Message from the Interim President to Faculty and Staff (03/10/20)

Dear BMCC Faculty and Staff,

As the circumstances surrounding coronavirus (COVID-19) continue to develop in our city and around the world, we write to update you on our planning and response and the resources that are available to BMCC faculty, staff and students. We share your concern for the health and well-being of everyone in our community and assure you that we are closely monitoring developments and taking measures, in concert with CUNY Central, to address the evolving situation.

Following are several updates about our planning, procedures, and policies, which we hope you will find helpful.

Continuity of Instruction
BMCC remains open, and we are not aware of any member of the college community testing positive for the Coronavirus.  However, BMCC is encouraging all faculty and staff to plan for increasing the provision of instruction and services online, should the need arise because of a BMCC/CUNY approved disruption of face-to-face classroom instruction.

The BMCC E-Learning Center has created a Course Continuity and Emergency Preparedness website with tutorials, training materials, and tools to support and prepare faculty for possible course disruption. The site includes teaching approaches during emergencies, how to transfer an in-person course to Blackboard, how to use Zoom Web Conferencing, and other useful information. Requests can be submitted to Information Resources and Technology Services at servicedesk@bmcc.cuny.edu if additional assistance is needed.

Tomorrow, E-Learning will host a training for all faculty and staff interested in learning more about Planning for Instructional Continuity: Wednesday, March 11, from 2-4 p.m. in Theatre I. This session will be live-streamed here and recorded.

Staying Healthy 
Symptoms for the COVID-19 are very similar to seasonal flu and include fever, cough, and/or shortness of breath. Because it is cold and flu season, and this virus has similar symptoms, it is important to have any respiratory illness evaluated by a healthcare provider.

Please be proactive and take precautions in order to keep our campus healthy and safe by:

• Washing your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds several times a day. WATCH CDC recommended handwashing techniques video.

• Avoiding hand contact with your face.

• Covering your mouth and nose with the crook of your elbow when you sneeze or cough.

• Taking alternative means of transportation (if possible) by walking or riding a bicycle in order to minimize the chance of community spread.

• Cleaning and disinfecting frequently-touched objects and surfaces.

• Staying home when you’re sick and avoiding close contact with people who are sick.

Students, faculty and staff who exhibit virus symptoms or suspect that they have been exposed to COVID-19 should follow the Protocol on Infectious Disease Notification, and notify BMCC Nurse Penelope Jordan (212-220-8257 or pjordan@bmcc.cuny.edu). Nurse Jordan is the college’s Coronavirus Liaison to CUNY and is responsible for working with the Department of Health on the preliminary assessment of the needs of individuals who contact her. To ensure that you have the most updated guidance and information regarding this situation, please visit BMCC’s Health Services website to learn more about campus updates and resources on COVID-19.  Faculty and staff with special medical concerns that may be affected by the virus should contact HR Director Gloria Chao (212-220-8304 or gchao@bmcc.cuny.edu).

Work and Event Schedules
BMCC remains open. We understand that some staff members may need to avoid traveling to work at peak rush hour times. Supervisors are authorized to accommodate staggered work schedules for affected employees.

In the case of a campus closure, BMCC offers a number of online collaboration tools, which faculty, staff, and students should become familiar with at this time. Find more tools for students and faculty at the E-Learning website.

All large gatherings on campus will be cancelled, effective starting March 12 through March 31, for both internal and external audiences.

Campus Facilities and Increased Cleaning Frequency
BMCC’s Custodial Team has increased measures to keep our campus clean and has been working extended hours in order to meet the needs of our community. Additional hand sanitizer dispensers and sanitizing wipes are being installed and clear signage regarding proper hygiene have been displayed in restrooms, common areas and offices across CUNY campuses.  Click here to learn about other cleaning measures being implemented on the BMCC Campus.

Stay Connected
It is important that we communicate with all students, faculty and staff during this time. We urge all of you to update and complete your contact information in CUNYfirst. Also, the college will send out community notices to the email addresses provided in CUNYfirst and through CUNY Alert text messages if necessary. In addition, updates will be posted on BMCC’s FacebookTwitter, Instagram, and Linkedin.

Study Abroad and Travel
Given the disruption of international travel and uncertainty of the situation, BMCC is cancelling all summer study abroad programs effective immediately. Students who had planned to study abroad this summer will be notified. Anyone with international travel plans should check the CDC’s Travel Health Notices for the latest guidance and recommendations for the country of travel. Employees who are scheduled to travel for CUNY-related purposes in the next few weeks may wish to reassess their travel needs.

Supporting Our Community
We remain vigilant as we work with CUNY officials to monitor and follow guidance from the US Department of Health and Human ServicesNew York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Visit BMCC’s Coronavirus: Information and Resources website to learn about health and hygiene recommendations and updates from CUNY.

We understand that some may be experiencing heightened levels of anxiety during this time. Students who need support can stop by the Counseling Center in Room S-343 at 199 Chambers Street. Faculty and staff can reach out for free counseling and services through Deer Oaks EAP Services website or at 1-888-993-7650.

BMCC is committed to ensuring a safe and welcoming community, and to maintaining a learning and working environment that is free of all forms of discrimination. Thank you for working together to strengthen our culture of care, during these challenging times and always.