(COVID-19): Campus Health Updates
9/4/2020 - Daily COVID-19 Graduate Division Update
Dear Graduate Students and Post-Docs,
It is a holiday weekend here in the US, for which I am incredibly grateful as it is going to be ridiculously hot, and the idea of doing Zoom calls in this heat is just too much for me. I hope you will take some time off to rest and recharge at the tail end of a long and difficult summer. Monday’s holiday is Labor Day, which is meant to commemorate those workers who lift up the rest of us. The irony of Labor Day in some ways is that it has become a holiday for those of us with office or lab jobs and a work day for many others. I encourage you to take the day off, because I have no doubt you are all burnt out and need it. I also encourage you to think about those essential workers, including the staff at UCI, who will be working on all our behalf on Monday. As Martin Luther King Jr told us, “No work is insignificant. All labor that uplifts humanity has dignity and importance and should be undertaken with painstaking excellence.”
Now, on to this week’s message, which I am going to try to make more bulleted thanks to a great suggestion from a student!
Reminders on Waived Fees - Parking and Housing
Hopefully if you are reading this email it means you read other emails that come from campus. However, just in case you missed it:
- Parking is free until January!
- Housing is waiving late fees until January!
How does parking work?
- Units like parking and housing are considered “auxiliary,” which is a fancy way of saying, doesn’t get money from the state to run, and in fact cannot take money from the state to run.
- It's really expensive to build a parking deck or housing unit. So, we often finance those efforts through bonds.
Why would you ever charge for parking?
- Right now, parking’s primary expenses are servicing debt and paying salaries. Given there are some legal problems with defaulting on debt and we don’t want to lay people off, we had to do some negotiations to get things covered.
- Parking has worked a LOT to make this happen. I know I know, no one on any university campus ever really likes the parking office. It’s a bit like liking the DMV. However, I’ve been privy to some of the work those staff were doing, and I just want to say thank you to them. They really did move mountains to get to the place where parking can remain free through the end of the year while also getting shuttles back up and running and more.
COVID Symptom Checking App
What if I can’t answer?
- If you are not going to do your symptom checker for a while, perhaps because you are going away, you have a holiday, or for whatever reason, please tell your department manager, often referred to as an MSO for postdocs and students in departments.
- If you are in a gateway program or otherwise not in a department, please tell the program director.
- You will still get an email on that day, but there will be no consequence for you ignoring it, and the MSOs know to just keep your email letting them know you would be unavailable.
What if I am getting two emails?
- Some of you are getting one as a staff member and one as a student, but in the app you seem to get this only once.
- I am trying to chase this down with the implementation team.
- In the meantime, if you use the email version, you only need to respond once and can ignore the second email.
- Very sorry for the email clutter. I know the last thing you need or want is another email right now.
By now you should have gotten a message from Student Affairs alerting you to mandatory testing next week and then starting on a weekly basis in October.
- If you are living on campus or coming to campus for any reason, and you are a student, undergrad or grad, this is mandatory. There will be walk through testing pop-ups in lots of places, and they are spinning up two more labs on campus to process all of the samples in addition to the one in Orange.
- The goal is for this to be very quick and very easy. Other campuses have succeeded in it, so we have a lot of confidence we will as well.
- No decisions have been made regarding the asymptomatic testing of faculty, staff, postdocs, family members living in on-campus housing, or others yet.
- If you are in the mandatory test group and will not be available during your testing window, please let the MSO know just as in the symptom checking email case.
Lawn Care in Grad and Family Housing
As you likely already know, the landscapers have switched to predominantly electric machinery for the landscaping with the hopes that this would cut down on the noise. We are still getting complaints from time to time, however. So, housing is going to start sending out a schedule of landscaping crews. I know this isn’t ideal, but hopefully it can give you some ability to at least plan around them.
One significant change to the Fall programs is that we have recorded our NSF Information session, as well as a session focused on the NSF Writing & Review process. Those recordings can be accessed below:
Additionally, as always, students and post-docs can also make one-on-one appointments for fellowship advising with Dr. Kayleigh Anderson. These appointments will be managed through Campus Groups and can be made using the following thislink. Of course, you can continue to email Kayleigh directly with questions too: firstname.lastname@example.org
Graduate Enrolled Form Payment Links
As a reminder, Graduate Division has switched to electronic filing of most of your forms. Each school and program have slightly different routings, so if you have any trouble with these forms, please check with your local students affairs office. Additionally, as a reminder, we have waived the fees associated with these processes for the Summer 2020 deadlines.
