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College Planning and Response

Last Updated: Tuesday, May 19, 2020 

In addition to a college-wide Emergency Response Team (ERT), a special task force of the ERT has been convened and is meeting daily to research, monitor, and recommend ongoing actions/protocols for the Otis community as the 2019 Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) situation evolves.

Task Force members include: 

  • Karen Hill, VP, Human Resources 
  • Laura Kiralla, VP, Campus Life
  • Ankush Mahindra, VP, IT and Operations 
  • Steve McQueen, Captain, Safety and Security
  • Leo Peña, Manager of Budget and Planning
  • Jeffrey Perkins, VP, Communications and Marketing
  • Tony Ruiz, Environmental Health and Safety
  • Kim Russo, Interim Provost 
  • Dr. Julie Spencer, Student Health and Wellness Center

The Task Force has been working with the Senior Team and other working groups across campus to develop proactive measures to keep the community safe, including increased campus-wide sanitation practices to reduce potential infection; additional prevention guidelines posted on campus; and other related protocols around travel. This Response Hub serves as an information clearinghouse for the College’s response to COVID-19.

The College has been examining numerous scenario-based options with an eye toward maintaining the safety and security of our community while sustaining and meeting our educational mission. Taking into account much pointed guidance aimed at institutions of higher learning from multiple national, regional, and local authorities and sources, including the actions/determinations of our regional sister schools, colleges, and universities, conferral is underway to inform institutional decision-making about community concerns and best options, going forward. 

Messages to the Community
  • July 2, 2020 | COVID-19 Notification

    Dear Otis College Community,

    The College was notified yesterday, July 1, that a staff member tested positive for COVID-19. The individual was on campus on June 10 and June 23, and is currently self-isolating off-campus. To respect the privacy of the individual, they will remain anonymous. Other community members who may have been in contact with this person have been informed and have been asked to self-quarantine, consistent with guidelines from the L.A. County Department of Public Health.

    If you were on campus on these days and did not receive a separate notification, please also self-quarantine for 14 days. Any student who was on campus on these days should notify Nick Negrete, Dean of Student Affairs, at nnegrete@otis.eduFaculty and staff should notify Pam Sasuga, Benefits Director, at pasasuga@otis.edu. As always, we will keep the community apprised of appropriate updates.

    Please continue to follow the guidance of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention about COVID-19. You can find more information about managing symptoms and caring for yourself or others at home here and here. If any student is experiencing any symptoms or have questions about their health, please contact the Student Health and Wellness Center at 310-846-5738.

    If you need to return to campus, please follow social distancing protocols and other preventive measures. The campus continues to be cleaned daily.

    We understand this news may heighten anxiety and create concern among members of our community. Staff and faculty, please remember, our Employee Assistance Program through AETNA provides 24/7 help for coping with the unknown, whether it's COVID-19 or any other stressor. You can learn more about the program here. Students, please remember, Student Counseling Services is available and can be contacted at 310-846-5738.

    As our city, country, and the world confront this unprecedented challenge, our top concern continues to be the safety and well-being of the Otis community. Our thoughts go out to anyone who is personally affected and/or caring for a loved one during this time.

    Sincerely,

    Charles Hirschhorn
    President

  • May 19, 2020 | COVID-19 Campus Update and Fall Planning Groups

    Dear Otis College Community,

    I hope this message finds you and your family well. I am writing to share some important updates regarding the College’s continued response to COVID-19 and share some important news related to our preparation for the fall. 

    Updates:

    • While Los Angeles public health guidelines have changed to allow for greater access to recreational spaces and an opening of more businesses for curbside service, faculty and staff will continue to work remotely until further notice, with only a few “required attendance” staff on campus to maintain facilities and essential operations. At this point, our best estimate is that our campus will remain closed through early-August, although we stand ready to reopen sooner, albeit with a reduced physical footprint to allow for social distancing. The return of additional faculty and staff will be determined based on future public health guidance allowing prudent institutional decisions about the phased resumption of on-campus activities.
    • Masks are now required in the city of Los Angeles and therefore on campus. You can read the latest May 15 Otis Community Health announcement here. Health and safety of our community remains a top concern. For employees on campus, social distance guidelines are being followed, along with enhanced cleaning. If you need to come to campus, please remember to wear a mask and use your One Card to access campus buildings.
    • The federal government has made special emergency relief funding available for students through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. Otis College students are strongly encouraged to apply if they have had expenses as a result of the College transitioning from on-campus in-person instruction to remote online learning. You can find out more information and apply if you are eligible at this link. The deadline to apply is May 29.
       

    Planning for the Future:

    There has been much discussion recently about how COVID-19 will affect classes in the fall in Los Angeles and across the country. With news that the California State University system will hold classes primarily online, while a number of regional private institutions are planning to reopen for fall semester, there have been new questions about our plans.

    As communicated in the “Looking Forward” message of May 4th, the College intends to reopen campus in time for the beginning of fall semester for those who can safely return, with a number of changes aimed at the long-term health and safety of the community.

    We already know that this fall semester will require greater flexibility in order for the College to adapt to new public health guidelines. The American College Health Association (ACHA) has developed comprehensive guidance related to the reopening of colleges and universities, stating the one constant that the “road to recovery will be long. We can anticipate restrictions and limitations in activities will be in place for the next 12-18 months, if not longer.”

    With these guidelines leading our way, three important groups at Otis are working on plans to reopen the campus for the fall in line with public health guidance:

    1. The COVID-19 Task Force, convened and facilitated by VP, Human Resources and Development Karen Hill, has moved into helping to plan for the reopening of the College. Working through advice provided by the ACHA, every aspect of the college experience is being considered, starting with the health and safety of our community.
    2. A special Academic Planning Group (APG) has been established by Interim Provost Kim Russo. The APG has eight corresponding task forces focused on academic planning, including: Curricula and curricular support; classroom space/social distancing; technology; labs/shops/open studio space; faculty support and well-being; student curricular support and well-being; international students; and new students. 92 members of the community are being engaged in this process with the goal of presenting by the first week of June a synthesized plan for the fall semester.
    3. The Campus Life COVID-19 Task Force, convened and facilitated by VP of Campus Life Laura Kiralla, has been meeting weekly since March 2020. This task force is finalizing plans and preparations for return to the residential community, ensuring continued support from the Student Health and Wellness Center for all students, remote and in person, and preparing all student support services to welcome back students in Fall. In addition, Career Services is working with departments to increase on-campus job opportunities for students this fall.
       

    Some of the strengths that differentiate Otis from other colleges and universities will help us as we adapt to the new realities, including our small class sizes and deep history of remote and hybrid learning. A guiding goal will be developing a flexible plan that can work for students who can return to campus, as well as those who may need to attend remotely.

    As the APG undertakes the planning for our campus reopening for the fall semester, Frederick Fisher and Partners and Ehrlich Yanai Rhee Chaney Architects are collaborating with the College to undertake a study of our labs, shops, studios, classrooms, technology, food services, Admissions, Student Life Center, and green spaces to help us increase space capacity for social distancing and the safe return of our faculty, staff, and students. Otis Operations will use the recommendations from the architects to develop a sustainable model of education and service facilitation. This model will enhance the student experience on campus, with more opportunities to work in studio spaces, labs, and shops, and use technology resources in computer labs while living and dining on campus. Fred Fisher is a member of Otis’s Board of Trustees and Steven Erlich is a member of the Otis Board of Governors; both are donating their firm’s time on this project to benefit the College.

    In summary, we’re working in myriad ways to create a flexible plan for the fall that reduces our physical proximity while acknowledging the importance of our learning spaces. We will bring to bear unique resources and expertise in forming these plans, and hope to provide through them a model for how higher education for art and design—for many practices and disciplines—can meet this challenge. Remember you can always refer to the COVID-19 Response Hub for FAQs and the latest health updates.

