The following messages are archived communications related to the COVID-19 crisis that have been sent by the Office of Graduate Studies to KU's gradaute student community.
June 25, 2020, Graduate education updates for Fall semester
(The following message was sent to graduate students on the Lawrence and Edwards campuses as well as graduate students in online programs)
Dear Graduate Students,
The start of Fall semester is more than eight weeks away, though we are already planning on how to return to on-campus research, teaching, and learning in a manner that ensures the safety of our community. Before getting into the specifics of this transition, which are outlined in greater detail below, I want to acknowledge that all of you are likely grappling with significant world events—the continued spread of COVID-19; unjust acts of anti-Black racism and violence; ongoing financial concerns; and general anxiety about the seismic shifts underway in our country, our communities, and KU. These issues do not have easy solutions, and we understand the emotional toll these events are likely having on many individuals. We maintain a Wellness Guide on the graduate studies website; for resources related to mental and/or physical health, please visit this page. We also maintain a COVID-19 resource hub specific to the graduate student community. If you don’t find the resources you need on our website, please contact us at email@example.com with any questions or concerns.
Fall Academic Calendar
KU has now established the Fall Calendar for the coming academic year, as well as a tentative Spring Calendar. Fall semester will begin as originally scheduled on August 24, 2020. Classes will be in session continuously (meaning classes will be held on Labor Day, September 7, and there will be no Fall Break). The last day of on-campus classes will be Tuesday, November 24. November 25-27 is Thanksgiving Break, and November 30-December 4 will be Reading Days. During these days no classes will occur, allowing students to study for exams and complete projects. Final Exams will occur online December 7-11.
The Office of Graduate Studies suspended in-person attendance requirements for graduate milestone exams (e.g., thesis and dissertation defenses) during the Spring and Summer 2020 semesters. Today, we are announcing an extension of this temporary policy adjustment: you and all of your committee members may participate remotely in milestone exams conducted through the end of the Fall 2020 semester. As long as campus is open (starting Fall 2020) exams can be conducted as Zoom-only, a mixture of Zoom and in-person, or all in-person when all committee members agree. In cases where you prefer for all committee members to be physically present, your preference shall be honored. However, this preference may require rescheduling and therefore delay your progress to degree if all members of the committee are unable to participate in-person.
All participants in an exam involving remote participation must be fully aware of what is transpiring and fully able to participate in all components of the discussion with you and each other. Any material presented during the examinations, orally or in writing, must be seen and heard by all participants. Oral examinations that do not meet these participation requirements are not valid. Your milestone outcome will not be influenced by any proceedings that take place without the full engagement of all participants. If a committee member has not arrived, the exam may not begin; if a committee member leaves, the exam may not proceed.
On June 18, the Provost issued a temporary policy for individuals returning to campus:
When present on campus, all faculty, staff, students, affiliates, visitors, vendors, and volunteers must wear a face covering (cloth face covering, surgical mask, etc.) over one’s mouth and nose when in common areas of a building and when within six (6) feet of another individual(s) anywhere on campus.
When you return to campus, please observe all safety protocols for the health and safety of yourself and everyone in the KU and Lawrence community.
Research activities have mostly resumed both on and off campus. This is being done in a careful and deliberate manner to safeguard the health of the KU community. When you return to on-campus research:
- Follow all safety protocols. These will be prescribed for your particular facility and lab by your supervisor or chair.
- Keep yourself and others safe. Wear masks and other personal protective equipment, practice social distancing, and avoid unnecessary interactions with colleagues.
- Only perform essential duties on campus. Perform your research in the time period that is designated and only perform duties that require your physical presence. Leave campus as soon as you have completed essential duties; do not linger.
- Human subjects research. The safest interpersonal interaction today is via remote means. If it is possible to meet research objectives without face-to-face interactions, you should continue using remote procedures for the foreseeable future. If you are unable to conduct activities remotely and you believe your study may meet Phase 1 dimensions described in the HRPP link below, you may submit a request to KU’s Human Research Protection Program (HRPP) to have your project assessed for possible reactivation.
- Travel. Lawrence and Edwards Campus scholars who need to travel domestically for essential work-related purposes may take part in selected inbound and outbound travel, provided individuals follow certain guidelines. Please coordinate with your department chair to request travel authorization in addition to filing a travel request authorization through your SSC. Please note that at this time international travel and all conference travel is not essential.
The Graduate Scholarly Presentation Travel Fund will resume accepting applications July 1, 2020. If you will incur costs by attending and presenting at a virtual conference, please apply through this link.
