SLU Distance Education

To: All SLU Faculty
From: Steve London, Stephanie Luce, and Gladys Palma de Schrynemakers
Re: Distance Learning

Thank you for your patience and cooperation in these difficult times. Your ongoing dedication to our students is amazing and felt deeply by them at this time.

You will need to submit to Stephanie Luce, Chair of Labor Studies, and Steve London, Chair of Urban Studies, a plan on how you will conduct your classes remotely.  This should be submitted to each Department Chair by Friday of this week.  You should also be in touch with your students about the plan.  It may be the case that some students are not able to Zoom from home settings or participate in a virtual visual synchronous setup like Zoom or Blackboard conferencing, but they can participate through phone conferencing.  In any case, your plan should involve discussion with your students.

Given all that we are going through, we hope we can help allay any stress you may be feeling about teaching your classes. There are many options available for you. Just focus on the idea of helping students learn and doing it in a way that everyone is comfortable with.

Here are some options. These options comply with CUNY’s statement “On the Scope of Distance Learning” (see below).  You can experiment with some methods and change as you go. You can combine these methods too.

  1. Have the class meet by conference call. This is the easiest option. It is not ideal, but it is one option if you are worried about learning other technology. SLU can supply you with a conference call number and you can send it by email to your students ahead of time. is one option and we will provide additional information.
  1. Move more teaching to email. For example, pose a few questions to the class by email and ask everyone to share answers – either just to you, or to small groups or the whole group. Discuss the readings this way. You can do this in Blackboard too, and in fact, that is what Blackboard is set up for! But if you are nervous about learning it quickly, starting in email is OK.
  1. You can use your phone or laptop to record yourself giving a lecture. You can then upload that to Blackboard, ZOOM or Dropbox, and have students watch it.
  1. Develop a power point or write up your lecture in Word. You can then email it to everyone in the class or upload it to Dropbox, Blackboard or ZOOM. Ask students to review it and then maybe answer some questions about it which they will return to you.
  1. Instead of meeting in person, students will meet by video conference. This can be through Blackboard or Zoom. We have a staff person who can work with you and help you through all the steps. We also have someone who will help you with Zoom. Zoom has a lot of nice features, like small group breakout rooms and the ability to record. If you want to go this route, we will teach you how to open a session on one of these platforms. Students will also get a guide on how to do it. You then just start class at your regular time and meet over video conferencing.  Be sure to check in with your students that they have access to a computer with sufficient bandwidth for these classes. If they don’t, Zoom has a record option, and those students who must watch it later might watch the class and be asked to answer questions as well, like in option #4.
  1. If your student does not have access to laptop and has access to the internet. SLU has a limited number of laptops that are available to students for the reminder of the semester. For more information students can e-mail
  1. If you have a small class, you might move to some one-on-one phone calls to check in and talk about material.


Stephanie tried holding her class by Zoom last week. All of the students figured it out and showed up and were eager to try to make it work. They seemed very eager to have a space to talk about what is going on. It made us realize how many of our students get their information and learn how to process information through our classes.

A few of the students had experience with Zoom and coached all on how to make it work better. Feel free to pull the students in and make this a collective part of the learning process.

Teaching online can be awkward, but some who have done it said it gets easier with practice. As you get comfortable with it, you can learn some of the tools, such as how to share a power point or how to do breakout groups.

Again, SLU will provide individual support with Blackboard (Krafins Valcin: ) and with Zoom (Melanie Martinez:  Zoom and Blackboard trainings have been announced and follow up messages will be sent out soon.  So, please monitor emails so you will be able to take advantage of these training sessions. We will be posting additional resources at:

CUNY Guidance on Student Grades, Scope of Distance Learning, and Internships (CUNY Policy Circulated by the University Faculty Senate)

CUNY has made changes in its grading policy that will allow you to have more flexibility. 

Student Grades 

Acknowledging that many of our students may feel uneasy about a move to distance learning and how that could affect their academic performance, the University has authorized the University Registrar to make the following changes to CUNY’s academic calendar, effective immediately.

1)       Last Day to File for Pass/No Credit/Fail Option –For eligible students that meet the requirements of our “Pass/Fail/No Credit Option” policy,( – Page 5), the University will move the deadline to Thursday, May 14, 2020. This is the published “Last Day of Classes,” and before final examination week (05/16-05/22), and also prior to the “End of the Spring Term,” (05/22/2020). See note below on possible financial aid impact on students.

2)       Course Withdrawal Period – Last Day to Drop with a Grade of “W.” The current deadline date listed on the calendar is Wednesday, April 1, 2020. We will move that date to Thursday, May 14, 2020. This is the published “Last Day of Classes,” and before final examination week (05/16-05/22) and also prior to the “End of the Spring Term,” (05/22/2020).

3)       Incomplete Grades – Students who receive an INC grades in the Spring 2020 term would generally be required to submit outstanding work, “according to a deadline established by individual colleges of the University but no later than the last day of the following semester.” ( – Page 4). The University will allow students to submit incomplete work to faculty for resolution of INC grades for courses taken in Spring 2020 through the Fall 2020 semester, and the new deadline for faculty to submit Incomplete to Grade forms to the Registrar’s Office for resolution will be Wednesday, December 23, 2020. This date coincides with the “Final Grade Submission Deadline” for Fall 2020 courses.

