UPDATE: July 22, 2020

Letter from President Judie Wexler

Dear Community,

On Friday, July 17, San Francisco was one of eight Bay Area counties added to the state's watch list due to heightened COVID-19 transmission and hospitalization rates. As a result, the city is rolling back some of its reopening guidelines. Since we had planned for the Fall semester to be mostly virtual, that continues. As of now, one ICP course and a few ACTCM courses and clinicals will have some face-to-face sections; we are hoping that by the end of August such in-person classes will be possible. If San Francisco officials reverse the current policy, we will let you know.

We are also continuing with plans for greater access to the building starting in August. Student access to the buildings is scheduled to begin on August 17.  The extent to which we can do that depends upon city regulations at that time. Please remember that anyone who comes into the building will have their temperature taken; will be asked screening questions related to COVID symptoms; and must wear a mask. 

The one thing the pandemic has taught us is that the situation is constantly changing. In order to keep our community safe, we are following the best scientific knowledge and advice of health experts as well as the regulations set by the city and the state. We will continue to monitor regulations, review our plans as the pandemic evolves and adjust as necessary.

The CIIS community is still very active. I encourage you to check out Public Programs online events, as well as events hosted by individual programs. Online learning is also offering core and adjunct faculty programs for teaching online.

To be sure, the last five months have tested our resilience. As summer is well underway, I hope you and yours are finding ways to enjoy the season. Above all, I hope you are staying well.



UPDATE: June 10, 2020

Letter from President Judie Wexler

Dear CIIS Community,

I am writing today to update you on our plans for Fall 2020 semester, along with the reopening of our Arkansas and Mission campuses. We are now able to provide some details concomitant with our asking everyone to keep in mind that the pandemic situation remains fluid and conditions may change. I iterate what we have been saying since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic: All of our decisions reflect the underlying objectives of protecting the health and safety of the CIIS community and supporting students in achieving their educational goals. 

We continue to monitor governmental orders as they change and to follow the guidelines outlined by public health officials. Our strategy for reopening is based on our concern for the safety of everyone using our campuses; thus, we will work conservatively in the coming months.

Effective June 15, San Francisco is in Phase Two-B of the city’s reopening. Phase Two allows offices to reopen face-to-face on June 15 with safety guidelines in place, including maintaining physical distance and wearing face coverings. However, the expectation for staff is still that those who can work remotely will continue to do so except as needed for onsite operations. Between June 15 and August 3, 1453 Mission Street will be accessible to faculty and staff on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays between 8am and 3pm, by appointment only. Appointments can be made by calling Operations at the main CIIS number (415.575.6101) or via email: OperationsRequests@ciis.edu.  Please make appointments at least 24 hours in advance.

Precautionary Measures

You will need a face covering to enter the building. For everyone’s safety, we ask that you stay home if you are feeling sick; if you have been exposed to anyone who has tested positive for COVID-19 within the previous two weeks; or if you have had COVID symptoms in the previous two days (cough, fever, shortness of breath, sore throat, new loss of taste or smell). Expect to have your temperature taken and to be asked to sign that you have received and read the safety guidelines.

For faculty and staff, our goal is to have Mission and Arkansas campuses open with consistent operating hours starting on August 3. At that time, we expect most offices to be open for face-to-face interaction, although some staff will continue to work remotely. Given social-distance guidelines, it is not possible to have everyone working in the buildings at the same time, so it will be necessary to stagger physical attendance. We will have a complete schedule in place by August 3.

For staff, the decision to work onsite, or continue working remotely, should be made within your department or between you and your supervisor with the approval of the Vice President, Provost, or President having oversight of your area. The plan for each area should be submitted to Operations by the Director or Program Chair in advance (by June 26), after appropriate approval has been received.

Student access to the buildings will begin on August 17. The preceding two weeks will give us time to test the COVID operating procedures with fewer people. The first day of Fall semester is August 27. 

Fall Semester

Without a vaccine or reliable treatment, Fall semester 2020 will operate differently from previous semesters.

There is a lot to accomplish to reopen our campuses and a lot more to know about the impact of having more people leaving their homes. The precautions we are describing are absolutely essential for reducing the spread of infection. We thank you in advance for partnering with us to protect the health of everyone of all ages and health conditions in our community. We remind you that the timelines are also dependent upon San Francisco regulations, which may change.

Because we are focusing on the health of our students, faculty, and staff, all large gatherings, including academic intensives and orientations, will be virtual.

Classes in the School of Undergraduate Studies and the School of Consciousness and Transformation will be virtual. ACTCM and the School of Professional Psychology and Health will be hybrid with most classes virtual, but with some designated classes in ACTCM, Somatics, ICP, and PsyD face-to-face. This list of face-to-face classes has not yet been finalized.

