Syracuse University Coronavirus Update and New Guidance

Chancellor Syverud addressed two concerns that have been repeatedly raised by students, faculty, staff and parents/families in recent days: room and board refunds and Commencement 2020.

Commencement 2020 and school and college convocation ceremonies will not proceed as on-campus events. All residential Maymester and Summer I courses (scheduled for the Syracuse campus and at other University locations) to online delivery. A decision about whether Summer II session will proceed as planned will be made in early May.

Dear Members of the Syracuse University Community:

Today marks the 150-year anniversary of Syracuse University’s founding. Over the course of those 150 years, the University and its students, faculty, staff and alumni have experienced unexpected challenges and hardship on many occasions. As we come together now, in response to the COVID-19 health emergency, it’s easy to be consumed by the overwhelming nature of the difficulties we face—as individuals and as a community. That said, if there is a lesson to be drawn from our storied history—most relevant to our present—it’s that when faced with extraordinary challenges, we are an institution and a community capable of tapping into unexpected strengths.

To that end, most of us have transitioned to remote work and are away from campus. That is not the case, however, for all of us. Still reporting to campus every day are those members of our Syracuse University family deemed essential to the mission of taking care of students who remain in our residence halls. They are providing food, cleaning and sanitizing our buildings, maintaining our facilities, supporting technology infrastructure critical for distance learning and performing other important functions. These individuals are working under difficult circumstances and have responded with extraordinary strength given this unexpected challenge. They are deserving of our recognition and our gratitude.

Now to today’s important updates:

For University Community

Room and Board and Commencement 2020: Yesterday afternoon, Chancellor Syverud addressed two concerns that have been repeatedly raised by students, faculty, staff and parents/families in recent days: room and board refunds and Commencement 2020.

  • Room and Board: As Chancellor Syverud reported, the University will provide prorated refunds for room and board to those students not remaining in University housing. Additional information is being provided to students and families.
  • Commencement 2020: Commencement 2020 and school and college convocation ceremonies will not proceed as on-campus events. The Chancellor is committed to celebrating and recognizing the class of 2020 in a meaningful way. Graduating students will soon receive a survey soliciting input as to alternative approaches to celebrating and recognizing the academic achievement of our graduates.

Summer Sessions: As detailed in an earlier message from University Registrar Siham Doughman, we have made the decision to move all residential Maymester and Summer I courses (scheduled for the Syracuse campus and at other University locations) to online delivery. Specifically, this applies to the following terms:

  • Maymester: May 11-22
  • Maymester Flex: May 11-open
  • Summer I: May 18-June 26
  • Combined Summer Session: May 18-Aug. 7

A decision about whether Summer II session will proceed as planned will be made in early May.

Of course, we encourage all our students to take summer courses when possible. Registration opens in MySlice on March 25. Students can contact their academic advisor or schedule an appointment through Orange SUccess or via email to register for summer courses. Faculty can begin requesting support to redesign their courses for online delivery by sending a request to Please indicate which term your course is scheduled to run.

Status of Traditional Online Programs: All academic programs that have traditionally proceeded as 100 percent online offerings will continue as scheduled. If you are a current student enrolled in an online academic program and have any questions or concerns about participating in online classes due to illness or other reasons, reach out to your instructor, academic advisor or to a student support representative.

For Students and Families

Clarity on Room and Board Credits/Refunds: Students and families who were unable to move belongings out of campus housing by March 22 will not be penalized in any way. Here’s what you need to know:

  • Even if you have not removed your belongings from your residence yet, you are still eligible for a housing and/or meal plan credit/refund.
  • The University will provide other opportunities to its students and families to travel to campus to pack your belongings once federal, state and local health officials have deemed it safe to do so.
  • Regardless of if your belongings have been removed yet, the credit/refund is the same for all students. All refunds will be prorated to March 23, 2020, the date that the University discontinued residential instruction.
  • We understand that you may have additional questions regarding the refund announcement. We are working through your questions and will provide ongoing, additional and specific guidance as required.

