WCSU Returns to Normal, Reopening Information and Covid-19 Updates

Novel Coronavirus and COVID-19

FAQ for All WCSU Employees

Last Updated: 04/8/20 3:24 p.m.

Has WCSU had a report of COVID-19 on campus?

While we did not have any cases while classes were in session on campus, we have since had reports of students, faculty, and staff with COVID-19.  We ask that you keep us informed if you are diagnosed so that we can deploy appropriate support as needed.  Follow this link to let us know: https://westconn.tfaforms.net/201


 

Is campus open or closed?

As of March 15, the System Office has directed us to ask that all but those who cannot accomplish their jobs remotely stay home. For WCSU, this means all but essential personnel will be working remotely. Essential personnel have already been notified of their status. If you have a question about whether or not you can work remotely, please speak with your immediate supervisor.

Faculty and staff who are now working remotely should get all materials from their offices by Friday, March 20, at 5 p.m.  After that, buildings will not be accessible to anyone but essential personnel.  This allows us to be effective in the deep cleaning process (if people are popping in and out, there is a risk of infection every single time).

If you need assistance accessing your campus phone, using Web-Ex, or logging into Share Drives of One Drive, reach out to IT&I (requestit@wcsu.edu) for assistance or check out the help desk links https://support.wcsu.edu/. The instructional design team will still be available to help faculty transitioning their courses to online and there are tutorials here: https://support.wcsu.edu/?ht_kb_category=training.


Returning to Campus

Currently, all faculty and most staff are working remotely. Our facilities team is now managing clean-up of the Residence Halls (some of which may be used by emergency personnel working at the hospital and the hospital outpost in O’Neill). In order to ensure that our buildings are free of COVID-19, we are not approving trips back to campus for remote personnel. Every time someone enters a building there is a chance of unwittingly infecting the area. Only those personnel who must be on campus will be permitted to enter. Everyone else should stay home.


Planning for Fall

The Board of Regents has initiated a planning process that will involve gathering recommendations and insights from each campus.  This process involves:

  • Establishing four teams 1) Academics and Enrollment Management, 2) Technology, 3) Operations and Logistics, and 4) Student Life and Student Support Services.
  • Charging each team with answering a list of questions provided by the BOR (and perhaps our own questions will be added).  These must be answered by May 12.
  • Writing one report with all the information gathered from all four teams. This will be completed by May 14 and shared with the campus community.
  • Submitting the final document to the Board of Regents on May 15.

It is also important that everyone understand the four scenarios for opening that we are considering.

  • Scenario 1: Open on campus in the fall
  • Scenario 2: Remain online for the fall
  • Scenario 3: Open with a Hybrid Campus Structure
  • Scenario 4: Adjust our timeline (Delayed opening, start online, or offer a series of shorter sessions)

Please know that we have tried to get a good cross section of our campus community on these teams, but they are necessarily limited given our reliance on WebEx and the pace of this project.  This does not mean we do not want your input.  Please look at the teams and the questions they are charged with, and if you have ideas or thoughts, go ahead and send them to the team leads for consideration.

While this is a very fast turn-around, we are hoping that the effort will help us get some clarity on our future as soon as possible.  Not knowing what is next is probably the most challenging part of our existence right now, so moving fast is important.

WCSU Campus Reopening Team

Academics/Enrollment Management

Focus on delivery of undergraduate and graduate courses, supplemental instruction, registration/admissions issues, professional development for faculty on remote teaching, schedule/catalog changes

WCSU Campus Leads: Missy Alexander (Provost) & Jay Murray (VP Enrollment Management)

