Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) About COVID-19

These FAQs are current as of March 25, 2020. Please bookmark this page, as we will provide additional guidance as it becomes available. While these FAQs provide guidance, if you or a family member have been directly affected by the COVID-19, call your health provider.

Campus Facilities and Events | Health Resources | COVID-19 Reporting and FERPA | Travel


Campus Facilities and Events


Q: Is the campus closed?
A: Only already-identified essential staff may come to the campus without an appointment going forward. Visit the office online at lehman.edu for more information.

Q: Is graduation cancelled?
A: As of now, graduation ceremonies are scheduled to take place, however circumstances may change.

Q: Are classes cancelled?
A: No. All CUNY campuses are implementing a comprehensive transition to distance education for the remainder of the semester, which begins March 19. Between Friday, March 27 and Wednesday, April 1, Lehman, as well as most CUNY schools, will e

Q: Is the Financial Aid Office closed?
A: Like all business offices on campus, the financial aid office is available to students remotely. For more information, contact the Financial Aid office at financial.aid@lehman.cuny.edu or call 718-960-8545.

Q: Can I still visit the food pantry?
A:
In an effort to ensure the health and wellbeing of our students, the food pantry will be open Tuesdays and Thursdays, from 12-4 p.m. To schedule an appointment

Q: Are campus events postponed?
A: Yes.

Q: I am a student-athlete. What will happen with the remainder of our season?
A: The City University of New York Athletic Conference (CUNYAC) canceled all spring regular season practices, competitions and championships through the remainder of the 2019-2020 academic year, effective immediately. Again, this is in the interest of everyone’s health and safety during the coronavirus outbreak. To our student-athletes, thank you for representing Lehman on and off the court/field and making your College proud.


Health Resources


Q: Who do I notify on campus if I believe I have COVID-19 and may have exposed other members of the Lehman community?
A: Email covid19.reporting@lehman.cuny.edu. All correspondence will remain confidential.

Q: What should I do if I have developed symptoms consistent with COVID-19?
A: If you develop a fever and symptoms of respiratory illness, such as cough or shortness of breath, you should immediately contact your health care provider. Your health care provider could screen you over the phone, and will work with public health officials to determine if you need to be tested for COVID-19 virus. Students who need help connecting to a health care provider can contact Lehman College Student Health Center at 718-960-8900, can answer questions and make referrals. You can also call 311 to locate the closest city-operated hospital.

Q: What do I do if I feel anxious about the virus?
A: Members of our community may be experiencing heightened levels of anxiety during this time. Any student who feels anxious or worried about friends and family because of the COVID-19 virus should contact the Counseling Center, or Student Affairs at student.questions@lehman.cuny.edu or 718-960-8242.


COVID-19 Reporting and FERPA

The federal Family Education Protection Act (“FERPA”) protects student privacy and personally identifiable information (“PII”) in student records. All educational agencies and institutions, from public schools to postsecondary institutions such as Lehman College, that receive funds under any program administered by the Secretary of Education must comply with FERPA law. 

To ensure appropriate information is disseminated to staff and government agencies during the COVID-19 pandemic, the College has generated FAQs in order to help the College protect student privacy while protecting the community at large.

Q: What Should I Do When I Have Information Related to Students Who May Have Tested Positive for COVID-19?
A:
If you learn that a student may be ill with COVID-19, please reach out to Dean Bazile at Stanley.Bazile@lehman.cuny.edu. If you learn of a faculty member or staff member who is ill or is caring for someone ill with COVID, please contact Lehman’s Office of Human Resources (either Dawn.Ewing-Morgan@lehman.cuny.edu or Eric.Washington@lehman.cuny.edu ). We have also set up a reporting email address, Covid19.Reporting@lehman.cuny.edu.

Do not disclose health information about a student to colleagues or other students in the class. Information you learn about a student’s health may be considered protected under FERPA, the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) which is a law related to the privacy of health records among other things, or both. Disclosure of this information harms not only the student affected but may also harm the Lehman community at large.

Removing a student’s name from communication regarding that student is not enough to “remove PII” from the record, and disclosure may violate FERPA.

One of the exceptions to the rule that student records with PII cannot be disclosed is where there is a health or safety emergency. In such discreet instances, the College may release records that contain PII, but it can only be disseminated to those who have a need to know the information for the health or safety of student/campus.

You may not disclose student information to entities outside College staff, they are not considered staff with a legitimate interest in the information.

Q: I am a faculty member who has tested positive for COVID-19, what information can be relayed to my students?

A: Nothing in FERPA prevents the College from telling students or staff that a specific faculty member or other staff member has COVID-19 because FERPA applies to students’ education records, not records on school officials. Nonetheless, the College will endeavor to keep, to the extent possible, such information confidential.

Q: What is considered Personally Identifiable Information (PII)?

A: The term “PII” refers to a student’s name or identification number, as well as other information that can be used to distinguish or trace an individual’s identity either directly or indirectly through linkages with other information. 34 C.F.R. § 99.3, “Personally identifiable information.”

