Dear Members of the Campus Community,
As I’m sure you know, measures against the spread of COVID-19 have progressed significantly across the nation and in New York City since Fordham suspended face-to-face classes on March 9. The St. Patrick’s Day parade was cancelled for the first time in more than 250 years, and the city has shut down its vibrant nightlife, shuttering bars and restaurants except for takeout and delivery orders. The economic impact of these—I believe very necessary—measures will be enormous. No doubt more restrictive measures will be enacted as the number of people diagnosed with COVID-19 increases. I write this not to frighten you, but to underline the seriousness of the challenges we face together.
The University learned last night that one graduate student may have been diagnosed with COVID-19. The University is trying to independently verify the diagnosis. The student was last on campus on March 5. If confirmed, the University will trace who the student had contact with, and inform them that they may have been exposed.
Here are the developments on campus as of today, March 18:
- The University remains open. Offices are conducting business online and by phone with only select personnel available in person on campus. Please check department web pages for updated hours and contact information.
- As of Tuesday, March 17, food/dining venues on all campuses are closed, except for take-out meals, to conform with Governor Cuomo’s executive order.
- The University is working through the policies on credit/reimbursement for room and board and some student fees. We will communicate them as soon as possible.
- Student workers will receive individual notification in the next week or so regarding employment and pay. The Federal Work Study program has ensured that students in that program will continue to be paid. The University is still determining employment of other student workers.
- All athletics facilities at Rose Hill and Lincoln Center, including the Rose Hill Gym, fitness centers on both campuses, the pool, and Lombardi Field House, were closed on the evening of March 15.
- Students currently living on campus must move out by Friday, March 20, unless the Office of Residential Life has approved their extension to stay. International students and students with dire personal circumstances are having their specific needs addressed individually: the University is making limited exceptions in these cases.
- We are asking students who were not on campus as of March 13 (and/or those who cannot move all of their items at this time) to return to Fordham for their belongings between March 30 and May 17. (Students will need to sign up for particular times and dates for their return visits so we can empty residence hall rooms in an orderly and efficient way without violating the government’s directives on social distancing.) We can make limited exceptions for students who cannot return by May 17.
- Students will be contacted this week by the Office of Residential Life with instructions regarding moving belongings from the residence halls.
- The University Post Office is open and any mail or packages received will be held for students until they return to campus to retrieve their belongings.
- The University is revisiting operations with an eye to further moving as many employees as possible to a virtual environment.
- Mass from the University Church will be available on our website and broadcast radio/livestreaming via Fordham’s WFUV 90.7 beginning on Sunday, March 22, at 11 a.m. The Mass will be previously recorded or livestreamed, but will be available to viewers at that time. We continue to follow the most recent directives of the Archdiocese of New York suspending all public Masses.
- We will communicate with the University Community and families about Commencement and Commencement-related events no later than Wednesday, April 8. We will do everything we can to hold Commencement on May 16, but there is no way to predict how the COVID-19 outbreak will affect our plans. (April 8 is the latest we can wait to make a decision, given that Commencement is a tremendous logistical operation).
Let me add that, while we are immensely grateful to those of you whose jobs require you to be on campus, there is nothing heroic, nor even mildly virtuous, about reporting to campus if you aren’t required to do so: the fewer people we have on campus, the less likely it is that we and those with whom we come in contact will be infected.
The best information on COVID-19 is available from the CDC and the New York state Department of Health. Given the wealth of misinformation available, I urge you take your information on the pandemic from these and other official sources.
Finally, I know this is a trying, and in some cases, frightening time for all of us. I encourage all of you to care for yourselves physically per the guidelines above, and to do everything you can to maintain your emotional and spiritual health, as well. As I said in Sunday’s message to the community, treat yourself and those around you with compassion and forbearance, take comfort in your ties to those around you, and know that you are in my thoughts and prayers today and every day.
Joseph M. McShane, S.J.