COVID-19

Updates on COVID-19 and Institutional Preparedness

5-27-2020

Good afternoon Paier Community,

As we all begin cautiously adjusting to the realities of the State of Connecticut reopening, I wanted to provide you with an update on some developments at Paier College of Art.

Antibody Testing

Over the past three weeks we have been working with Integrated Health Services to provide antibody testing for our students, faculty, and staff. As of Friday they were approved through the Department of Public Health and will begin testing as early as next week.

Initially we will begin offering the antibody testing registration to administrative staff that is already on campus, or those that are going to begin resuming their roles on site. We will then look to open the testing to students and faculty engaged in either of the summer sessions, beyond that we will open the testing to the entire community. This process is in place to prevent a bottleneck from forming while trying to move expeditiously.

Our Provost or your direct supervisor will reach out to you directly with the testing registration link once spots become available.

It is important to note that we are not mandating the testing for students, faculty, or staff; we are simply providing an expedited manner to get tested if you would like.

There is no copay and health insurers are required to pay for the testing. If you do not have health insurance, the link that will be provided to you will give you resources on how to sign up with the State of Connecticut’s HUSKY program. This will also allow you to get tested without any out of pocket costs.

Re-Opening Campus

As I alluded to in the previous section, we will begin resuming limited on-ground operations within the next few weeks. This will be limited to the administrative staff required to do intake and registration of new and existing students. If you need to visit campus you must call ahead and make an appointment first. This is to ensure the health and safety of all students, faculty and staff.

Looking forward, we will begin rolling out the protocol that was developed by our administration with guidance from the Connecticut Office of Higher Education by the end of the month. This will precede any students or faculty coming back on campus.

Additionally, to answer the question we have been receiving from students and faculty alike, Paier College of Art intends to resume all on-ground instruction in the fall. We will be taking precautions and will provided detailed updates to students and faculty over the course of the summer.

I hope everyone had a pleasant Memorial Day weekend and I look forward to providing you with updates within the next two weeks.

Sincerely,

Joseph M. Bierbaum

5-12-2020

Dear Paier Community,

As we come to the end of our semester I want to provide you with some insight into what the future holds at Paier College of Art throughout the summer, and looking forward to the fall semester. Before doing so, I want to start by thanking each of you for your resilience, cooperation, and understanding throughout the past two months. This has been an extremely trying transition for all of us and it has only been through each person’s sheer force of will that we have been able to make the situation tenable.

Last week the Governor announced opening procedures for colleges and universities in the State of Connecticut, this included a resumption of on-campus coursework for some schools as early as June 1st. With that being said, I do not anticipate resuming on-campus instruction until July, at the earliest, and that will consist of one Color and Design course. We are planning for all students to resume on-ground courses in the fall, as we recognize how especially vital studio experiences are to students, and will implement suggestions from the Governor’s office to ensure that faculty, students, and staff are safe. I will provide updates on any and all safety measures closer to the beginning of the semester.

In regards to this year’s graduation, after researching some inventive options to run our graduation this May, a poll of our graduates showed that the vast majority would prefer the full graduation at a later date. I will look to provide more definition to this timeline as we begin to see how the upcoming weeks of the State’s reopen effect conditions. While we will not have our graduation this month, that does not mean that we can’t celebrate our graduating seniors. Through social media and a virtual art show, we will be able to showcase each one of our graduates and their amazing transformation and growth over the course of their time at Paier College of Art. Additionally, the College will be providing each graduate with a matted and framed diploma to proudly display their achievement.

Finally, in light of the economic impact that this health crisis has had on students and their families, Paier College of Art will begin a program in which Title IV students registered in active courses will receive funds intended to provide additional financial security during this time. Students will need to opt-in to the program at www.paier.edu/carescheck which will become active on May 15, 2020. We expect to release funding evenly to all registered and active students as early as the end of the month. This will consist of those students registered for summer classes and beyond.

Separate from the above mentioned program, we will also be offering funds for students with extraordinary needs. These funds will need to be applied for independently and more information will be available through the link above.

I simply do not have the words to express my appreciation for everyone’s cooperation over the past month. We will all be back on campus soon and I sincerely look forward to walking the halls with all of you. Until that day, be healthy and safe.

Sincerely,

Joseph M. Bierbaum

President

3-25-2020

Dear Paier Community,

Today we will begin moving our classes on to the Blackboard learning platform. I know that this will be met with great trepidation on all sides, but in a few short days we will all begin to amend ourselves to the new “normal”. Your Blackboard logins will be sent to you today and your Student Advisors will call you to answer any questions you may have.