Requests for CARES funding closed on June 5 and all available funds have been depleted. If you are in need of emergency funding, please contact the Emergency Aid Network (help.ku.edu) for more information about available resources.
For Continuing GTAs
You have the option of participating in CTE’s GTA Flex and Online Teaching Program. The program is a self-paced and individualized program using online modules and the Instructor Guidebook. There are opportunities for discussion groups and consultations with CTE staff and Graduate Student Fellows. The course is available July 6 to August 17. KU will provide $500 stipends for those who produce a course design upon the completion of the program. To apply, please visit the CTE homepage and click on the link for the GTA Flex and Online Teaching Program.
Our office is here to help you navigate academic, research, and personal challenges and, as always, to help ensure your success. Please continue to communicate with your mentors, your director of graduate studies, your department chair, and your peers. Please also email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or use our suggestion box to help us meet your needs.
KU graduate students routinely demonstrate resilience, teamwork, compassion, and remarkable creativity. These aspects of our community are a source of inspiration and a strong indicator that we can together approach the challenges of our present moment as opportunities to rise to new levels of success, inclusivity, and collaboration as we return to campus this Fall.
Jennifer A. Roberts
she / her / hers
Vice Provost for Graduate Studies
Professor, Department of Geology
213A Strong Hall
May 20, 2020, Summer courses and addressing your concerns
Congratulations on completing the spring semester and sustaining your studies through challenging conditions! As with previous emails, this communication is meant to highlight specific issues that impact you as graduate students, workers, and researchers. Please continue to visit graduate.ku.edu, where we maintain a COVID-19 resource portal specific to the graduate community. We also encourage you to contact us at email@example.com with any questions or concerns or to submit items to our confidential suggestion box.
iThenticate is a tool provided by the Office of Research and the Provost’s Office to check your scholarly work for similarity and overlap with thousands of published sources. Journals regularly use this tool to check for plagiarism and KU is providing it to help faculty and students identify potentially problematic text prior to submission for review. An iThenticate training session designed for graduate students will take place onThursday, May 21 at 2 p.m. CT | Zoom link. A recording of the training will be available on the Office of Research website after the session.
Graduate Studies made policy adjustments during Spring 2020 in response to campus closure. Some of these policy modifications and updates will continue to affect graduate students during Summer 2020. The requirement for in-person attendance at milestone exams is temporarily suspended. All exams must be conducted via remote means, or postponed until campus leadership allows for non-essential personnel to return to campus. Most of you should not be on campus. Only individuals who have received specific and express permission are allowed back on campus on this time. Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org or your director of graduate studies (DGS) if you have specific questions or concerns about your academic progress.
Addressing Your Concerns
Thank you to those who participated in the campus-wide 3G survey and who have submitted to our suggestion box at graduate.ku.edu. We appreciate your feedback and are working to address your concerns regarding online learning and remote work. We can now provide updates on two issues about which a majority of you voiced concerns.
Immediate Financial Need:
If you have endured financial hardship as a result of COVID-19, please apply for aid using this application form. You do not need to file a FAFSA in order to be eligible for funding. This form can be used by all graduate students to access aid. KU has also secured funding for international graduate students and graduate students in online-only programs. If you have financial need that is not directly related to COVID-19, you can still apply for aid through the Graduate Student Emergency Fund.
Limited research activities are beginning to resume both on and off campus. This is being done in a careful and deliberate manner to ensure that the number of individuals on campus remains small to safeguard the health of the KU community. When it is safe and authorized for you to resume research activities, your supervisor or department chairwill contact you. Until that time, you must continue to work on research activities remotely. Returning to on-campus work is a privilege that can be maintained by:
1. Following all safety protocols. These will be prescribed for your particular facility and lab by your supervisor or chair. Keeping yourself and others safe.
2. Wear masks and other personal protective equipment, practice social distancing, and avoid unnecessary interactions with colleagues. Only performing essential duties on campus.
3. Perform your research in the time period that is designated and only perform duties that require your physical presence. Leave campus as soon as you have completed essential duties; do not linger. In-Person Human Subjects Research is still on hold until further notice.
