COVID-19 Information

Last Revised: August 14, 2020

Below are resources and information pertaining to the Texas A&M graduate community. Stay up-to-date on the latest university-wide news and resources on the Texas A&M Coronavirus page.

Jump To: Academics | EmploymentExtension of Tuition and Fees CoverageTravelWell-beingEmergency Funding and Other Resources | Housing Information | International StudentsForms Processing | Messages to Graduate Students | FAQs | Mask Distribution Details for Graduate Assistants | Grad Student Forum Q&A | Virtual Office Hours

Academics

For fall 2020, Texas A&M University is holding classes in-person, with remote options. See the COVID-19 Guide for Students Returning to Campus here.

For teaching and learning resources, visit Texas A&M’s Keep Teaching and Keep Learning pages.

  • Instruction – At this time, Texas A&M is offering classes three ways. 
    • Face to face which are also synchronously streamed remotely via Zoom from the classroom
    • Remote only (not face to face; instruction generally delivered synchronously during scheduled class time via Zoom although asynchronous activities may be used)
    • Online (not face to face; prepared specifically using principles for online learning; instruction may be delivered either synchronously during scheduled class time or asynchronously).

More than 50% of courses are being offered face-to-face (with a remote option). Classroom capacities have been updated to observe physical distancing guidelines. Enhanced cleaning and safety protocols are in place. See more detailed guidance and information from Provost Fierke here.

  • Face Covering Policy -- To attend a face-to-face class, students must wear a face covering (or a face shield if they have an exemption letter). Additionally, face coverings (cloth face covering, surgical mask, etc.) must be worn by all individuals (faculty, staff, students, and visitors) on campus or at off-campus activities that are sponsored by TAMU or TAMU recognized student organizations in the following areas:
    • indoor public areas, except where marked otherwise, even if you are alone (includes all non-private office or residential spaces such as lobbies, restrooms, classrooms, teaching laboratories, research laboratories, common spaces in residence halls, conference rooms, and break rooms)
    • outdoor spaces where 6 feet of physical distancing is difficult to reliably maintain. This policy will be amended as needed in response to conditions on campus.
  • Research – The Vice President for Research is urging researchers to diligent practice safeguards with respect to COVID-19 safety. Plan for Resuming Research Operations:
    • As much research activity as possible should continue to be carried out remotely.
    • For students who must carry out their research research on campus or in the field, their activities must be carried out under plans approved at the department or college level that include provisions for social distancing, scheduling, PPE, hygeine, and cleaning protocols as specified in the May 7 guidance
    • All student researchers, both graduate and undergraduate, must complete on-line training on safe practices related to COVID-19 through either TrainTraq or Howdy, depending on the nature of their appointment, before beginning or returning to any research activities that are not carried out remotely. Further, if significant training and supervision is required for new students, PIs must submit and receive approval by the unit head of plans that specifically addresses how in-person trainings and laboratory instruction/supervision will be conducted in a manner consistent with social distancing and other COVID-19 safety provisions.
    • Researchers working with living organisms shoult wear the appropriate PPE and observe the appropriate protocols for their research. If activities require multiple personnel to work in close proximity, they should be carried out with the minimum number of personnel feasible and allowable.
    • Clinical activities and research involving human participants must be approved by the Clinical Research, Education, and Service Advisory Committee, per the guidance issued on June 8, 2020. https://vpr.tamu.edu/plans-for-resumption-of-clinical-and-human-participant-research-education-and-service-activities-6-8-2020.
  • COVID testing and reporting -- Free COVID-19 tests are being provided for all students. These are mouth swab tests that do not require assistance. Visit https://tamus.curativeinc.com/welcome for information on how to get a test. If you test positive for COVID, you will be contacted by an SHS medical provider via secure message. The provider will answer any questions or address concerns. Seek emergency medical care immediately if you show any of these signs: trouble breathing, persistent pain or pressure in the chest, new confusion, inability to wake or stay awake, bluish lips or face. Students, faculty, and staff who test positive for COVID-19 or who are experiencing symptoms consistent with COVID-19 are required to self-report through this COVID-19 Report Form
  • COVID-19 Random Testing Program (RTP) - During the fall semester, students will be randomly selected to take part in the COVID-19 Random Testing Program (RTP) and notified to set up their COVID-19 tests. The RTP is a critical part of the Texas A&M campus protection strategies. It is a time-sensitive process, so it is important that you respond by scheduling your test within 48 hours of receiving the email if you are selected. Look for an email with the subject line: Random Testing Program – You are Selected to Test. The RTP will be ongoing throughout the semester, so please watch your inbox for a participation email. For more information, please visit https://www.tamu.edu/coronavirus/messages/important-student-covid-19-testing-program.html
  • Form submission – To reduce person-to-person contact, OGAPS has implemented some changes in the way we process documents. We are now accepting electronic submissions of all forms. See our forms page for details. Please be sure to follow the instructions, as failure to do so could result in processing delays. If you encounter any situation that prohibits you from utilizing the revised processes for securing approvals or submitting documents, please contact OGAPS at ogaps-info@tamu.edu
  • Quick Admit Program -- Effective summer 2020, select Texas A&M graduate and certificate programs are offering expedited graduate admissions for eligible May and August 2020 graduates (graduating seniors). Under the “Quick Admit” program, you can bypass the typical application process, which requires you to pay an application fee and submit extensive applications materials. Instead, the process has been simplified and expedited. There’s no application fee and no GRE requirement. Requirements vary, but many programs are also waiving or reducing requirements for personal statements and letters of recommendation. For more information, including a list of participating departments and certificate programs and their requirements, click here.