We have a limited number of classrooms that allow for adequate social distancing. We will need to provide learning opportunities for students who would be unable to attend in-person classes for health reasons, and we must work to protect the safety of our students, faculty, and staff. Both WSCUC and the U.S. Department of Education have assured higher education that we can proceed this way through Fall semester and that virtualized coursework will count toward degree completion.

Psychology clinics will continue via telehealth. Starting in September we expect to be able to have students able to work from the psychology clinics along with limited face-to-face counseling. No date has been set to reopen the ACTCM clinic. Plans to reopen that clinic will be based on the guidelines of the profession. 

Student support services and all offices will continue to offer virtual services along with increasing numbers of staff working in the building. Physical-distancing guidelines will also be key in determining how many staff can be in the building at any one time. Our plan is to limit the number of people so those who are on campus can work safely.

Working Together to Keep the Community Healthy

While San Francisco’s mitigation efforts have been successful to date, COVID-19 will be with us for some time. Public health experts advise that we are vulnerable until there is a vaccine and reliable treatments. They also tell us to expect a second wave of infections in fall and/or winter.

The University is preparing for physical distancing by improving air flow within the building, changing the pattern of movement on each floor (corridors will be one-way), installing plexiglass barriers at information desks, frequent sanitizing, and preparing for health monitoring as is required to bring us all back together. As a community that thrives on interaction, I want nothing more than to see this happen. But we must do so safely. I am heartened by the many ways that faculty, students, and staff have created opportunities for informal virtual interactions.

Please note: Anyone entering a CIIS building should expect to wear appropriate face coverings, practice physical distancing, and avoid large gatherings. You’ll be asked to self- isolate if you are sick, receive a positive test result, or are exposed to someone who is sick or who has tested positive.

The COVID-19 pandemic has brought about much uncertainty. While planning cannot eliminate this uncertainty, I can promise to keep informing you about any changes CIIS makes to its plans. As always, I welcome hearing from you. To this end, the email address inquiries@ciis.edu has been set up for community members to submit questions or ideas about our planning and response.

I look forward to the day when we will all be together again at our CIIS campuses. While that day is not today, it is coming. Continue to take good care of both yourself and others.



UPDATE: May 26, 2020

Letter from President Judie Wexler

Dear CIIS Community,

Over the last week, both the CIIS Board of Trustees and the Institutional Budget and Planning Committee (IBPC) had extensive discussions about the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on CIIS, especially on its students. Those discussions led the IBPC to recommend, and the Board to agree, to eliminate the 2.5% tuition increase that had been approved for the 2020-21 academic year For students in the School of Consciousness and Transformation and the School of Professional Psychology and Health. Tuition rates will be maintained at the 2019-20 level.

The IBPC also recommended, and the Board agreed, to create a hardship fund to help students with particular need related to the impact of COVID-19. Trustees then went further and themselves contributed to that fund. 

We recognize that these are difficult times for everyone, with some people and communities being hit harder than others. We remain committed to helping our students continue to make progress toward achieving their academic goals. Now more than ever, society needs people with the skills and perspectives they have been developing at CIIS.

I especially want to thank the faculty and staff who have been working tirelessly to support their students. As everyone is well aware, CIIS has limited resources, so when more is given in one area, there is less in another; funds are not currently budgeted for programmatic or salary increases. We will be monitoring resources and enrollment carefully, as we continue to learn how the pandemic is impacting higher education in general and CIIS in particular.



UPDATE: May 20, 2020

Letter from President Judie Wexler

Dear CIIS Community,

I know everyone has been eager to hear about plans for Commencement and for the 2020 Summer semester. Below are the details as we have them. I want to reiterate that all of our decisions reflect the underlying values we’ve espoused since the COVID-19 pandemic struck: protecting the health and safety of the CIIS community and supporting students in achieving their educational goals.


On Saturday, May 30, we will hold Virtual Commencement 2020 that honors our graduates, their academic achievement, and also expresses gratitude to all who supported them on their journey. While it will be different than other years, we’re thrilled about how it has come together.

Shared Studios will be televising the event. Shared Studios is an innovative global company that brings together communities separated by distance and difference. They specialize in recreating the magic of graduation and making it feel as though we are all physically together at the event. There will be opportunities for real-time interaction. Also, graduates have the option of creating a personal page, should they want it.

The program of events is still being finalized, but here are a couple of highlights:

  • The invocation will be delivered by CIIS Professor Emeritus Arisika Razak from the Woman’s Spirituality program.
  • Six performances by professional musicians from the Bay Area and CIIS’ own Jonathan Kay and Richard Wormstall.

We will also have components of our in-person ceremony with messages from myself, faculty members, a student speaker, and other academic traditions.

Information has been sent to graduates and faculty inviting all to participate. We’re also inviting the entire CIIS community to the celebration. See our Commencement page for more information.

