COVID-19: Academic and Operational Update for Graduate and Postdoctoral Students

To All Graduate Students, Postdocs, and Faculty,

As you saw in the Chancellor’s message yesterday, UCI is supporting “social distancing,” which is a public health concept to reduce the probability of contact between individuals who are or may be carrying a highly contagious disease. Social distancing – which can be effective with as little as a six-feet gap between individuals – helps to prevent infections.

We encourage people to review the information available at https://ehs.uci.edu/PublicHealth/coronavirus.html regarding campus-wide support for instructional continuity and research activities. The purpose of this message is to detail some recommendations and requirements for graduate students and postdocs specifically.

Some activities can and should be eliminated, curtailed, or modified immediately:

  • As noted in Sunday’s message, we strongly encourage graduate programs to move PhD student visits to virtual formats including web-based information, webinars, as well as synchronous group and one-on-one meetings.
  • We recommend that faculty move advisor meetings and lab group meetings to virtual formats when and where appropriate. Please plan for research continuity in cases in which students and post-docs need access to labs, studios, and other campus equipment. The campus will not be closing, and these activities should still be possible. We encourage you, however, to create plans that allow for appropriate social distancing.
  • As of today, all graduate student and postdoc-focused events with large gatherings will be cancelled, delayed, or moved online. This includes workshops at the Graduate and Postdoctoral Scholar Resource Center. Individual GPSRC and Graduate Division service appointments, such as with writing consultants or academic counselors, will still be held either in person or online as circumstances dictate. Please check the GPSRC website at https://grad.uci.edu/services/gpsrc/index.php or email Karen Friedlander at k.friedlander@uci.edu with any GPSRC related questions. Please email our academic counselors, Phong Luong (pbluong@uci.edu) and Elizabeth Dunn (dunnes@uci.edu), directly for appointments or questions about support.
  • Graduate student organizations are an important part of our campus. We will continue to support them, although we will move their meetings online beginning March 12, 2020 and continuing through Spring quarter. These include, but are not limited to, the AGS Council and Committee Meetings, as well as DECADE Student Council.

It is of course also important to plan ahead for Spring Quarter:

  • All fellowship and admissions reviews can be done virtually, and our staff will be working hard to continue business as usual.
  • Graduate Division is approving a blanket waiver for Spring quarter that will allow ALL graduate program exams to be administered online. This will include comprehensive/qualifying exams, advancement, and dissertation defenses.
  • Graduate Division will accept scanned documents and digital signatures for all forms related to enrolled services and exceptions until further notice. Please email grad@uci.edu with such documents with a copy to the following people as appropriate:

Instructional Continuity is one of the primary goals for all of our students and instructors. Please check the information provided by DTEI athttps://sites.uci.edu/teachanywhere/. Additionally, we provide the following recommendations regarding ASEs and graduate students:

  • Graduate courses will be moved online as appropriate in accordance with overall plans for online teaching and learning:https://sites.uci.edu/teachanywhere/. Graduate independent study should still be supervised by faculty, either remotely or in person as appropriate for the specific scholarly activities.
  • Faculty are to remember that even with a move to an online format, all ASE activities must still abide by the systemwide negotiated union contract. Please see detailed information regarding TA and Reader eligibility, details of the union contract, and academic requirements here:https://grad.uci.edu/funding/employment/teaching-assistantships.php
  • We anticipate that some ASE activities will need to be supplemented with additional resources and that some ASE appointments will need to be adjusted. No ASEs with existing or planned Spring quarter appointments will be reduced or removed based on COVID-19 mitigation efforts. We anticipate the need for additional ASEs beyond current plans to be appointed in both Spring and Summer. As programs move their courses online, faculty and staff are encouraged to work closely with both OVPTL and Graduate Division to ensure appropriate resources are allocated.
  • ASEs with needs for accommodations to support online instruction as well as those who are teaching students with accommodation needs should consult with the Disability Services Center (https://dsc.uci.edu/) to ensure access and inclusion.

We understand that this is an anxious and potentially confusing time for all of our UCI campus community. Let us be clear, however: your funding, support, and employment will continue, regardless of accommodations made for COVID-19 public health considerations. Additionally, we are committed to ensuring that you can complete your degrees on time. Faculty and administrators across campus are committed to being flexible regarding graduate coursework, major program exams, and research.

Please reach out with any needs or questions you may have to grad@uci.edu

Thank you for your patience, caring, and generosity towards each other. Even if you are healthy, we are working together as a community to support those who are most vulnerable. We thank you for working with us on this important effort.

Sincerely,

Gillian Hayes
Vice Provost for Graduate Education and Dean of the Graduate Division
Kleist Professor of Informatics

Carroll Seron
Chair of Graduate Council
Professor Emerita of Criminology, Law, and Society

James Steintrager
Chair of the Academic Senate
Professor of History