March 17, 2020

Dear Graduate Students, Graduate Chairs, and Graduate Program Assistants/Secretaries,

Graduate Division extends our words of support to our graduate students, faculty, and staff. In light of President Lassner’s announcement regarding the COVID-19 impact on campus operations at the University of Hawai‘i, you may have many questions about how this will affect your studies, research, and employment as graduate students. While the situation is developing daily and there are many questions yet to address, I wanted to share what we know at this point related to graduate education.

Instruction
Graduate students enrolled in coursework should follow the guidance being given to all UH students and expect alternate delivery of classes to begin on March 23 and continue until Monday, April 13. Your instructors will provide guidance about how to complete your coursework remotely after Spring Break.

Research & Travel
Graduate students conducting research should contact their faculty advisors for guidance. Since campus remains open at this time, most research will continue to take place. However, no new non-essential university-sponsored out-of-state travel may be planned, and most already scheduled travel should be canceled. If you have previously scheduled UH-sponsored travel, contact your supervisor and/or fiscal administrator for guidance on canceling or postponing travel. Graduate students whose research can be conducted remotely can discuss with their faculty advisor/PI to determine if remote work is appropriate during this time.

Graduate Assistants
Currently, campus remains open and your employment continues, as will your stipend payments. Due to the various types of work they do, Graduate Assistants (general), Research Assistants, and Teaching Assistants may each be affected differently. We encourage individuals to start by asking their direct supervisor about how to continue to carry out work responsibilities. For TAs, this may mean using Laulima, or other methods of online instruction and communication.

President Lassner directed those teaching courses to the UH Online Innovation Center (UHOIC) which created the Teaching During an Emergency website to assist during this transition. This website includes a Teaching During an Emergency Checklist for Faculty. For those requiring additional support and guidance, UHOIC will be providing webinar sessions that will be recorded throughout spring break. Drop-in virtual office hours will also be available Monday through Friday, between 8 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. from now through April 12. Visit the website for additional details. RAs may continue to report to work on campus unless/until told to do otherwise. Some RAs may be encouraged to work from home, either on planned work or alternative projects.

Be sure to communicate with your supervisor and/or instructor if you’re not feeling well. There should be internal procedures/guidelines for GAs/RAs/TAs in covering their work when sick or unable to perform their work.

Students who do not have access to their own computers may use those available in campus libraries and computer labs. UHOIC and UH Information Technology Services will work with campus offices and others to ensure support for our students and faculty with particular needs.

Forms
We encourage all forms to be submitted via File Drop to Graduate Student Services (https://www.hawaii.edu/filedrop/). For students, these forms can be emailed to gradss@hawaii.edu. For faculty and staff, please file drop directly to your specific graduate student services liaison.

Housing
Student housing will remain open.

Thesis/Dissertation Defenses
Given the COVID-19 evolving situation, remote participation of the graduate student and all members of their committee is strongly encouraged. Since we need to know who will be participating remotely, whether one or more people, the graduate chair should submit a memo to graduate student services via email notifying us who will be participating remotely. Please ensure that everyone will be able to see/hear the defense. Since a physical gathering is to be avoided, ensure that the link to the virtual defense is publicly available.

If you develop symptoms
If you develop symptoms, stay at home. Please do not come to work, class, or the lab if you are ill. If you develop symptoms like fever, cough, or difficulty breathing, you are advised to contact your health care provider for advice. Faculty and academic advisors should not compel sick students or employees to show up for or remain at work. Be sure to communicate with your course instructor if you’re not feeling well.

Communication
Please check your email regularly for continued updates and guidance as more information becomes available. Campus updates will also be posted at the UH System COVID-19 and UH Manoa COVID-19 web pages. If you have any questions, please email: covid19@hawaii.edu.  You may also contact graduate division at graddiv@hawaii.edu.

Please take good care of yourself and each other during these challenging times. Be well, and practice good hygiene and social distancing.

I wish you all the very best.

Krystyna S. Aune
Dean, Graduate Division

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