A Message to Graduate Students

Sent March 3, 2020

Dear Graduate and Professional Students,

We understand that reports on the impact of Coronavirus around the world can be stressful and confusing, and that the response measures taken by the university and others may be disruptive. Please know that your safety and well-being are our top priorities. If you have concerns or need support, please do not hesitate to contact advisors, faculty, staff, our office, or Counseling & Psychological Services (CAPS)

In hopes of addressing questions you may have, I would like to provide you with a few clarifying details as they relate to graduate and professional students.

  1. Graduate classes
    1. March 16-20 – Classes are cancelled
    2. March 23 to April 28 –
      • Small classes may meet face-to-face or online. If held face-to-face, classes must be held in classrooms that allow for the social distancing of 6 feet between students.
      • Large classes >50 students must move online
      • Your instructor should notify you with details on how classes will proceed for the remainder of semester. Also, please inform your instructor if you need an online option for a planned face-to-face course.
  2. If you are ill or required to self-isolate, you may not enter any labs, classrooms, or seminar rooms.  You must stay home and follow the appropriate protocols [see the self-isolate and self-monitor protocols found in the Frequently Asked Questions section on the university web site and on the CDC Care Guide]. Please contact your course instructors if you are self-monitoring, self-isolating, or at higher risk of getting very sick from COVID-19 and need accommodations.
  3. Graduate assistants are expected to return to work on Monday, March 16, and continue to perform their duties, which may be modified if need be. The goal is to maintain continuous employment status for graduate assistants to the fullest extent possible.
  4. Graduate assistants who are self-monitoring, self-isolating, or at higher risk of getting very sick from COVID-19 and need accommodations to continue their employment should notify their supervisor, PI, and department head.
  5. GATs (Graduate Assistant Teaching) and GALs (Graduate Assistant Lecturer): Please consult with your lead instructor/department head regarding how your assigned classes (including laboratory sections) will operate remotely and how you will be expected to provide support/remote instruction.
  6. GARs (Graduate Assistant Research): Research operations will continue. Please consult with your PI/supervisor/coordinator and department administration to determine whether you will continue working in your typical research location or an alternative work location.
  7. GANTs (Graduate Assistant Non-Teaching) and Hourly Student Workers: Please consult your supervisor or report to your regular work location to discuss whether you will continue working in your typical location or an alternative work location.
  8. Preliminary Exams and Final defenses are still allowed. These may be done fully online at the discretion of the student and Advisor. In-person final defenses should be limited in attendance to the committee and research group in order to keep the total number low enough that attendees can have 6-foot social distancing in the venue and attendance <50. Hybrid in-person/remote meetings are an option as well.
  9. In person qualifying/comprehensive exams and research meetings are still allowed, but must be held in a room that allows for the social distancing of 6 ft.
  10. Students conducting clinical activities or student-teaching should consult their respective program leadership for guidance.
  11. As the United States is a COVID-Level 2 country, students, faculty, and staff should follow self-monitoring protocols found in the Frequently Asked Questions section on the university web site and on the CDC Care Guide. The same protocols are now applied to all Level 2 countries, be it traveling to, from, or through them.
  12. Any students, faculty, or staff traveling from CDC Level 3 countries (including most of Europe) must self-isolate for 14 days before returning to campus and report travel on the travel reporting portal. Domestic travel is not required to be entered into the portal at this time. Self-isolation protocols can be found in the FAQ section and are also listed on the CDC Care Guide.
  13. No university travel is permitted domestically or internationally unless approved by leadership as mission-critical or health-critical. The university strongly discourages out-of-state and international personal travel. Only international travel should be recorded on the travel reporting portal. If you were planning to engage in international or domestic research or course-related travel anytime over the next five months, you must follow university policies and should discuss with your instructor, PI, or department head before making any reservations.

 Precautions to Continue to Take:

  • Wash your hands for 20 seconds
  • Use hand sanitizer
  • Avoid shaking hands
  • Disinfect frequently touched objects using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe
  • Stay home when you are sick and avoid close contact with those who are sick
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.


FAQ’s and the university site will continue to be updated.

Additional questions or needs can be routed to the IT Help Desk at (979) 845-8300, where staff will address issues or transfer you to the correct support personnel.

I hope I have been able to provide you with some clarity and reassurance. We appreciate your patience as we adjust to this rapidly-changing situation.

Sincerely,

Karen L. Butler-Purry
Associate Provost for Graduate and Professional Studies
Texas A&M University Office of Graduate and Professional Studies