President McConnell’s message regarding COVID-19
March 19, 2020
Dear CSU Family,
In response to the international crisis created by the novel coronavirus COVID-19, I am mandating that, effective Monday, March 23, CSU move all operations to online and virtual services.
What does this mean?
The university will be open—virtually. We will do our work by phone, email, Microsoft Teams or other online platforms unless the work must be performed in person. I have asked all supervisors to exercise common sense, flexibility and compassion to move employees to online and virtual work and also to identify any essential-in-person functions in their offices.
We are defining essential in-person functions as those service functions that cannot be performed via email, phone, or other online platforms, including but not limited to: feeding and serving students who remain in the residence halls; caring for animals and plants under the university’s charge; performing physical maintenance and cleaning; using on-campus equipment that is vital to academic, research, or operations continuity; and conducting critical research tasks that cannot be done virtually.
Employees should know by early next week whether their role is defined as essential-in-person or not and how to move forward with their work, either remotely or in person. Check out our university resources for remote work here.
As I announced last week, all courses at all levels will be delivered online for the remainder of the Spring 2020 semester. You can learn more from the CSU Institute for Learning and Teaching about how to succeed in an online learning environment as a student and as a teacher.
Students who can remain at home rather than returning to residence halls are encouraged to do so. All students not returning to residence halls can register on myhousing.colostate.edu to move out any time before May 16.
Students who need to return to the residence halls for part or all of the remaining semester should register on myhousing.colostate.edu by March 20. More information about Housing and Dining is available here, including information about University Apartments, refunds and waived cancelation policies during the COVID-19 crisis, cleaning protocols, and hours for the Foundry dining Center.
We know that some of our student workers in all categories (hourly-wage, work-study, for-credit) are hoping to return to campus and work for all or part of the Spring semester. We are working hard across many campus units to explore options for all of you and will communicate with you soon.
Resources for graduate students specifically can be found here.
We encourage all students to continue to engage with the many university resources in place just for them, including support for disabled students, student government and organizations, mental health services, student legal services, interpersonal violence response and safety, career advising, services and education offered to students through Off Campus Life, guidance and tailored support provided to adult learners and veterans, and technology. In addition, the university is investing in additional resources to support our students in their success as we deliver academic courses online.
Faculty and Staff
Faculty and staff should please pay careful attention to the language at the top of this message describing the remote work mandate effective March 23 and the definition of essential-in-person work. The President’s Office has communicated directly with supervisors across campus urging them to use common sense, flexibility, and compassion in working with employees going forward. Employees themselves can learn more about how to make remote work productive and enjoyable through resources like this article and this video.
We also recognize that many of our employees, both faculty and staff, have unique professional and personal situations that make this time particularly challenging. Public schools are closed through April 17, which impacts employees who are also parents. Many employees are immune-compromised or care for someone who is. We encourage you to discuss any unique situations like these with your supervisor(s). However, if you do not feel comfortable doing so, you can submit questions here so someone can address your specific concerns.
We urge you all to communicate with your colleagues and supervisors, to ask for help when you need it, and to check our HR FAQs for answers to many of your most common questions. Human Resources leadership is also meeting weekly with Staff Council and administrative leadership to be sure we are addressing employees’ needs.
As concerns about COVID-19 continue to escalate, we have made the difficult decision to suspend all non-essential research activities on campus as soon as practical. In order to protect our community, all labs and other research facilities will be closing by the end of the day on Monday, March 23, except for critical research and critical research operations. We will reevaluate this guidance by April 15 but anticipate that these restrictions could remain in place significantly longer. Check here for Research FAQs, including a definition of critical research, and send any questions to this inbox. Also look here at university guidance for how to keep researching.
Following recommendations from public health officials, we have made the difficult decision to move the May Commencement ceremonies to December to allow all our graduates to share their achievements with their families in person. We will celebrate all CSU 2020 graduates with commencement ceremonies on campus December 18-20, 2020. The schedule for specific ceremonies will be forthcoming in the coming weeks and posted here.
CSUPD is continuing to operate 24/7 and respond to all 911 calls and texts in support of university safety, although their front desk is closed in support of limiting non-emergency in-person contact. As always, if you see something that may be a safety or security concern, please contact them by calling 911 or the non-emergency number, 970-491-6425.
All university international and domestic travel, including travel within Colorado, that has not yet commenced has been suspended effective Monday, March 23. We will re-evaluate and issue further guidelines later this spring. Rare exceptions for critical travel and/or travel in-state consistent with social distancing may be granted by Deans and Vice Presidents. The exception form, which can be completed electronically, can be found here.
On-Campus Events and Programs
To ensure social distancing, I am mandating that all on-campus events and programs, including all athletic competitions, be canceled through the end of the Spring 2020 semester. This cancellation directive includes but is not limited to workshops, speakers, celebrations, campus tours, and meetings of all but essential-in-person employees. There are many robust, university-supported platforms through which people can continue meeting remotely. You can explore those here.
Off-Campus Events and Programs
For clear public health reasons, I am also mandating that all CSU-hosted off-campus events be canceled through the end of the Spring 2020 semester (May 17). This cancelation directive includes but is not limited to Extension programs, Colorado State Forest Service Community Events, Continuing Education sessions, and all other face-to-face non-credit educational services. Our Extension professionals are of course also working in concert with the local public health officials in all counties and communities where they have a presence and following local guidelines and directives, some of which may exceed the limitations imposed by CSU directives.
The national Centers for Disease Control and Prevention clearly states that there is currently no vaccine to prevent coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). This means that the best way to keep from contracting and/or spreading the illness is to avoid being exposed to the virus. For more up-to-the minute public health guidance, check the CDC’s COVID-19 page here.
I also urge all of you to bookmark and frequently check the CSU COVID-19 site and our related HR site. If you have questions or concerns you do not see answered in either of these places, please submit those here.
We will get through this! As this faculty member from another institution reminds us, we will survive! With humor, patience, grace granted to one another, and the assurance that I can offer you all—that each and every one of you is so valued and so important to our community—together we will see this pandemic crisis through.