May 30th promises to be a joyous celebration and an innovative and uplifting ceremony. I hope you’ll join the graduates and our CIIS community to celebrate this important milestone.  

Summer Semester

All classes will continue to be offered virtually or online, depending upon the program. Student support services will continue to be offered virtually. The Counseling Psychology Clinics and Wellness Center Counseling Services will continue with telehealth. The ACTCM Clinic will remain closed with students getting their clinical hours via Virtual Grand Rounds. Faculty and staff will continue to work from a distance, so all offices will be available and functioning virtually.

Preparations for Fall semester are currently underway. We anticipate having some combination of virtual, online, and face-to-face operations, but, as you know, the situation is fluid. As always, we will be guided by public health official instructions and governmental regulations. We will also be surveying students to get their perspectives on the choices, needs, and implications. I will let you know when we finalize plans.

While COVID-19 has brought much disruption to our lives, we must remember the importance of ceremonies of celebration. They provide meaning, connection, and joy, which help sustain us as individuals and communities, especially during difficult times.

I am very grateful to be part of this creative and collaborative community. I am inspired by, and thank all of you for, the ways that you are supporting one another, and for your patience and flexibility. One day we will look back at this time and recognize all we have learned about ourselves and each other.

Stay well. And I hope to see you virtually on Saturday, May 30.



UPDATE: May 15, 2020

Letter from President Judie Wexler

Dear CIIS Community,

The COVID-19 pandemic has required us to rethink every aspect of life in higher education. As you know, we’ve had to make enormous adjustments to how we operate; putting classes and student support services online and having staff, faculty, and students work and learn from home are only the most visible. We also recognize the profound impact of COVID on our community, particularly the financial hardship for some students. This is the purpose of my letter today.

First let me say to those who are affected, we see you, we hear you, and we are actively doing as much as we can to help you continue your education during this unprecedented time. To this end, I am sharing with you some support efforts that are underway, emphasizing that supporting students is a long-term commitment that CIIS sees as spanning even beyond COVID-19 times.

The CARES Act Disbursement

The CARES Act offers funding to institutions to provide financial grants to students whose lives have been disrupted by COVID. As of today (5/15), CIIS has received and distributed monies to over 140 students who applied for these hardship funds. Another $100,000 of CIIS (75%) and Student Union (25%) funds will soon be distributed to those who do not meet the criteria under the CARES Act. A special committee comprised of Michelle Eng (Dean of Undergraduate Studies), Rachel Bryant (Director of Diversity and Inclusion), and Yunny Yip (Dean of Students) worked with Jennifer Gruczelak (Director of Financial Aid) to establish the criteria for the CARES Act.

Research is currently underway to make sure that CIIS can use the remaining CARES funds ($178,000) for student scholarship support. Those funds are given for general institutional use, but we hope to direct them to student support. The Financial Aid Office will allocate this scholarship money, again working with the committee. 

Additional Scholarships

The Development Office devoted their recent Giving Tuesday campaign to soliciting scholarship funds for students affected by the pandemic. As many potential and past donors noted, they are very aware of the need, but unfortunately, they too have been hard hit by COVID and have less disposable income. We will continue to reach out to donors on behalf of our students.

CIIS allocates $1.69m of university funds annually to student scholarships (out of a budget of $33m). Another $583,483 has gone to student workers, who we committed to pay through Spring semester even if they were unable to work virtually.

Like everything about the COVID pandemic, the financial picture is fluid. We are currently working on the budget for next year, modeling different scenarios to plan for all eventualities. We will keep you up to date as we have information.

To everyone, I hope you are staying well. To students who have experienced a change in their financial situation due to the pandemic, know we will continue to look for ways to support you. For students on financial aid, please contact the financial Aid Office at finaid@ciis.edu to see about redoing your financial aid allocation (if applicable). We also encourage you to see our Resources page for more information.



CARES Act Information

Date Last Updated: May 15, 2020

In compliance with the provisions of the CARES Act regarding the awarding of emergency funds to students, this page provides information relevant to the CARES Act.

  1. An acknowledgement that the institution signed and returned to the Department the Certification and Agreement and the assurance that the institution has used, or intends to use, no less than 50 percent of the funds received under Section 18004(a)(1) of the CARES Act to provide Emergency Financial Aid Grants to students.

CARES signed agreement submitted on April 16, 2020.

  1. The total amount of funds that the institution will receive or has received from the Department pursuant to the institution’s Certification and Agreement [for] Emergency Financial Aid Grants to Students.


  1. The total amount of Emergency Financial Aid Grants distributed to students under Section 18004(a)(1) of the CARES Act as of the date of submission (i.e., as of the 30-day Report and every 45 days thereafter).

As of May 14, 2020, the total amount distributed to students as emergency financial aid grants is $ 176,178.00.