I had the opportunity to speak with Mr. Zappalorti today, who said that he has been working on taping his courses. I say, if Zap is on board, then we can all make it work.

In an effort to ensure that all faculty and student concerns are being addressed in a timely manner, we will be gradually starting courses between Wednesday, March 25, 2020 and Monday, March 30, 2020. On Wednesday students in Effective Speaking and History of Contemporary Art will resume their coursework, this will be followed by all academic courses on Thursday, all courses utilizing the computer labs on Friday, and finally all studio art courses on Monday. These are our current guidelines and may be adjusted as the implementation is underway.

I would like to address some topics that we have regularly received questions about including:

Will seniors be able to graduate?

A big part of moving our courses online was to ensure that all of our students would still remain on track with their education. This includes our seniors, who will be able to graduate upon the successful completion of all of their courses this semester.

At the moment we have not cancelled the actual ceremony, while some colleges have. We are giving the situation in Connecticut time to develop and I cannot guarantee that it will occur as planned, but that is our goal at the moment.

What will happen to the art shows?

We are still developing our plan for both the Senior Show as well as the Spring Art Show. We are considering the possibility of a virtual show, but will look to provide further guidance next week.

How can I get access to Revit, Maya, or the Adobe suite if I don’t have it on my computer?

Your Student Advisor will explain this in further detail but, in short, we will provide each student with remote access to a certain computer in our labs during the time that your class would normally meet. This will allow students to utilize our existing desktops to work on their projects from home.

I will continue to communicate throughout the week to provide more guidance and answers to additional questions we receive. Until then, good luck to all of our students that will begin their first courses tomorrow.

Stay healthy and safe.

Sincerely,

Joseph M. Bierbaum

President

3-23-2020

Dear Paier College of Art Community,

Good evening, I hope this email finds you healthy and safe as the current health crisis has begun to reshape our day-to-day lives. The world is a different place than just one week ago when you left for spring break and the college has had to amend itself to the new realities that we are presented with. Tonight I will provide you with a quick overview of Paier’s efforts to address the situation.

Distance Education

Our Provost, Dr. Cerruto Amorosino, along with Dean DiStiso have been working tirelessly to build out all of the courses in Blackboard over the past week and half. This is a colossal undertaking and they deserve a lot of credit and our gratitude for what they have been able to accomplish in such a short period of time.

At the moment we are targeting Wednesday, March 25, 2020 for students to begin receiving their login credentials for Blackboard. This will be dependent upon how our faculty engagement with the platform goes tomorrow, so please look out for my email tomorrow night as I will provide final guidance on the timing of our implementation.

In the interim, I urge faculty and students to reach out to Dean DiStiso if there are any technological issues that will prevent you from engaging with the online coursework. We will remedy these issues on a case-by-case basis as quickly as possible.

Studio Courses

The college is adapting best practices for pursuing studio courses remotely to ensure the continued development of each student’s artistic skills. Each course will have a different approach depending on the subject matter and many of them will need to evolve over the coming weeks. Please be patient with the process as this will be new to both faculty and students.

If you have not been able to retrieve your current works or equipment from campus, please reach out to Dean DiStiso as soon a possible. We will be setting up individual times for students to come on campus as to reduce face-to-face interactions.

We have received questions from both students and faculty regarding how long it will be before we are all back on campus together. At the moment our only answers are indefinitely or until the end of the semester. I hope that neither of these are the result and that the health crisis abates and all can go back to normal sooner than later, but the college will continue to make our decisions in the best interest of the health and wellbeing of our entire community.

Until tomorrow, stay healthy and safe.

Sincerely,

Joseph M. Bierbaum

President

03-16-2020

Dear Paier Community,

Since my message to you on Friday, I have received a lot of questions. Many regard how Paier College of Art will continue to proceed as an academic institution and an employer, yet others are looking for our opinion on COVID-19 and the local, state, and federal efforts. Today I will take time to address both topics and provide an update to last week’s timeline.

A question that several staff members and myself have gotten is whether we are scared. There is little doubt that this situation is unlike one we have faced before and I can admit that there have been times where the pang of fear has left me feeling underprepared. All that can be done to move forward is to recognize that fear, and focus on what we can control. For every worried thought that we have, there is a way to address it, and that is all we can hope to control. Focus on your preventive measures, educate yourself on the disease, and talk to others about your fears. Once they are out in the open, and you know what elements you can control, you will find much needed areas of refuge and moments of solace.

