Update to Students and Families from President Collins

Dear Students & Families,

This past week, Clarkson began implementing the ‘New York State on PAUSE’ Executive Order from Governor Cuomo that took strong action to contain the growing spread of COVID-19.  We have joined businesses and institutions across the State in complying with the 100% work-on-site reduction, with defined exceptions for essential functions to maintain remote learning, property maintenance and health/safety services for the students who remain on campus due to their personal extenuating circumstances.

Just a short 16 days ago, I sent you all a message that we wanted each student to know we wanted them to return to campus healthy and ready to make progress towards degree completion.  And while that sentiment remains, it is clear with this latest mandate and similar ones across the country, that we need to make multiple decisions now about how to complete the 2019-2020 academic year.  Below is a summary of the decisions to date. More details about further decisions will be sent to targeted groups and posted on Clarkson’s Coronavirus Website as they become available.  

  • Online Instruction:  Clarkson will teach out the rest of the academic year online and will not resume in-person instruction in the Spring semester.  This is true for all undergraduate and graduate courses. All Spring quarter classes will be taught in the same manner.
  • Retrieving Belongings:  The Governor’s executive order means that we cannot currently grant access to the residence hall facilities or encourage non-essential travel — your belongings are in your rooms just as you left them.  We are in frequent contact with St. Lawrence County Public Health as well as law enforcement, which is limiting travel in the region: do not travel back to campus to try to retrieve your things until we provide additional information.  We absolutely recognize the tremendous challenge and inconvenience that this is for you — we will announce a process for retrieving belongings as soon as we can.  
  • Room and Board Credits: Many students and parents have inquired about University policy concerning partial refunds or credits to room and board charges.  As student financial aid packages vary by individual and family circumstances, there is not one baseline answer as to how refunds or credits can be calculated.  In the coming weeks, the University will be reviewing individual scenarios and plan to calculate refund or credits amounts after the end of the semester. We will continue to keep students and families informed as we formulate policy and institute new procedures.
  • Students Currently on Campus: Students who had extenuating circumstances were given the choice to remain on campus for the duration of the Spring 2020 semester or return to their homes. We will work with all of you to meet your needs. There will be an individual request process to stay on campus longer for those students who are not able to return home this summer.
  • Events: All on- and off-campus events are cancelled through May 12.  This includes our upcoming Accepted Students Open Houses, Springfest, Phalanx and Recognition Day. Clarkson’s Research Excellence Weekend and the Research & Project Showcase will be held online.
  • Commencement:  No decision has been made yet on this milestone for the senior class and graduate students completing their studies.  We spoke yesterday with CUSA leadership and will survey students impacted by any decision to be made on options to make this meaningful for them.  Decisions will involve all events for that week including ROTC and Clarkson School activities.
  • Summer Abroad Programs:  As previously announced, these programs are currently suspended.  We will continue to assess when the health and safety issues associated with global travel make it appropriate to move forward.  
  • Other Summer Programs: We will monitor the national progress in addressing COVID-19 to make further assessments on summer programs and will provide more details as they become clearer.  

We also shared last night that an employee at our Potsdam campus, who had been under self-isolation since March 16, is at home with family under isolation after testing positive for COVID-19.  We are sending well wishes and hoping for a full recovery. Our larger Golden Knight community, however, has not been spared.  On Monday morning this week, Clarkson Trustee Walt Robb, age 92 and of vibrant mind and soul, became the Capital Region of NY’s first victim of COVID-19.  

As we close out the spring semester, we are confident that Clarkson students are getting a rigorous education and learning to navigate new challenges that will prepare them for future leadership in their own careers.  Thank you for your collaborative efforts with the faculty and staff to continue your education. Please take a few minutes each day to use this unexpected opportunity to connect with those persons important to you in your lives.


Tony Collins

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