CUNY Updates on Student Success, Equity, and Inclusion

Here is more information from today’s long updated guidance from CUNY, covering topics such as disability services, internships and clinical placements, and financial aid.

By J. Michael Parrish

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Student Success, Equity & Inclusion

Disability Services

During this transition to distance learning, CUNY’s faculty remain the University’s most vital resource in ensuring reasonable accommodations for our more than 11,000 students with disabilities. As our faculty prepare to deliver course content via distance learning modalities, I ask that they consider the following overarching principles and key resources:  

  • Under Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), CUNY colleges are still required to provide equal access to our University’s academic programs – even in a distance learning environment
  • Campus Offices of Disability Services (ODS) continue to serve as key sources of technical assistance and support to faculty in determining the best ways to reasonably accommodate students with disabilities in distance learning instructional modalities; please use this link to contact the ODS on your campus:http://cats.cuny.edu/reasonableaccommodations/COSDIDirectory.html
  • The barriers that exist at the intersection of a student’s disability and course design may be different from those posed by the original course format. Some accommodations students used before may no longer apply in distance learning formats, and some accommodations not considered previously may need to be considered now; we appreciate our faculty’s flexibility and collaboration with ODS staff and students with disabilities themselves to meet their accommodation needs in distance learning modalities.

To aid in these efforts, the guide Reasonable Accommodations: A Faculty Guide for Teaching Students with Disabilities resource was developed specifically for CUNY faculty to provide them with information and best practices to be most effective in meeting the needs of students with disabilities and achieving the goal of equal access. This guide includes helpful information in accommodating students with disabilities in distance learning, including the following two sections:

Technology in the Classroom and for Online Courses http://cats.cuny.edu/reasonableaccommodations/TechnologyintheClassroom.html

Alternative Text for Students with Disabilities http://cats.cuny.edu/reasonableaccommodations/AlternativeText.html  

Please know that our campus Offices of Disability Services will work closely with our CUNY Office of Student Inclusion Initiatives to ensure that our faculty have the support they need to successfully and meaningfully accommodate students with disabilities. We are grateful to our faculty and to our disability services professionals for their abiding commitment to the access, success, and wellness of students with disabilities.  

CS/MS and Adult Literacy and Language Immersion Programs

CUNY Start/Math Start, CUNY Language Immersion Program (CLIP), and the Adult Literacy Program are all planning on moving their instruction online based on the conversion date for-credit classes next Thursday. The Central Office staff that support each program have been working with college teams to develop plans for this transition using both synchronous and asynchronous delivery via platforms like Blackboard, Dropbox, Zoom, and WebEx, and how to make use of video, discussion tools, chat, and other technology tools to deliver instruction. Each program will develop a plan, to be provided to the appropriate college leadership, that details how content will be delivered, multiple options for communicating with students, and how student work will be assessed to document learning outcomes have been met. Colleges are encouraged to make any local resources that are available to faculty to assist with this conversion available to these programs as well. CUNY CIS is also supporting assessment of technology needs for these programs if there is not a local college resource readily available. We will provide further guidance on any standardized testing that typically takes place in CUNY testing centers, which would also be developed for students in developmental education classes that require the CUNY Assessment Test in Writing (CAT-W) and CUNY Elementary Algebra Final Exam (CEAFE).    

Clinical Placements  

Clinical Placements – Education Programs.  A of Monday, March 16, education students who are participating in clinical placements for fieldwork or student teaching required by their academic program, and their faculty supervisors, were told not report to school/field sites until further notice. Education Deans and Chairs are receiving specific guidance and resources on conducting virtual fieldwork from Ashleigh Thompson via email and postings on http://www.cuny.edu/teachered. Nearly identical to what has been offered to DOE teachers, a new CUNY-specific instance of this remote learning website was set up for CUNY faculty use, free up to 50,000 users: https://learn.flglobal.org/courses/cucy-rtol-rapid-transition-to-online-learning  

In light of the DOE school closure, and plan for three-days of professional development for teachers at school sites this week, we have heard requests from schools, CUNY students and faculty about candidates attending these days so they can participate in training and assist with remote learning delivery for their school site.    