As on-campus activities resume and remote work and learning continue, it is important to contact relevant campus units if you have concerns about your personal safety, your equitable access to learning and research, data security, and more. You can always reach out to your mentor, your director of graduate studies, your department chair, or our office. Never hesitate to seek help regarding any issues that you may be experiencing. To contact key campus units directly, please use this list to identify the office that is specific to your needs:
Environment, Health and Safety Issues: campus environment, lab safety, hazardous materials
Contact EHS if you encounter unsafe behavior on campus that impacts the health and safety of individuals or the community
email@example.com | 785-864-4089 | ehs.ku.edu
Institutional Opportunity and Access Issues: equitable access to online learning and working, discrimination, harassment
firstname.lastname@example.org | 785-864-6414 | ioa.ku.edu
ADA Resource Center for Equity and Accessibility Issues: online accessibility and accommodations
email@example.com | 785-864-4946 | humanresources.ku.edu/accessibility
Ombuds Office Issues: a confidential and neutral resource for sharing and discussing a wide range of concerns, facilitate communication, and discuss rights and responsibilities
firstname.lastname@example.org | 785-864-7261 | ombuds.ku.edu
IT Security Office Issues: data security, systems security, personal device security
email@example.com | 785-864-8080 | itsecurity.ku.edu
Public Safety Office Issues: Life/safety issues, criminal activity, building security
911 on-campus emergencies | firstname.lastname@example.org | 785-864-5900 | publicsafety.ku.edu
If your concern falls outside one of the above areas, visit reportit.ku.edu for a list of additional resources. Our office is here to help you navigate academic, research, and personal challenges and, as always, to help elevate your success. Please continue to communicate with your mentors, your director of graduate studies, your department chair, and your peers. Please also email us at email@example.com or use our suggestion boxto help us meet your needs.
Jennifer A. Roberts
she / her / hers
Vice Provost for Graduate Studies
Professor, Department of Geology
213A Strong Hall
April 17, 2020, Resources and important reminders
We are now four weeks into remote learning, research, and instruction at KU, and I hope all of you are adjusting to these transitions while also staying safe and healthy. Below is additional information and updates to help you navigate the COVID-19 situation. As always, the best way to get direct answers for your specific circumstances is to contact your supervisor, mentor, director of graduate studies (DGS), or department chair. For more general questions, or if you are having trouble getting your questions answered at the department level, please contact the Office of Graduate Studies at firstname.lastname@example.org. You may also connect with us by submitting to our KU Graduate Studies Suggestion Box.
COVID-19 Resources for Graduate Students
Please continue to check the Graduate Studies website regularly. We are working hard to develop a hub that collects information and campus communications tailored to graduate students as you navigate this semester of remote learning, teaching, and research.
Campus Conversation with Provost Bichelmeyer
Provost Bichelmeyer has invited all graduate students to a Campus Conversation on Monday, April 20 from 12-1pm. Please join the Provost, myself, and Vice Provost Tammara Durham in a Zoom Webinar to discuss campus issues that impact all graduate students. Sign on to join the Zoom livestream with this link: https://provost.ku.edu/graduate-student-conversation-break. Please let us know your questions ahead of the meeting.
Graduate and Professional Student Appreciation
Graduate and Professional Student Appreciation Week took place April 6-10, but at KU we are extending our celebrations! The Office of Graduate Studies is hosting drawings across the next four weeks for Grub Hub gift cards, t-shirts, mugs, and more as a way of showing our appreciation for graduate students. Enter this week’s drawing here!
Many of you are encountering unexpected expenses that may affect your ability to continue your studies while maintaining your shelter and food security. To help alleviate financial burdens created by COVID-19, Graduate Studies has partnered with Student Senate to identify additional emergency funds, which we will distribute through the Emergency Aid Network. If you have an acute need, please apply for these funds using the help.ku.edu portal.
Depending on your school or college, there may be changes to your grading policies. If you have questions or concerns about your course grades, please reach out to your instructors and/or the director of graduate studies in your department. They will work with you on an individual basis to help you complete and succeed in your courses. We recognize that the disruptions experienced over the last few weeks have been difficult. If you are experiencing extreme hardship in your academic work right now, please also remember that KU’s usual resources are still available to help you. If your school’s course grading adjustments are not sufficient to address your needs, you may consider talking with your advisor about other options, such as an Incomplete grade in one or more courses, an academic Leave of Absence, or a retroactive withdrawal.
Maintaining a positive outlook can be challenging and many of you are facing additional stress in your life right now. Please take time for personal wellness as you are able and stay remotely connected to friends and family. KU Counseling and Psychological Services, in addition to individual appointments, offers a number of remote wellness events in which we encourage you to participate. Their resources range from guided meditation to motivation and resilience workshops—the full calendar of virtual wellness events can be accessed at: https://caps.ku.edu/calendar. We also recommend The Greater Good Science Center at UC Berkeley’s Guide to Well-Being During Coronavirus. This is a comprehensive, evidence-based site that offers articles, podcasts, and practices related to topics such as fostering connection and reducing stress and anxiety.