  • Tom Philbrick (Faculty, University Senate President)
  • Jennifer O’Brien (Librarian, VP University Senate)
  • Emily Stevens (Faculty, School of Professional Studies)
  • Justin Cowan (Faculty, School of Visual and Performing Arts)
  • Lai Van Vo (Faculty, Ancell School of Business)
  • Dan Barrett (Faculty, Macricostas School of Arts & Sciences)
  • Neeta Connally (Faculty, Macricostas School of Arts & Sciences)
  • Jay Brower (UPBC Chair)
  • Aura Lippincott (Instructional Designer)
  • Scott Volpe (Associate Director of Media Services & Instructional Technology)
  • Isabel Carvalho (Director, Academic Advising Center)
  • Jennifer Zdziarski (Associate Registrar)
  • Brian Vernon (Dean, Visual and Performing Arts)
  • Michelle Brown (Dean, Macricostas School of Arts & Sciences)

Technology

Focus on identifying and addressing student, staff and faculty technology needs for both on-ground and online education and services, address technology needs of administrative employees for telework

WCSU Campus Leads: John DeRosa (Interim CIO Information Technology) & Rebecca Woodward (Interim CIO Academic Technology)

  • Stephanie Kuhn (Faculty, Distance Education Committee)
  • Sharon Young (Faculty, Information Technology Committee)
  • Melissa Stephens (Director of Financial Aid & Student Employment)
  • Joan Palladino (Interim Dean, School of Professional Studies)
  • Colleen Cox (Instructional Designer)
  • Dennis Leszko (Director, Center for Student Involvement)

Operations and Logistics

Focus on reopening of campuses, assess readiness of facilities for on-ground education, consider options for reopening of residential halls and contingency plans for future outbreaks

WCSU Campus Leads: Luigi Marcone (Chief Facilities Officer) & Pano Koukopoulos (Director of Emergency Management)

  • Maribeth Griffin (SUOAF)
  • Rotua Lumbantobing (AAUP)
  • Merisa Williams (Clerical)
  • Mike Ercoli (Maintenance)
  • Jim LaClair (Police)
  • Fred Cratty (Chief Human Resources Officer)
  • David Martin (Dean of Ancell)

Student Life and Student Support Services

Focus on delivery of both student direct and wrap around services provided both by the schools and the community as well as student activities and athletics

WCSU Campus Leads: Keith Betts (VP Student Affairs) & Lori Mazza (Director of Athletics)

  • Anna Adebambo (SGA President)
  • John Murphy (SGA Advisor, Director Event & Conference Management)
  • Ron Mason (Director of Residence Life)
  • Walter Cramer (Dean of Students)
  • Elisabeth Werling (Director of AccessAbility Services)
  • Veronica Kenausis (Assistant Dean of Academic Success Programs)
  • Lynne LeBarron (Interim VP Institutional Advancement)
  • Chuck Rocca (FY Coordinator)
  • AnnMarie Puleo (Associate Director, Academic Advising)

Can I work remotely?

All employees who can, must work remotely. Some positions, however, are deemed essential for the maintenance of operations. Your direct supervisor should contact you regarding your status. If there are important considerations that are not reflected in these guidelines, please contact your supervisor and Fred Cratty (crattyf@wcsu.edu) in Human Resources for guidance.


If I am working remotely, will there be technological support?

Yes. Please contact the Help Desk, requestit@wcsu.edu. They will be open.


Technology

If you do not have appropriate technology at home, please contact IT&I for assistance. They have been gathering supplies to help everyone. Please use the requestIt@wcsu.edu email.  They are responding very quickly.

If you hear of students who do not have a laptop/desktop or some other reasonable tool to access their courses, please have them reach out to Information Technology & Innovation (requestIT@wcsu.edu). They are providing loaners.  No one should be struggling to complete their education on a phone.


