By President Emerita Judie Wexler April 20, 2020

Dear CIIS Community,

 A virtual Town Hall was held on April 13 to address questions and concerns related to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. More than 120 students, faculty, and staff were in attendance. Attendees were invited to submit questions in advance. Additional questions were submitted during the meeting and answered at the end, as time allowed.

Dear Community,

I want to thank everyone who joined the Town Hall and who submitted questions. It has become clear that in addition to the regular messages we have been sending to the community, we also need to more prominently post important decisions and actions. We are continually expanding the FAQs on the  CIIS COVID-19 webpage; this will be the place to look for University updates, announcements, and decisions.

Below are summarized responses to the questions posed by the community. We have grouped them into broad categories with an emphasis on student concerns. They will also be posted on the  CIIS COVID-19 webpage as part of the FAQs.

I began the meeting with an overview of actions that CIIS has taken, including our rapid transition of face-to-face classes to webinar-based virtual classes. I emphasized our commitment to two major goals: safeguarding the health of students, faculty, and staff; and ensuring that students would continue to receive their education. These commitments underlie all decisions.

  1. Academic Topics
    1. Pass/no pass grade option. Spring courses that are currently letter grade will become student option of letter grade or pass/no pass. Students may elect the pass/no pass option until the final day of scheduled classes. This applies to all classes in all four schools that currently have a letter grade. Note that the work in graduate courses must be equivalent to a “B” or higher to earn a passing grade.
    2. Summer semester. This will be virtual for all courses and programs. We have made this decision now to allow students and faculty to make their plans for summer.
    3. Fall semester. Current intentions are for Fall semester to be face-to-face. However, it is too soon for public health guidelines to be set for Fall. We will continue to monitor the state directives and let everyone know if the situation changes.
    4. Fall semester intensives. Intensives currently planned for August, September, or October 2020 will be held virtually; look for updates and information from your program about these plans.
    5. Licensure. Hours required for graduation: We know that students in our licensure programs are very concerned about their ability to complete the clinical or practicum hours required for graduation. This includes ACTCM students (MSTCM and DACM) and SPPH students (MCP). These are statewide issues that require waivers from the appropriate state boards. To protect students’ paths to licensure, we must take direction from external regulators. Graduation decisions within CIIS must be aligned with our regulators. We are in communication with the relevant regulatory and advocacy bodies and will update students as we have more information.

For MCP students, the majority of students who are scheduled to graduate this Spring have sufficient hours to do so. For those students who need them, our Field Placement Office is working to find any additional, available placements. We are exploring all options for hours. If you plan to graduate in Spring or Summer and believe you will have insufficient hours, please contact the Field Placement Office as soon as possible (bmcgovern@ciis.edu. MFT students should ensure that they are making full use of client advocacy hours (a maximum of 75)  as these will count toward their total hours. We are proactively seeking Board of Behavioral Sciences (BBS) updates and will inform students as soon as we receive anything.  For ACTCM students who are due to graduate in Spring, virtual Grand Rounds have been established to ensure that they have sufficient clinical hours to allow graduation.