Upon careful review, CUNY will support clinical fieldwork placements that support schools’ use of remote learning, under the following conditions: 

  1. The principal invites/approves the candidate’s continued participation; 
  2. cooperating teachers can provide adequate supervision to students in the context of remote learning; 
  3. faculty are willing and able to support student placements, as required; and 
  4. students are aware of risks and willing to take the necessary precautions, as per available guidance, to participate in the school-based training during the crisis. 

The health and safety of our students and faculty remain a top priority, therefore considerations for placement may be addressed on a case-by-case basis. Please communicate with Ashleigh Thompson with any questions or updates on your decisions to continue with remote clinical fieldwork so we are aware of the student placements across programs and facilities. This update does not preclude colleges from engaging in virtual fieldwork, which was previously recommended. This policy, and its four conditions, pertains to social workers, therapists, counselors and other students with required school-based placements.  

Clinical Placements – HHS Programs. Previously, the Office of Academic Affairs has shared important information with campus HHS leaders about how to request and secure permission from NYSED to move clinical placements into alternative modalities (for more info contact, Dr. Patricia Simino Boyce (patricia.boyce@cuny.edu), University Dean for Health and Human Services.    

Recently, we received notification from NYSED OOP confirming alternative training models for several Nursing Programs, in addition to one Social Work Program’s request to reduce the field hours to the minimum required by NYS and CSWE for BSW and MSW programs. HHS programs are encouraged to confirm guidance from their accrediting agency on the delivery of program content and substantive change notification requirements during the crisis.   

Lastly, we are receiving requests from CUNY programs, as well as industry partners, to ask if students may continue field placements if the sites are not cancelling services and communicating that students should continue with their hours.    

In addition, we have heard from public health agencies and local health and human service partners asking about potential roles for CUNY students to address anticipated workforce needs. Upon careful review, CUNY will support field placements, under the following conditions: 

  1. placement facilities can provide adequate supervision to students at their sites; 
  2. faculty are willing and able to support student placements, as required; and 
  3. students are aware of the risks and willing to take the necessary precautions, as per available guidance, to participate in the field placement during the crisis. 

The health and safety of our students and faculty remain a top priority, therefore considerations for placement must be addressed on a case-by-case basis with documentation of these conditions by all parties. Please communicate with Patricia Simino Boyce with any questions or updates on your decisions to continue with clinical and field sites so we are aware of the student placements across programs and facilities. In the meantime, we will continue to explore options for student roles in response to COVID-19.     

College Now Courses

NYCDOE schools are implementing a remote learning model beginning March 23 through April 20, 2020. NYC DOE schools are in recess the week of March 16 as staff prepare for remote learning. Students should not report to school buildings for instruction during this time. No in person instruction can take place in DOE high schools beginning March 16, through April 20. We recommend any courses enrolling current NYC DOE students, including those taking place on CUNY campuses, follow this model.  Early College High schools will fully implement NYCDOE’s remote learning plan beginning on Monday, March 23 – April 20, 2020. Students should not report for instruction during this time. Students are not in attendance from March 16 – 20.  From March 17 – March 20, students who need technology in order to access remote learning can report to thei rschools to get it – they will receive communication from their schools regarding plans for this. All students will begin receiving information on remote learning plans during this time. Remote learning begins March 23. 

UAPC/Admissions

Office of Admissions staff at 42nd Street and UAPC/Kingsborough CC will continue to assist applicants, process application and provide recommendation per published calendar. Majority of staff is telecommuting but maintaining regular business hours. We will have few staff members coming to office for mail deliveries. Admissions staff is available via phone/email to answer questions from applicant/counselors/college staff. Applicants can also review their application status via CUNYfirst self-service.  