Conferencing Tools

Web Ex and Teams are the official tools supported by IT&I. We have had at least one negative experience with ZOOM (the virtual coffee house was bombarded with ugly images) and one instance of the same, in WebEx, because it was not set up properly.  For those using WebEx, here is a link to how to protect your meetings in this platform. https://help.webex.com/en-us/8zi8tq/Cisco-Webex-Best-Practices-for-Secure-Meetings-Hosts


The Trouble with Zoom from a Security Perspective

  • Zoombombing, where hackers bombard Zoom participants with slurs, mockery and pornographic images, hate speech and physical threats. The issue became so widespread in recent weeks the FBI released a how-to guide for preventing these cyberattacks, suggesting users restrict screen-share settings, password protect all meetings and avoid posting about gatherings on social media. Even implementing those measures may not completely prevent Zoombombing due to bugs that may compromise webcam and password security.
  • Other concerns surround Zoom’s data sharing practices, including sending data to Facebook. Zoom is still facing a class action lawsuit for not properly informing users about sharing this data.
  • Research suggests that Zoom sometimes shares users’ data, including encryption keys that could allow access conversations, with China.

What happens to student employees?

All student workers will remain employed through the end of the semester.  If you supervise a student worker, we ask that you do your best to create remote work assignments for them.  Even if remote work is not feasible, they should be compensated for the planned upon hours.  Have them report their hours in CORE-CT and you should approve as usual.


What do we do about mail pick-up, signing forms, etc.?

For signatures, email messages will suffice.  Mail pick-up strategies are still TBD. Check back for more information soon.


How will we support students while they are not on campus?

  • Faculty will be teaching and reachable online.
  • Faculty and the advising center will be supporting registration online.
  • Academic Support Services (tutoring, academic coaching, and library services) will be offered online.
  • The Help Desk will be available online.

Check out this new link in the essential tab on our homepage. https://www.wcsu.edu/sos/


What about reporting travel?

All out of state travel is prohibited until the end of May.


What do I do if I contract COVID-19 or if I think I’ve been exposed?

Please follow this link for reporting guidelines.


Will we cancel Commencement?

The May 17 Commencement Ceremony has been cancelled. Plans are now in place to host a ceremony on campus on September 27th.  Check out the student FAQs for more detail.


Copyright and Online Courses

The BOR has forwarded the following information.

Dear CSCU Faculty and Staff,

This message is meant to provide guidance regarding how copyright law applies to the many facets of remote teaching and research in the wake of the COVID-19 outbreak. There are many pedagogical and technical issues that make the shift from in-person to remote teaching challenging, but thankfully, Federal and CT state copyright laws continue to remain the same.

CSCU is endorsing the Public Statement of Library Copyright Specialists: Fair Use & Emergency Remote Teaching & Research https://tinyurl.com/tvnty3a, provided that while we are operating in emergency circumstances, CSCU campus libraries, faculty, staff and students continue exercising judgment and comply with copyright laws as in any other circumstance. Generally, if it was permissible to use course materials in class, it is often permissible to do so online, especially when campuses restrict access to course materials only to students, instructors, or teaching assistants enrolled in the course. Further, campuses should provide content only for the period of time needed, and excerpt materials when pedagogically appropriate.

While there is a myriad of resources available online, Library Copyright Experts have joined together to provide the below resources for higher education, including universities, research, community college, and special libraries during the COVID-19 outbreak:

Resources on Copyright & Emergency Remote Teaching & Research https://tinyurl.com/v6dvmcb

Vendor Covid-19 Related Donations and Pro Bono Access

https://tinyurl.com/vendorsupportedaccess

In addition to teaching and research materials that are freely accessible online, all of the CSCU libraries provide the students, faculty, and staff at their institution with remote online access (requiring Banner ID and password authentication) to vast collections of e-books, e-journals, streaming videos, and other e-resources.

To access these e-resources or, if you need assistance, please visit the website of your campus’s library:


Transitioning to Online Teaching

For those transitioning to online teaching, the Instructional Design team has created a space for you to share ideas, struggles, or models with each other. It is an organization within Blackboard. Here is how to get there. 

Faculty: Remote Teaching site
Use this organization to find instructions for common remote teaching tasks.  There is also a discussion forum for you to share your tips with your colleagues. Resources will be added to this evolving site so please check back regularly.