  1. The estimated total number of students at the institution eligible to participate in programs under Section 484 in Title IV of the Higher Education Act of 1965 and thus eligible to receive Emergency Financial Aid Grants to students under Section 18004(a)(1) of the CARES Act.

There are 968 students eligible to participate (based on FAFSA eligibility and eligible programs).

  The total number of students who have received an Emergency Financial Aid Grant to students under Section 18004(a)(1) of the CARES Act.

  • As of May 14, 2020, 141 students received the Emergency Financial Aid Grant.
  1. The method(s) used by the institution to determine which students receive Emergency Financial Aid Grants and how much they would receive under Section 18004(a)(1) of the CARES Act.

Awarding Criteria: Funding amounts will vary based on the circumstances that may be directly impacting your education, and are not to exceed an amount of $1,500, as determined by California Institute of Integral Studies.

         CIIS opened up the CARES Act Application to all students who are eligible to complete a 2019-2020 Fafsa with an application deadline on May 8, 2020.  May 11, 2020 the Cares Act Committee reviewed all applicants and allocated the funds in three groups:

Undergraduates-who met the eligible criteria and submitted the Cares Act application by said deadline.

Graduate/Professional students with dependents- who met the eligible criteria and submitted the Cares Act application by said deadline.

All other Graduate/Professional students- who met the eligible criteria and submitted the Cares Act application by said deadline.

  1. Any instructions, directions, or guidance provided by the institution to students concerning the Emergency Financial Aid Grants.
  • Must be enrolled in an eligible degree program at the time of application
  • Must be a U.S citizen or Permanent Resident
  • Must Be eligible to complete a FAFSA application

UPDATE: April 20, 2020

Letter from President Judie Wexler

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 alldecisions.

  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 theCIIS 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 or here. 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: https://www.ciis.edu/covid-19
  • Director of Diversity & Inclusion: Rachel Bryant, rbryant@ciis.edu; ODI events:https://www.ciis.edu/student-resources/diversity-and-inclusion/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.


UPDATE: April 7, 2020

Letter from President Judie Wexler

Dear CIIS Community,

All of us are forging new ground as we run an entire university in a virtual space. The great news is that it’s working better than we expected; getting out ahead of the virus by mobilizing in late January, having a strong and comprehensive planning team, and going virtual before many other universities—and before the local and state shelter-in-place orders—helped immensely to this end. We are also learning much from the challenges of teaching, studying, and working from home, as I’m sure you are.

As I consider how we move forward together, I find myself constantly returning to our CIIS core values and the words that continue to define us: deep inquiry, holistic education, consciousness, resilience, equity, spirituality, and ecojustice. No university is committed to the whole of these as we are. CIIS is a very special place, which is why so many of you chose to make it your home.

We will have more physically isolated days ahead, and while it is difficult, we are going to emerge from this. While the stress looms large at times, we must not allow that to distract from our focus on why we are here, what brought us here, and what we are trying to achieve together. The CIIS community is here to stand with you, motivate you, and help you move forward—so I applaud you, especially now that you have continued to concentrate on and do work that matters.

It’s now also clear that the remainder of the Spring Semester will continue with virtual webinars. Summer Semester for the School of Undergraduate Studies and ACTCM begins on May 1. SUS will remain online throughout Summer. ACTCM will start online; and a decision will be made shortly if that will continue after the shelter-in-place order is lifted. Summer Session for the Schools of Professional Psychology and Health, and Consciousness and Transformation starts on May 29. We are currently planning for virtual classes to continue until further notice. As well, we will continuously monitor the public health projections and advise as we make our decisions.

A Community Together

The news remains daunting as we learn about the spread of the virus and the economic impact. This is a time of high anxiety, and so, also a time to practice the things we have learned and know about taking care of ourselves and doing things that give us a sense of meaning and wholeness. Many people in the CIIS community have offered ideas and practices to help with this. You can find them in the wellness section of MyCIIS and on the COVID-19 website.

As we plan for the future, the two most important things are keeping our community safe and supporting our students to continue to strive toward the goals that brought them to CIIS. We want to mitigate the effects of coronavirus disease in this time, take precautions, and continue to be proactive. We want to ensure that when we reopen our campuses and return to face-to-face classes, everyone is safe. We’ll stay on the cutting-edge of caution.

Please continue to reach out to one another and especially to our students. We want to help everyone remain focused on their goals and progress toward achieving them. Let’s make this time of being home not one of hibernation and isolation, but rather one of growth and community.

Be well,


UPDATE: March 27, 2020 

Letter from President Judie Wexler

Dear CIIS Community,

 It was two weeks ago today that we at CIIS moved all of our classes into webinar format. Three days later, on March 16, six Bay Area counties issued their shelter-in-place order, followed by a seventh shortly thereafter.