- Remote exams have been extended through Summer term 2020. If you are living in Lawrence, KU Libraries has made available a private room in which students can conduct their exams. The room offers a whiteboard and stable WiFi, and laptop computers are available for check-out if needed. Please contact Jeromy Horkman to schedule your exam in Watson Library.
- 2020 Spring Commencement and associated graduation ceremonies have been postponed and are in the process of being rescheduled. For those of you who are graduating, please be aware that degrees will still be conferred in May, although the in-person ceremonies will take place in summer or fall. Some units may offer virtual ceremonies, so keep an eye out for more information.
- Your transcript is the formal documentary record of your achievement and will show your degree completion as of May 2020, if you complete all requirements this spring.
- If you are a graduate student enrolled in a Lawrence- or Edwards-campus program during the Spring 2020 semester, you are eligible to opt into a one-year extension of your maximum allowable time to degree without the need to petition for this additional time.
April 3, 2020, Graduate education updates
(The following message was sent to graduate students on the Lawrence and Edwards campuses as well as graduate students in online programs)
To: All Graduate Students, Lawrence and Edwards Campus
From: Jennifer A. Roberts, Vice Provost for Graduate Studies
Good afternoon, Graduate Students.
I sincerely hope this message finds each and every one of you safe and healthy. I also hope this message will bring some peace of mind as you consider how your academic plans and research might shift to accommodate the transitions brought about by the COVID-19 outbreak. Below, I provide several updates that should simplify the policies and processes you may be navigating right now. If you have any questions about this information, or if you have other questions that you do not see answered, please reach out to your supervisors, your directors of graduate studies (DGSes), and/or the Office of Graduate Studies (email@example.com ) for clarification. Our team, in collaboration with staff and faculty in your unit, wants to do our utmost to support you during this collectively challenging time.
Many of you are encountering unexpected expenses that may have a significant impact on your ability to continue your studies while maintaining your shelter and food security. To help alleviate financial burdens created by COVID-19, Graduate Studies has partnered with Student Senate to identify additional emergency funds, which we will distribute through the Emergency Aid Network. Please apply for these funds if you have an acute need, using the help.ku.edu portal.
Extension of Maximum Time to Degree
Many of you have been affected by the research closures taking place to ensure the health and safety of our campus community. In some cases, these closures may substantially limit the progress you are able to make toward your degree requirements this semester. Please know we are actively advising faculty that your performance in coursework and research hours should be evaluated within the context of what it is possible to achieve amidst our current public health crisis.
In addition, I am relaxing the university-level policies concerning maximum allowable tenure to complete graduate degrees for all who are affected by the COVID-19 developments. If you are a graduate student enrolled in a Lawrence- or Edwards-campus program during the spring 2020 semester, you are eligible to opt into a one-year extension of your maximum allowable time to degree without the need to petition for this additional time. You will be able to elect this extension during the final semester of your current program, if it becomes necessary. This COVID-19 extension is available to you even if you have already been granted a one-time extension according to the established university petition processes. However, it is not additive to COVID-19 extensions already in place at your school or college. More information on these policies is available through the links at the end of this message.
Please bear in mind that departments and schools may have more stringent time limits and expectations concerning time to degree. You must also maintain good standing in your program to be eligible for this extension. Graduate coursework can also expire after ten years, requiring you to repeat it. I strongly encourage you to consult with your advisor and your research supervisor to discuss the specifics of your situation and determine how you are best able to continue making progress during these unprecedented circumstances. Please also note that an extension of the maximum allowable tenure to complete a degree does not imply any extension or availability of funding during the extension period.
Remote Milestone Exams Extended
On 13 March, the Office of Graduate Studies suspended in-person attendance requirements for graduate milestone exams (e.g., thesis and dissertation defenses) during the spring semester. Today, we are announcing an extension of this temporary policy adjustment: you and all of your committee members may participate remotely in milestone exams conducted through the end of the summer 2020 term. If you are living in Lawrence, KU Libraries has made available a private room in which students can conduct their exams. The room offers a whiteboard and stable WIFI, and laptop computers are available for check-out if needed. Please contact Jeromy Horkman to schedule your exam in Watson Library.
