Graduate students and postdoctoral scholars,
The directives and updates surrounding the coronavirus (COVID-19) have all of us adjusting to new realities. It can be challenging to keep up with – let alone understand and interpret the implications of – the rapidly evolving environment. Today, Yolo and Sacramento counties have issued directives advising residents to shelter in place to slow the spread of COVID-19. As a result, the campus is moving to suspended operations.
I am writing to assure you that Graduate Studies is committed to offering you guidance, support and critical information about graduate education and research during these uncertain times.
We are a community of students and scholars, and I want to emphasize that your immediate priority should be your own health and that of your family. We know the recent news and uncertainty surrounding the coronavirus (COVID-19) may require you to assess current plans for Spring Quarter research and instruction in conjunction with your PIs, advisors, chairs, and instructors of record. As such, we would like to draw your attention to some recent campus guidance that is of particular importance to graduate students and postdoctoral scholars.
- Yesterday, the Office of Research posted a webpage on research continuity and planning for COVID-19 . While the webpage was published yesterday, all guidance remains valid and in effect as of 5:00 pm on March 18, 2020. The guidance is intended to help the campus research community limit the impact and potential risks associated with the growing outbreak of COVID-19. We ask that you review the guidance, particularly the definitions of critical research activities, and discuss continuity or closure plans with your PI or major professor.
- If you are engaged in a research activity that is defined as critical (based on the criteria defined in the guidance from the Office of Research) and must work on-site, please follow the safety guidelines and the protocols described in the Office of Research guidelines. You must coordinate your schedule and working protocols with your PI.
- In addition to the guidance from the Office of Research to ramp down any non-critical on-site research activities, we want to stress that your health, the health of your family, and public health come first. You should not feel pressured to conduct research that makes you uncomfortable. If you are being provided with conflicting information, we ask that you voice your concerns to program directors, thesis committee members, program administrators, or email email@example.com.
- We appreciate that, for some students, stopping on-site, non-critical research activities could be damaging to academic progress. Again, your health, and public health, must come first. Please engage with your Major Professor and/or dissertation committee to establish a plan that gets you back on track when these in-person research activities become possible again.
- I also want to address the matter of Spring Quarter appointments. As the campus responds to changing needs, departments may need to update the Description of Duties for some appointments and make reassignments for graduate student teaching staff. Student employees should communicate with their supervisor and departmental staff to remain aware of the changes to operations, course appointments and instructional delivery methods. Compensation equal to that in the contract is protected for students with employment contracts in place for the 2020 Spring Quarter. For more information, talk to your supervisor or refer to the collective bargaining agreement between the University of California and the United Auto Workers 2865.
- Yesterday, we received a new document from the UC Office of the President, COVID-19-Related Leave for Academic Appointees. In general, paid Administrative Leave is available for all academic appointees, policy-covered and represented (except for academic appointees with non-paid or without salary appointments), and is available as of March 1, 2020. There are some exceptions, however, so it is very important to read this document carefully and discuss options with your supervisor. If you have any questions, please email Tracey Pereida, Academic Personnel Analyst, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Graduate Studies will continue to keep you apprised through campus communications and via our Coronavirus Graduate Education Guidance page. If you need additional information and guidance, do not hesitate to email us at email@example.com with your questions and concerns. Again, thank you for your flexibility, your resilience, and your compassion as we navigate these uncertain times.
Vice Provost and Dean, Graduate Studies