How to Log into Blackboard

  1. Type in WCSU.EDU in the address bar in either Google Chrome or Edge
  2. Once on the home page – Click on Essentials on the bar along the top and select Blackboard (https://wcsu.blackboard.com/)
  3. Once on the Blackboard sign in page – enter your username (last name first initial) and password.  Click on Login.  You may get a message regarding ‘cookies’.  Click ok or accept.
  4. You are now in Blackboard

How to Access the Faculty: Remote Teaching Organization 

  1. Once you’ve logged into Blackboard, along the top part of your Blackboard page you will see ‘WCSU’ and ‘WCSU Organizations’.  Click on ‘WCSU Organizations’ tab.
  2. If this is the first time you are accessing this Organization, in the Organization Search box type Faculty: Remote Teaching (or partial organization name) and click on ‘GO’
  3. Click on the down arrow (chevron) after the title Faculty: Remote Teaching and select ‘Enroll’
  4. Type Remote2020 as the access code and select ‘Submit’ (Note: the password is case sensitive)
  5. Scroll to the bottom of the page and click on ‘OK’
  6. The Faculty: Remote Teaching Organization should now appear in your Organization list.

Accessibility Online

AccessAbility Services has supplied some guidance on supporting students with learning differences.  It is posted in Blackboard. I’ve copied it here for good measure.

Students with Disabilities

In light of the announcement to transition to a virtual campus until April 3rd, AccessAbility Services realizes the challenges this may create for accommodating students with disabilities. AccessAbility Services asks faculty to be mindful of the accommodations of their students and incorporate those accommodations in to the online format of their class. One of the most heavily approved accommodation is extended time on quizzes and/or exams. AccessAbility Services will not be open to accommodate in-person exams during this remote period. Faculty members must extend timing online to accommodate students with accommodations. Resources on how to extend the timing for quizzes and/or exams through blackboard along with additional resources on how to create accessible material can be found on our accessibility resources page.

Those looking for a short list of guidelines for making courses and websites accessible to individuals with disabilities should consult:

At this time, AccessAbility Services will continue to support the accommodation needs of students remotely. Please keep in mind that students with disabilities may not have come forward to AccessAbility Services to request accommodation for an on-ground class, thus you may receive new accommodation letters in the coming weeks. Please let all students know that the switch to online classes is an opportunity to receive accommodations should they have any new needs or unexpected challenges related to a disability. Students requesting accommodations, should email aas@wcsu.edu to learn about the accommodation request process. At this time of uncertainty, flexibility is critical.


Pass/Fail Option for Spring 2020

At the April 15 meeting of the University Senate, the pass /fail policy for undergraduates was expanded to the following:

Pass/Fail Option

Undergraduate Pass/Fail Option Spring 2020 only (COVID19)

You may take courses on a pass/fail basis with the approval of the school dean of your major. The purpose of this option is to encourage students to take courses in areas they would like to investigate in addition to those in which they are majoring or concentrating.

  • You obtain approval no later than the last day of classes (May 8, 2020) for full semester courses or half semester courses that began after spring break (March 23, 2020). Half-semester courses that began in January do not qualify for this change.
  • Allow all courses to be taken pass*/fail during Spring 2020 semester only, after consultation with advisor or department chair.  Courses taken pass/fail during spring semester 2020 will not apply to the four course maximum in time to degree.  (* D- or better is pass)
  • Credits taken on a pass/fail basis do not generate quality points and are not included with credits attempted on the standard basis in computing the academic average. Successfully completed pass/fail credits are included in the credits necessary for graduation unless the description of the particular course indicates otherwise. Information regarding changes of grade or pass/fail options can be obtained from the Registrar’s Office.

 

While this expansion is likely to be helpful for many students, please remember that it is not the best option for everyone.  Students should be reminded that there are majors that require minimum grades in courses, and those policies have not changed. In addition, for students on academic probation, pass/fail should be used carefully, particularly if a student is re-taking a course for a higher grade. Please make sure your advisees understand the consequences of selecting the pass/fail option