(COVID-19): Campus Health Updates
(COVID-19): Campus Health Updates
3/17/2020 - Daily COVID-19 Graduate Division Update
UCI had been monitoring the various information and guidelines being made available regarding the COVID-19 virus. Although Graduate Division services remain available virtually, we will close our physical doors beginning TODAY (Tuesday, March 17th). We hope to reopen again on Monday, April 6th for normally scheduled hours. We will inform you if this changes.
In the meantime, please contact us via email at email@example.com and we will be sure to answer your questions and address your concerns.
The GPSRC will also physically be closed beginning tomorrow and hopefully will reopen on Monday, April 6th. Writing appointments will be available via Zoom. You can register through AppointmentPlus and we will reach out to you with Zoom meeting information prior to your appointment. You can also contact Karen Friedlander at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
“Graduate Student Mini Virtual Appointments” are also still available from the Division of Career Pathways. Visit uci.joinhandshake.com to sign up for a 15 minute timeslot. If you are a Postdoctoral Scholar and are looking for career advising please contact Kayleigh Anderson-Natale at email@example.com.
We are still here committed to serving you during your educational journey.
A Message From Dean Hayes
To all Graduate Students and Post-Doctoral Scholars,
This is a time of immense stress, anxiety, and uncertainty. Please know that we are here for you and will do everything we can to minimize disruption to your academic progress, even while we all collectively as a community work to respond to the first true global pandemic of most of our lifetimes.
I apologize for the length of this email and hope you will read it in full. This email answers some of the things we have been asked most.
Our focus in Graduate Division right now is:
- Maximum Flexibility.
- Minimum Disruption.
- Maximum Risk Reduction.
We have gotten many questions over the last few days, and I expect many more. Things are changing rapidly, and we are all doing our best to adapt to the latest guidance as it comes out. I highly recommend reading this article that lays out the science of the need to act quickly: https://medium.com/@tomaspueyo/coronavirus-act-today-or-people-will-die-f4d3d9cd99ca
Worst-Case Estimates for U.S. Coronavirus Deaths (behind a paywall)
We have also created a page on Grad Division with our latest updates: https://www.grad.uci.edu/services/CampusHealthUpdates.php that also links to the campus-wide updates at https://uci.edu/coronavirus/
Perhaps one of the biggest points of concern for our graduate students right now is whether they need to leave campus housing. The public health risk of graduate student housing is much lower than undergraduate (no shared bedrooms, fewer people sharing kitchen and bathroom areas, fewer common areas).
For many of you, graduate student and staff housing are your homes. You are encouraged to stay or leave as you prefer (in consultation with your faculty advisors and supervisors). If you leave and do not want to continue paying rent, you will need to terminate your lease and move out by your lease termination date. As noted in the message from Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs, Willie Banks, if you do plan to leave prior to the termination of your current lease, you will need to make this decision no later than Wednesday March 18 at 5PM. To submit your Housing plans for the rest of the academic year, go the Housing Gateway, https://my.housing.uci.edu/gateway and click on the link for “Spring Quarter 2020 – Housing Plans”
You do not have to move out by March 18, only decide if you will terminate your lease. You can choose any termination date after March 18 using the link above. Billing will stop on the day you return your keys and have everything out of the unit following that date.
If you currently have a housing guarantee, it will be intact when you return. Student Housing will do its best to provide you an assignment consistent with your current unit type (i.e. studio, one, two or three bedroom) and move-in date closest to your return. You should make the choice you believe will best allow you to maximize risk reduction.
The March 18 decision deadline is firm due to federal financial aid deadlines. If you are a financial aid recipient and decide to leave campus, federal law requires the university to recalculate your financial aid award. GSR appointments, TA/Reader positions, and most fellowships are not affected by changes to financial aid calculations. However, loans as well as some need-based fellowships may be affected. Your loan eligibility may increase or decrease depending on the budget calculation and where you choose to live. If you think this applies to you, we strongly recommend you consult with financial aid before terminating your lease:
- General: firstname.lastname@example.org; 949-824-8262
- Law: email@example.com; 949-824-8080
- Business: firstname.lastname@example.org; 949-824-7967 or email@example.com; 949-824-5728
- Medicine: firstname.lastname@example.org; 949-824-6476
Your Scholarly Activities
All graduate courses for Spring quarter (remainder of Spring semester for Law) will be held using remote teaching methods. The faculty remain in full control of the curriculum and are encouraged to redesign their teaching methods as appropriate given the emergency nature of these changes.
Please note that in many units, the decision is being made that grad courses that can reasonably be taught in the Fall term or that can skip a year without unreasonably disrupting student progress are being cancelled. That decision is a local one, but it is one that we encourage if such a cancellation can improve the ultimate quality of that course offering, reduce the load on faculty and teaching assistants and readers supporting other courses, or otherwise makes sense. Additionally, should courses need to be cancelled, exceptions for course substitutions, including appropriate independent study, may be approved during this time. If you need a course to graduate in Spring that is not being offered, please work with your grad program director and school student affairs officers to get the right exception processed. We will not let Coronavirus stand between you and graduation!
We are aware of the particular impact on junior scholars faced from disruptions to their fieldwork, potentially failed experiments, delays in completion of deadlines now that they are caring for children at home, navigating a distance-based world, and so on. For now, we have asked faculty to think carefully about what work you can continue to do while engaging in appropriate social distancing. Please contact us (email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org for students; email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org for postdocs) if you need any help in navigating these tough discussions.
