Coronavirus (COVID-19) Information

Faculty/Staff Updates:

An Important Message
from President Thomas Coley, Ph.D.


Dear Colleagues:
Please find the most recent and detailed information on Return to Work Guidance from the CSCU System Office.

COVID-19 Return to Work Guidance for Campuses

Employees should only be required to return to the campus, consistent with CDC guidelines, if there is a legitimate business need for their presence on-site.
Management determines if a need exists, not the employee.

A legitimate business need is a justification which can be summarized in a few short sentences. If the justification cannot be summarized in a brief statement, the employee very likely does not need to return to the campus and should continue to telework.
The employee's role is student-facing and we must work to provide in person services to assist in resolving complex issues requiring exchange of documents and complex problem resolution.

The employee provides direct support to student-facing staff on campus. To ensure timely direct support while the staff is on campus, the support staff must have a similar on campus presence.

With respect to the community colleges, employees who are being asked to return to campus have numerous options available in the event that they feel they cannot return as assigned.
ADA Requests - ADA requests are appropriate when an employee has an underlying medical condition that impairs a major life activity. In this case, the employee should contact their HR Generalist or HR Regional Manager to begin the interactive process of obtaining a reasonable accommodation.
In this environment, the most common accommodation will be a telework arrangement. 

Final review of any request will come through the Labor Relations Center of Excellence (COE) before being shared with the employee.

A question has been raised about the status of employees age 65 or older. Currently age alone is insufficient to confer disability status under the ADA. What is required is age 65 plus comorbidity (defined as  at least two underlying medical conditions).
Those age 65 without comorbidity are currently not eligible for ADA accommodation. If this changes we will provide updates.

Medical status of those in the home, or those an employee may be supporting or interacting with, does not create ADA accommodation eligibility.

Leaves of absence
FMLA is appropriate when the employee cannot work given their own serious health condition or are the primary caregiver for their spouse, child, or parent who has a serious health condition.
This is a leave; not working time. The employee can request a block leave or intermittent leave for this purpose. FMLA leave is unpaid and an employee may supplement the unpaid time with their own accruals.

The are some additional paid options as a result of COVID which provide paid leave for up to 14 days for children at home due to closed schools or summer camps, return from an area of high infection rates and COVID exposure. This time counts against the 12 weeks of FMLA leave.

Specific questions on FMLA or ADA accommodations should be directed to Marlene Cordero,

For requests that fall outside of the scope of FMLA or ADA, there is no official telework/telecommuting policy.

If a supervisor has clearly and appropriately defined and articulated the business justification to the the employee who is expected to report for work on-site, then requests by the employee to telecommute instead should not be entertained.

Finally, I would like to clarify that there are currently no changes to the community college academic calendar. The college will begin and end the Fall 2020 semester as scheduled.

I will continue to provide information and updates as they are received.

Thank you,

Thomas G. Coley, Ph.D.
CSCU Regional President, Shoreline-West

GCC Updates:

Update from CSCU President

Dear CSCU Community,


This morning, I received a briefing from our academic team, and I am happy to report that, thanks to the incredible work of our faculty at the colleges and universities, the transition to online-only learning has been going smoothly overall.  It took a herculean effort to upend our educational delivery system in just a few days, but our dedicated faculty have stepped up to the challenge.  Though our students are resilient, they will need a great deal of support, both personally and academically, during this time and I want to thank the staff who are working hard to get their advising, counseling, library and other resources available remotely for students.  I'd like to thank our union leaders who have met with us daily to identify both challenges and solutions as we've moved to telework and the system office staff for continuing to provide – through telework – many of the essential services that keep our colleges and universities running. And lastly, I greatly appreciate the college and university leaders and administrators who have been working around the clock to make this crisis as manageable as possible for all.

Over the past week, we at CSCU have taken several important steps to keep our students, faculty, and staff as safe and healthy as possible while playing a central role in the state’s efforts to mitigate the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on our communities.