During Kansas’ stay-at-home order, no participants should attend an exam in person—all individuals should participate using mediated means (video-conferencing). Once the state deems it safe to lift the stay-at-home order, please work with your committee and use your discretion in evaluating whether some or all individuals should participate in your exam remotely. In cases where you prefer for all committee members to be physically present, your preference shall be honored. However, this preference may require rescheduling and therefore delay your progress to degree.
All participants in an exam involving remote participation must be fully aware of what is transpiring and fully able to participate in all components of the discussion with you and each other. Any material presented during the examinations, orally or in writing, must be seen and heard by all participants. Oral examinations that do not meet these participation requirements are not valid. Your milestone outcome will not be influenced by any proceedings that take place without full engagement of all participants. If a committee member has not arrived, the exam may not begin; if a committee member leaves, the exam may not proceed.
Commencement and Graduation Ceremonies
Yesterday, the Provost announced that the 2020 Spring Commencement and associated graduation ceremonies have been postponed. This includes the Doctoral Hooding Ceremony. For those of you who are graduating, please be aware that degrees will still be conferred in May, although the ceremonies will take place in summer or fall. Your transcript is the formal documentary record of your achievement and will show your degree completion as of May 2020, if you complete all requirements this spring.
- Please stay in regular communication with your advisors as this situation develops, particularly if you are concerned about your grades. Your advisor will be able to provide the most direct and specific guidance about your options, which may include taking an Incomplete in required degree courses or switching to CR/NC for courses that do not fulfill degree requirements.
- Please check the Graduate Studies website regularly: we are working hard to develop a hub that collects information and campus communications that may be useful to you as you navigate this semester. To better serve your needs please give us feedback here!
- Please join us for our Virtual Pet Cafes in celebration of Graduate and Professional Student Appreciation Week next week! No pets required but, of course, if yours would like to share a bit of the limelight, we’d love to meet them!
Vice Provost for Graduate Studies
March 13, 2020, COVID-19 protocols
I want to provide additional details regarding how you may be affected by Wednesday night’s announcement that the University of Kansas will be extending Spring Break, with in-person courses resuming online March 23. I care deeply for your well-being as a cornerstone of the teaching and learning community at KU. My goal is to offer guidance in a few key areas that impact you as students, employees, and researchers. Should you require additional assistance please contact your department staff or faculty supervisor to clarify the details of your particular situation.
As students, you will resume your in-person courses online beginning March 23. There will be no schedule change to courses already online.
If you are a student employee, please work closely with your supervisors on a case-by-case basis to determine how you should continue work functions next week (March 16-20). Supervisors are being asked to provide clear expectations for maintaining on-campus duties or assigning remote work as most appropriate for each individual situation.
As instructors, GTAs will be involved in the shift of all courses to online instruction as of March 23. We have advised supervisors to work closely with GTAs to give clear guidance, as soon as possible, about the plan for online instruction and the responsibilities of GTAs. Ensuring that you have the tools and access needed to conduct your expected duties is essential. As plans develop, supervisors should communicate with you and, as soon as possible, translate into writing any guidance or instructions they have offered verbally. Although additional tasks may be required to move instruction online, GTA work should still be limited to an average of no more than 20 hours per week during the semester (for students appointed at 0.5 FTE). KU provides substantial resources to support instructors in shifting to online learning. These resources are available to GTAs as well as faculty, and the best place to start is at remote.ku.edu.
Please stay home if you experience any symptoms including fever, cough, or difficulty breathing. We also encourage limiting physical contact with others, such as hand-shaking (substitute elbow bumps or bows) and sharing of food. Finally, the most effective prevention measure is frequent, thorough hand-washing. The World Health Organization has produced this poster detailing the most effective manner in which to wash your hands.
Campus remains open, and therefore you can continue to use your office spaces, work in research laboratories, and access the libraries. We recommend that you work with your departments and supervisors to determine how you can best continue your research either on or off campus. We recommend the following basic principles:
Shared spaces: We strongly encourage all researchers to think carefully about what work must be conducted on-site in a shared space and what tasks can be completed as effectively from a more isolated office or home. Individuals working in shared spaces are encouraged to disinfect work surfaces regularly. Supervisors are encouraged to allow, without prejudice, for remote work whenever possible.
Communications: Establish clear modes of communication with research group members. Also crosscheck your contacts lists to ensure no one who ought to be included is left out of your communications.
Remote access: All students, post-docs, staff, and faculty involved in research projects should ensure they have access to the information and tools they need to carry out work remotely. This might include, for example, access to literature, access to existing datasets and research-related files (while maintaining security over any data accessed remotely), and access to meeting software (such as Zoom).