Internships  

Guidance for CUNY Students Working in Internships. CUNY students working as interns, whether with private or public sector employers, should abide by the internal protocols of their internship site. They may work if the site remains open and is allowing interns to report. In addition to the work site’s coronavirus policy, students who are sick or have knowingly been in contact with anyone who is sick should notify their internship manager and CUNY program manager or contact immediately. We ask that all students and supervisors touch base to work on a course of action. Some students may be working with individuals in vulnerable populations, so we ask that supervisors and students use their best judgment. Companies or organizations may institute telecommuting or work from home policies that apply to students. We ask students to inform their internship manager or CUNY program manager if their employers move to telecommuting/work from home policies. Students should confirm that they have the tools they need t do this effectively and reach out to their internship manager or CUNY program manager with any questions or concerns. 

Guidance for Campus- Based Internships.  Similar to the guidance for public and private sector internships, students and supervisors should abide by the protocols and policies set by the institution.

Guidance for credit bearing internships. Student will maintain enrollment in spring 2020 campus-based academic internship courses at their discretion and the discretion of college faculty with whom they are registered. Students and faculty will continue to meet in seminars via online/distance learning tools once they are introduced at the campuses. Students and faculty will work together to redesign any assigned internship deliverables, to ensure that learning outcomes reflected in course syllabi are met and measured at the conclusion of the semester. Where permissible, academic internship responsibilities given to students by outside organizations at the beginning of the semester will continue to be carried out via remote. In cases where internship responsibilities cannot be carried out via remote, campus faculty will develop and assign alternative experiential learning responsibilities and goals to students enrolled in credit-bearing courses.  

International Programs

The University has already provided internal guidance to ensure maximum academic continuity to all CUNY students currently enrolled in study abroad programs that cannot be completed as planned, including coordinating with program partners and providers, replacing course content and assessment of programs abroad through independent studies, facilitating credit-bearing internships for affected students, and considering late registration at LaGuardia Community College or Kingsborough Community College via EPermit in cases of students with low numbers of earned credits.  

Recently we announced that effective immediately, CUNY was cancelling or postponing all CUNY-sponsored student international travel during the spring 2020 semester (including spring break). This directive holds for all study abroad programs as well as non-CUNY credit-bearing programs and non-credit travel under the auspices of CUNY or any CUNY college or student organization. This measure is taken out of an abundance of caution given the uncertain and unique challenges students would face when crossing borders at this time and builds upon the previous decision to suspend study abroad and nonessential travel to CDC Level 3 countries and to suspend CUNY study abroad programs listed as Level 2 or 3 by the CDC.   

Requests for exceptions to this policy will continue to be reviewed by the Office of Global Education and Initiatives and the Office of Risk, Audit and Compliance, but will also be elevated to the Executive Vice Chancellor and University Provost, who will make a final recommendation to the Chancellor after proper consultation with the New York State Department of Health. Please note that CUNY’s International Travel Guidelines apply to all travel outside the United States, including Puerto Rico and other U.S. Territories and Protectorates.  

Additional details regarding the scope of this policy and the corresponding implementation plan has been shared with all campus Study Abroad Offices/International Education Liaisons and to all campus Offices of Students Affairs, who were encouraged to survey their campus community to identify any and all student international travel plans, regardless of whether or not they sought approval from the corresponding campus authorities, to suspend pending trips and programs, and to support impacted students abroad who opt to return to New York.    

Until we can restore international travel for our students, we will work to reinforce global learning and teaching opportunities on our campuses. For more information, please contact Dr. Kimberly Holland (kimberly.holland@cuny.edu), University Director of Global Education and Initiatives, or Dr. Ian James (ian.james@cuny.edu), Special Assistant  to the Executive Vice Chancellor and University Provost, Office of Academic Affairs/Enrollment Management.  

Continuing Education

Campus presidents and professional school deans are authorized to make local decisions regarding the teaching modality of their continuing education programs.  The Office of Academic Affairs will be available to answer questions and describe best practices as campus leaders make decisions regarding specific program offerings that are already in progress or scheduled for future dates. While President’s have the discretion to hold small ACE classes using social distancing etc., in light of the new guidelines for virus spread, we encourage campuses to continue to push on making distance learning the priority, rather than continuing with in-person classes that may put students at risk during their commutes and transit to/from campus.