Educating yourself on the disease can present its challenges, as many articles, social media posts, and news stories seem to provide conflicting information. It is because of this that we have compiled a fact sheet with links to official sources, which is available at www.paier.edu/COVID-19  . We will continue to add to this as more studies provide insight into the situation, so check back often.

 Coursework

From an academic perspective we have begun to pursue the course of action that was outlined on Friday, March 13, 2020. Today we had our first faculty training on the Blackboard platform and look to be on target to begin resuming all courses on March 23rd. As we begin this transition we recognize that some students may lack the basic technology, a cell phone at minimum, to participate in class. I ask you to please reach out to the Dean (CDistiso@paier.edu ) immediately so that he can assist you in addressing this issue.

Staff on Campus

We are beginning to assess the possibility of select staff working remotely. Currently this is being addressed on a case-by-case basis, although Paier College of Art remains prepared to accelerate the transition for staff to work remotely should the Governor’s executive orders require it. In the meantime, our Provost and Dean will be asking for insight from each member of the staff regarding their preparedness to work remotely.

Visitors on Campus

Effective March 18, 2020, Paier College of Art will no longer be allowing prospective students on campus. Efforts to digitize the workflow in both financial aid and admissions are well underway and guidance will be provided directly by the Director of Enrollment and the Director of Financial Aid. This measure is being taken to continue to reduce face-to-face interactions on campus. It is also important to note that all staff and faculty pay checks and stubs will be mailed home each week rather than available for pick up on campus.

Vendors, students, and faculty are asked to call ahead prior to visiting the campus unless they have already been scheduled to be on campus.

I will continue to provide updates all week, so please continue to direct any questions to the Dean, as I will look to answer some of them in each communication.

Thank you all for your patience and continue to be safe.

Sincerely,

Joseph M. Bierbaum

President

Questions About Blackboard

Paier College of Art has entered into a partnership with Goodwin University to use their learning management systems (LMS) for the sole purpose of avoiding academic disruptions that have arisen due to the spread and containment of COVID-19.

Goodwin University will provide Paier College of Art with the hosting of our coursework on Blackboard, assistance in transitioning existing coursework into the online modality, training of personnel and students, as well continuing support on the platform. We retain full academic oversight of the curriculum and faculty. This arrangement is intended to stay in place until the abatement of the current health crisis and the resumption of our regular academic activities.

  1. When am I able to access Blackboard?
    We anticipate that you will commence online classes by March 25, 2020. To access the website, go to goodwin.blackboard.com

  2. How do I gain access to Blackboard?
    Paier College of Art will send your username and password to your email address on file in Paier’s database. If your email or phone information has changed please email Yaina Diaz at ydiaz@paier.edu as soon as possible.  If you have not received this information by 03/23/2020, please reach out to the Institution.

  3. How do I learn how to use Blackboard?
    Once you gain access to Blackboard, a training video is available.

  4. What devices can I use to access Blackboard?
    You can use any web-enabled device including smartphones, tablets and computers. The Blackboard app is located in both the Android and Apple stores. We have contingency plans in place for students who may not have access to web-enabled devices.

  5. What if I do not have internet at home?
    You can access free internet from any of the following:
    *  Comcast: Go to https://www.internetessentials.com/The companies below are offering free Wi-Fi to students for 60 days beginning Monday, 03/16/2020
    *  Spectrum (Charter): Call 1-844-488-8395
    *  Altice USA: Call 1-866-200-9522

  6. Can I use a tablet to complete Blackboard?
    Yes, you can use a tablet to engage in Blackboard. Should you have any difficulty, please reach out to your instructor or Dean.

  7. Everyone does not have computers or access to one. Also, I am not computer savvy and would hate to fail my class due to this mess. Will somebody train us?
    Students will be offered a tutorial via Blackboard. In addition, students will be supported by their faculty member, Dean, and Provost. The learning experience for students will be engaging and will allow ample time for students to complete the required work.

  8. How will we get our assignments?
    All assignments will be clearly posted on Blackboard. Students are encouraged to ask as many questions as needed. Modifications will be made accordingly as long as communication is maintained amongst student-teacher and teacher-student.

If you Have Any Questions Call Us At (475) 256-0845