ensure your health and those around you.  

    The Eastern administration is making decisions in collaboration with the Connecticut State Colleges and Universities System, which is working closely with the Governor’s Office and other state officials.  As the Governor noted in announcing a Public Health Emergency yesterday, the Coronavirus pandemic is a fluid situation in Connecticut, across our country, and around the globe.  

    Decisions being made at Eastern are grounded in the principle that the health and wellness of our students, faculty, and staff is our highest priority. We realize that such decisions affect a range of services and activities on campus, and to that end, we are currently assessing their impact and developing appropriate contingencies. We ask for your cooperation and patience during this time, knowing that health care experts, government officials, and others are working around the clock to limit exposure to the Coronavirus, treat people who have become sick, and ensure that our communities stay safe.  

    Because the situation is fluid and new information may be available at any time, I ask you to monitor your email and our dedicated website at https://www.easternct.edu/coronavirus.   I pledge to continue to provide direct updates as necessary to all members of our campus community.  I thank you in advance for your support as we work together to maintain a healthy, safe learning environment for our campus community.

    Thank you. 

    Elsa M. Núñez

    President

  • (Sent by Dr. Walter Diaz, Vice President of Student Affairs, to students on March 10, 2020.)

    Dear Student: 

    As part of the University’s response to the Coronavirus outbreak, I would like to share the following information with you regarding travel over Spring Break, including new guidelines from the Connecticut State Colleges and Universities System Office.  Please understand that the current situation is fluid and is changing daily. 

    • All institutionally sponsored travel outside of Connecticut has been cancelled until further notice. This includes professional/academic conferences, University-sponsored student travel, and athletic trips. Students will be reimbursed by the University for any verified, non-refundable expenses. 
    • As communicated previously, China, Iran, Italy, Japan, and South Korea have been designated by the Centers for Disease Control as Level 2 or Level 3 countries based on the incidence. Any student, faculty member, or staff person traveling to one of those countries will not be allowed to return to campus without being subject to a 14-day quarantine period following return to the United States.  Keep in mind that this list of countries for which the CDC has restricted travel can change at any time. 
    • Anyone exposed to someone who is confirmed positive for the Coronavirus will not be allowed to return to campus and is subject to a 14-day self-quarantine period. 
    • Out of consideration for your health and safety, all students, faculty, and staff are strongly discouraged from personal travel outside of the state of Connecticut, particularly during spring break. This does notapply to faculty, staff and students who commute to campus for work or classes.  
    • If you choose to travel out of state, please visit https://www.easternct.edu/coronavirus for any new restrictions. In addition, please use the following as guidance in deciding whether to self-quarantine when returning from Spring Break:
      • Consider self-quarantine if you believe you have been in close contact with anyone exhibiting flu-like symptoms
      • Avoid large group gatherings where human-to-human transmission of the virus is at greater risk 

    The University is committed to doing all we can to ensure the health and safety of every member of our campus community.  The precautions I have outlined above are intended to minimize exposure to the Coronavirus. Your cooperation and support in following the guidelines we have provided is critical to our success in managing this public health situation. 

    The Coronavirus pandemic is an evolving public health situation that is changing daily. To stay informed, please continue to visit https://www.easternct.edu/coronavirus frequently for updates. This page also has direct links to Coronavirus information found at the Centers for Disease Control, the Connecticut Department of Health, and Eastern’s Student Health Services. 

    Thank you for your support.

     

  • (From Provost William Salka to faculty)

    Dear Colleagues,

    This email is to provide you with information regarding: out-of-state travel for Faculty, out-of-state travel for students, and an Academic Contingency Plan. The health and safety of our students, faculty, and staff must be our highest concern. This is where we need your help. 

    FACULTY TRAVEL:

    The Governor has canceled all institutionally-sponsored travel out-of-state, which includes travel supported by AAUP or University grant funding. Thus, all previous approvals of funds to travel out-of-state for any reason are now rescinded and professional leave for this travel is rescinded. As of now, there will be no exceptions granted. The University will reimburse any allowable non-refundable costs you have incurred as a result of these cancellations. 

    Private Travel: While the University cannot prohibit out-of-state travel you may wish to do on your own, for example a trip next week during spring break, I strongly recommend you stay within the state. If you do travel, you must be prepared to teach your courses remotely in the event that you are required to be quarantined when you return. 

    STUDENT TRAVEL:

    As with faculty travel, all University funded, out-of-state student travel is also canceled. Students will be reimbursed for any non-refundable expenses they incurred as a result of these cancellations.   