    Best regards,
     
    Randall Lavender
    Interim President

  • May 4, 2020 | Looking Forward

    Dear Otis Community:

    Our spring semester will soon come to a close and we’ll celebrate our graduates this week with our virtual Annual Exhibition and Commencement sites which go live on Friday. So having Zoomed successfully with each other for many weeks, in addition to celebrating our graduates, we now set our sights on the Fall 2020 semester.

    We write today to share again our primary goal for the coming Fall semester: to return to our campus in-person and on time, noting the guidance outlined below.

    Many factors and variables remain, which are part of why it’s been so difficult to predict or proclaim a particular future scenario. Yet these will influence what we’re allowed and are able to do, how we organize our activities, and how we deliver education. Whatever the factors and variables might bring, we are planning to continue providing instruction so students can make progress toward their degrees and pursue their academic goals.

    Fall 2020 Planning

    While safety will always guide our actions, first and foremost, we look forward to welcoming students back to our campus for in-person instruction. We know that the interactions between students and faculty and access to campus facilities are important to our students, and we’ll do everything we can to make the necessary adjustments to restore these. We are preparing contingency plans with appropriate protocols to protect the health and safety of our campus community and we are optimistic about what we can accomplish with prudent precautions in place.

    Some of the complex issues we’re working through in our scenario planning include:

    • For students impacted by travel restrictions or health concerns, we will provide flexible curricular options to the best of our ability to minimize disruptions to the educational experience.
    • We are modeling scenarios responsive to social distancing, sanitization requirements, and other conditions so that our studios, shops, and labs can be again put to use as they were intended to be, including increasing the spaces dedicated to these activities.
    • Should circumstances require, we are considering a broad range of adjustment options, such as the ways in which we convene, the frequency of gatherings, how Liberal Arts and Sciences and studio courses are taught, and utilizing unconventional or underutilized areas to add needed studio space.
    • We also foresee an increase in student employment opportunities such as classroom and teaching assistantships as we monitor and adjust to the new circumstances on campus.
    • We will continue communicating with students and families regularly throughout the summer with updates and clarifications.
       

    Fall 2020 Student Housing

    We are making every effort to accommodate returning students, and currently anticipate opening the Residence Hall and Park West apartments for occupancy in the fall. Residence Life and Housing staff are working on space adjustments to adhere to social distancing and other health and wellness protocols.

    Forward Thinking and Proactive Modeling

    Otis’s Senior Leadership Team is proactively modeling a variety of scenarios that include potential budget reallocations and/or reductions to position the college well, to meet the multifaceted challenges of the coming academic year, and to sustain needed support for our students and the families who support them. We are considering various scenarios and contingencies to ensure that Otis continues to thrive, and can continue responding well to quickly changing conditions. Updates on this work will be shared as available. Later this week, we will announce some interim financial measures that we’ll need to implement to offset known revenue shortfalls due to the global pandemic and the new challenges it brings.

    Our COVID-19 Task Force is now focused wholly on recovery, phasing that may be needed, and, with the Interim Provost, Chairs, Directors, and Faculty, on academic planning. Our Emergency Response, Senior Leadership, and Campus Life/Student Affairs teams are also collaborating with the Task Force, the Provost’s office, and each other on solutions and approaches to important matters such as student support, continuity of operations, instructional modes, residence life, student and employee health and wellness, space accommodations related to social distancing needs, and facilitation of other safety protocols as may be prudent or required.

    We are grateful to our colleagues for managing these critical planning efforts so well during this semester’s sudden shift, especially during such a critical time in our academic calendar. This high quality management and planning is exactly what’s needed so that we can be prepared and equipped to address all eventualities as effectively as possible. Please stay tuned for further updates as these multidimensional plans continue to develop.

    Thank you for caring for one another, working together, and ensuring that we fulfill our mission for and with students. We are honored to serve with each of you, and are hopeful for a bright future.

    Please stay safe and well and help us celebrate our seniors during their special week.

    With appreciation,

    Randy Lavender
    Interim President

    Charles Hirschhorn
    Incoming President

  • April 14, 2020 | COVID-19 Campus Update

    Dear Otis Community,

    I hope this note finds you well. I wanted to share a few campus updates related to COVID-19 since Los Angeles mayor, Eric Garcetti, announced on Friday that the "Safer at Home" order for Los Angeles County has been extended until at least May 15. The College continues to monitor the situation.

    Some further updates include:

    Campus Access: Campus Safety and Security wishes to inform our campus community that beginning tomorrow, Wednesday, April 15, we'll need to use our Otis OneCard to access the campus, including the parking garage and buildings. If your OneCard does not provide your required access, please stop by the Campus Safety and Security Office on the corner of the Anne Cole Building room 170 or call the office at 310 665-6965.

    Face Coverings: Mayor Eric Garcetti also announced late last week an order requiring all city residents to wear a face covering when visiting a majority of essential businesses. Accordingly, employees who must be on the Otis campus must now wear face coverings. Face coverings include a mask, bandanna, or other covering of the nose and mouth. If you are required to be on campus and do not have a face covering, the College will issue you a single-use mask; please stop by Campus Safety and Security office when you arrive on campus to pick one up.

    Pass/No Pass: Otis College has adopted a temporary Pass/No Pass grading option for all BFA and MFA students, effective immediately, for the Spring 2020 semester. The college recognizes this as a very unusual semester and wants to expand students' grading options to help mitigate anxiety about the transition to online learning. For students, Pass/No Pass (P/NP) is a way of taking a class without worrying about how it will affect their cumulative or semester grade point average (GPA). More information can be found in the COVID 19 Response HUB Teaching and Learning FAQs and in the Grading tab of the OTIS|REMOTE Google site for students.

    Financial Services: Our Business Office and Student Financial Services (SFS) staff are all working remotely. The Business Office will run physical checks each Wednesday for A/P, and Payroll will run payroll as planned on the usual pay dates. If the College Mail office is closed, both A/P and Payroll will send checks out via U.S. mail.

    Mail Services: The Otis Mail Room is currently closed until Tuesday, April 21. FedEx/UPS/USPS are holding all mail and packages.

    Please continue to monitor the Otis COVID-19 Response Hub for ongoing updates, and stay safe and well.

    Thank you,

    Randy Lavender
    Interim President

  • April 6, 2020 | COVID-19 Campus Update Including Confirmed Case

    Dear Otis College Community,

    The College was notified on Saturday, April 4, that a staff member tested positive for COVID-19. The individual was on campus during the 3-day period from March 30 - April 1, and is currently self-isolating off-campus. To respect the privacy of the individual and following HIPAA guidelines, they will remain anonymous. Other community members who we have determined were on campus during this period have been informed and have been asked to self-quarantine, consistent with guidelines from the L.A. County Department of Public Health.

    If you were on campus during this period and did not receive separate notification, please also self-quarantine for 14 days. Any student who was on campus from March 30 through April 1 should notify Nick Negrete, Dean of Student Affairs, at nnegrete@otis.edu. Faculty and staff should notify Pam Sasuga, Benefits Director, at pasasuga@otis.edu. As always, we will keep the community apprised of appropriate updates.

    Please continue to follow the guidance of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention about COVID-19. You can find more information about managing symptoms and caring for yourself or others at home here and here.

    Though the campus closed on March 16, if you need to return to campus, please follow social distancing protocols and other preventive measures. Enhanced cleaning continues on campus daily.

