Resources for Maintaining Business Continuity during a Potential COVID-19 Campus Closing: Resources for Administrative Offices

(This post will be updated with more information as it becomes available.)

The College’s critical business functions are managed by systems that staff can access remotely.  With some advance preparation staff will be able to perform their necessary work from offsite when authorized.  This guide is intended to remind staff of the resources that are available to support their work and communication.

Remote Access to Systems – The “Quick Links” drop-down menu on the College’s home page provides up-to-date links to access all our major systems, such as CUNYfirst, Email, HRAssist, PRAssist, ePAF, etc. Using “Quick Links” ensures that the address of a site is the most current.

Email – Baruch College email is the primary means of communication among faculty, staff, and students and will continue to be in case staff must relocate from their usual work areas.

Document Storage – All staff have access to both a CUNY Dropbox and Microsoft Office 365 OneDrive account. These resources are accessed via your CUNY Login. The Dropbox account has no storage limit.  Staff may store documents that do not contain sensitive or confidential information in either of these spaces. Please consult the CUNY policy on Acceptable Use of University Data in the Cloud for definitions and details.   Staff who need to access confidential or sensitive information from a shared drive on the College’s network or from their office desktop computer will need to use VPN to access it (see next item).

Remote access to office desktop computers  There are some cases where a staff member may need remote access to their office desktop computer.  The College’s VPN service must be used in those cases.  No other method of remote access is permitted. Other examples of a need for remote desktop access are:

  • A staff member who needs access to special software that is installed only on the office computer.
  • A staff member who needs to work with confidential information, such as employee or student data, that cannot be stored on Office 365 or Dropbox.
  • Data downloaded from CUNYfirst Reporting, as the reporting instances are currently only available from within the CUNY network.
  • A web content manager who needs to use Contribute to update a department’s web site that has not yet been migrated to WordPress.

Every full-time and part-time employee of the College has access to the College’s VPN service. The user must download the VPN client to the off-campus computer by following the instructions on the web site: https://www.baruch.cuny.edu/bctc/vpn/index.htm VPN is not necessary for staff who only need to access CUNY/Baruch systems (email, CUNYfirst non-reporting, etc.) or want to access/share materials and other non-private information. Note:  Users who need access to data defined as “Confidential” by the CUNY Acceptable Use of University Data in the Cloud policy need to take extra precautions when accessing data via the VPN.  This can include only using data on the office computer via Remote Desktop, and/or encrypting the computer from which the VPN is being accessed.  In either case users must acknowledge their need to access sensitive data and consult with BCTC on the best way for the user to ensure they are taking precautions to keep such data secure.

To get VPN access, open a ticket with the Helpdesk who will then consult on your need and provide instructions to ensure your office desktop is available via Remote Desktop and that you can install the VPN client software on the computer you will be using while off-campus

Teleconferencing – Each division and school has at least one account of the College’s teleconferencing service.  Vice Presidents and School Deans have dedicated account on the College’s teleconferencing service.  Each division and school will decide how to use the account to maintain their internal communication.

Videoconferencing – The College has an enterprise license for Zoom, which staff may access from the “Quick Links” on the College’s home page. In addition, every staff member has access to Microsoft Teams as part of the Office 365 suite, which is also listed under “Quick Links”.   In addition, CUNY has secured access to Cisco WebEx available at https://connectcuny.webex.com/  Access to Zoom is via your Baruch username and password; the last two services are available via CUNY Login

Equipment Loans – Some staff may need to borrow equipment, such as a laptop, to be able to work offsite.  As part of the advance planning for business continuity, Vice Presidents and Deans have identified the equipment needs of staff in the event of relocation.  The equipment will be provisioned and available for pickup from the BCTC help desk by the staff member who will be using it.  While at the help desk the borrower will be asked to test and confirm that the equipment is working as needed as accessing the resources that will be used.

Forwarding Office Telephone Calls – While on campus an employee can forward calls to a home phone or personal cell phone by following the instructions To Call Forward Your Extension.  However, only a BCTC administrator can implement call forwarding from off-campus. If the staff relocation occurs before an employee was able to put the forwarding in place, a request will have to be made to BCTC via Helpdesk@baruch.cuny.edu.  Users can also update their voice mail greeting from off-campus to provide instructions to callers on how to best reach them by following the instructions on the voice mail web page.

Staff Checklist: What to Start Doing in Advance of a Closing

√ Make sure that you can log into all the Baruch systems that you might need—Office 365, Dropbox, CUNYfirst, etc.  Please keep in mind that some of the resources you will need require a CUNY login while others use a Baruch username/password.  Contact BCTC if there is a problem.

√ Find out from your supervisor how your department will communicate with one another as a team. You may choose to do a department wide teleconference.  You may wish to use a video conference.  You may wish to create a departmental group in Microsoft Teams.

√ Update your personal contact information in CUNYfirst through Employee Self-Service as soon as possible.  You also may want to have an internal departmental contact list, containing personal phone numbers and email addresses in the event of disruption of CUNY services.  It may also be useful to share CUNY Login usernames to provide access to Office365, Dropbox, and Webex services.

√ Check your access to technology from off-campus using your personal devices. For example, can you use a personal desktop, laptop and/or mobile device such as a phone or iPad to access our systems remotely? This is a good opportunity to make sure that all your operating systems are up-to-date and compatible with any software you might use. Contact BCTC or your school technology team if there is a problem.  Specifically, if you’ve been configured with VPN access, make sure you can access your office computer before you need it in a critical situation.

√ Practice forwarding your office phone calls to your home phone or personal cell phone and changing your office voice mail message.

√ Understand if your job regularly involves the use of “Confidential” data as defined by CUNY policy, and think about additional steps you would need to take to secure that data in the event you need to access it remotely.

Staff Support during a Campus Closing

The College’s usual support services will not be increased during a campus closing. They will instead face the additional challenges presented by the closing (e.g., working remotely and separately from work colleagues; inability to repair local systems when access to campus is restricted; possible incapacitation due to being sick). It is important for staff to prepare in advance of a closing when support staff will have a greater opportunity to work directly with them.

The following types of support are planned to help ensure that faculty are able to use College resources, circumstances permitting.

  • BCTC Help Desk – In the event of a closing staff should contact BCTC via email using helpdesk@baruch.cuny.edu. Please do not try to phone the help desk, because callers are unlikely to get through due to high volume.  BCTC will be assigning all available staff to provide support in the event of a closing.  Support will be primarily through the Helpdesk ticketing system.

One thought on “Resources for Maintaining Business Continuity during a Potential COVID-19 Campus Closing: Resources for Administrative Offices”

  1. Pingback: My Homepage

Leave a Reply