    As with your own private travel, please help us encourage students to limit their travel during spring break next week. 

    ACADEMIC CONTINGENCY PLAN:

    As concerns about the Coronavirus grow, we must have a plan to respond to multiple scenarios that might arise. While we hope the impact on Eastern will be minor, we would be irresponsible if we did not plan for more serious situations. Specifically, we are currently developing an Academic Contingency Plan to ensure that courses continue even if the University is closed and faculty cannot be on campus. Per federal law and NECHE accreditation standards, students must receive a certain amount of "seat time," or time spent on instruction, throughout the semester to receive academic credit. Significant reductions in seat time would effectively cancel the semester, which would mean students could not earn credits and their tuition would have to be refunded. Such a scenario would be very harmful to our students, particularly our seniors who are planning to graduate in May and go on to graduate school or start their careers. It would also be financially catastrophic for Eastern. 

    To ensure we are prepared to offer classes online, we are planning a practice run on a few days after spring break. Please use this week and next week to prepare to offer your courses online. Even if you are comfortable teaching online, we will still need the practice run to ensure your students have the capability to participate in your courses.

    It is possible to use Blackboard and Panopto to easily record lectures remotely and post them in Blackboard for your students. CIT has developed training that is scheduled throughout this week and next, if this is the option you would like to pursue. Please go to this link to learn more:

    https://forms.office.com/Pages/ResponsePage.aspx?id=6Eq8AGxX40WUnU8SnYtnCjL_7VbOThVLsgLsC1YC5aVUMFBGTU8yOUNDWkNKNzJSUE9KWUJaVElZUS4u

    If you choose not to use the Blackboard/Panopto option, you must be prepared to continue your courses from off-campus. There are several technological options available to you, including: Blackboard to post and collect assignments, WebEx, Skype for Business, MS Teams, and email. Further, most of our Library resources are available to you and your students online. You need not use all of these resources in delivering your classes virtually, but you must be prepared to continue your courses in the event the campus is closed.  

    Even if our campus remains open, we may encounter situations where students must be quarantined and cannot come to class. Many of these students may be healthy and able to participate in their classes, but are prohibited from being around other people. I ask that you be flexible when working with these students to do whatever you can to ensure they can continue to participate in your course and finish the semester.  

    To guide the process of creating an Academic Contingency Plan while being respectful of shared governance, I have formed a new committee to develop protocols for these and other scenarios. The committee will be led by the Deans and myself. Dr. Nsiah, chair of the Health Sciences Department and Dr. Clifford, chair of the Economics Department have agreed to join the group. The committee will meet regularly and discuss protocols with the Department Chairs as they are developed. We will also keep you updated as this situation evolves.  

    That is all for now. Please let me know if you have any questions and I will continue to update you as more information becomes available. 

  • (from CSCU President Mark Ojakian)

    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

  • (shared with Students, Faculty, and Staff)

    We have previously informed the campus of current travel restrictions to five countries designed as Level 2 or Level 3 destinations by the Centers for Disease Control as a result of the Coronavirus pandemic. Those are China, Iran, Italy, South Korea, and Japan. Any member of the campus community traveling to those countries will not be allowed back on campus after returning to the United States, with individuals expected to self-quarantine for 14 days.  

    Because the Coronavirus pandemic is a fluid global situation, more countries could be added to the list at any time.  To ensure your safety and the safety of other members of the campus community, if you plan on traveling abroad during Spring Break or any other time in the foreseeable future, we ask that you share your destination and other information with us.  To do so please go to http://34.selectsurvey.net/easternct/TakeSurvey.aspx?SurveyID=76LMm664 and take a minute to answer the few questions provided. Your cooperation will be important to ensuring the health and safety of the entire campus community.  Thank you.

  • (Shared with faculty and staff by CIT on March 4, 2020)

    The Center for Instructional Technology would like to offer the following resources and opportunities for faculty preparation in the event that there is an emergency interruption of teaching and learning. We encourage faculty to make use of these resources and any of our other services, as they provide a variety of efficiencies and benefits, regardless of whether it becomes necessary.

    CIT Resources

    Our most powerful resource in this arena is a combination of our Blackboard Course Management System and Panopto Lecture Capture System. Blank Blackboard courses are automatically created for every class, and student access is automatically granted to those registered. A quick tutorial on Panopto enables you to record lectures that are automatically uploaded to Blackboard and made available to your students. Supplemental tools like WebEx, MS Teams, Skype, and other resources can also be employed to replicate other types of class activity as you see fit. These tools require that you have a computer microphone and Internet access. 