    We understand this news may heighten anxiety and create concern among members of our community. Please remember, Student Counseling Services is available and can be contacted at 310-846-5738. For faculty and staff, our Employee Assistance Program through AETNA provides 24/7 help for coping with the unknown, whether it's COVID-19 or any other stressor. You can learn more about the program here

    As our city, country, and world confront this unprecedented challenge, our top concern continues to be the safety and well-being of the Otis community. Our thoughts go out to anyone who is personally affected and/or caring for a loved one during this time.

    Sincerely,

    Randy Lavender
    Interim President

  • March 26, 2020 | COVID-19 Campus Updates

    Dear Otis Community,

    As we prepare for courses to begin online next week, I write to provide some reminders and updates from across the College. First, I want to thank everyone for the spirit of collaboration and flexibility that our community has demonstrated over the past few weeks. People have quickly adapted to the new circumstances and directives from our local, state, and national governments and I know that it hasn't been easy. I'm very happy to report that the Student Emergency Fund has so far raised over $15,000 for students' unanticipated needs related to the COVID-19 pandemic. For any student who is experiencing financial hardship as a result of the campus closure, please use the financial hardship form to submit an appeal for additional aid. 

    Email: We ask that all faculty, staff, and students continue to check their Otis email accounts regularly, and to please remind others to do the same. Otis email is the main way we're communicating updates to the campus community.

    Health Announcements: Dr. Julie Spencer and her team in the Student Health and Wellness Center have been regularly updating the Community Health Announcements page. Please check there for regular health updates, including some important guidelines from James Birks, Counseling Director, on maintaining your emotional well-being during these challenging times. As a further reminder, the Student Health and Wellness Center also is open for students' health care needs. If you would like either a medical or counseling appointment, please call the center first at 310-846-5738 before coming in.

    Teaching and Learning: The Academic Affairs Division is working very hard to prepare for the resumption of courses online beginning Monday, March 30. Two articles have been published on Otis.edu that provide more information about this prep period and what's to come for students next week. You can read the articles here and here.

    Housing Update: The College had 386 students living in college housing this semester. As you know, prevention strategies began to accelerate rapidly at the city and local levels, and the decision was made to close the campus on March 16. We asked residential students to move out of college housing by noon on Friday, March 20, and allowed any who could not move for various reasons to seek extension or alternative solutions via a petition form. Otis also allowed for brief extensions to students who needed more time to relocate. Students who could move out by the deadline and those with short extensions will receive prorated refunds for housing. As a result, 51 students will remain for a time in campus housing, which allows space for possible isolation needs, as well as having all students in apartments with kitchens (though Elaine's continues to provide grab and go food items).

    Internship Recruitment Fair: As many of you know, Otis College has cancelled this year's Intern Recruitment Day, originally scheduled to take place on campus today, March 26th. Intern Recruitment Day is our largest and most exciting recruitment event of the year, in which we regularly host between 80-100 organizations on-campus to interview students from all programs. The decision to cancel was a difficult one, but we're confident that our new efforts in lieu of an on-campus event will propel our students in securing meaningful employment this summer. Fortunately, students were able to sign up for employer interviews two weeks ago via our online career portal. The Office of Career Services will submit all applications on students' behalf to employers that had registered for the event. The employers have agreed to review student applications and schedule interviews directly with the students they wish to meet with, either virtually or by phone. Employers will conduct virtual or phone interviews in lieu of on-campus interviews throughout the month of April. Students have been given a deadline of today, March 26th to upload their updated resumes before Career Services submits their resumes to participating employers. Students should check their Otis email for more information from Career Services. Please know, Otis College continues to be committed to ensuring our students secure internships in preparation for their career success.

    Operations: Please check the Staff Resources page on the COVID-19 Response Hub to access new Hours of Operations for Campus Safety and Security, Facilities, Purchasing, and IT.

    I know these times are challenging, and most unusual. There's a lot of uncertainty. Thank you for staying positive and creative during this time of unprecedented adaptation. Our success in this grand new endeavor will make all the difference in our ability to sustain educational excellence. Please honor the social distancing guidance in effect in our region, or in the region you're in, and stay well. Please continue to reference the COVID-19 Response Hub for updates.

    Sincerely,

    Randy Lavender
    Interim President

  • March 20, 2020 | COVID-19 Update: Student Resources

    Dear Otis College Community,

    In this extraordinary time, we know that everyone in the greater Otis College community is coming to terms with quickly changing circumstances regarding the spread and containment of Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19). As you know, different areas of the college are regularly posting updates on the College’s COVID-19 Response Hub, and the College is making every effort to keep our community healthy, safe, and informed.

    As was shared last night, Mayor Eric Garcetti issued a “Safer at Home” emergency order—ordering all residents of the City of Los Angeles to stay inside their residences, and immediately limit all movement outside of their homes beyond what is absolutely necessary to take care of essential needs. The order is effective for one month, until April 19. You can read the full order here. Governor Newsom has also extended a Stay at Home order for the state of California. 

    I want to take this opportunity to update the community about a number of initiatives currently underway to support our community and our students:

    Student Financial Needs: The Institutional Advancement division, our school-wide fundraising team, has been working with the Finance and Student Affairs divisions to meet the new needs of our students. The College is supporting our students through the following: 

    • continuing student employment income for the semester to ensure that student employees who depend on this income will receive it; 
    • offering student counseling remotely through the Student Health and Wellness Center;
    • prorating room and board refunds for students who were required to move out of campus housing;
    • providing campus housing and resource support for students who are unable to relocate at this time for a variety of reasons;
    • addressing student food insecurity while Rose Hills Café and the Food Pantry are closed;
    • and supporting student technology needs. 

    In addition, the College is launching a new Student Emergency Fund to support immediate student financial needs caused by the COVID-19 outbreak. The Fund was announced yesterday to all external audiences and potential donors with a link to the giving form. Anyone able to and who would like to contribute to the fund can find the giving form here.

    Housing Refunds: As indicated above, due to the campus closure the College is providing financial relief to students who are vacating Otis housing by today, March 20 by prorating applicable housing and meal charges. As communicated to residential students earlier this week, the prorated housing amount will be based on each student’s residence location (Residence Hall vs. Park West) and room type (shared, triple, private, etc.). Students who have petitioned to stay on campus and are being exempted from the mandatory housing move-out have now been notified.

    Student Employment: Students who were employed on campus will be paid through the end of spring semester. The College is aware of all 250+ students who were employed in Spring 2020, and has calculated the average hours each has worked per week, along with their specific hourly wage. It is our intention for each individual student who was employed by the College to receive a paycheck at each pay date through the end of Spring 2020 in order to provide some financial relief during this difficult time. Those students who want to continue to work remotely can talk with their supervisors about the availability of additional work opportunities for additional pay.

    Student Support Services: Student Affairs have created a new page on the COVID-19 Response Hub which provides the hours and contact information for departments which are virtually accessible during the current campus closure. Students who have any questions or need general assistance can email Student Affairs at studentaffairs@otis.edu. They have also created a COVID-19 Resource Guide PDF for students who are seeking additional support services in the community regarding food, housing, clothing, transportation, and more.

    Teaching and Learning: During spring break some incredible work is underway by all academic programs to prepare for online instruction, and more information will be forthcoming about how this will roll out across the college. While the sudden shift to online instruction is unprecedented, much work is being done to ensure that the new virtual format meets our intended course and program learning outcomes. Otis College has already offered online coursework in various programs and therefore our academic team is in a strong position to implement this transition for all courses at this time. Since instruction will continue through the remainder of the semester, albeit by different means, students will receive full Otis College credit for all completed coursework and no tuition refunds will be issued. The College is  working on ways to acknowledge the impact of this change on processes involving studios, labs, and shops for graduating seniors. More information to come.