Center for Learning and Student Success (CLASS) Services: In recent days, CLASS has transitioned its existing services online to the extent possible. This includes regularly scheduled group tutoring, academic coaching, individual tutoring, and academic integrity case management, including hearings. Details are available on the CLASS website. This website will be updated with additional information as needed. We recognize that the transition to online courses poses new challenges. Feel free to contact CLASS at or 315.443.2005 with questions about additional support options, tutoring or coaching. For questions involving academic integrity, contact or 315.443.5412.

Expanded Pass/Fail Option for Spring Semester: In a message to all undergraduate students on Sunday, Associate Provost for Academic Affairs Chris Johnson announced that in recognition of the stress COVID-19 is causing for students, the pass/fail option would be further expanded for the spring semester. For the spring 2020 semester only, undergraduate students will be permitted to choose the pass/fail grading option for any courses in which they are registered, with the exception of University College online courses. For more information, please read Associate Provost Johnson’s full message.

On Campus Food Options: To support our students remaining on campus, the following food options are currently available:

  • Dining Centers: As of today, Shaw Dining Center, Sadler Dining Center and Goldstein Food Court will be open from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. every day for take-out only. Students on a meal plan will use a meal swipe when they arrive at the dining center. Students not on a meal plan can pay with their SUpercard Food funds or with a credit or debit card. In order to follow public health best practices, Food Services employees may ask you for your SUID number or to scan the GET app on your phone instead of handling your SUID card. Instructions on how to download and manage the GET app are available on the Answers website. These hours are subject to change, as the situation evolves. The Food Services website will have the most up-to-date information about hours and facilities.
  • Supplies and Groceries: The on-campus convenience stores (West Campus Express and South Campus Express) are open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. every day and have groceries and other necessities. Students can use their SUpercard Food or Plus funds to purchase items from these stores.
  • Vending: Campus vending machines are stocked and accept SUpercard Food funds, among other forms of payment.

Free Shuttle Service: Parking and Transit Services is now providing a free shuttle service to Tops and Walgreens for students remaining on campus. This trolley loop will run daily from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m., with the last trip from Tops and Walgreens at 7:24 p.m. Please refer to the Campus Shuttle Schedules for the full schedule.

Students Remaining in On- and Off-Campus Housing: For students staying in on-campus housing and those living in the surrounding off-campus neighborhood, we implore you to practice social distancing measures and good health habits, including avoiding gatherings of any kind, maintaining a distance of six feet from others, washing hands frequently with soap and water and avoiding touching your eyes, nose and mouth. Students must also adhere to all local, state and federal directives. A reminder: As a Syracuse University student residing in and around our campus, we expect that you will not engage in conduct that threatens the health and safety of our community.

For Faculty and Staff

Guidance for Researchers: In a message to faculty, staff and graduate students who conduct research, Interim Vice Chancellor and Provost John Liu and Interim Vice President for Research Ramesh Raina provided guidance about on-campus research activity. To learn more about the guidance and restrictions, please visit the COVID-19 Guidance for Researchers page.

Bandwidth Considerations: As you might have experienced, the online teaching experience depends on an individual’s network bandwidth, which can vary depending on the day of the week or the hour of the day. Internet service providers across the nation are experiencing slower than normal upload and download speeds. With this in mind, experiment with the time of day or day of the week you upload content. You might have better luck early on a Saturday morning or later on a Tuesday night than in the middle of a Monday afternoon.

Ensemble Video Recording—An Alternative to Webconferencing: As previously discussed, webconferencing can pose challenges depending on location, bandwidth constraints and other factors. If you schedule a conference outside of your assigned classroom time, you might introduce scheduling conflicts. If you are looking for an alternative to live webconferencing, ITS Online Learning Services recommends the Ensemble Video Recorder Chrome Extension as an easy way to capture short video clips and screencasts.

Please stay safe and continue to prioritize the health, safety and wellness of yourself and those around you.


Michael Haynie
Vice Chancellor for Strategic Initiatives and Innovation