 These weeks have been very eventful as we have all been striving to adapt to the news about COVID-19, to new standards of cleanliness, to maintaining physical distance without creating social isolation, to working from home, to having children going to school from home, and to learning new technology. As I sit with members of this community in Zoom meetings and gatherings, I have been amazed and heartened by the ongoing commitment to our students and community. There have been so many acts of generosity as we learn together.

 The commitment of faculty and staff to maintaining high-quality education for the students is clear. Classes have continued on time, even though the Internet has periods of slowness. The regular work of the University has also been able to continue in a way that can be counted upon. Thank you all for making this happen.

 We hope that all the efforts to flatten the curve are successful and that we will be able to return to face-to-face interaction over the next months. In making decisions, we hold two things in the foreground:

·       Support quality education for our students.

·       Keep members of our community safe.

We have decided to continue in the virtual space through Spring semester 2020. We plan to begin Summer semester with virtual webinars, but it may be possible to move to face-to-face classes. We will make that decision based on the best public health advice we can obtain about what will keep this community safe. Because none of us knows how the pandemic is going to proceed, we are planning for both eventualities for fall semester: face-to-face classes or virtual webinars.

 My thanks to faculty who are sharing ideas, tips, and approaches to teaching online. Please check the faculty Canvas page for postings. Thanks also to the programs and students who are figuring out how to maintain community online using Zoom and many other platforms. We want to continue our commitment to the whole person, especially in these difficult times.

 Planning for graduation was well advanced when the pandemic began. Unfortunately, we cannot bring 1,400 people together in one location to celebrate on May 16. We will celebrate our graduates; we are still figuring out how best to do that. A survey will be going out shortly to ascertain their preferences.

 I am so grateful to be part of this community and thankful for all you do to keep us moving forward. One of my favorite prayers has always been one that says we can only get from here to there by holding hands and moving together. As we keep holding virtual hands, we will move through this very challenging time together.

 Stay well.


UPDATE: March 19, 2020 

Letter from President Judie Wexler

Dear CIIS Community,

In the midst of our first week of shelter in place, I am happy to report that CIIS has been able to continue with all of our academic classes and our essential services via the Internet. It is a tribute to the hard work and resiliency of our faculty and staff that we have been able to do this. I am so proud of this community.

The Business Continuity Team continues to meet daily via Zoom to assess how things are going, to address new questions, and to keep up to date on the changing environment. I think we are all looking forward to the day that our meeting takes less than an hour. The planning done within this group and the constant email exchanges have been key to our ability to make such sweeping changes so quickly. My special thanks to everyone in this group.

Changes for Your Safety

For the safety of our students and staff, we have moved our psychological services clinics to tele-health delivery.Because acupuncture clearly cannot be accomplished over the Internet or by telephone, we have had to close the ACTCM at CIIS clinics. ACTCM is working to ensure that students who expect to graduate at the end of Spring semester will be able to accrue their essential clinical hours via a Grand Rounds process that can be completed virtually.

We have also canceled or postponed Public Programs events into April while considering what new material we can make available online and encouraging our patrons to revisit our podcasts. Certificate programs will continue as planned although via webinar.

Everyone employed within the City of San Francisco earns sick leave on a regular basis. I have heard questions of concern and want to assure you that all CIIS employees have paid time off to draw upon as needed. Our security guards and custodians similarly have paid time off. HR is also monitoring the changes being proposed and adopted by the federal, state, and city governments to support wage workers in these perilous times. We are also monitoring proposals to help businesses support their employees.

Sharing and Support

Students have already begun to reach out to one another to create support groups. Information and ideas about how to deal with the demands of shelter in place can be found on the MyCIIS Wellness Center page, on our CIISCOVID-19 microsite, and on the CIIS Facebook page. I encourage everyone to share your own hints and useful things you have found elsewhere. Members of this community have always been knowledgeable about psychological and physical wellness, spiritual practice, and community building. Shelter in place is about maintaining physical distance; we need to combine that with community closeness, so please share your ideas. 

Undergraduate and ACTCM students began to register for Summer semester this week. A full Summer semester is being offered. Student advising is available as always. All offices can be reached via email and telephone, even if the staff is not currently working within the building. 

As always, I urge you to take good care of yourself. Remember that COVID-19 strikes young adults as well as those over 60. Even if you have always been healthy, follow the guidelines on maintaining physical distance and proper hand hygiene.

Remember to smile, reach out, go for a walk, and take a deep breath.  


UPDATE: March 16, 2020 

Letter from President Judie Wexler

Dear CIIS Community, 

At 1pm Monday the six Bay Area counties (San Francisco, Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, San Mateo, and Santa Clara) announced new measures to slow the spread of COVID-19. Starting at 12:01am Tuesday morning all Bay Area residents are asked to “shelter in place.” Everyone is directed to stay home and away from others unless it is absolutely essential to go outside.  The order is effective until April 7th. 