Employment – Graduate Assistants and Student Workers

  • Graduate Assistants should follow the same guidelines issued for non-essential personnel. As of July 20th, the University is in "phase 3" of a Return-to-Campus Plan. Consult your supervisors for guidance.
  • GATs (Graduate Assistants Teaching) and GALs (Graduate Assistants Lecturer): The University has taken unprecedented steps to make the delivery of instruction as safe as possible in Fall 2020. Classrooms have been modified, classroom capacities have been adjusted to allow for social distancing, and technology has been upgraded to enable remote synchronous participation.

    To see an example of classroom modification, click here. The Center for Teaching Excellence and the Office of Academic Innovation have conducted sessions this summer to help enhance in-person and remote teaching. Sessions are recorded and available on their websites and YouTube channels. They will continue to provide resources and support for instruction.

    Delivery of instruction will be delivered in three ways. :

    • Face to face which are also synchronously streamed remotely via Zoom from the classroom
    • Remote only (not face to face; instruction generally delivered synchronously during scheduled class time via Zoom although asynchronous activities may be used)
    • Online (not face to face; prepared specifically using principles for online learning; instruction may be delivered either synchronously during scheduled class time or asynchronously).

Please refer to keepteaching.tamu.edu site for additional teaching resources. For the latest guidance from Provost Fierke, click here

  • GARs (Graduate Assistants Research): Texas A&M began allowing approved research to resume on June 1, 2020. PIs must must submit research plans for deparment and college approval, even if just adding new researchers. All graduate student researchers must complete on-line training on safe practices related to COVID-19 through either TrainTraq or Howdy, depending on the nature of their appointment, before beginning or returning to any research activities that are not carried out remotely. Consult your supervisors and the Plan for Resuming Research for guidance.  
  • GANTs (Graduate Assistants Non-Teaching): Like GARs, GANTs or paid graduate student workers should consult their supervisors and the Return-to-Campus Plans for guidance. 
  • Safety Concerns -  If you feel you are being asked to teach, do research, or otherwise work under conditions which do not meet university guidelines, notify your supervisor or department head. If you feel uncomfortable discussing your concerns with someone in your department, contact the Graduate and Professional Studies Ombuds Office. You may also contact the Division of Research if the unsafe activity falls under research.
  • Ombuds - The Ombuds Office provides a safe, non-judgmental space where you can share complaints or concerns confidentially and off the record. We are available to assist graduate and professional students as well as staff, faculty, and administrators:
    • Addressing communication challenges
    • Navigating difficult situations
    • Handling abrasive behavior or unfair treatment
    • Navigating academic red tape or roadblocks
    • Funding issues (e.g., assistantship, etc.)
    • Immigration related issues
    • Other questions and concerns related to graduate education

Email ombuds@tamu.edu to schedule a confidential phone or zoom appointment to explore a range of options or strategies for moving forward.