Financial Aid

The University has communicated with campus financial aid directors regarding USDE Guidance for interruptions of study related to Coronavirus (COVID-19) and HESC guidance related to the effect short-term and long-term school closures would have on student financial aid regulations. The expectation is that beginning March 19, students will successfully transition to distance education, and the guidance provided below is for the exception, not all students.  

The USDE guidance addresses the following five scenarios among other important matters, such as Satisfactory Academic Progress, Federal Work-Study payments in the event of a closure, etc.:  

  • A student was enrolled or was supposed to begin a travel-abroad experience and either the student has been called back to the U.S. or was never able to begin the travel abroad experience;
  • A student was enrolled in a program and met the requirements for full-time enrollment; however, due to the COVID-19, one or more classes – such as an internship, a clinical rotation, student teaching or fieldwork – have been cancelled and now the student has fallen below the 12-credit hour minimum and is no longer considered to be a full-time student;
  • A student is quarantined and misses class, or a student is incapacitated due to COVID-19 illness;
  • A campus temporarily stops offering ground-based classes in order to prevent the spread of COVID-19;
  • A foreign school that serves U.S. students who participate in title IV programs temporarily suspends operations due to COVID-19.

To date, HESC has indicated that it will work with colleges to ensure “continued eligibility for awards under all circumstances related to the Coronavirus.” Below is a summary of information provided in recen webinars convened by HESC on March 11 and 12., This information has already been shared with campus financial aid directors: Federal Aid Key topics discussed:  

  • Supplementing the Professional Judgement form for COVID-19-related reasons
  • Federal Work-Study for students who are unable to continue working due to closure or inability directly due to the crisis.
  • If a student is appealing SAP on a COVID-19-related circumstance

Additional guidance for the treatment of Federal Aid can be found here:https://ifap.ed.gov/electronic-announcements/030520Guidance4interruptionsrelated2CoronavirusCOVID19  

A Central communication was sent yesterday to all 19-20 FWS students, whom accepted their award and were enrolled, providing guidance on job locations, working remotely, closures, and the location of the FA COVID-19 Form. FA Offices were provided with a copy of the template communication and a list of the students communicated to.  

New York State Aid HESC has allowed for COVID-19 impacted students who are adversely affected by the crisis to be held faultless for the term. They must be documented individually and retained in the student file. HESC will accept the designation by the school’s determination. Such instances are:  

  • Excelsior failed to earn 30 credits by the end of the term.
  • HESC Scholarship GPA requirement not met. 
  • Failed Progress and Pursuit making them ineligible for Fall 2020 TAP award.

These students can only be certified online at HESCWeb and must have the Impacted by COVID-19 Check box selected. Students who were previousl certified and then later report a negative impact, may be recertified b program to have the designation on the term. Documentation is mandatory. HESC will be releasing an FAQ as well from last week’s webinar shortly. The form can be found here: https://www.cuny.edu/wp-content/uploads/sites/4/page-assets/financial-aid/financial-aid-forms/common-forms/COVID-19-Financial-Aid-Documentation-Form2-003.pdf  

Central Office of Student Financial Assistance will participate this afternoon in a webinar by the National Association of Financial Aid Administrators, which should offer guidance to be disseminated to the campuses.  

As always, for more information, please contact Ms. Elaine Pimentel, University Executive Director of Financial Aid: elaine.pimentel@cuny.edu.  

Veterans

VA is preparing guidance for schools that have changes in instructional modalities and operation statuses due to COVID 19. However, Congress has introduced legislation that, if enacted, will alleviate the impact to GI Bill beneficiaries for a switch to pursuit solely through distance education. In order to avoid confusion and the need to make multiple changes to enrollments, VA is asking all schools to temporarily refrain from making any adjustments to enrollment certifications if training has changed due to COVID-19.

For more information, please contact Lisa Beatha, CUNY Director for Veterans Affairs, at lisa.beatha@cuny.edu.​