CIIS will continue to offer webinar classes and to perform all essential services. Staff and faculty will be working at a distance to ensure that education continues. Please remain patient with any possible delays as we work through all the issues involved in going completely virtual.

CIIS will comply with the health directive. Both campuses will be open today, Monday the 16th. Tomorrow, Tuesday, we will offer limited access during the day (9-5) for staff and faculty to get essential materials and personal items.

For the past two weeks, the CIIS Continuity Team has been preparing for this situation. All face-to-face courses have transitioned to virtual delivery. Staff have been preparing to work remotely and many staff members are already doing so. Students have been setting up virtual groups to check in on one another and to provide mutual support. Many thanks to everyone for the flexibility you have shown throughout these past weeks.

Our priority remains the health and safety of every member of our community. That comes first. Please follow this new directive. Our second priority remains the continuance of a quality educational experience for every student. We are doing everything we can to ensure that.

At this stage, we have determined that face-to-face courses will remain virtual for the remainder of the Spring semester. This is important for international or out-of-area students; you will be able to return home and complete your semester from there if you wish to do so. International students: Please watch for guidance from Jody O’Connor on visa questions and let her know if you are leaving this country.

We ask for your understanding and patience with any delays in responses to questions or concerns.

Faculty and staff, please remember to forward your office phone to your home or mobile number. Specific requests for assistance should go to operationsrequests@ciis.edu. The central CIIS phone numbers 415-575-6100 and 415-575-6101 will be forwarded directly to operations. The Continuity Team will continue meeting each morning to address issues as they come up.

Please read the directive, available here (https://www.sfdph.org/dph/alerts/coronavirus-healthorders.asp). Note what is and is not allowed. For example, there is an exception for taking a walk or exercise, but social distancing will be required. Exercise will be an important part of our self-care as we enter into this unprecedented time.

We hope that every one of us remains well. Please take care. Remember self-care and to reach out to friends and family. This is a new situation for all of us.



UPDATE: March 15, 2020 

Letter from President Judie Wexler

Dear CIIS Students,

I am writing directly to you this morning in response to questions and statements about CIIS staff and COVID-19 adjustments. I appreciate your concern and attentiveness to actions being taken to protect everyone.

I want to make sure that you have accurate information. And, I ask that you recognize that the situation is changing very rapidly. In response, our Continuity Committee is meeting daily to address new issues and challenges.

We began telling staff and faculty almost two weeks ago that those who needed to work from home because of the virus need to speak with their supervisor and Human Resources to make arrangements to do so.

On Friday the message below went out to all faculty and staff asking every office to make arrangements to have all staff whose positions enable them to work from home do so. Staff who cannot work from home are able to use their extensive paid time while they are not working.

In order to maintain our commitment to our students' education, we must maintain several essential services. This will require a few of us to be in our offices during the upcoming week. We are working to minimize the number of people who need to come in and the frequency with which they need to be in the office.

Our priorities continue to be supporting our students so you can continue to make progress in your education and supporting the health and safety of the entire CIIS community.

Please send your questions to Yunny Yip. We are trying to address questions as they arise in our daily meeting and to report out the answers. I say again, the situation is rapidly changing. New health directives, regulations, and laws are coming in constantly.

Take care of yourselves.


UPDATE: March 14, 2020 

Letter from President Judie Wexler

Dear CIIS Community,

The Continuity Group is continuing to meet every morning at 9:30 to review our COVID-19 plans and to address new issues and concerns that have arisen in the previous 24 hours. The situation is changing so rapidly that a decision made one day may no longer apply on the next day. Please direct your questions or concerns to me or Richard Buggs so that we can address them at the daily meeting. For updates, check the CIIS corona virus webpages https://www.ciis.edu/coronavirus.

Today was our first day offering virtually all of our courses via webinars. It has been going extremely well.  My heartfelt thanks to Ben Cline-Suzuki and the volunteers who have been working with him: Fraylanie Aglipay, Heather Nelson, Kelly Karst, and Maya Cortez. Providing support to faculty making this big transition into teaching in a virtual classroom has been essential.

Having course instruction continue is still CIIS’ number one priority. Faculty may cancel a course only if they are sick and cannot arrange a substitute in time. While staff from several offices have been deployed to support Online Learning, more are needed, especially March 20-22 when ICPW students are meeting and the demand will be large. Reach out to Ben if you or one of your staff can help with this.

Following best public health guidance, we are acting quickly to enable staff to work from home where possible. We have asked all Directors to let us know who is working remotely. For offices in which remote work is not readily possible, we are asking that the supervisor consider what work can be done from a distance and they can make it possible for staff to have some time working from home.