  • CARES Act - Under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act dated March 27, 2020, individuals who are self-employed, seeking part-time employment, or who otherwise would not qualify for regular Unemployment Compensation (UC) or Extended Benefits (EB.) under state or federal law or Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC) under section 2107 may be eligible for assistance under Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA). Coverage may also include individuals who have exhausted their benefits under regular UC or EB claims under state or federal law, or PEUC.
  • Leave Guidance - Under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, Texas A&M is providing Emergency Paid Sick Leave (EPSL) and Emergency Family and Medical Leave (EFMLA) to all employees, including Graduate Assistants, who are unable to perform their assigned duties due to certain, specified COVID-19-related reasons. Visit https://employees.tamu.edu/covid-19/FFCRA for FAQs, Request Forms, and Workday Job Aid. All leave-related questions concerning the coronavirus, including the use of EPSL or EFMLA, should be emailed to benefits@tamu.edu for TAMU or hschr@tamu.edu for HSC

Extension of Tuition and Fees Coverage for GAT, GAL, and GAR Students Delayed by COVID-19

The University recognizes that COVID-19 has caused profound disruptions for our students. The consequences of these disruption may vary by student, but it is clear that working remotely, as well as restrictions on travel, lab and facility access, and person-to-person contact, has impeded progress to degree for many of you.
 
For Ph.D. students on GAT, GAL, or GAR assistantships, there is University-wide mandate requiring your tuition and fees be covered by your program or alternative sources of funding. The mandate covers you for four or five years, depending on your entry status. See the tuition and fee payment webpage for details.
 
If your mandate period ended in May or August 2020 and COVID-19-related factors have caused a delay in your progress toward your degree, know that the mandate sets minimum coverage. You may request an extension of tuition and fee coverage required by the mandate up to a year to accompany your assistantship. We encourage you to contact your program faculty, graduate director, staff advisor, or graduate student organization for guidance.
 
If your mandated coverage is not expired, but you anticipate needing extra time to degree, know that we are aware expecting requests over the next few years. We are prioritizing requests from students who are in the last year of mandated coverage.

Other Loss of Funding or Unexpected Expenses

If you have lost funding or incurred unexpected expenses for something related to COVID-19, we encourage you to review available University resources. 
 
You can apply for emergency aid through the Financial Aid Office. Financial Aid also offers other types of assistance, including grants for domestic and international students that are awarded based on need. If you are applying due to extenuating circumstances, make sure to include that information in your application.
 
Additionally, OGAPS, colleges, and departments share a joint commitment to find solutions for students whose academic progress has been impeded by COVID-19 or university actions taken in response to the pandemic.
 
Recognizing that we are still in a period of uncertainty, but working to enhance student support moving forward, Colleges and OGAPS agree to:

  • Actively foster flexibility, borne out of a spirit of understanding and compassion for students
  • Examine each student’s situation individually, considering all relevant factors that may have impeded progress to degree
  • Understand that non-academic factors (financial insecurity, travel restrictions, connectivity issues, family pressures, stress) may have impeded progress to degree
  • Communicate with transparency and openness
  • Recognize that impacts of spring 2020 will likely extend into future semesters

Travel

Until further notice, university-sponsored domestic and foreign travel is suspended unless the travel is deemed mission critical. Mission critical domestic and foreign travel requests must be submitted through Concur so the Office of Risk, Ethics and Compliance can conduct an assessment before making a recommendation to the Office of the Provost. Final approval is required prior to departure. See the University's Travel Guidance page for more details. The university strongly discourages out-of-state and international personal travel. Only international travel should be recorded on the travel reporting portal

Grad Student Well-Being

Coronavirus is disrupting our lives by posing a grave risk to our health and safety. It is interrupting research and possibly impeding progress toward degree for graduate and professional students. It is important that we do what we can to both maintain our physical and mental well-being during this time. Follow the latest guidance on the Texas A&M Coronavirus page. 