    Faculty and staff across the College are working hard to ensure the health and well-being of our community while also acknowledging the new financial burdens that this crisis is exposing. Please continue to watch the COVID-19 Response Hub for new updates, FAQs, and Health-related information. These times are unique, and very challenging, yet you are not alone.

    Sincerely,

    Randall Lavender
    Interim President

  • March 19, 2020 | COVID-19 Campus Update: Safer at Home Emergency Order

    Dear Otis College Community, 

    To further combat the spread of COVID-19, tonight, Mayor Eric Garcetti has issued a “Safer at Home” emergency order—ordering all residents of the City of Los Angeles to stay inside their residences, and immediately limit all movement outside of their homes beyond what is absolutely necessary to take care of essential needs. The order is effective at 11:59 p.m. today, Thursday, March 19, 2020 until April 19, except for workers of impacted businesses who have an additional 24 hours. You can read the full order here. Governor Newsom has also extended a Stay at Home order for the state of California. 

    Educational institutions, including public and private K-12 schools, colleges, and universities are exempt from the order for the purposes of facilitating distance learning or performing essential functions provided that social distancing of six-feet per person is maintained to the greatest extent possible.

    The College has already closed its campus as a precautionary measure and residential students are in the process of moving out with a deadline of tomorrow at noon. Students retrieving belongings from campus spaces should prioritize completing those actions by tomorrow at noon if possible. Thank you for your partnership during this challenging time. Additional trips to campus to support the move to online learning will be possible as long as social distancing protocols are followed. 

    Residence Life and Housing is committed to keeping all of our residential students safe and healthy. Even with the recent announcement of the “Safer at Home” order, we are still encouraging all students who can and are able, to go home, since this is the intent of the order. Students who are unable to make it home or need an extension to move out can complete our Continued Housing Request. For students with approval to stay (including extensions), more information will be emailed soon. If you have specific questions, please contact mbrown@otis.edu.

    As a result of this order, staff employees should connect with their manager to get further instruction on remote work. Although educational institution personnel can come to work—for purposes of facilitating distance learning or performing essential functions provided that social distancing of six-feet per person is maintained—to the greatest extent possible, we strongly recommend that staff stay at home. Faculty and staff retrieving computing equipment for remote work and/or online education delivery should do so with social distancing of six feet per person. It is important for your health and safety to think creatively about remote options in partnership with your manager.

    There will be an additional follow up message tomorrow with more information about initiatives that the College is taking to support our students. 

    Please stay safe, and stay six feet apart. 

    Sincerely, 

    Randy Lavender

    Interim President

  • March 17, 2020 | Follow Up Information for the Otis Community regarding Campus Closure

    Dear Otis Community, 

    On behalf of the Senior Leadership Team, I wanted to share a new update on the steps we are taking to keep our entire community healthy and safe. Your well-being is central to our purpose and our top priority as we join the larger art and design community and the world in responding to the current global health challenge. 

    Following yesterday’s COVID-19 Campus Update I want to share some information about follow-up questions that have arisen from within our community. First, the experience of a global pandemic is unprecedented in all of our lives. The new routines and realities we’re facing can produce new stress. While we share our situation with colleges and universities across the country and the world, as an art and design college we’ll also be called upon to find new ways to meet challenges with creativity and caring. Here are some new questions and answers we’d like to share with the community: 

    How long will the campus be closed? We don’t know. As of now, the situation is an evolving one, with no end-date attached. Public health officials state that the next few weeks are critical to containing this public health emergency. Otis’s COVID-19 Task Force meets daily to assess the national, state, and local situation and makes recommendations to the Senior Leadership Team on next steps. We will continue to update the community regularly. If you would like to suggest specific things for the task force to consider, please send an email to communications@otis.edu

    What does a closed campus mean? Online instruction begins March 30th. While the physical campus is now closed, we are conducting a rolling move-out process. There are no restrictions on access to the campus over the next two weeks as students, faculty, and staff need access to their studios and work spaces to collect items. Select essential administrative functions will continue on campus as needed. We are asking Residential students to complete their housing move-out process by Friday, March 20 at noon. Students have until noon on Friday, March 27 to complete the move-out process of their work, materials, and tools from campus studios, labs, and shops.  

    Do all residential students need to move out? All residential students who live on campus or in Park West apartments through an arrangement with Otis need to move out of housing by Friday, March 20 at noon. The College is working on a plan to address housing and dining refunds; details and process information will be forthcoming. Students who cannot leave campus housing may petition for an exception; these will be considered on a case-by-case basis and Residence Life and Housing will provide a response within 24 hours. Residence Life and Housing has posted new FAQ’s on the COVID-19 Response Hub.

    What happens to student healthcare coverage now that the campus is closed? All students, including seniors, who are enrolled in the Student Health Insurance Plan will continue to have healthcare coverage until the enrollment end date of August 14, 2020. The Student Health and Wellness Center will continue to be available for all students. Medically necessary services related to COVID-19 treatment will be covered under this plan according to the normal plan benefits. For example, if a student is admitted to a hospital or similar healthcare facility for a COVID-19-related inpatient stay, these services with an in-network provider would be covered at 80% and subject to the $250 plan-year deductible. Should testing for COVID-19 be deemed medically necessary, it will be covered at no additional cost to students. 

    Can I leave work in my studio? For the foreseeable future, students can leave work and materials in their spaces, though the college is not responsible for items that are left behind. When the campus reopens, further instructions will be provided for future pick-up periods. 

    Does the college provide financial support to students in need? For any student who is experiencing financial hardship as a result of the campus closure, please use the financial hardship form to submit an appeal for additional aid.

    Why were end-of-the-year events cancelled? Due to the original CDC guidance to reduce crowds of 50 or more people—which has since been further reduced—for the next eight weeks,  the Annual Exhibition, Fashion Show and Benefit Dinner, and Commencement were cancelled. These events were not postponed because no timetable exists for this public health crisis. The College is looking with academic leaders and faculty into creative yet impactful ways to celebrate our students and their accomplishments after the culmination of the 2019-2020 academic year. We are also working toward ways to hold a commencement ceremony for our graduating students in the future. As we make decisions for these alternate events, the community will continue to receive  updates through Otis email and the COVID-19 Response Hub. 

    Will graduating students be able to use studios, shops, and labs after the campus reopens? The College would like to return to a full and functioning campus as soon as possible, though it’s currently not possible to know when that can happen. The College hopes to allow graduating students access to our facilities for a period of time after the campus reopens, whenever possible; a full assessment will be made once the campus is reopened concerning capacity and how these hopes can best be realized. More information will be forthcoming through Otis email and the COVID-19 Response Hub. 

    Is the Food Pantry closed? The Food Pantry is currently closed. Any student needing food assistance should contact Erica Javidzad, Director of Student Activities, at ejavidzad@otis.edu.

    Is Elaine’s closed? Elaine’s Dining Commons is still open during the week of spring break (ending Saturday, March 21st). However, the meal plan is not available during spring break. Students can use Dining Dollars, Owl Dollars, cash, debit, or credit to purchase food. Please visit the Elaine’s website to see updated operating hours and menu information. More information about dining beyond spring break will be sent to those students who have been approved to stay in campus housing.

    I’m really stressed out. Is there someone I can talk to? Yes. The Student Health and Wellness Center (SHWC) is available for student counseling appointments, however, it is required that ALL students first CALL the SHWC at 310-846-5738 before coming to the center to seek care. 

    Staff and faculty can get assistance in finding counseling support through the Employee Assistance Program, or by contacting Human Resources. 

