COVID-19 General Guidance for Graduate Students

Sarah-Jane Leslie, Dean
Class of 1943 Professor of Philosophy

March 9, 2020

Dear Graduate Students,

Earlier today, the University issued new guidance in response to COVID-19 that will impact graduate students in their various roles as learners, teachers, and researchers. In particular, all courses, including graduate courses, must move to an online format beginning the week after spring break and until at least April 5th. I’m writing now to provide you with additional information regarding the next steps we are taking to ensure the health and safety of our community.

The McGraw Center, in consultation with the Office of the Dean of the Graduate School and the Office of the Dean of the College, has developed a website that provides strategies during periods of disruption for courses (including graduate courses), direct instruction, and communications with students conducting research. Faculty have been directed to consult this website, and we want to make sure you are aware of it as well.

Additionally, faculty have been instructed that they should accommodate any graduate students serving as AIs (Assistants in Instruction) who this week may need to begin teaching remotely because of special medical concerns. For graduate students serving as ARs (Assistants in Research), labs are asked to adopt best practices concerning social distancing. The expectation is that research will continue at this time, although lab practices may need to be adjusted. ARs with special medical concerns should be accommodated. The steps the University is taking will not impact your funding. Additional information about research continuity has been sent to all PIs by the Dean for Research and is attached here for your reference. The Dean for Research will be hosting virtual town halls on March 11 and March 12. Information about them can be found in the attachment.

All on-campus events are discouraged at this time, and large events scheduled before April 5th must be canceled or postponed. Where small gatherings continue, members of the University community are asked to practice social distancing.

As necessary, the Office of the Dean of the Graduate School will work closely with staff in departments and programs to accommodate and approve any Ph.D. general exams and Final Public Oral (FPO) exams that may need to be offered by videoconference.

The University is not able to approve or support international travel at this time, and we also currently recommend against domestic travel by air or train. Graduate students who are studying or conducting research in absentia are in most cases best served by remaining in place; if such graduate students must
travel, they should communicate their plans to their department or program and update their Concur registration.

All graduate students are asked to continue to monitor the University’s Emergency Management website dedicated to COVID-19 response and guidelines. University Health Services (UHS) remains open and available to you. We recognize that some students may be experiencing anxiety or stress related to concerns for themselves, family, or friends. Please remember the many campus resources available to support you, including Counseling and Psychological Services (CPS) and the Office of Religious Life chaplains. CPS, like all of UHS, is open and available if you need support; students may call (609) 258- 3141 to arrange an appointment with a counselor or schedule an initial consultation through myUHS. Virtual CPS counseling sessions are being offered as well.

Staff members within the Office of the Dean of the Graduate School are also here to assist you in whatever ways we can, and we encourage you to reach out to relevant staff if we can be of assistance. Please bear in mind that Graduate School staff are also practicing social distancing and seeking to move interactions online where possible, and so we appreciate your patience and flexibility as we work to support you.