- Filing Fee petition: https://secure.touchnet.net/C21570_ustores/web/store_main.jsp?STOREID=320&SINGLESTORE=true
- Ph.D. Advancement to Candidacy Fee: https://secure.touchnet.net/C21570_ustores/web/store_main.jsp?STOREID=319&SINGLESTORE=true
- Master’s Thesis Submission Fee: https://secure.touchnet.net/C21570_ustores/web/store_main.jsp?STOREID=310&SINGLESTORE=true
- Readmission Petition Fee for Graduate Students: https://secure.touchnet.net/C21570_ustores/web/store_main.jsp?STOREID=307&SINGLESTORE=true
Childcare Reimbursement for Graduate Students
In recognition of the childcare issues faced by many graduate student employees during the unprecedented circumstances surrounding the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic, we now have permission from UCOP to provide childcare reimbursements that adhere to the minimum requirements of the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) as to who qualifies as a “childcare provider” for purposes of reimbursement.
For Fall term 2020, graduate student employees and those on fellowship will be permitted to seek reimbursement for childcare provided by a friend or relative living in the same household as the graduate student as long as they are not:
- A person for whom the grad student (or the grad student’s spouse if filing jointly) can claim as a dependent;
- The grad student’s child who was under age 19 at the end of the year, even if the child isn't the grad student’s dependent;
- A person who was the grad student’s spouse any time during the year; or
- The parent of the grad student’s qualifying person if the qualifying person is the grad student’s child and under age 13
As required by the IRS regulations, for purposes of reimbursement, all childcare providers who are individuals must have a valid taxpayer identification number or social security number. If the care provider is an organization, the organization must have a valid employer identification number.
Summer session 2020 appointments do not qualify for this exception.
International Center Updates
International Center published online the letter to assist with international students traveling to the US for classes for fall quarter in case people need it, find it here:
As always, please check their website for any other updates:https://ic.uci.edu/resource-pages/immigration-policy-updates.php
And now for some sad news: Zara Syed is retiring. As the Associate Director for the International Center, she has been a tireless advocate for our students and scholars. She has also been on the phone with me late at night and on the weekends figuring out how to address the many crises that our international students have experienced this year. I will miss her, but I am happy to say she is working just as hard right up to the end. If you had direct interactions with her and want to reach out to wish her a happy retirement, I am sure she would appreciate it.
Voting:For those who are eligible to vote, we certainly encourage you all to do so. If you have not yet registered, please do so here:https://registertovote.ca.gov
Instruction on Election Day:Please note that VP Teaching & Learning, Michael Dennin, and I have urged faculty to ensure students have time to vote on November 3rd as well as to consider the mental health of our students leading up to and after election day as many are likely to have strong feelings no matter the results. For those of you who are serving as TAs, we would ask the same of you. Remember, our students, even those not eligible to vote, may be coping with a lot that first week in November. Please be generous with them.
Working the Polls:If you really want to give back and learn about voting in person, you can also become a poll worker:https://ocvote.com/about/careers/join
Upcoming Town halls
Grad Division is now doing monthly town halls with different topics and special guests each month.
September 11th | 3 pm - 4 pm PT - International Students and Postdocs
- Registration link
Gillian Hayes – Dean of Graduate Division
Ruth Quinnan – Senior Director of Admissions & Academic Affairs
Gabriella Pham – International Student Support Officer
Anna Wimberly – Director of International Center
Timothy Trevan – Executive Director of Student Housing
- October 10th | 3 pm - 4 pm PT - Wellness and Success
Upcoming Office Hours
https://uci.zoom.us/j/7277477057, all office hours are half an hour
- Tuesday Sept 8: 5PM
- Wednesday Sept 9: 1PM
- Thursday Sept 10: 5:30 PM
- Friday Sept 11: 5PM
- Monday Sept 14: 12PM
- Tuesday Sept 15: 5:30PM
- Wednesday Sept 16: 1:30PM - Staff member, not me
- Thursday Sept 17: 5:30PM
- Friday Sept 18: 5PM, special apples and honey edition
I have seen in my research group, across campus, and in my own body, the effects that the constant stress of this year has had. We are coming up on the end of summer quarter. For some of you that means you are “returning” from internships. For some, you are graduating. For others, you may be returning your kids to school. And for yet others, you may be berating yourself for not getting enough done this summer or celebrating all you did accomplish. Wherever you sit on that spectrum, make sure you are caring for yourself. Put your own oxygen mask on first, take a break if you are burnt out, and find a way to cope with what you need. The campus--including everyone from your individual faculty advisors and PIs to your departments and schools to us here in the central campus world--continues to look for ways to support you as the impacts of 2020 change and are better understood. As we roll into the fall, remember that we are all in this together, and together we will rise.
On behalf of all of Graduate Division,
Kleist Professor of Informatics
Vice Provost for Graduate Education
Dean of the Graduate Division