    We understand that members of our community are managing a number of challenges in this unprecedented time. We want to assure ALL members of the Otis College community that every effort is being made to consider and address the residential, financial, and food security concerns of all our students. We are all in this together. Thank you for your continued flexibility and patience, and please stay tuned for updates with new information as it becomes available. 

    Sincerely, 

    Randy Lavender, Interim President, and the Senior Team




     

  • March 16, 2020 | COVID-19 Campus Update: Campus Closure (Students)

    Dear Otis College Student, 

    In this most extraordinary time, we know that everyone is coming to terms with quickly changing realities regarding the spread and containment of Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19), and we send our thoughts to everyone whose family is currently feeling the direct effects of the outbreak. We also want to acknowledge the great sense of loss that many are experiencing as expectations for their spring semester at Otis shift in response to campus- and city-wide limitations. The current reality is one that none of us would have asked for. 

    As shared in our COVID-19 Update last week, a key principle of Otis College’s navigation through the current global pandemic is the protection of the health, safety, and wellness of our community members. With these in mind, Otis must respond quickly and responsibly to rapidly changing factors. 

    A number of notable events have taken place since the issuance of ourMarch 12 campus memo. A National State of Emergency was declared. COVID-19 cases in Los Angeles have risen. The City has closed non-essential services and recommended very strict limitations on gatherings. The CDC now recommends against convenings of 50 people or more, as does the State of California and City of Los Angeles. The U.S. President has since announced even stricter limitations against convenings of 10 or more people. Six counties in the Bay Area have been ordered to shelter-in-place.

    Accordingly, Otis College will close today, March 16 at 11:00 p.m., with allowances for move-out plans of various kinds over the next several days. 

    In shifting this way to reduce the in-person presence on campus to every extent possible, we will maintain key functions remotely and help students who live under our auspices in every way possible. Specific new actions include:

    • The previously announced plan of keeping classrooms, individual and group studios, labs, shops, the physical library, and other campus spaces open is cancelled. Academic leadership and faculty will work with students to ensure course and undergraduate and graduate degree completion in online and alternate modes. Students who are local and/or able should remove their belongings, supplies, work(s) in progress, or materials by noon, Friday, March 20th
    • As has been established, all courses will be taught remotely beginning March 30 through the end of the spring semester. Faculty will shift course assignments and expectations accordingly. Department chairs, the Teaching/Learning staff, and the Provost’s office will offer guidance and support. Students who need access to remote technology can email helpdesk@otis.edu or call 310-665-6803. Online library resources for research will remain available through the library website. Library staff, academic advisors, and department staff will be available online, by phone, and via ZOOM to support students. More academic information for faculty, department staff, and students is forthcoming from department chairs and the Provost’s office.
    • Sadly, Annual Exhibition, Industry Night, the Fashion Show, Scholarship Benefit, and Commencement have been cancelled.The College will find alternative ways to celebrate and publicize our students’ accomplishments and work over the coming months.
    • We ask students to remain at home or to return home or to their permanent residences, and we are closing on-campus housing.Residential students should remove their personal belongings from their assigned rooms by noon, Friday, March 20th. Students who cannot return home may petition for an exception; these will be considered on a case-by-case basis. Residence Life and Housing will be sending additional information. 
    • The College is working on a plan to address housing and dining refunds; details and process information will be forthcoming. Your patience is appreciated as full guidelines are developed.
    • Many student support services (Career Services, One Stop, Registration, Student Financial Services) will continue to support students online during this time of campus closure. An information page on the College’s Dashboard will be developed soon that will detail offices, hours of virtual operation, and contact information. 
    • The Student Health and Wellness Center (SHWC) is still available for both medical and counseling appointments. It is required that ALL students CALL before coming to the center to seek medical or psychiatric care. Please call the SHWC at 310-846-5738 with any questions or to make an appointment.
    • All student employees are asked to not return to work on campus. Otis is currently developing a process for student workers to continue to receive student employment wages through this spring semester. Further details will be forthcoming. Please contact the On-Campus Student Employment Office at bpollard@otis.edu  should you have questions.
       

    Campus Services

    • Campus Safety and Security is a 24/7 operation and will remain on-campus to cover all essential services. 
    • The Purchasing & Mail Distribution Center will operate during business hours, from 7:30 a.m.–4:00 p.m., Monday–Friday this week only to allow for student package and mail pickup.  Services will be closed Saturday and Sundays. After this week services will be scaled back based on needs. Students will be able also to use their Smart Box to pick up packages 24/7. Please contact Purchasing at (310) 665-6949 for any additional questions.  

    In addition to updating the COVID-19 Response Hub, we will continue to communicate with the community and with campus constituencies through email in the coming days and will continue finding ways to support one another. 

    Thank you for your understanding, flexibility, and partnership. 

    Sincerely, 

    Randall Lavender, Interim President and the Senior Leadership Team

  • March 16, 2020 | COVID-19 Campus Update: Campus Closure (Faculty and Staff)

    Dear Otis College Community, 

    In this most extraordinary time, we know that everyone is coming to terms with quickly changing realities regarding the spread and containment of Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19), and we send our thoughts to everyone whose family is currently feeling the direct effects of the outbreak. We also want to acknowledge the great sense of loss that many are experiencing as expectations for their spring semester at Otis shift in response to campus- and city-wide limitations. The current reality is one that none of us would have asked for. 

    As shared in our COVID-19 Update last week, a key principle of Otis College’s navigation through the current global pandemic is the protection of the health, safety, and wellness of our community members. With these in mind, Otis must respond quickly and responsibly to rapidly changing factors. 

    A number of notable events have taken place since the issuance of ourMarch 12 campus memo. A National State of Emergency was declared. COVID-19 cases in Los Angeles have risen. The City has closed non-essential services and recommended very strict limitations on gatherings. The CDC now recommends against convenings of 50 people or more, as does the State of California and City of Los Angeles. The U.S. President has since announced even stricter limitations against convenings of 10 or more people. Six counties in the Bay Area have been ordered to shelter-in-place.

    Accordingly, Otis College will close today, March 16 at 11:00 p.m., with allowances for move-out plans of various kinds over the next several days. 

    In shifting this way to reduce the in-person presence on campus to every extent possible, we will maintain key functions remotely and help students who live under our auspices in every way possible. Specific new actions include:

    • The previously announced plan of keeping classrooms, individual and group studios, labs, shops, the physical library, and other campus spaces open is cancelled. Academic leadership and faculty will work with students to ensure course and undergraduate and graduate degree completion in online and alternate modes. Students who are local and/or able should remove their belongings, supplies, work(s) in progress, or materials by noon, Friday, March 20th
    • As has been established, all courses will be taught remotely beginning March 30 through the end of the spring semester. Faculty will shift course assignments and expectations accordingly. Department chairs, the Teaching/Learning staff, and the Provost’s office will offer guidance and support. Students who need access to remote technology can email helpdesk@otis.edu or call 310-665-6803. Online library resources for research will remain available through the library website. Library staff, academic advisors, and department staff will be available online, by phone, and via ZOOM to support students. More academic information for faculty, department staff, and students is forthcoming from department chairs and the Provost’s office.
    • Sadly, Annual Exhibition, Industry Night, the Fashion Show, Scholarship Benefit, and Commencement have been cancelled.The College will find alternative ways to celebrate and publicize our students’ accomplishments and work over the coming months.
       