  • Paying employees. We have made the determination that while the campuses and system office remain shuttered, employees are directed to telework and will receive their pay as normal. Student workers will  also continue to be paid through the end of the semester.
  • University housing. We have been working closely with the state’s emergency response team and have received specific requests to use residence halls at Southern and Western. The institutions are currently in the process of clearing those spaces and expect them to be available by the end of the week. Central and Eastern are also preparing for similar requests in coming days and will make residence halls available to meet the state’s emergency needs.
  • Moving to pass/fail. This morning, we  made the decision to allow all community college students the option to convert any or all of the letter grades they earn during the spring 2020 semester to credit/no credit grading. This change will potentially ease anxiety about the quick move to online learning while not impacting the student’s GPA. The state universities are working individually to ensure similar options are offered to students.
  • Donating personal protective equipment and ventilators. Governor Lamont and state officials have requested donations of personal protective equipment (PPE) such as masks, gloves, and gowns to meet the needs of frontline health care workers combatting the virus. Our colleges and universities have stepped up in a big way. As just one example, Central donated 6,000 nitrile gloves, 250 procedure masks, 180 N95 masks, and other equipment to the Hospital of Central Connecticut. Across the system, we have also donated several ventilators to local hospitals and health care facilities as well as PPE from our allied health programs.
  • Donating unused food. Our campus food pantries and dining services have donated hundreds of pounds of perishable food to local foodbanks to help fight food insecurity during this difficult economic time. 
  • Implementing technology solutions.  Thanks to the hard work of IT staff at the CSCU system office and the IT staff on our campuses, both hardware and software is being prepped for faculty, staff and students so they can work and learn remotely.  Thanks to the campus foundations who have helped to get more equipment into the hands of students as well! We still need more equipment to meet the needs and ongoing software training and support but these IT staff have worked tirelessly to help us all do our work in new ways.

This will continue to be a challenging time, and I ask you to follow the advice of state and local public health professionals. In order to stop the spread to the best of our ability, we must stay home as much as possible, and stay safe. There are great, free opportunities online to practice self-care through exercise, meditation and yoga classes, museum exhibits, and much more. Please take care of yourself and be in touch if I can be of assistance.

Thanks again for all of your work on behalf of our students.

Mark E. Okakian

Message from Dr. Coley


Dear Colleagues:

As you are all now aware we have shifted most, if not all, but Level 1 (formerly known as ‘essential’) employees to temporary telework from now through April 5, 2020.

This email is intended to offer additional administrative guidance, since telework is new to most of us.  I will also cover some issues regarding sick time and any diagnosis or self-quarantine involving COVID-19.

All employees now teleworking:

  • are expected to be performing their roles to the best for their ability from home.
  • are expected to be available online via email or phone during their normally scheduled hours.
  • are expected to be actively monitoring email and voicemails sent to email.
  • are expected to be available to return to their work site during normal working hours when requested by their manager.
  • can direct any questions on work assignments and requirements to their manager.

Sick or self-quarantined employees:

  • Any employee that becomes ill while teleworking and cannot perform their duties must report their illness to their manager and code their time sheet accordingly.
  • Any employee that is diagnosed with COVID – 19, we ask that you notify the HR department on campus -Theresa Eisenbach, Interim Director of Human Resources - (203) 332-5013 ​
  • Any employee that is directed to self-quarantine we ask that you notify your HR department on campus: Theresa Eisenbach, Interim Director of Human Resources - (203) 332-5013 ​

What if you suspect you have COVID-19?

  • Call your doctor or healthcare provider for medical advice if you believe that you have been exposed to COVID-19 and develop symptoms, such as fever, cough or difficulty breathing.
  • Stay home except to get medical care.
  • Separate yourself from other people and animals in your home.
  • Call ahead before visiting your doctor.
  • Cover your coughs and sneezes.
  • Clean your hands often.
  • Avoid sharing personal household items.
  • Clean all “high-touch” surfaces every day.
  • Monitor your symptoms
  • If you are diagnosed with COVID-19, notify the HR department on campus: Theresa Eisenbach, Interim Director of Human Resources - (203) 332-5013 ​
  • Full guidance: What To Do If You Are Sick (CDC)

We will continue to keep you informed as we all work together through these challenging times.

Stay Calm and be well.

Thomas G. Coley, Ph.D.
Acting President, Gateway Community College
CSCU Regional President, Shoreline-West Region