Having staff work remotely will require close coordination. If home responsibilities prevent a staff member from being continuously available during normal business hours, time blocks and deliverables must be agreed upon. HR is keeping close watch on any legal regulations and timekeeping policies that may change or be adapted due to this COVID-19 situation. If a staff member is unable to work, or to work full-time, we must comply with our published paid time-off policies [log into myciis before clicking on this]. No one knows how long this situation will persist and we have to be careful not to set precedents that we cannot uphold. Staff can use paid time off hours and days to cover time they are taking off. 

For the time being, we’ll retain our normal opening hours.

We are planning to go ahead with the Commencement Ceremony (May 15) but letting students know that we are monitoring the viability of an in-person event and are planning for a back-up, virtual experience.

Please, everyone, take care of yourself and stay safe. This is a time of high stress. While social distance has become a new watchword, remember to stay in touch with friends and family. Thank you for all you have been doing to support each other and our students.


UPDATE: March 13, 2020 

Letter from Dean of Students  Yunny Yip

Dear Students,

As preparations are being made to virtualize courses starting tomorrow March 13 th, we wanted to share some frequently asked questions.  Please do not hesitate to reach out to Online Learning, your academic program, or me for assistance.

When will I receive information / link to my course webinars?

A link to your course webinar will be sent to you on the day of your course:

  • Link will be sent within ten minutes of the start time of class
  • Link will be sent only to a student’s @mymail.ciis.edu email account; please check that you have access to this account and/or are forwarding messages to an account that you can access
  • Webinars will be via Zoom or Big Blue Button (Canvas)
  • Course webinar will take place during the exact time course would have met in person (i.e. courses that are typically scheduled for Tuesdays from 9am – 12pm at Mission Street campus will meet virtually on Tuesdays from 9am – 12pm) 

I didn’t receive information / link to my course webinar.  Who do I contact?

Please contact Online Learning at OnlineLearningSupport@ciis.edu

How will I know if I have a course that will continue to meet in-person?

The list of courses that will continue to meet in-person will NOT be posted on the CIIS COVID-19 website; individual programs will notify specific students if students are registered for a course that will continue to meet in person.  Please note that students in these courses continue to have the option to request virtual / remote access in lieu of participating in person.  Virtual / remote access will not be counted as an absence.

I don’t have access to a computer / wi-fi in order to join a virtual course.  What are my options?  Will CIIS remain open during this time?

CIIS’s Mission Street building will remain open during the time that courses are virtualized.  The computer lab and Library will be available for student use.  If using a CIIS computer for course webinars, please bring your own headphones with an inline microphone to fully participate in your course.    Students are also able to use classrooms for study spaces, although we encourage appropriate distancing if multiple students will be sharing a space.  Please check MyCIIS for the most updated building hours.  Students can also check their public libraries for possible use of public library computers.

We will continue to send additional FAQs and information in the coming days, and also send you our best for your health and well-being.

Yunny Yip
Dean of Students

UPDATE: March 11, 2020 

Letter from President Judie Wexler, PhD

Dear CIIS Community,

Over the last few weeks, we have been monitoring the spread of the COVID-19 virus and adjusting our operations in response to this fluid and rapidly changing public health situation.

As I write this, San Francisco has 14 confirmed cases of COVID-19. To the best of our knowledge, CIIS does not have any confirmed cases at this time. The San Francisco Department of Public Health (SFDPH) has announced aggressive recommendations to stop the spread, including social distancing and good personal hygiene practices. Everyone has been asked to cancel or postpone nonessential large meetings for a period of two weeks. In response, we have cancelled all Public Programs events scheduled for March and postponed two conferences. CPTR will be held as planned this weekend with a virtual access option.

Today, we made the decision to move classes to a virtual format on Friday, March 13 through the end of spring break. We recognize that there are some classes (e.g., clinic classes) that cannot be put into a distance format. A list of classes continuing to be offered face-to-face will be published on the CIIS COVID-19 webpage as information is clarified. Please check regularly. For those classes, students who cannot come to campus will continue to have the option of requesting ZOOM access using the appropriate form. Students are expected to attend classes at their regularly scheduled times.

CIIS will remain open. We will continue to communicate with you on a daily basis about the impact of the virus and our actions in support of this community. My thanks to everyone for the work you do for CIIS and for the creativity and dedication of all.

UPDATE: March 7, 2020 

Letter from President Judie Wexler, PhD

Dear Community,

We hope that you are well. We want to offer our University’s support and healing wishes to students, faculty, and staff who have family and loved ones affected by COVID-19 (novel coronavirus) and the flu. And thank you for taking care of yourselves and one another in this time of growing concern. We have been monitoring the situation and making plans if the virus becomes widespread in San Francisco. That is not the case now.

As many of you have heard, on Wednesday, the Mayor made an emergency declaration in response to COVID-19. Please understand that declarations of emergency are made so that our local governments can tap into state and federal resources. S.F.’s declaration is a proactive move from the Mayor’s office that will allow our local government to better respond to public health concerns. 