Master’s and Doctoral Exams
We recognize that remote work will necessarily change our approach to master’s and doctoral exams. Existing rules requiring in-person attendance at milestone exams are being temporarily suspended. You and/or your committee members may participate using mediated means (video-conferencing) through May 14, 2020. Please work with your committee and use your discretion in evaluating whether some or all individuals should participate remotely. In cases where you prefer for all committee members to be physically present, your preference shall be honored. However, this preference may require rescheduling and therefore delay progress to degree.
All participants in an exam involving remote participation must be fully aware of what is transpiring and fully able to participate in all components of the discussion with the student and each other. Any material presented during the examination, orally or in writing, shall be seen and heard by all members. Oral examinations that do not meet these participation requirements are not valid. A student’s milestone outcome will not be influenced by any proceedings that take place without full engagement of all participants. If a committee member has not arrived, the exam may not begin; if a committee member leaves, the exam may not proceed.
Student Organizations and Events
As circumstances surrounding COVID-19 evolve, university officials are monitoring the spread of the disease and taking steps to keep our community healthy. Student organizations and student leaders across campus should monitor the regular updates provided at coronavirus.ku.edu and plan to abide by campus plans and decisions. Student organizations should consider online or skype meetings for the foreseeable future to reduce exposure and ensure all members’ safe and healthy participation.
The University of Kansas has discontinued all university-sponsored, business-related travel and attendance at meetings, conferences, etc., effective immediately. If you were previously planning to travel outside of Kansas and Missouri for academic reasons, please make every effort to rearrange travel plans and pursue refunds, change-fee waivers, and other cost-saving measures when possible. Priceline is coordinating a hub webpage with information about change fees and procedures at many major airlines: https://www.priceline.com/partner/airlines/newflexibility.
The application portal for the Graduate Scholarly Presentation Travel Fund will remain open, but no new funding will be approved for travel that takes place between 12 March 2020 and 10 May 2020. Applications from students experiencing hardships due to these travel restrictions will be considered (e.g., non-refundable costs already incurred).
The COVID-19 outbreak is a source of anxiety for many. If you are experiencing heightened levels of stress or anxiety, please contact the counseling services available through KU Counseling and Psychological Services.
The Office of Graduate Studies will do our utmost to assist you by providing guidance as this unique situation evolves. Please reach out with any questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Jennifer A. Roberts, Ph.D.
she / her / hers
Department of Geology
Vice Provost for Graduate Studies
Director and Managing Trustee
Self Graduate Fellowship
The following messages are archived communications sent by KU offices beyond the Office of Graduate Studies, but which are still highly relevant to the gradaute student community.
July 7, 2020, International student status and course designations
You may have read the directive released yesterday, July 6, by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) regarding fall 2020 enrollment for F-1 students in the Student and Visitor Exchange Program (SEVP).
Although the directive raises many questions, it makes clear that:
- If ALL of an international student’s fall 2020 classes are online, they CANNOT remain in the United States.
- If an international student is to remain in the United States, their enrollment will need to have an in-person component.
- If a school or student begins the fall semester with in-person classes but later switches to only online classes, international students must leave the country or take alternative steps to maintain their nonimmigrant status such as a reduced course load or appropriate medical leave.
The directive also makes clear that “F-1 students attending schools adopting a hybrid model — that is, a mixture of online and in person classes — will be allowed to take more than one class or three credit hours online.”
In sum, under this directive, schools that provide hybrid and hyflex courses and programs provide international students with the best opportunities and the greatest flexibility to make progress toward their degree this fall and for the foreseeable future. KU has roughly 2,000 international students, many of whom hold GRA, GTA and GA appointments. How we adjust to this new development will have deep implications for our people, our programs and our projects.
The good news for KU’s international students is that we have adopted a hybrid model for fall semester. In a message sent June 15, “Guidance To Prepare Instruction for Fall,” I shared with you that “The best answer to our situation now is … to provide as many courses in blended and hybrid formats as possible.”
KU is planning to offer a variety of Instructional Modes to help accommodate students wherever they are, and whether or not they are in the United States this fall:
- Hybrid Classroom
- Hybrid Online
We provided this guidance because we know our current circumstances are particularly fraught for our most vulnerable populations – including our international students. If we are to meet our students’ needs, we must reach them wherever they are and provide them with highly engaging experiences and support that will encourage them to persist and complete their degrees, even during these most challenging times.