    Blackboard Webinar: Preparing to Scale Online Teaching and Learning During Coronavirus

    Additionally Blackboard is offering a Webinar March 10th titled Preparing to Scale Online Teaching and Learning During Coronavirus. You can join any of four opportunities throughout the day to hear their suggested practices for preparing for teaching and learning continuity, as well as the experiences of other institutions who have transitioned to online in a time of crisis.  We invite you to join us in the CIT Training Room (Lib 436) to view session at p.m. March 10th, but you can also view it from your office by registering for that session, or any of the other available times, using the registration link below.

    The other links below contain our basic instructions for getting started with Blackboard and Panopto. CIT is also available for training as your schedule permits. Please email cit@easternct.edu if you have any questions.

    Blackboard and Panopto Guides 

    1. Blackboard Quick Start Guide: https://easternct.makekb.com/71/ 
    2. Configure Blackboard for Panopto: https://easternct.makekb.com/71/ 
    3. Recording and Installing Panopto: https://easternct.makekb.com/71/ 

    Blackboard Webinar Registration: Preparing to Scale Online Teaching and Learning During Coronavirus 

     

  • (Sent by Vice President Diaz to students on March 3, 2020)

    This past evening, physicians, scientists and other federal officials on the U.S. Coronavirus Taskforce indicated that while the coronavirus threat level to the United States is currently low, the nation must take proactive steps to prepare for the likely spread of the virus. As U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Jerome Adams said yesterday, “Caution is appropriate, preparedness is appropriate, panic is not.”

    I want to share with our campus community what Eastern Connecticut State University is doing to ensure that our community is prepared for the Coronavirus. This will be the first of what will be a regular series of communiqués regarding the virus while it remains a public health issue. In addition to sending such notifications out to the campus community via email, we will also place them on the website, and will include campus-specific information as well as state and federal notices as appropriate.

    What do you need to know about the virus?

    Each of us can protect ourselves, our families, and other members of the campus community by practicing good personal hygiene and monitoring our personal health. See information below provided by University Physician Joseph Breton on flu symptoms and prevention/hygiene.

    The symptoms of coronavirus infection are very similar to the flu. In most patients the symptoms may appear 2-14 days after exposure and include:

    • Fever
    • Fatigue
    • Cough
    • Shortness of breath
    • Muscle or body aches

     Prevention:

    • Always cough or sneeze into your sleeve or a tissue.
    • Stay out of work or class if you are sick; Student Health Services can provide sick notes if needed for students.
    • Wash your hands multiple times a day, especially after contact with door handles or surfaces in common areas like the gym or student center.
    • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.

     Hand washing remains one of the most powerful things we can do to prevent sickness.

    1. Wet your hands with clean, running water (warm or cold), turn off the tap, and apply soap.
    2. Lather your hands by rubbing them together with the soap. Lather the backs of your hands, between your fingers, and under your nails.
    3. Scrub your hands for at least 20 seconds.
    4. Rinse your hands well under clean, running water.
    5. Dry your hands using a clean towel or air dry them.

    Soap and water should always be your first choice, but you can also use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol.

    What happens should you experience flu symptoms?

    Anyone with flu-like symptoms should stay home. If symptoms develop during the day, they should go home. Students exhibiting symptoms should call Student Health Services at (860) 465-5271 for a screening. The University is also reviewing options to house students exhibiting symptoms so that their health can be monitored.

    What happens if a student cannot be in class due to the virus/symptoms, or if a member of the faculty cannot teach due to the virus/symptoms?

    Provost William Salka will be communicating to the campus over the next day with details on our plans for managing teaching and learning during this time.

    Can you travel?

    The CSCU System Office has issued the following regarding travel:
    "As the global COVID-19 coronavirus outbreak continues to intensify, we are taking every precaution to mitigate any potential impact on campus. Last week, we suspended institutionally sponsored travel to countries designated Level 2 or Level 3 by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). That list of countries now includes China, Iran, South Korea, Italy, and Japan, but that list is likely to grow in coming days and weeks. Regardless of whether they are showing symptoms, students, faculty, and staff returning from Level 2 or 3 nations will be required not to return to campus for a period of 14 days from when they arrive in the United States. During those 14 days, we are asking those returning to self-quarantine and seek medical attention if symptoms develop."

    How will we keep you informed?

    During the coronavirus outbreak, it is important for everyone on our campus to receive the same information from one source.  All communication from my office or other University officials will be posted to the same web page at https://www.easternct.edu/coronavirus/

    The administration is working hard to prepare for the Coronavirus and to keep you informed of developments to ensure the health of our campus community.  Thank you.