Face Coverings: As stay-at-home orders are lifted and Texas begins a phased approach to re-opening some businesses, note that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends the use of cloth face coverings in public settings, including in any situation where social distancing measures and other hygiene practices are difficult to maintain (e.g., grocery stores, pharmacies, campus buildings), and especially in areas of significant community-based transmission. As of June 15, face coverings are required on campus


Mental Health: Stay attuned to changes in your mental health. If you are in distress, the following Texas A&M resources are available for graduate and professional students:

You can also visit "Coping during COVID-19" a CAPS resource for information and tips on staying mentally healthy and supporting others during this time of increased isolation. Also, watch "Promoting Mental Health during COVID-19," a webinar by Michelle Robichaux, a professional counselor with TAMU CAPS. 

If you or anyone you know is in an unstable or threatening situation or just needs a wellness check-in, submit a "tell somebody" report through the Offices of the Dean of Student Life.

Physical Health: Staying physically active is good for your body and mind. The CDC recommends visiting parks, trails, and other open outdoor spaces to destress and get some fresh air, following a few simple steps to keep you and others safe. The Rec Center is open (with restrictions) to a limited number of participants. The  

Community Guidelines: Stay up-to-date with the latest guidance from College Station, Bryan, Brazos County, and the State of Texas

Emergency Resources

Financial Information and Assistance

The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act established the Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund (HEERF). This fund provides emergency financial aid grants to be made directly to students to assist with disruptions to education as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. For details regarding who qualifies, how to apply, and current data as of Friday, May 15th, please visit http://financialaid.tamu.edu/COVID.

If you have any questions, please contact Financial Aid at 979-845-3236 or financialaid@tamu.edu.

Other Resources:

Food Resources
12th Can -- The 12th Can is a student-run food pantry built to serve all students, staff, and faculty in need of assistance.

Housing Information

Housing may be a source of stress for you, whether you’re an incoming fall 2020 graduate students wondering about where you might live or an existing renter with questions about your rights or any resources that might be available to you. We’ve compiled a page of information from the Off-Camus Student Services, one of the Offices of the Dean of Student Life, and the Texas A&M Law School to help.

International Students

This period of uncertainty can profoundly disrupt the plans of international graduate students and international prospective graduate students.

  • For information about Texas A&M campus operations, stay up-to-date with the University’s Coronavirus page.
  • For information about research operations, visit the Vice President for Research Coronavirus page.  
  • For updates on travel restrictions, health insurance, immigration status, employment, submitting required documentation, and visas, visit the International Student Services Coronavirus Info page.
  • Texas A&M is still planning on in-person courses for fall 2020. For admissions options for international students who may not be able to travel for fall 2020, including remote learning and deferral options for the first semester, please contact your department.
  • For international applicants and admits, International Student Services will contact students with guidance on visas.
  • Newly admitted international students who will be completing their enrollment as distance education students must complete the Distance Learner Check-In. This includes the following groups of students:      
    • Students who will fully enroll in their academic program from outside of the U.S.
    • Students who will fully enroll in their academic program from inside the U.S. but do not plan to physically attend any on-campus classes.
    • Students who will be Co-Enrolling at Texas A&M University in F or J student status. 
  • At this time, Texas A&M cannot employ students, including Graduate Assistant Teaching (GAT), Research (GAR), Non-Teaching (GANT), and Lecturer (GAL) positions, who are taking classes and/or initiating research from outside the United States. This restriction does not apply to graduate students currently employed and residing in another country on a temporary basis, and for the purpose of conducting research specific to that location.  

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