Coronavirus (COVID-19) Information
Current Campus Status (03/17/2020 @ 10:00am) – CAMPUS CLOSED
All classes are online until further notice!
Due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, Housatonic Community College will be closed to the public until the end of the spring semester.
All classes and services will be delivered online until further notice. There will be frequent updates over the coming weeks.
Thank you for your patience as we navigate this unprecedented challenge.
Frequently Asked Questions
Date Published: 03/12/2020 – This page will be a continually updated source of common questions students, staff, and faculty will have during the COVID-19 outbreak. Please check back here on occasion as answers may change or be added as the situation changes.
CURRENT CAMPUS STATUS (3/25/2020)
Important Health and Safety Update
Message from the BOR president Mark E. Ojakian
Dear CSCU Community,
This morning, I received a briefing from our academic team, and I am happy to report that, thanks to the incredible work of our faculty at the colleges and universities, the transition to online-only learning has been going smoothly overall. It took a herculean effort to upend our educational delivery system in just a few days, but our dedicated faculty have stepped up to the challenge. Though our students are resilient, they will need a great deal of support, both personally and academically, during this time and I want to thank the staff who are working hard to get their advising, counseling, library and other resources available remotely for students. I'd like to thank our union leaders who have met with us daily to identify both challenges and solutions as we've moved to telework and the system office staff for continuing to provide – through telework – many of the essential services that keep our colleges and universities running. And lastly, I greatly appreciate the college and university leaders and administrators who have been working around the clock to make this crisis as manageable as possible for all.
Over the past week, we at CSCU have taken several important steps to keep our students, faculty, and staff as safe and healthy as possible while playing a central role in the state’s efforts to mitigate the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on our communities.
- Paying employees. We have made the determination that while the campuses and system office remain shuttered, employees are directed to telework and will receive their pay as normal. Student workers will also continue to be paid through the end of the semester.
- University housing. We have been working closely with the state’s emergency response team and have received specific requests to use residence halls at Southern and Western. The institutions are currently in the process of clearing those spaces and expect them to be available by the end of the week. Central and Eastern are also preparing for similar requests in coming days and will make residence halls available to meet the state’s emergency needs.
- Moving to pass/fail. This morning, we made the decision to allow all community college students the option to convert any or all of the letter grades they earn during the spring 2020 semester to credit/no credit grading. This change will potentially ease anxiety about the quick move to online learning while not impacting the student’s GPA. The state universities are working individually to ensure similar options are offered to students.
- Donating personal protective equipment and ventilators. Governor Lamont and state officials have requested donations of personal protective equipment (PPE) such as masks, gloves, and gowns to meet the needs of frontline health care workers combatting the virus. Our colleges and universities have stepped up in a big way. As just one example, Central donated 6,000 nitrile gloves, 250 procedure masks, 180 N95 masks, and other equipment to the Hospital of Central Connecticut. Across the system, we have also donated several ventilators to local hospitals and health care facilities as well as PPE from our allied health programs.
- Donating unused food. Our campus food pantries and dining services have donated hundreds of pounds of perishable food to local foodbanks to help fight food insecurity during this difficult economic time.
- Implementing technology solutions. Thanks to the hard work of IT staff at the CSCU system office and the IT staff on our campuses, both hardware and software is being prepped for faculty, staff and students so they can work and learn remotely. Thanks to the campus foundations who have helped to get more equipment into the hands of students as well! We still need more equipment to meet the needs and ongoing software training and support but these IT staff have worked tirelessly to help us all do our work in new ways.
This will continue to be a challenging time, and I ask you to follow the advice of state and local public health professionals. In order to stop the spread to the best of our ability, we must stay home as much as possible, and stay safe. There are great, free opportunities online to practice self-care through exercise, meditation and yoga classes, museum exhibits, and much more. Please take care of yourself and be in touch if I can be of assistance.
Thanks again for all of your work on behalf of our students.
Mark E. Okakian
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.
Mark E. Ojakian
Message from Dr. Thomas G. Coley, CSCU Regional President & HCC Acting President:
Dear Students, Faculty, and Staff:
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.
All students, faculty, and staff can help to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and other infectious diseases by regularly washing hands for at least 20 seconds. To learn more about proper handwashing, visit the CDC’s website.When and How to Wash Your Hands (CDC)
Finally, anyone exhibiting flu-like symptoms is required to remain at home, and those who become sick during the day must go home.
Thomas G. Coley, Ph.D.
Acting President, Housatonic Community College
CSCU Regional President, Shoreline West Region
The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) uses a three-level approach to indicate the health risks associated with a specific country. The three levels are as follows:
Level 1: (Green) Watch: Practice Usual Precautions – This is the lowest level of risk. Travelers to these countries should stay informed of any recommended practices(ex. required vaccination) prior to departure. It is recommended that travelers continue to monitor the health risk designation for the country.
Level 2: (Yellow) Alert: Practice Enhanced Precautions – This Travel Health Notice describes additional precautions added or defines a specific at-risk population.
Level 3: (Red) Avoid all non-essential travel to this destination – The outbreak is of high risk to travelers and no precautions are available to protect against the identified increased risk.
The CDC’s complete list of travel warnings is available by clicking here.
BASIC HEALTH PRECAUTIONS
If you feel sick, please stay home!
If someone in your household is in self-quarantine based on CDC recommendations, YOU must also self-quarantine.
Contact your medical provider or local emergency department for advice.
Individuals with confirmed COVID-19 should remain under home isolation until the risk of transmission to others is thought to be low. The decision to terminate home isolation should be made in consultation with your doctor.
PRECAUTIONS WE CAN ALL TAKE NOW
Precautions we can all take now
Avoid close contact with people who are sick
Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands
Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds (or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol if soap and water are not available)
Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash
Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces
The symptoms can range from mild to severe:
- Shortness of breath