  1. Support in Virtual Learning 
    1. Students with health conditions that impact their ability to engage in virtualized classes should reach out to Student Disability Services at sds@ciis.edu. The Center for Writing & Scholarship is also able to support students facing difficulties with virtualized classes. Students can contact CWS at cws@ciis.edu.
    2. Free or reduced fee Wi-Fi hotspots are being made available to students by carriers. Check the CIIS COVID-19 webpage for resources.
    3. All courses can be accessed by smartphone using the Canvas app and/or by joining the course videoconference. This option has been helpful for some students.
    4. Any student who has concerns about the quality of classes should contact their Program Chair. (Yunny Yip and Michelle Eng are additional resources for these concerns.) Please know that this has been a major transition with very little lead time. Faculty have worked extremely hard to ensure that classes continue without disruption or delay. We appreciate how understanding students have been. Please inform us of any issues. Please also remember to use the end-of-course Evaluation to provide feedback.
    5. For those in need of help with technical aspects of virtual learning, please contactOnlineLearningSupport@ciis.edu
    6. For privacy reasons, we are not able to record virtual webinar-based classes.
  1. Finances
    1. We have applied for all potential sources of federal assistance, for both the University and students. We are working expeditiously to create a process to award supplemental funds to students in need. Once that process is in place, and the resources are available, we will notify students.
    2. Recognizing the uncertainty of this time, we are  waiving all late fees for Summer enrollment.
    3. The Summer Cash Advance form on Financial Aid’s MyCIIS portal is open to registered Summer session students who are approved for Financial Aid for the Summer semester. Veterans seeking a cash advance should contact Yunny Yip at yyip@ciis.edu.
    4. There is a petition process in place to allow students to register for classes even if there are business office holds on their accounts if there is COVID-related hardship. You can find the form on the Registrar’s MyCIIS forms. The Registrar has made all forms fillable and are accepting typed in signatures.
    5. We are maintaining regular payment for all student workers through the end of Spring 2020 semester, whether their job can be done remotely or not.
    6. Our Advancement Office is attempting to secure donations for student support and scholarships to help students continue with their studies during this unprecedented crisis.
    7. Students with federal financial aid can contact the Financial Aid office to explore repackaging their loans if their financial circumstances have changed because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
    8. We have resources on the  CIIS COVID-19 website for students who have lost jobs and need to file for unemployment.
    9. Ours is a small university, and we do not have a large endowment to draw on. We will do our very best to work with individual situations; we are committed to this and to our students’ success, while also ensuring that CIIS remains sustainable into the future. We are continuing to provide all classes and academic support services and are not in a position to waive or refund tuition.
  1. Homeless Populations/Social Justice Concerns
    1. We are grateful that students wish to address the very real and immediate issues of homelessness and social injustice. There are a number of safe ways to volunteer and provide support. See the  Resources page on the CIIS COVID-19 website for links. Unfortunately, we are unable to open the campus to provide services for the homeless; we do not have the trained staff or resources to safely do so, and we are following San Francisco’s shelter-in-place orders.
  1. International Students
    1. We know that our international students have an additional burden of distance and uncertainty to deal with. Please reach out to Jody O’Connor, our International Student Advisor, for information, guidance, and support: joconnor@ciis.edu.
  1. Commencement
    1. To our great regret, we cannot hold our planned May 2020 ceremony. Graduating students are being surveyed on preferences for alternatives. Please be sure to let us know your wishes. We are committed to finding ways of celebrating your achievements as you conclude and in the future.  There will be more to come.
  1. Communication
    1. We will hold another Town Hall in early May (date to be announced).
    2. Student Affairs will continue to forward all general COVID-19 messages to the student body.
    3. Our COVID-19 webpage is updated regularly as new information becomes available. Please remember to check it frequently for all updates, decisions, and actions.
    4. A group of students attended the Town Hall displaying signs that read “Why are students expected to bear the burden?” We would like to understand your concerns. Please reach out to Provost Liz Beaven to set up a meeting to jointly understand these concerns.

Responses/Resources Shared in Chat

  • Link to CIIS COVID-19 page.
  • Director of Diversity & Inclusion: Rachel Bryant, rbryant@ciis.edu; ODI events.
  • Students with financial/tech constraints should reach out to Student Affairs: Fraylanie Aglipay,faglipay@ciis.edu or Yunny Yip, yyip@ciis.edu; and Financial Aid: Jennifer Gruczelak,jgruczelak@ciis.edu for options and possibilities.
  • Career Development: One-on-one support, resources, etc.: Sandra Williams, swilliams@ciis.edu
  • Student Union email for future Town Hall questions, studentunion@ciis.edu

We recognize that part of the challenge of these times is the constant change in models of the pandemic, and so in accompanying decisions. Please know we are doing our best to respond to changing circumstances in a timely and compassionate way.

Stay well.

Judie

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