[Note on Pass/No Credit/Fail Option: Students should consult with their academic and financial aid advisor to confirm if such election will still allow them to count the course towards their major/degree requirements, if credit is earned with a grade of P. In order to receive this grade, a student needs to continue participating in academically related activities, complete all assignments, and take the final exam/culminating experience. If a passing letter grade is earned, the student will receive a grade of ‘P’ and credit for the course with no impact on GPA. If a failing grade is earned (F), the student will receive a grade of NC/NP which does not affect the GPA. Students must remain in compliance with Federal and State Satisfactory Academic Progress guidelines.]

More on the Scope of Distance Learning

As we have indicated before, the objective of an academic continuity plan is to help safeguard the academic term from the standpoint of our student’s academic progress and their financial aid and support our faculty and student’s research efforts as we work to address the challenges posed by COVID-19.  As far as distance learning is concerned, the U.S. Department of Education has indicated that at a minimum, our faculty must be able to “communicate to students through one of several types of technology – including email – … and [that] instructors must initiate substantive communication with students, either individually or collectively, on a regular basis.”  As an example of this, the USDE offers that “an instructor could use email to provide instructional materials to students enrolled in his or her class, use chat features to communicate with students, set up conference calls to facilitate group conversations, engage in email exchanges or require students to submit work electronically that the instructor will evaluate.”  All of these minimal levels of interaction are supported by the CUNY licensed software solutions itemized in previous guidance (see thread below) and identified in our portal. The most important thing is for faculty to confer with their students to get a sense of what the most effective and EQUITABLE way to move forward with distance learning should be, considering both faculty and student readiness, accessibility to devices and reliable internet access, and phone capabilities.  Ultimately, faculty and colleges should ask themselves how they can create optimal conditions for students to meet their learning outcomes.


Guidance for Private Sector Internships

CUNY students working as interns with private sector employers should abide by the internal protocol of their internship site. In addition to the work site’s coronavirus policy, students that are sick or have knowingly been in contact with anyone who is sick should notify their internship manager and CUNY Program Manager or contact immediately. If the site remains open and is allowing interns to work they can do so. We ask that all students and supervisors touch base to work on a course of action. Some students may be working with individuals in vulnerable populations, so we ask that supervisors and students use their best judgement regarding this. Companies/organizations may institute telecommuting/ work from home policies that apply to students. Students should confirm that they have the tools they need to do this effectively and can reach out to Brandi Mandato, Director of Sector Innovation, at with any questions or concerns.

Guidance for Campus- Based Internships

Similar to the guidance for public sector internships, students and supervisors should abide by the protocols and policies set by the institution. If not already established, each campus should identify a contact person for questions related to campus-based internships.

Guidance for Public-Sector and Non-profit Sector Internships

All CUNY Internship Programs interns are expected to work as normal at their internship locations until further notice. If the site remains open and is allowing interns to work they can do so.  Some students may be working with individuals in vulnerable populations, so we ask that supervisors and students use their best judgement regarding this. In addition to the work site’s coronavirus policy, students that are sick or have knowingly been in contact with anyone who is sick should notify their internship manager and CUNY Internship Program, Program Manager or contact immediately. If agencies move to telecommuting/work from home policies, we will update you on procedures.  Also, please inform us ASAP if any of these policies are officially instituted at your agency.

Guidance for credit bearing internships

In order for students to maintain enrollment in their spring 2020 academic and not lose credit(s) toward their majors or graduation, below are some guidelines campus faculty may wish to employ:

  1. Students and faculty confer via email, phone, or conference regarding remaining assignments for spring 2020 academic internship placements
  2. Students and/or faculty confer with placement site supervisors and discuss the following:
    1. If placement sites continue to operate, what measures in place to guarantee the health and safety of student interns, as well as substantive internship assignments for students while they serve and learn?
    2. If placement sites are not operating or are no longer hosting staff/interns, how can/will work assignments delegated to students?
  3. Suggestion for completion of academic internships given the distance learning approach at CUNY, in case of closure of placement sites, which include but are not limited to:
    1. Remote academic assignments: In addition to remaining syllabus based academic assignments, students enrolled in credit bearing internships may be asked to complete and submit a 5 to 10-page double spaced paper that will address the following student experiences:
  1. Provide a complete summary and explanation of the organizational structure and functions of their internship placement site (through March 13)
  2. Details the organizational goal(s) of the internship placement site

iii.      Provide details on how the placement site works to achieve its goals

  1. Explain whether or not the existing organizational structure of the site enables the outfit to achieve its goals
  2. Students provide accounts of how their academic internship experiences (to date) lend support to their efforts to achieve career success in the organizational environment where they have served (to date)
    1. If available on campus, faculty can use Learning Management System (LMS) platforms to assign weekly professional development training with a reflection write up assignment at the end of each training.
  1. In addition, the guidance tools above may be applied to CUNY Service Corps students, who can be given the opportunity to complete their 240 hours via remote assignments in cases in which partner organizations suspend operations and students cannot perform on site service. Likewise, if students are unable to complete their internships under the existing guidelines for CUNY RF and tax levy employees. Options may include remote work on projects that benefit partner organization missions, or internal Service Corps program/mission.  Specific guidance provided by each campus may vary depending on the unique situation of that school, however, students’ health, safety, and experiential learning should be prioritized so that students can continue to earn both their academic credential and funding via paid programs such as Service Corps.