Critical Information about Coronavirus-Related Decisions

By President Shirley M. Collado, March 11, 2020
Spring break extended one week and classes to move to remote instruction.

Dear Campus Community,

I am reaching out to follow up on Tuesday's message regarding restrictions to travel and large gatherings on campus, and to share some critical additional information that impacts our entire community relative to our ongoing and evolving response to the novel coronavirus, COVID-19.

This is a time in our country and within higher education that is unprecedented, and I want to thank you for carefully reading our previous messages and demonstrating your patience as we respond to this situation.

As many of you are aware, the scope and potential spread of this virus has prompted a number of colleges and universities around the country to seek out and implement alternative methods for instruction and operations.

At Ithaca College, we have intentionally made the decision to take a phased approach in our response to a public health issue that is changing by the day. This means that we are moving incrementally and thoughtfully through our response as we make major decisions that impact this campus and our community. A phased approach gives us an opportunity to remain nimble and ready to adjust our practices to respond safely and appropriately to shifting realities around this virus.

I want to take a moment and be very clear about how the decisions below were made. The Core Emergency Response Team (CERT), which is composed of a rich representation of highly trained experts from across campus, has been meeting frequently to review the latest information about the virus. That includes data and guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the responses of other institutions, organizations, and local, state, and federal governments. The CERT works in collaboration with local and state health officials and with on-campus leaders, such as deans, vice presidents and associate vice presidents, as well as faculty, staff, and student leadership on campus. I want to thank the members of this team who have dedicated an enormous amount of time and energy into this critical work.

Above all, I want to make it explicitly clear that the decisions we are making prioritize the safety and health of all faculty, staff, and students, and are aimed at minimizing the impact of a public health issue on our local community.

Immediate Campus-Wide Changes

The following changes will be effective immediately:

  • Spring break will be extended by one week, to include the week of Monday, March 16, through Friday, March 20. As a result of this decision, classes for this semester will extend through Monday, May 11.
  • We will move to a remote method of instruction from Monday, March 23, through Friday, April 3. Ideally, students will be able to come back to campus on Sunday, April 5, with in-person, on-campus classes restarting Monday, April 6.  However, depending on how the situation evolves, we may need to extend the period of remote instruction through the end of the semester.

Key Additional Information

I know that many of you likely have specific questions around how this impacts your day-to-day work and experience at IC. Below is some more detailed information explicitly for faculty, staff, and students.

For Faculty

I hope you had an opportunity to read through Tuesday's email from the provost’s office (you may read it here). Next week, the provost’s office, our Office of Teaching and Learning with Technology, and the Center for Faculty Excellence will be offering workshops and other professional development opportunities to faculty as you prepare to temporarily transition your pedagogy to a remote or online model. We will be relying on Sakai and Zoom as the two primary tools for remote teaching.

Many of our faculty already have a robust understanding of remote teaching, and have reached out to the provost’s office to offer to help their colleagues during this temporary transition. Peer-to-peer support will be critical over the coming weeks, and will be facilitated. My deepest thanks to those of you who are offering to share your expertise. I also want to thank the faculty leaders, deans, and members of the faculty council who are stepping up to engage in critical conversations in smaller groups next week, as we support one another and lead the way for our students.

More information will be available for faculty in the coming days, specifically around support for the transition to remote instruction. Please stay tuned for those emails, which will be coming from the provost’s office.

For Students and Families

Rooted in an abundance of caution and care for our community, the college has determined that students should not return to campus from our originally scheduled spring break (Saturday, March 7, through Sunday, March 15), and all students currently on campus should leave campus by 5:00 p.m. on Sunday, March 15. Members of our student affairs and campus life staff will be available to support students during this important transition.

The college understands that leaving campus may not be possible or prudent for everyone. We encourage any student with significant concerns to complete a request for approval to stay on campus.

We are halfway through our spring semester and I know, particularly for our graduating students and their families, this is an important time in your lives. We are living in a moment of great uncertainty, and we are working diligently to create pathways that honor your IC experience while balancing the very real expectations around maintaining the health and viability of the individuals within our community and within the Ithaca area.

The college’s phased approach to this situation is a tool to ensure that we have the flexibility to provide you with a thoughtful academic and student experience.

There are many aspects of the student experience that will be challenged by these decisions, ranging from how to access your belongings on campus, to details around how IC is going to support students who are facing extreme circumstances, to questions around housing and Commencement.

Please stay tuned to your email for more specific information from student affairs and campus life.

For Staff

Staff are an integral part of Ithaca College, and as we adjust the student experience to address concerns about coronavirus, we do so thoughtfully and in accordance with the staff experience here on our campus. Hayley Harris, our vice president of human resources and planning, and her team are thoughtfully crafting a plan to accommodate student needs on campus and staffing requirements to support our operations during a challenging and uncertain time.

Communications from human resources will be forthcoming with specific details about how the changes shared above will impact our staff, as well as resources available for support.

The campus is open, and staff are expected to report at their usual time. Human resources will have more information soon about options for staff to work remotely, should the need arise.

Coronavirus Updates Website

As a reminder to all faculty, staff, and students, the college continues to provide important information and updates about coronavirus on a dedicated website.

This is an incredibly strong community, and I know that we have an amazing depth of talent and creativity, and a great sense of responsibility to our mission and to this place. The coming weeks are going to call upon all of us to remain flexible and fluid, to understand that the decisions being made are new to all of us and that we are shifting our patterns to keep all of us healthy and safe while maintaining our commitment to delivering the Ithaca College experience.

As we make changes and adjustments to the way we do our work on campus, we are thoughtfully and carefully considering the impact of these changes on all facets of our IC community — not just our faculty, staff, and students — but our IC families and our local and regional neighbors.

I encourage all of us to approach these unexpected times in the spirit of fellowship and collaboration. Let’s please take care of one another, check in with one another, and have confidence that we will get through this together.

In solidarity,

Shirley M. Collado