Yesterday’s federal announcement highlights a particularly delicate balancing act we must navigate. We must address our goal of caring for the health of KU instructors and their loved ones, as we also balance the critical educational and, in some cases, health and financial needs of our domestic and international students. I know we will find a way forward that allows us to do both.
Faculty, instructors, GTAs, chairs, academic directors and deans: next week you will be working with Analytics and Institutional Research and Enrollment Management to complete our mid-July round of assigning one of the four instructional modes to each course on our fall course schedule. As you assign instructional modes to your courses, please consider that your decisions ultimately determine whether our international students will be able to stay at KU, in the United States, or whether they must leave the country.Please note the dissertation hours and research hours for graduate students have traditionally been coded as “in-person,” even if “arranged” and without a set class time. It is strongly recommended that this not be changed. The final fall course schedule is expected be updated and available to students on August 3.
At KU, our learning, our research, and our work are essential. The decisions we make and the actions we take significantly impact – for better or for worse – peoples’ lives and futures. I believe there’s never been a more important time to advance science, knowledge and creativity, and there’s never been a greater need to educate people.
Thank you for all you do – for our students and for the university.
P.S. – If you’d like to read more, below the signature line is a more detailed email Associate Vice Provost for International Affairs Charles Bankart shared with me on July 2. It details the potential impact of the then-expected SEVP directive, with recommendations for course coding to ensure the greatest flexibility for our international students.
Barbara A. Bichelmeyer
Provost & Executive Vice Chancellor
June 26, 2020, International student fee to be rescinded
June 23, 2020, Share your thoughts about returning to campus
(Sent to all KU staff, faculty, and affiliates; KU GTAs, KU GRAs, and KU GAs)
The Chancellor and Provost previously announced a phased plan for reopening campus that began with research buildings. The Operations Team is now working on the next phase to facilitate a safe return to non-research buildings.
As we plan the reopening of academic buildings, Libraries, administration buildings and other facilities, it’s important that we do so safely, thoughtfully and with input from the campus community. I know many of you have questions, concerns and ideas that can help shape our plans for reopening campus buildings.
I encourage you to share your thoughts through our online form. You can submit your feedback anonymously, or include your name and email address if you want us to follow up on your feedback or question.
We know COVID-19 health and safety opinions are broad, diverse and often mutually exclusive; KU leadership will consider all feedback, with our priority continuing to be the health and safety of students, faculty and staff as we reopen campus.
Vice Provost for Operations
June 18, 2020, Returning to campus: ADA work accomodations
(Sent to KU Lawrence Staff, Faculty, and Affiliates and KU GAs, GRAs, and GTAs)
Many of you have contacted KU’s ADA Resource Center for Equity and Accessibility (ADA RCEA) with questions and concerns about health risk and accommodation information included in Monday’s message from the Chancellor and Provost. That message included an overview of resources available through the ADA RCEA for faculty and staff concerned about returning to work on campus due to underlying health conditions.
We are sharing additional information with you to ensure all employees who wish to discuss health-related employment concerns have a more robust understanding of the accommodation process. We are still working to determine answers to some additional non-health related questions and will keep you updated.
What health conditions are eligible for accommodation?
There is no definitive list of what qualifies for an accommodation and what doesn’t. In the case of COVID-19, the CDC has identified some underlying health conditions that may place individuals at a higher risk for severe illness from COVID-19 and may qualify for an accommodation. These health risks include chronic lung disease, moderate to severe asthma, hypertension, severe heart conditions, weakened immunity, severe obesity, diabetes, liver disease and chronic kidney disease that requires dialysis.
What is the process to request an accommodation?
The ADA RCEA works with all employees to facilitate workplace accommodations pursuant to the Americans with Disabilities Act. Whether you are seeking an accommodation for a COVID-19 related CDC identified underlying health condition or another non-COVID related health condition reason, the first step is to complete the Request for Initial Contact form or contact the ADA RCEA at email@example.com or 785-864-7416 to request assistance. The ADA RCEA will schedule time with you to discuss your questions, the accommodation process and options. You do not need to complete either the ADA Formal Request for Workplace Accommodations or the ADA Medical Accommodation form prior to contacting the ADA RCEA. Deciding to contact the ADA Resource Center for Equity and Accessibility is both voluntary and confidential, as is the decision to request workplace accommodations.
If I have a health concern related to COVID-19, when should I request an accommodation?
