COVID-19 Information Technology Resources

SPH IT Helpdesk

The SPH IT Helpdesk will be available live online (phone, web conference, remote chat) from

  • 10am – 8:30pm Mondays – Thursdays
  • 10am – 6pm on Fridays

Contact Information

Email remains the best way to get in touch with the Helpdesk. This allows us to prioritize urgent issues, and address time-sensitive concerns quickly. Please remember to include your full name and EMPL ID.

Phone: 646-364-9555
Available during live help hours.

Microsoft Teams:
Use the link for the Helpdesk MS Teams Channel and log in using your CUNYfirst During the hours mentioned above, you will be able to chat with a live tech, and then take the conversation to a phone call / private web conference as needed.

Software/Hardware Resources

Contact the IT Helpdesk if you need assistance obtaining any hardware, or software to take / teach a class, or work remotely. Requests will be fulfilled on a need basis. Students, please remember to cc your instructors / advisors on these requests.


  • Laptop computers
  • Webcams
  • Microphones



  • MS Office Suite
  • Adobe
  • SAS
  • SPSS
  • VPN


Communication and Cloud Storage services for Faculty and Staff

Faculty and Staff have several communications and cloud storage software available to work, collaborate, and teach online. Please contact the IT Helpdesk for assistance.

Communication Platforms

Note that simply attending a web conference doesn’t typically require creating an account. The presenter only needs to share a link.

  URL Login method Available to
Microsoft Teams
Chat platform and collaboration tool

CUNYfirst account


All SPH Faculty, Staff, and Students
Audio / Video conferencing

CUNYfirst account*


All SPH Faculty, and Staff
Audio / Video conferencing Create free accounts yourself
Contact the Helpdesk to be added to the SPH license*
SPH Faculty, and Staff by request
Blackboard &
BB Collaborate
LMS and online learning

CUNYfirst account


SPH Faculty, and Students

* required only to host meetings

Best Practices

  1. Make sure to test your webcam/mic ahead of the conference – the SPH Helpdesk can assist with an online walk-through.
  2. Mute your audio unless speaking, to minimize background noise.
  3. For slow connections, turn off your webcam.


Cloud/Network Storage Platforms

  URL Login method Available to Data Types
SPH-hosted SharePoint

SPH Domain Account


All SPH Facutly, Staff, and Students All, including confidential data
CUNY Dropbox

SPH Email address


All SPH Faculty, and Staff, RF staff by request Public and Sensitive data only
Microsoft Office 365 (faculty and staff)

CUNYfirst account


All SPH Faculty, and Staff, RF staff by request Public and Sensitive data only
Microsoft Office 365 (students)

SPH Email Account


SPH Students Public and Sensitive data only
SPH S:\ Drive Available over SPH VPN

SPH Domain Account


SPH Faculty, Staff, by request All, including confidential data


CUNY’s Data Classification policies

Please contact the SPH IT Helpdesk with questions/concerns.


Blackboard and Zoom resources for teaching/learning online

User guides for Blackboard and Blackboard Collaborate for Students and Faculty

Training videos on using Zoom
Please note, we do not have access to the Webinar feature of Zoom at SPH – this is really only meant for large scale meetings.

Zoom Security Recommendations – best practices for using Zoom securely

Online teaching resources for faculty

For a walk-through/consultation on best practices, please contact our Director for Distance Education, Sergio Costa (

The IT Helpdesk is available live on MS Teams and over the phone during class hours in case you need immediate assistance.

Captioning video lectures

CUNY CATS recommends the use of to automatically transcribe video content. You can create a free account that comes with 600 free minutes per month. You import your videos and wait between 20 minutes to an hour for a transcribed product (depending on the length of the video). Once a video is transcribed, you can click on the transcript and make any necessary edits.

If you will be using live videos instead of recorded videos, Blackboard Collaborate has a live captioning feature. However, this does not automatically transcribe your live lectures. You will need to have an attendee type the captions as you are live (CATS does not have live captioning availability). Click here for more information on live captioning with Blackboard Collaborate.

Another option, if you would like to have your live lectures automatically captioned, is Office 365 which has a built-in live captioning feature if you use PowerPoint. CUNY faculty and staff have access to Office 365; you login with your CUNYfirst username ( and CUNYfirst password on After clicking on PowerPoint, you can start a new presentation or upload a presentation you already have. After it opens, click on slide show, and click on “always use subtitles”. You can choose to have the captions appear below or above the slide, and have your captions translated to another language by choosing a different subtitle language.

Free/Low Cost Services from Internet Service Providers

With an unprecedented number of schools closing and students across the country shifting to digital learning because of COVID-19, Verizon has made digital resources available to schools and teachers across the country.

The Verizon Innovative Learning Schools Connection website has a number of resources including tips to prepare for and implement robust digital learning plans and Verizon’s partner Digital Promise has helpful COVID-19 online learning resources and FAQs.

Knowing many students also rely on schools for more than learning, Verizon is working with nonprofit partners to ensure children from low-income families still have access to healthy meals while their schools are closed.

Altice USA and Charter Communications both announced on March 13, 2020 that they would offer free broadband services to students taking online classes.  Both providers cover different parts of New York City.

Charter announced that it would offer free high-speed Spectrum Internet service and Wi-Fi for 60 days to households with students taking online classes because of the coronavirus outbreak.  Students can call (844) 488-8395 to enroll. Installation fees will be waived for new student households, the company said.  Spectrum said regular pricing will take effect at the end of the 60-day period if a customer doesn’t cancel or change the service.  Click here for more information.

Altice USA said that it would offer Altice Advantage 30 mgbs broadband service for free to college students without Internet service for 60 days.  Eligible students can call 866-200-9522 to enroll.  Click here for more information.

In addition, AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile, Sprint and Comcast have announced additional services during the coronavirus outbreak, such as the removal of data caps and waiver of late fees.  Students should check with their individual carriers for these arrangements.

CUNY Assistive Technology Services

CUNY is continually updating the CATS website with how-to guides, videos, accessibility resources, and other important information with easy and simple installation instructions for CUNY students, faculty, and staff.

A reminder, the following software is available for free at-home use for students:

CATS Assistive Technology Lab Package

  • Kurzweil 3000 and WYNN are reading and writing software programs used primarily by students with learning disabilities.
  • ZoomText Magnifier/Reader is a magnification and reading program tailored for low-vision users.
  • JAWS is a screen reading software program that enables blind or visually impaired users to read the text that is displayed on the computer screen using a speech synthesizer or refreshable braille display.
  • Fusion is a combination of JAWS screen reader and ZoomText Magnifier/Reader primarily used by low vision and blind students.
  • OpenBook is a scanning and reading software program that converts printed documents into accessible digital text.

CUNY Media Accessibility Project (MAP)

MAP has also created how-to guides and training videos on digital accessibility to assist faculty and staff in the transition to online learning. Head over to the MAP Accessibility Resources page for more information on maximizing access. Don’t forget to subscribe to our YouTube channel (CATSCUNY) for training videos on accessibility.