    Students 

    • We ask students to remain at home or to return home or to their permanent residences, and we are closing on-campus housing.Residential students should remove their personal belongings from their assigned rooms by noon, Friday, March 20th. Students who cannot return home may petition for an exception; these will be considered on a case-by-case basis. Residence Life and Housing will be sending additional information. 
    • The College is working on a plan to address housing and dining refunds; details and process information will be forthcoming. Your patience is appreciated as full guidelines are developed.
    • Many student support services (Career Services, One Stop, Registration, Student Financial Services) will continue to support students online during this time of campus closure. An information page on the College’s Dashboard will be developed soon that will detail offices, hours of virtual operation, and contact information. 
    • The Student Health and Wellness Center (SHWC) is still available for both medical and counseling appointments. It is required that ALL students CALL before coming to the center to seek medical or psychiatric care. Please call the SHWC at 310-846-5738 with any questions or to make an appointment.
    • All student employees are asked to not return to work on campus. Otis is currently developing a process for student workers to continue to receive student employment wages through this spring semester. Further details will be forthcoming. Please contact the On-Campus Student Employment Office at bpollard@otis.edu  should you have questions.
       

    Staff and Faculty 

    • With the closure of campus, most staff jobs will be working remotely. If you need to continue to work on campus, your division leader will be in touch with you directly. Telecommuters will not need to submit telecommuting forms to Human Resources. The parameters for remote working can be found on the COVID-19 Staff Resources page and mirror our current practice. Please connect with your manager regarding how this will work in your department or division. 
    • If you currently use a laptop as your primary office computer, please plan to take it home along with your charging adapter to begin working remotely after Monday, March 16. Confirm that you have FortiClient for VPN access installed to access Otis resources remotely; if you are unsure if you have VPN access email helpdesk@otis.edu to create a Track-IT ticket to verify your services.
    • For individuals with desktop computers, IT will be assigning laptop computers for use from home. If a laptop is not available, IT will plan for you to take home your desktop computer and monitor. In order to access Otis resources from home, email helpdesk@otis.edu to create a ticket to request VPN access. The process to either assign a laptop or arrange for you to take home your desktop computer will be prioritized by IT with all computers ready to go home no later than Friday, March 27th. While you wait for your laptop/desktop assignment you could use your personal computer and/or mobile devices, if available, to respond to webmail and access limited services through the Faculty/Staff Dashboard at my.otis.edu.  
    • With your remote VPN access, you will be able to utilize administrative resources such as Banner, DestinyOne, The Nest, etc. through the Otis Dashboard at my.otis.edu, using your Otis login.
    • The 2020-21 Budget meetings have been postponed. They will be rescheduled after March 30th and will likely use digital means (Zoom, etc.) to accomplish departmental goals. The submissions from each area are still due under the current timeline so that analysis can be completed, as planned.
       

    Campus Services

    • Campus Safety and Security is a 24/7 operation and will remain on-campus to cover all essential services. 
    • The Purchasing & Mail Distribution Center will operate during business hours, from 7:30 a.m.–4:00 p.m., Monday–Friday this week only to allow for student package and mail pickup.  Services will be closed Saturday and Sundays. After this week services will be scaled back based on needs. Students will be able also to use their Smart Box to pick up packages 24/7. Please contact Purchasing at (310) 665-6949 for any additional questions.  
    • The financial needs of the College will continue to be met by the Otis Finance team. Payment to our student employees, faculty/instructors, staff, and vendors will all continue despite the challenges raised by COVID-19. Otis Finance will operate remotely, but you can reach out to the same people you typically contact for help or support. 

    In addition to updating the COVID-19 Response Hub, we will continue to communicate with the community and with campus constituencies through email in the coming days and will continue finding ways to support one another. 

    Thank you for your understanding, flexibility, and partnership. 

    Sincerely, 

    Randall Lavender, Interim President and the Senior Leadership Team

     

     

  • March 12, 2020 | Update on Campus Status re: COVID-19

    Dear Otis College Community,  

    As noted on March 10th with the launch of our COVID-19 Response Hub, we write today to update you on the status of Otis College campus activities, including alternative methods of education delivery, following spring break.

    Public health authorities are encouraging colleges and other institutions to support“social distancing” in an attempt to slow the spread of the 2019 Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19). Colleges and universities are focal points for this effort because many people who travel internationally are on campuses, which also feature many spaces where people are in close proximity.

    Many colleges and universities have decided over the last few days to reduce in-person learning in favor of online instruction to help reduce the risk of infection and spread.

    After review of the plans of our local peer schools and other colleges and universities, rapidly evolving guidance from numerous health and higher education authorities, conferral with our academic leaders, students, faculty, staff, COVID-19 task force, senior leadership team, and board chair, Otis College concurs with the driving principle that privileges the health and safety of everyone on our campus.

    Accordingly, Otis College is taking the following actions. This information only covers the Spring 2020 semester; no decisions regarding Summer 2020 and beyond have yet been made. Please be aware that as we learn more, we may enact additional measures, or revise the below-stated plans:

    Spring Break:  During the Spring Break period (March 14–22) students should follow all recommendations and/or requirements posted on the COVID-19 Resource Huband its linked pages. Please pay special attention to Messages to the Community, Community Health Announcements, and International Travel Guidelines posted there.

    Following Spring Break: The College has determined that the best course of action for all BFA and MFA courses and instruction is to continue instruction viaonline delivery options only until further notice.

    Further, classes will be suspended the week of March 23 through March 29 to allow faculty and students to prepare for online learning following Spring Break and will begin meeting online on Monday, March 30. Faculty and students will receive additional information on how to prepare for online instruction.

    Instructions regarding Extension courses will be sent to currently enrolled Extension students and instructors in a separate message.

    Therefore, following Spring Break and the suspension period, on March 30, classes will not convene in-person, but will continue through online modes through spring semester-end. While we recognize the challenges this shift poses for many on campus, we are also confident in our faculty, our technological resources, and the resourcefulness of our Teaching and Learning Center (TLC) toward providing tips and training in support of temporary online instruction. Faculty will receive additional information in the coming days about making this transition.

    Starting with Spring Break and through this period of online instruction, students who have returned home for Spring Break (March 15th – 22nd) and the week of course suspension (March 23rd -29th) should consider staying home during this time of online instruction through semester-end.

    For residential students (living on-campus or in Park West) who are unable to return home, or who require access to their belongings, broadband connectivity, or Otis shops, labs, and studios, please complete this form so Residence Life and  Housing can assist in providing accommodations.

    During this period, the campus will remain open, including Otis’s Shops, Labs, and Studios, as far as can be known at this time, for student use in completing projects, with social distancing protocols in place. Other College services, including Elaine’s Dining Commons and the Student Health and Wellness Center, will similarly continue through Spring Break and semester-end. Additional guidelines for use of campus spaces will be forthcoming.

    We continue to take proactive steps to safeguard the Otis College Community while simultaneously supporting continuity of business as we navigate alternative methods for operations. While faculty will conduct classes online and remotely, we will rely on staff to maintain daily operations. As Otis continues to monitor guidance from health officials to guide our decisions, we’ve also increased campus-wide sanitation practices to reduce potential infection.

    Staff inquiring about the ability to work from home should meet with their managers regarding options. Working arrangements will be evaluated on a case-by-case basis. Remote working options for (temporary) telecommuting arrangements will be considered for employees whose job duties are conducive to working from home but who do not regularly telecommute. However, there are some positions at Otis that are considered “essential personnel,” requiring an employee to be physically present in the workplace. Frequently Asked Questions for staff will be forthcoming.

    As a reminder, Otis College faculty and staff have access to the Employee Assistance Program (EAP) offered at no cost to help you and your dependents cope with any concerns.  All services are confidential and available 24/7.

    All currently scheduled International and Out-of-State Travel Study courses have been cancelled; further travel study planning is suspended until further notice. Look for updates via Otis Community emails on all travel-related matters, including domestic Travel Study, in addition to new information on the Travel page of theCOVID-19 Resource Hub.