  • (Sent by President Nunez to all employees on March 3, 2020)

    This past evening, physicians, scientists and other federal officials on the U.S. Coronavirus Taskforce indicated that while the coronavirus threat level to the United States is currently low, the nation must take proactive steps to prepare for the likely spread of the virus. As U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Jerome Adams said yesterday, “Caution is appropriate, preparedness is appropriate, panic is not.”

    I want to share with our campus community what Eastern Connecticut State University is doing to ensure that our community is prepared for the Coronavirus. This will be the first of what will be a regular series of communiqués regarding the virus while it remains a public health issue. In addition to sending such notifications out to the campus community via email, we will also place them on the website, and will include campus-specific information as well as state and federal notices as appropriate.

    What do you need to know about the virus?

    Each of us can protect ourselves, our families, and other members of the campus community by practicing good personal hygiene and monitoring our personal health. See information below provided by University Physician Joseph Breton on flu symptoms and prevention/hygiene.

    The symptoms of coronavirus infection are very similar to the flu. In most patients the symptoms may appear 2-14 days after exposure and include:

    • Fever
    • Fatigue
    • Cough
    • Shortness of breath
    • Muscle or body aches

     Prevention:

    • Always cough or sneeze into your sleeve or a tissue.
    • Stay out of work or class if you are sick; Student Health Services can provide sick notes if needed for students.
    • Wash your hands multiple times a day, especially after contact with door handles or surfaces in common areas like the gym or student center.
    • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.

     Hand washing remains one of the most powerful things we can do to prevent sickness.

    1. Wet your hands with clean, running water (warm or cold), turn off the tap, and apply soap.
    2. Lather your hands by rubbing them together with the soap. Lather the backs of your hands, between your fingers, and under your nails.
    3. Scrub your hands for at least 20 seconds.
    4. Rinse your hands well under clean, running water.
    5. Dry your hands using a clean towel or air dry them.

    Soap and water should always be your first choice, but you can also use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol.

    What happens should you experience flu symptoms?

    Anyone with flu-like symptoms should stay home. If symptoms develop during the day, they should go home. Students exhibiting symptoms should call Student Health Services at (860) 465-5271 for a screening. The University is also reviewing options to house students exhibiting symptoms so that their health can be monitored.

    What happens should faculty or staff experience flu symptoms?

    The system office has issued the following guidance to explain the procedure to be used if a member of the faculty or staff exhibits flu symptoms.

    • In the event an employee arrives to work with flu or flu-like symptoms they will be instructed by management to go home
    • We will use the CDC definitions of flu or flu-like symptoms. Flu Symptoms & Complications (CDC)
    • The manager will tell the employee that they are being sent home due to exhibiting symptoms.
    • Management will advise the employee they should see a health care provider as soon as possible.
    • If they are diagnosed with the Coronavirus we ask they inform their manager as soon as possible.
    • They will be instructed not to return to work until they are no longer symptomatic.
    • They can use their accrued time for this purpose (where applicable).
    • If absent for five days or more, a medical certificate to return to work is required.
    • As stated above, the employee should use the appropriate paid time off unless they and their supervisor agree to a temporary telecommuting arrangement, in which case, sick time is not necessary.

    What happens if a student cannot be in class due to the virus/symptoms, or if a member of the faculty cannot teach due to the virus/symptoms?

    Provost William Salka will be communicating to the campus over the next day with details on our plans for managing teaching and learning during this time.

    Can you travel?

    The CSCU System Office has issued the following regarding travel:
    "As the global COVID-19 coronavirus outbreak continues to intensify, we are taking every precaution to mitigate any potential impact on campus. Last week, we suspended institutionally sponsored travel to countries designated Level 2 or Level 3 by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). That list of countries now includes China, Iran, South Korea, Italy, and Japan, but that list is likely to grow in coming days and weeks. Regardless of whether they are showing symptoms, students, faculty, and staff returning from Level 2 or 3 nations will be required not to return to campus for a period of 14 days from when they arrive in the United States. During those 14 days, we are asking those returning to self-quarantine and seek medical attention if symptoms develop."

    How will we keep you informed?

    During the coronavirus outbreak, it is important for everyone on our campus to receive the same information from one source.  All communication from my office or other University officials will be posted to the same web page at https://www.easternct.edu/coronavirus/

    The administration is working hard to prepare for the Coronavirus and to keep you informed of developments to ensure the health of our campus community.  Thank you.