“It will mobilize city resources, accelerate emergency planning, streamline staffing, coordinate agencies across the city, allow for future reimbursement by the state and federal governments, and raise awareness throughout San Francisco about how everyone can prepare in the event that COVID-19 (novel coronavirus) appears in our community,” the Mayor said.

The declaration is effective immediately for seven days, though the Board of Supervisors will vote on its continuation March 3.

The announcement follows similar declarations in  Santa Clara and  San Diego counties. The move came as U.S. health officials  warned they expect to eventually see a continual spread of coronavirus in the United States.

Broader Screening

Also on Thursday, The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) took steps to broaden surveillance, saying it would greatly expand the number of people checked for the virus. Under new criteria, anyone with symptoms plus a recent travel history to China, Iran, Italy, Japan, or South Korea within the past 14 days will be screened. So, too, will patients who have unexplained, severe lower-respiratory illnesses that require hospitalization.

The CDC has been encouraging organizations to develop plans now should an outbreak occur. 

CIIS has been rigorously planning for this and continues to monitor the situation to update our contingency plans accordingly and take precautionary action as needed.  They are as follows:

On Campus

The University will ensure that hand sanitizers are accessible throughout our campuses and will increase the frequency of maintenance and cleaning of restrooms, surfaces, and other facilities.

Spring Break Travel

The U.S. State Department has temporarily suspended entry into the United States for any foreign nationals who traveled to or from China. Details on federal restrictions can be found on the  CDC website. In addition, many airlines have suspended flights into and out of China, raising the possibility that students traveling to China may not be able to return.

Dr. Yvonne Maldonado, MD, an infectious diseases specialist and professor of pediatrics and epidemiology at Stanford Medicine, believes that “traveling in the U.S. is fine right now. But, the situation is extremely fluid.”

As world travel restrictions are rapidly changing, we urge you to continue to check the status of your destination.

Remote Access for Employees

According to Associate Provost Chip Goldstein, staff, faculty, and student employees needing to work from home can be set up to access their CIIS files via Microsoft Remote Desktop Services (RDS). RDS provides a full desktop experience for the end user, and no third-party ‘VPN’ software on their workstation is required.  CIIS’ IT staff, John Becker and Alex Buslovich, can provide user documentation for how to connect and get set up using RDS; contact them by filing a help ticket: support@uswired.com

Remote Access to Classes for Students and Faculty

Class meetings can be shifted to a virtual environment by using either Canvas (Big Blue Button) or Zoom. Ben Cline-Suzuki, Director of Online Learning, wants to reassure faculty that we have tools ready to handle a situation when and if temporarily virtualizing instruction becomes necessary,

in the event a student is not able to attend an in-person course—or in the rare event that requires the University to suspend in-person, campus operations.”

For more information, please email  OnlineLearningSupport@ciis.edu or contact Ben at 415.575.6111, or Instructional Designer Elisa Paik at 415.575.3499.

We ask that faculty and supervisors be supportive of any student or staff needing these accommodations and requiring time at home.

As stated in our previous email, the best way to prevent infection is to avoid being exposed to this virus. However,  CDC recommends the following everyday actions to help prevent the spread of respiratory viruses:

  1. Avoid close contact with people who are sick. 
  2. Stay home when you are sick (please)—especially anyone with a compromised immune system. Your supervisor will not be mad.
  3. Cover your mouth and nose. 
  4. Clean your hands for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand rub.
  5. Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands. Use disinfecting wipes to clean surfaces at home, work, or school—especially when someone is ill.
  6. And of course, practice other good health habits. Try to get plenty of sleep, be physically active, manage your stress, meditate, drink plenty of fluids, and eat nutritious food.

Where to Get Coronavirus News? (From Poynter.com)

Let’s start with this: It’s a science story, not a political one. So don’t listen to political spin on the virus; seek out the scientific and medical stories and information.

Outlets dealing in facts should be your go-to sources.

The New York Times is offering  constant live updates on one webpage, including a particularly useful FAQ section with questions such as “What is coronavirus?” and “How worried should I be?” The site also includes an interactive map that's tracking where the coronavirus has been confirmed and where travelers should avoid. It has dozens of well-sources stories with no political agenda or opinion —just fact-based reports.

Like the Times, The Wall Street Journal has a  live coverage coronavirus page, including its impact on the stock market.

NPR has a  guide on how to prepare your home for the coronavirus. And, of course, the Washington Post’s coverage is superb.

There are plenty of other places as well —  NBC.comCBS.comCNN.com and the  Associated Press , and Democracy Now to name a few — with coronavirus-specific pages providing constant updates. All appear to have responsible, straight-forward coverage that deals in facts.

For now, information is what’s critical. Start here, and share other outlets that you trust with others.

Even more information: 

We will continue to track the situation as new information emerges and to prepare CIIS to take the appropriate steps to help keep this community safe. 



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