    Public Events All public events scheduled through March 31, 2020 will be cancelled. No new events will be scheduled at this time. This includes all events with external visitors. Campus Events after March 31 will remain under close review for possible postponement or cancellation into early April. With the step of reducing health risks to the campus community by reducing in-person class meetings, some small-scale non-classroom campus events may proceed, while others may be cancelled, as we learn more about the COVID-19 outbreak and guidance from local authorities and our medical advisors. With the exception of the college-wide Annual Exhibition/Fashion Show and Commencement events, event planners are being advised to assess event feasibility in light of this message and announce changes, accordingly. Meanwhile, the College is assessing options for Annual Exhibition and the Fashion Show, and more information will be forthcoming through email and posted on the COVID-19 Resource Hub 

    Quick Reference Guide

    March 14–22

    ·                      Spring Break, please observe travel guidance 

    ·                      Public Events are cancelled.

    ·                      Campus remains open.

    March 23-29

    ·                      Faculty and students prepare for online instruction.

    ·                      Classes are suspended for one week.

    ·                      Public Events are cancelled.

    ·                      Campus remains open.

    After March 30

    ·                      Classes begin online.

    ·                      Public Events will be reviewed

    ·                      Campus remains open.

    We recognize that with such change to normal campus activities many questions will arise, and we will provide additional information through Otis email and the COVID-19 Resource Hub’s Overview, Residence Life, Travel, Teaching and Learning, and other pages. Thank you for your help in navigating this challenging period together.

    As a well-informed campus that is home to students, faculty, and staff from many different countries and backgrounds, we appreciate your goodwill in working through the unique challenges presented by COVID-19. We know that situations such as this can create fear and anxiety, and our best way to address that is through communication, education, and preparation. As always, you play an important role in how we deal with any challenge in our community. Our success will come from remaining vigilant, following our detailed infection control practices, and demonstrating compassion and kindness to everyone on our campus and each other during this time. With your partnership, we will strive with continued commitment to keep our campus safe, deliver our programs and services, and sustain our values of inclusion, respect, and community.

    Thank you very much,

    Randall Lavender, Interim President and the Senior Leadership Team 

  • March 10, 2020 | New COVID-19 Response Hub for Otis College

    Dear Otis College Community,

    As we continue to monitor, take proactive measures against, and plan for contingencies in response to the coronavirus outbreak I’m pleased to announce the launch of a new online response hub. This information site chronicles updates from our COVID-19 Task Force and the Senior Leadership Team, and on subjects such as Community Health Alerts, College Planning and Response, Prevention Reminders and Resources, Residence Life, Teaching and Learning, and Travel. The site also includes responses to related Frequently Asked Questions throughout the site.

    Please visit and bookmark the site at:  https://www.otis.edu/covid-19

    This central web resource will be updated as new information becomes available. We hope that many of your questions will be answered there, and that our research, planning, and communications will help you work with us through the highly unusual situation we face.

    On the immediate planning front, the College is seriously examining numerous scenario-based options with an eye toward maintaining the safety and security of our community while sustaining and meeting our educational mission. Taking into account much pointed guidance aimed at institutions of higher learning from multiple national, regional, and local authorities and sources, including the actions/determinations of our regional sister schools, colleges, and universities, conferral is underway to inform institutional decision-making about community concerns and best options, going forward.

    An announcement about next steps for the spring break period and remainder of spring semester will be made this Friday afternoon, March 13th. The Friday announcement will be conveyed via Otis email, and posted on the COVID-19 microsite.

    As a well-informed campus that is home to students, faculty, and students from many different countries and backgrounds, we will thoughtfully navigate the challenges presented by the coronavirus with continued commitment to keeping our campus safe, delivering to the best of our ability our programs and services, and sustaining our values of inclusion, respect, and community.

    Thank you very much for your understanding and support,

    Randall Lavender
    Interim President

  • March 5, 2020 | Community Health Notice #4 on COVID-19

    Dear Otis College Community, 

    Otis College continues to monitor the evolving COVID-19 coronavirus situation and is working closely with local authorities and our healthcare partners to ensure our community is as informed and well-prepared as possible. Guidance from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to higher education institutions that do not have COVID-19 identified in their community should plan and prepare for the possibility of community-level outbreaks. 

    It is important for all members of the Otis campus community to stay informed of the latest developments regarding the COVID-19 coronavirus and be aware of the steps we are taking and that each of you can take to keep our community healthy and safe.

    The Student Health and Wellness Center (SHWC) has established a new Community Health Announcements page on Otis.edu for information and updates. Please bookmark the page as new information will be posted as available.

    On-Campus Preparedness

    The SHWC continues to stress the importance of taking individual measures to help prevent the spread of germs within our community such as washing hands often and covering one’s mouth and nose when sneezing or coughing. The College has also implemented increased infection control measures such as adding more hand sanitizer stations around campus and increasing cleaning on campus especially of high traffic areas.

    We encourage any students, faculty, or staff member to stay home when you are sick. Do not return to work or classes until you are free of fever for at least 24 hours without fever-reducing medication.

    A special task force of the Emergency Response Team has been convened to research, monitor, and recommend ongoing actions/protocols for the Otis community as the COVID-19 situation evolves.

    Should the College require general campus response that includes the reduction of on-campus activities, a response could include the activation of an Academic Emergency Plan to ensure that classes can continue via online instruction to every extent possible. The Academic Emergency Plan was created by department chairs and faculty last year. Human Resources and Development will work with staff and managers on telecommute options should the campus close for a period of time. Other large-scale College events may be canceled as needed.

    Any notifications based on changes in the College’s operating status will be disseminated via email with the LiveSafe App as a notification back up. If you have not downloaded the LiveSafe app, we strongly suggest that you do so now.

    Travel Advisory Update

    Otis College recommends suspension/cancellation of all planned international travel this Spring Break and semester, if possible.

    At this time, Otis has cancelled the planned Travel Study course scheduled to depart for Paris, France on March 9th, 2020. Travel Study activity planned for later in the spring semester and/or summer session will be closely monitored and the College is prepared to respond if those plans cannot be carried out.

    As spring break approaches, we wish to remind all students, faculty, and staff of the resources available to them if they are planning to travel. Otis travelers are advised to regularly check the CDC Travelers' Health website and the State Department website for the latest information and advice regarding their destination. The CDC has issued a Level 3 travel advisory for China, Iran, South Korea, and Italy, which recommends against non-essential travel there. The CDC also recommends older adults and those with chronic medical conditions consider postponing travel to Japan (Level 2 Travel Health Notice). The U.S. State Department also raised its travel advisory levels for various countries in recent days based on the spread of the virus. This is a rapidly developing situation and advisories will continue to change frequently.

    Traveling to affected areas may also make it difficult to return to the U.S. or result in travelers having to self-quarantine upon their return. Otis College will assist travelers however we can.

    In response to CDC guidelines, Otis College has implemented the following travel guidelines effective immediately and until further notice:

    International Travel Guidelines

    • Any Otis College students, faculty, or staff who have returned or will return to the U.S. from countries with a Level 1, 2, or 3 Travel Health Notice from the CDC are not permitted to return to campus for 14 days. In addition, Students living in on-campus housing—Park West and the Residence Hall—are not allowed to return to their apartment/room until after 14 days of returning to the U.S. 
    • Any Otis College students, faculty, or staff who have returned or will return to the U.S. from international travel from countries that are not deemed Level 1, 2, or 3 by the CDC are requested not to return to Otis College until after 14 days of returning to the U.S. Students living on-campus—Park West and the Residence Hall—are recommended to stay in their apartment/room for 14 days. 
      • Students who are unable to return to campus and/or are staying in their on-campus apartment for 14 days must notify Dr. Nick Negrete, Dean of Student Affairs at nnegrete@otis.edu or call 310-665-6967. Dr. Negrete will work in partnership with Academic Affairs, the Student Health and Wellness Center, and Residence Life and Housing Staff to ensure continuity of student’s coursework and additional support while off-campus.
      • Faculty and staff who are unable to return to work based on the above must notify their direct supervisor who will work in partnership with Human Resources to manage continuity of work. 