FERPA prohibits the College from disclosing PII from students’ education record without the prior written consent of a parent or “eligible student,” unless an exception to FERPA’s general consent rule applies. 20 U.S.C. §§ 1232g(b)(1) and (b)(2); 34 C.F.R. §§ 99.30 and 99.31. Simply removing a student’s name does not remove all personally identifying information.

Q: Is there an exception under FERPA if there is a “Health or Safety Emergency”?

A: Under FERPA, the College may disclose a student record if there is an ongoing Health or Safety emergency on campus such as COVID-19.

This exception is limited to the duration of the emergency and generally does not allow for a blanket release of personally identifiable (“PII”) about the student. Typically, law enforcement officials, public health officials, trained medical personnel, parents (including parents of an eligible student), and College personnel who have a need to know the information are the types of appropriate parties to whom PII from education records may be disclosed under this exception. The College performs a case-by-case analysis regarding whether the information should be disclosed, to whom, and how much.

Q: If I remove a student’s name from a record, can I disclose the information I learn from a student to people outside the College?

A: No, under FERPA, simply removing a student’s name from a record is not enough to ensure student privacy.

The test for whether a student record contains PII is whether a college community member could ascertain the identity of the student from viewing the modified record. Ironically, the more notorious an incident or event is, the more information from that must be redacted to ensure that all PII is removed. Information such as major, class/section assignment, dorm assignment, or extracurricular activity participation may, on its own, not be enough to render a record identifiable. If the incident is notorious on campus, then this normally benign data may provide a member of the community with enough information to render the record personally identifiable.

Q: Is the College able to disclose without consent the names, addresses, and phone numbers of absent students or students who reported to contracted COVID-19 to the public health department to assess the students’ illnesses?

A: Yes. FERPA permits the College to non-consensually disclose to the public health department contact information of absent students or students who reportedly contracted COVID-19 in specific circumstances, such as in connection with a health or safety emergency (20 U.S.C. § 1232g(b)(1)(I); 34 C.F.R. §§ 99.31(a)(10) and 99.36). There are some exceptions to this nonconsensual disclosure; for example the College cannot share directory information for all students receiving special education services or other directory information that is linked to non-directory information (e.g., information regarding a students’ illness.)

Therefore, unless a specific FERPA exception applies, educational agencies and institutions should prepare consent forms for parents and eligible students to sign to allow the potential sharing of this type of information if they create, or intend to create, a tracking or monitoring system to identify an outbreak before an emergency is recognized.

Q: If the College learns that a student has tested positive for COVID-19, what information will be disclosed?

A: First, the College will attempt to disseminate information to the College community that does not personally identify the student. This analysis takes into consideration not just a single release of information, but the totality of the circumstances. The College will always aim to release information that, alone or in combination, does not disclose the identity of the ill student.

If the College receives confirmation from a student that they have tested positive for COVID-19, the College will contact those students or staff members who have had direct contact with the student. Direct contact is defined as:

• Sharing a class with a student
• Participating in a laboratory session or,
• Participating in an extracurricular activity such as collegiate or intercollegiate organized sports.

To the best of its ability the College will provide information about the student with those who have had direct contact while balancing the need to provide the community with information and not disclosing the identity of the student.

Q: May the College disclose PII from student education records to outside agencies or groups?

A: No. As explained previously, FERPA only permits nonconsensual disclosures of PII from students’ education records under the health or safety emergency exception to “appropriate parties” (such as public health officials) whose knowledge of the information is necessary to protect the health or safety of students or other individuals. “Appropriate parties” in this context are normally parties who provide specific medical or safety attention, such as public health and law enforcement officials.

Q: I am a faculty member and I suspect that a student in my class is positive for COVID-19, can I tell another faculty member?

A: While the College appreciates that this is a very stressful time for all of us, we must remember to treat each other with respect. We ask that community members limit their discussions regarding students to staff members who have a need to know the information. If you are concerned for a student’s health and wellbeing, please contact the Dean Stanley Bazile, in the Office of Student Affairs, or your Chair and/or Dean.
While you may want to discuss your concerns with other co-workers, FERPA prevents you from discussing the student’s status with other staff members or students. These individuals do not have legitimate interest in the information and therefore disseminating personally identifiable information violates FERPA.

If you have further questions, contact Bridget Barbera, Office of the Special Counsel at bridget.barbera@lehman.cuny.edu


Travel

Q: What do I do if I have to upcoming travel plans, including spring break?
A:The Department of State’s Global Health Advisory (issued March 19, 2020) warns that a shutdown of international travel options is imminent, and that Americans abroad should arrange to immediately return to the U.S., or risk an indefinite stay abroad.  In order to help CUNY students return home before it is too late, CUNY will continue to offer rebooking support to any CUNY student or employee abroad (regardless of citizenship) who is unable to make these arrangements directly with the airline.  Individuals should contact evac-support@cuny.edu with details on their CUNY affiliation (including EMPLID if possible) to receive instructions on accessing this support.

Students returning from abroad should coordinate closely with the Study Abroad Office at studyabroad.programs@lehman.cuny.edu to ensure they receive support to complete the semester whenever possible. Employees returning from abroad should contact their supervisors to make arrangements to work remotely, if this is not already in place.

back to top