CUNY attempts to cope with the coronavirus pandemic on multiple fronts

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Joel C. Bautista | The Ticker

Farah Javed, Copy Chief

As cases continue to grow in New York, it is difficult to discern who has the coronavirus and who doesn’t. Hence, CUNY stopped releasing how many cases there are per college and instead focused on providing tips and resources for students and staff to make it through these hectic times.

All CUNY buildings are closed to students. At select campuses, like the College of Staten Island, only those considered to be essential staff are allowed. Though facilities like school libraries and athletic and recreational centers are unavailable, campuses have kept daycares and food pantries open.

CUNY has also announced it will be refunding a portion of tuition.

“The University will waive 25% of the Spring 2020 Student Activity Fee for students enrolled in CUNY colleges on a 15-week calendar and 50% of the fee for students enrolled on a 12-week or six-week calendar,” the official CUNY website stated.

Refunds will also be issued towards students who were forced to leave their dorm rooms. Over the course of the past month, vacated dorms from campuses, including Hunter College have been converted into coronavirus testing sites.

It has also been announced that summer classes for all CUNY schools will be moved online. This leads to the question as to whether or not fall semester classes will also be online.

“Direction regarding the format of course offerings for Fall 2020 will be provided in the future depending on the COVID-19 emergency time frame, and once consultation with academic leaders and faculty has occurred and direction from NYSED and other accrediting bodies has been received,” the CUNY website stated.

Essentially, as of now, the answer to whether fall courses will be done remotely or in person is still unknown.

Private donations have been made to help students left economically devastated by the pandemic, resulting in $2.75 million in emergency funding. Students who may not be able to pay tuition will receive $500 grants each, which will be determined by their financial aid records.

“The initial round of grants will be for $600,000 and will go to 1,200 students, officials said. Checks and direct deposit payments will be disbursed next week and available to students by April 20,” The NY Daily News reported,.

Students from CUNY schools will be selected for this grant aid through a lottery.

In a similar attempt to help students cope with these difficult times, laptops are on loan for the semester to ensure all students have access to their classes. Though there is a long waitlist, some students have been able to get a laptop.

CUNY began offering counseling to help students and staff deal with their anxiety and worries. For instance, Baruch College announced in an email to staff and students that it is offering  “Coping with Loss: Free Grief and Bereavement Support Sessions” on Mondays through Zoom.

Moreover, with public gatherings prohibited so as to not further spread the virus, graduation ceremonies have been postponed as well.

“As a result, last Friday afternoon, CUNY Chancellor Félix V. Matos Rodríguez announced the “heart-wrenching” decision to postpone indefinitely spring commencement ceremonies across CUNY,” Brooklyn College said in a statement.

Hence, it is unclear at the moment whether or not the class of 2020 will have an in person graduation. It is possible that they may follow suit with City College’s graduation plan for its medical school students and have it online. City College announced on April 9 that its medical school students would be graduating April 10.

These students completing their fourth year of medical school will graduate through Zoom on April 13 to “acknowledge the conferring of their medical doctor degree. Students will have the opportunity to reflect on their journey, followed by a collective toast to their future. A virtual formal graduation ceremony will follow on May 21, the original planned date for degree conferral,” according to City College’s official website.

Some other CUNY campuses are attempting to help with New York’s crisis. The Graduate School of Public Health and Health Policy has released weekly reports on how the pandemic is impacting the New York community.

 In an op-ed to the Queens Courier, the Chancellor wrote, “Queensborough Community College is in discussions to manufacture, through 3D-printing, much-needed equipment for hospitals through its Advanced Manufacturing Lab.”

This production of equipment adds to Queen College’s previous donation of much needed medical equipment.

Overall, with no clear direction of how to cope with the pandemic, CUNY strives to take a course of action that benefits students, staff along with the community.