    For more information, please visit the following sites: 

    Prevention Reminders

    The best way to stay healthy and protect ourselves and others is to follow the recommended steps to prevent the spread of illness:

    • Stay home when you are sick. Stay home for at least 24 hours after you no longer have a fever or symptoms of a fever without the use of fever-reducing medicines.
    • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol.
    • Cover your coughs and sneezes with a tissue, and then dispose of the tissue and clean your hands immediately. If you do not have a tissue, use your sleeve (not your hands).
    • Limit close contact with people who are sick.
    • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipes.

    The Student Health and Wellness Center is available during the hours of 9:00 a.m. - 4:30 p.m. for all students who may be feeling ill, have questions about COVID-19, or need additional support. If a student feels ill, please call the SHWC at 310.846.5738, before coming into the center, to receive further instructions. The SHWC is located on the first floor of Ahmanson Hall Room 107 and can be contacted at 310-846-5738.  If a student is needing care after hours, please contact Campus Safety and Security at 310-665-6965, who will work in partnership with the SHWC. Faculty and staff should contact their healthcare provider.

    Otis is home to students, faculty, and staff from many different countries and states whose backgrounds and perspectives make our campus one of the most diverse academic communities in the Association of Independent Colleges of Art and Design (AICAD) and in higher education. As we continue to navigate the challenges of the coronavirus outbreak and work to keep our campus safe, we remain committed to our values of inclusion, respect, and community. 

    Sincerely,

    Randy Lavender, Interim President, and the Senior Team

     

  • February 26, 2020 | Community Health Notice #3: Coronavirus Update

    Dear Otis College Community,

    The Student Health and Wellness Center (SHWC) would like to provide a new update to the entire Otis College community on the 2019 novel coronavirus situation, now called COVID-19.

    The virus has continued to spread globally and within the U.S. since my last update with a total of 57 cases as of today, February 26th in the U.S. Out of these 57 cases, 36 cases are from a cruise ship that returned from a trip in Asia. Los Angeles still only has ONE identified case.

    The CDC published a statement yesterday stating that the “potential public health threat posed by COVID-19 is high, globally and to the U.S. …but for the general American public, the immediate health risk from COVID-19 is considered low.”

    The CDC has also issued the following travel guidance related to COVID-19, with the purpose of preventing any further spread of this virus:

    • At this time, the CDC states to avoid all non-essential travel to both China and South Korea (both at Level 3 travel advisory)
    • The CDC has also issued a Level 2 travel advisory to those travelling to Japan, Italy, and Iran. A Level 2 travel advisory states that there is sustained community transmission of COVID-19 in these countries and special precautions should be followed for high-risk travelers.
    • Lastly, a Level 1 travel advisory has been placed for travelers to Hong Kong; meaning usual precautions to prevent illness should be taken.

    We, in the SHWC, continue to stress the importance of taking individual measures to help prevent the spread of germs. Here are everyday actions we can all do to help respond to this emerging public health threat.

    • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
    • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth as much as possible.
    • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
    • Stay home when you are sick.
    • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
    • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.
       

    The SHWC is keeping abreast of the rapidly changing situation and will continue to alert the Otis College community periodically.

    For more information, please visit the following sites:

    Sincerely,

    Dr. Julie Spencer, M.D. M.P.H
    Director/Physician
    Student Health and Wellness Center

  • February 6, 2020 | Community Health Notice #2: Coronavirus Update 

    The Student Health and Wellness Center would like to provide an update to the entire Otis College community on the 2019 novel coronavirus situation. As of 2/5/2020, per the LA County of Department of Health, there has been ONE identified case of the novel coronavirus in Los Angeles County in a non-resident traveler from China. No cases have occurred on campus. 

    Per the CDC and LA County Department of Public Health, any persons who have visited mainland China, since December 1st, 2019 and have current fever or respiratory illness symptoms (cough and difficulty breathing), should seek immediate medical care. Before coming to the SHWC, students who feel ill, should call ahead for further instructions (310-846-5738).  

    The CDC recommends avoiding all non-essential travel to China at this time.

    As always, prevention is the key. Here are everyday actions to help prevent the spread of respiratory viruses, including the coronavirus and the influenza virus:

    • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
    • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth as much as possible.
    • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
    • Stay home when you are sick.
    • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
    • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.

    Additional precautionary measures Otis College’s Department of Operations will take are:

    • All door handles on campus will be cleaned daily.
    • All Purell Hand Sanitizer stations will be checked daily and refilled as needed.
    • Sanitizer wipes to clean keyboards will be provided at all computer labs.
    • Additional Purell Hand Sanitizer Stations, or hand wipes be placed in front of the elevators.
    • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
    • Paper towels will be placed in every restroom on campus. 

    The SHWC is keeping abreast of the rapidly changing situation and will alert the Otis College community periodically.

    As an Otis College community, let us continue to support our students whose friends and families may be impacted by this public health situation.

    For more information, please visit the following sites: 

    Sincerely, 

    Dr. Julie Spencer, M.D. M.P.H
    Director/Physician
    Student Health and Wellness Center

  • January 31, 2020 | Coronavirus and the Otis Community

    Dear Otis College Community,

    As the College continues to follow the news regarding the spread of the Novel Coronavirus, I want to take a moment and share support for all students, faculty, and staff whose family and friends may be impacted by this outbreak. The Student Health and Wellness Center (SHWC) will continue to send Community Health Notices as the situation continues to evolve. No cases have occurred on campus. 

    Students seeking support should contact Student Counseling Services at 310-846-5738 and employees should utilize the Employee Assistance Program (EAP) https://www.otis.edu/sites/default/files/AetnaEAP.pdf

    The College will continue to monitor the situation and communicate as needed to ensure support and care is provided to our community.

    Sincerely,

    Randy Lavender

    Interim President

  • January 24, 2020 | Community Health Notice #1 Regarding Coronavirus Outbreak

    Dear Otis College Community, 

    The Student Health and Wellness Center is closely monitoring the outbreak of a novel (new) coronavirus causing infections in Wuhan City, Hubei Province, China. As this is a rapidly evolving situation and we are situated so closely to LAX, we will continue to monitor and follow any precautions/instructions from the CDC and the Los Angeles Department of Public Health. 

    There have been confirmed cases of this virus in China, Japan, Thailand, and one case in Washington State and one in Chicago, Illinois. However, per the LA Department of Public Health, as of yesterday 1/22/2020, there have been no known cases of the novel coronavirus in Los Angeles County. 

    Per the CDC and LA County Department of Public Health, any persons who have visited Wuhan City, China, since December 1st, 2019 and have current fever or respiratory illness symptoms (cough and difficulty breathing), should seek immediate medical care. I want to emphasize, there is no need to exclude anyone who has traveled to or from Wuhan City, or China in general, unless they are symptomatic.

    As always, prevention is the key to not getting sick. I want to stress the importance of good hand washing, covering your mouth with coughing or sneezing, and seeking medical care if you feel ill. 

    For more information, please visit the following sites: 

    World Health Organization (https://www.who.int/health-topics/coronavirus)

    Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html)

    Los Angeles County Health Department (http://publichealth.lacounty.gov/acd/nCorona2019.htm)

    Sincerely,

    Dr. Julie Spencer, M.D. M.P.H
    Director/Physician
    Student Health and Wellness Center