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Accelerating to Virtual Instruction and Social Distancing for Students and Employees

March 17th, 2020

To the Campus Community:

Across the country and here in Los Angeles, communities are taking extraordinary action to mitigate the spread of COVID-19. While there are no confirmed COVID-19 cases at CSUN, we are quickly accelerating our move to virtual instruction and increasing social distancing for students and employees to significantly lower the number of people physically on campus. We are not closing campus or suspending essential operations, but we must do our part to “flatten the curve” of COVID-19 and maintain essential services for our students with the measures below following guidance from California State University Chancellor Timothy White, Governor Gavin Newsom, and federal, state and local public health officials.

Shifting to Virtual Instruction

As I shared on March 11, CSUN faculty are already planning to move face-to-face instruction to virtual and alternate learning modalities on Monday, March 23, as we return from spring break. Alternate learning modalities, inclusive of instruction, final exams, instructional labs, studios, small group seminars and the like, have now been extended through the entirety of the spring semester. We are actively supporting the continued development of virtual learning and remote curricular delivery to ensure academic continuity and degree progress for all students. For faculty, the Information Technology Keep Teaching webpage and the Faculty Development Teaching Through Disruption page provide helpful resources. Information Technology developed additional tools for students to Keep Learning and staff to Keep Working.  We are also sharing options for Internet Connectivity for Users Who Do Not Have It.

Increasing Social Distancing and Offering Services Virtually

The shift to virtual learning will go a long way to limiting the number of students and faculty on campus. However, we will be accelerating social distancing by transitioning the majority of employees to work remotely. This is effective as a soon as possible but no later than the end of day Friday, March 20.

Starting Monday, March 23, staff who are not directly instructed to work on campus in person should not come to campus. CSUN’s campus remains open to maintain essential operations including, but not limited to, Student Housing and related food service, the Klotz Student Health Center, Information Technology in support of virtual and alternate learning modalities, availability of computer labs, maintenance of laboratories conducting research, fiscal and payroll services, and ensuring the physical safety and security of campus. Limited face-to-face student services will continue to be available, as well as offered virtually. Students should call or email the specific student service office prior to coming to campus.

Employees will receive direction from their managers if they are required to come to the campus in order to work to support these services. People who are working from home should continue to do so. Governor Newsom has advised anyone age 65 and older and/or those at higher risk to COVID-19 to remain at home. CSUN state employees will be paid their normal rate of pay for their normal hours assigned during this time, as they will either be working on site with social distancing, telecommuting or on paid administrative leave. Student employees may be provided work to be performed virtually where appropriate. In instances, where there is no work to be performed remotely, student employees will continue to be paid for their existing work schedule through April 5 and will be re-evaluated prior to that date.

We continue to operate guided by the health, safety and well-being of the entire campus community as our top priority with the goal to continue our mission of education and continuity of instruction. Everyone should expect that services across CSUN will be offered virtually to the extent possible, and face-to-face services will be very limited. Some buildings may be closed. Details about services will be forthcoming on CSUN’s COVID-19 website as they are determined.

Student Housing and CSUN Dining

With the move to revised campus services, Student Housing residents who can are encouraged to explore alternate living arrangements to further increase social distance. CSUN will maintain Student Housing and CSUN Dining under these emergency circumstances so long as there is a need to do so. Students who live in Student Housing may choose to stay in their housing and maintain access to Residential Dining services. For students who would rather cancel their housing contract and move off-campus, they may choose to do so and receive a refund per Student Housing refund policies and CSUN Dining contracts. Residents of housing will receive specific information on how to cancel their contracts and request refunds.

Research

Faculty researchers and Principal Investigators should consider the necessity of on-campus research and implement plans to operate remotely, immediately, to the greatest extent possible. Essential access, limited to sustaining research capability, will be authorized by the Office of the Provost in coordination with Deans.

Library, Computer Labs, Student Spaces and Events

The computer labs in the Oviatt Library and University Student Union (USU) remain open with social distancing and hygiene protocols in place. Otherwise, the library and USU, including the Student Recreation Center and Oasis Wellness Center, are closed. Associated Students offices are also moving to remote operation. Many other campus facilities have already moved to offer services remotely, check program websites for current information.

Commencement Postponed Until COVID-19 Subsides

One of the most difficult decisions surrounding our response to COVID-19 is the postponement of spring commencement exercises until after the pandemic crisis subsides, likely late 2020. Regrettably, this is happening throughout the CSU and necessary because of the statewide prohibition against large gatherings. Graduation is the culmination of so many inspiring educational journeys. We will be communicating with graduating seniors and seeking feedback on how to celebrate the numerous achievements of the class of 2020 and the December 2019 graduates. Details will be forthcoming.

I realize this information and these directives might add to already heightened anxiety. For others, these actions will offer some relief. University Counseling Services continues to support student well-being and have developed a suite of mental health resources for students during this time. For employees, I want to remind you of our Employee Assistance Program, LifeMatters. You may find more information at following link: LifeMatters@CSUN (password: Matadors). LifeMatters also has resources that include, but are not limited to, tips for preparedness at home, as well as how to talk with your children about COVID-19.

These are unprecedented steps, but they are essential to the health and well-being of not only CSUN’s employees and students, but to Los Angeles and the nation. They are the right steps to take and we need to take them now. Our actions will help combat the spread of COVID-19 and quite literally save lives. We will make it through these extraordinarily challenging circumstances.

We will communicate regularly throughout this time any changes that affect students, faculty and staff. Please watch for these communications as these guidelines are subject to change as circumstances warrant going forward.

With deep gratitude for all that you are doing during this difficult time, please take care of yourselves and each other.

Sincerely,

Dianne F. Harrison, Ph.D.
President