Major graduate exams (e.g., advancements, qualifiers, defenses) may all be held virtually through Spring quarter. The forms required for these exams may all be delivered digitally.
AGS is temporarily suspending all travel grant awards. Those of you who already have them will keep them. We recommend attempting to cancel travel and request refunds so that you can use these funds in the future. However, if you cannot get your charges refunded, you may still use the travel funds you have already been granted to pay these costs.
Finally, for those of you who work in health: Thank you for your efforts. We expect additional challenges during this time related to clinical work. The College of Health Sciences is working hard to keep you as safe as possible, while ensuring that our patients are cared for, your scholarly work is completed, and more. You are entering a set of professions to which all the world is forever indebted. Thank you.
Your employment in Spring will NOT be reduced in response to COVID-19 planning.
GSRs are asked to work with their PIs to ensure maximum social distancing is taking place, given the work you do. Please try to work from home when you can, spread out in labs and offices, and minimize close contact as much as possible during your employment activities. Start with making a plan with your PI. If that doesn’t work out or you do not feel comfortable having those conversations, please reach out to your department chair, DECADE mentor, grad program advisor, or Graduate Division to help you.
As you know, teaching assistants and readers are under contract to work only a set number of hours depending on the percentage of appointment. As we move to emergency distance learning, many faculty simply don’t know how much time particular tasks may take or how much undergraduates may be reaching out to you. Please keep your instructor informed of your work schedule in the event that they need to step in and do additional work themselves or request additional resources from their department. Central administration is meanwhile working to allocate supplementary resources for the schools.
With the move to emergency distance learning happening now, please note that the Division of Teaching Excellence and Innovation (DTEI) is here to support you in your teaching duties. To that end, we encourage you to check out the Teach Anywhere webpage and the DTEI Teaching Accessibility Cheat Sheet.
In addition, DTEI will have a series of Zoom Open Office Hours over the next couple of weeks to answer your questions about remote instruction. More information, including the Zoom link, can be found on the DTEI calendar found on their Workshops page. Here is the schedule for the Zoom Open Office Hours:
- Wednesday, March 18th from noon-1pm
- Thursday, March 19th, from noon-1pm
- Friday, March 20th, from 10:30am-11:30am
- Monday, March 23rd, from noon-1pm
- Tuesday, March 24th, from noon-1pm
- Wednesday, Match 25th, from 10:30am-11:30am.
In these virtual office hours, DTEI will address questions you have about tips for facilitating effective remote instruction. They can also answer questions about the functionality of Zoom and how you can leverage Zoom for online instruction.
In addition, they will continue holding workshops virtually. More information on that soon!
As always, you can also contact DTEI for teaching support:
Matthew Mahavongtrakul, Ph.D
Postdoctoral Scholar, Division of Teaching Excellence and Innovation
Danny Mann, PhD
Director, Graduate Student and Postdoctoral Scholar Instructional Development
These are trying times, and while we certainly would always like to provide everyone with everything they need to complete their work—including the ability to predict what the future may bring—we may not always succeed. We ask only that you come together in the spirit of community, along with the rest of us who are all working as best we can to minimize the disruption of this crisis.
Globally, stress, anxiety, and worry are high. In addition to Coronavirus, we still have a housing crisis, potential revocation of DACA, travel bans, and more to contend with. Now, more than ever, is the time to care for one another and to remember the inclusive and supportive culture we have all worked so hard to build for so long together. Please remember that UCI has no tolerance for bullying or discrimination. We will offer virtual support centrally through activities organized by our academic counselors and the Graduate and Postdoctoral Scholar Resource Center. We understand that many schools are doing the same. We encourage you to take a break during Spring Break and get some rest. We strongly encourage you NOT to do any non-essential travel during the break. Should you choose to leave campus, please be prepared not to return, given the dynamic nature of travel restrictions and quarantine requirements.
We also recommend:
- Have zoom dates with friends. This can be a good time to totally decompress or to chat with people about your research. You can even have remote writing hangouts, and we will host some of these through the GPSRC.
- Get outside! Although we do not recommend touching playgrounds, park benches, and so on without a good scrub, going outside for a walk, run, or just to sit in the open air for a few minutes can make a big difference. Please look out for and help your friends with chronic illnesses and/or disabilities. Just getting out might not be as simple for everyone.
- Create structure for yourself so you can feel productive and engaged in your work while at home. Divide your work into tasks that take at most 90 minutes, rather than a full day labeled “write dissertation.”
- Brainstorm best practices with your friends and share them online through Google docs, Slack, or whatever else you want to try.
- For those of you caring for kids, parents, or partners during this time, don’t be alone, even if you are physically isolated. Have a virtual date via video call. Check in with an online support group.
There is no playbook for what we are all experiencing. We will get it wrong sometimes. Hopefully, we get it right a lot more than wrong. Above all else, please know we are here for you. We want you to be healthy, safe, and successful. And we are ever so grateful to have such a wonderful, generous, and kind community working together to save lives.
On behalf of all of graduate division,
Kleist Professor of Informatics
Vice Provost for Graduate Education
Dean of the Graduate Division