The University has implemented a phased plan for faculty, staff and students to return to campus. When you receive notice to return to work on campus from your supervisor, contact the ADA RCEA if you want to discuss health-related concerns that may be eligible for an accommodation. You may seek an accommodation at any time in your employment; while you are still working remotely, when you receive direction to return to work on campus, or when you are back on campus.
Where can I find more information about returning to campus?
KU’s coronavirus website is the central place for COVID-19 related information and updates, including the June 15 message from Chancellor Girod and Provost Bichelmeyer. The Chancellor is also posting weekly Zoom video updates each Wednesday. HR-related COVID-19 information is available on the Human Resource Management website. Look for additional messages from the Chancellor, Provost and Human Resource Management as our phased plan for returning to campus progresses.
We know these are difficult times for everyone. We are here to assist you with your return to campus, as needed. We are grateful for your trust now and always. If you have additional COVID-19 or employment related questions or concerns, please contact Human Resource Management at firstname.lastname@example.org or 785-864-4946.
Vice Provost for Operations
Director of the ADA Resource Center for Equity and Accessibility
June 18, 2020, Requirement to wear face coverings
I know you are eager for information about how the University of Kansas will operate as we continue to bring people back to our physical spaces in preparation for the fall semester. We have several decisions being finalized that will be announced throughout the summer. One decision from our Executive Policy Group that can’t wait focuses on the safety of everyone who works, studies, visits and resides in our campus spaces.
Our Policy Office will soon circulate a draft of a new Public Health Safety Requirements policy that outlines personal safety expectations for individuals who are on our Lawrence and Edwards campuses during COVID-19 pandemic conditions. As the pandemic is expected to impact our operations for the next academic year, this policy will go through traditional policy review and approval procedures. During the period while the draft policy is under review, and because positive cases continue to appear in our communities, it is imperative we take measures now to help reduce potential spread. The Executive Policy Group is authorized to coordinate policy matters and issue directives when KU operates under the University Emergency Management Plan. The Executive Policy Group is implementing an interim measure requiring the use of face coverings, effective immediately.
When present on campus, all faculty, staff, students, affiliates, visitors, vendors, and volunteers must wear a face covering (cloth face covering, surgical mask, etc.) over one’s mouth and nose when in common areas of a building and when within six (6) feet of another individual(s) anywhere on campus. All faculty, staff, students, affiliates, visitors, vendors, and volunteers are expected to cooperate and adhere to this policy. Violations of this policy by faculty, staff, affiliates, vendors, and visitors should be reported to Human Resource Management. Violations of this policy by students should be reported to Student Affairs. Units that need personal protective equipment may submit a request for a variety of PPE supplies through the KU Storeroom. Unit leaders should fill out the online form.
As the Chancellor and I communicated in a campus message on Monday, we have teams working tirelessly to provide a comprehensive set of policies, processes and resources to support your health and safety as we open our campus spaces in fall. Jayhawks, this policy relies on your thoughtfulness, consideration, and cooperation. The health and safety of each Jayhawk, depends on the practices of all Jayhawks. Thank you in advance for your stewardship and commitment to our community, and to all who learn and work within it.
Barbara A. Bichelmeyer
Provost & Executive Vice Chancellor
June 15, 2020, Chancellor's update on fall academic calendar and course design expectations
This week’s update includes a Zoom discussion between Chancellor Girod and Provost Bichelmeyer regarding the university’s newest plans for reopening campus in the fall. The two leaders discuss a range of topics, including:
· the Voluntary Separation Incentive Program · changes to the fall academic calendar · contact tracing and technology · and expectations for instructors designing courses for the fall Did you miss last week’s update? Visit the Chancellor’s Weekly COVID-19 Update webpage for archived updates throughout the summer.
June 15, 2020, Guidance on returning to campus
Last month, we shared with you a document titled Guidance on Reopening Campus, which detailed our guiding principles for reopening campus in a measured, stepwise fashion. Today we write to share the newest components of our plans for the fall semester on the Lawrence and Edwards campuses.
Our goal is to welcome back as many students as we can while continuing to prioritize the health of our community. To do this, we must continue preparing a dynamic and flexible educational experience that accounts for the realities of life during and after a pandemic. This means rethinking everything from how we design classes, to how we deliver housing and dining services, to how we accommodate extracurricular activities and events.
Undoubtedly, the fall semester will be unlike any in history. It will require flexibility, compassion and resilience. And it will require each of us to behave responsibly and in a way that benefits the entire community. If this pandemic has taught us one thing, it’s that we are all in this together.
The academic calendar will change to minimize potential health hazards. Fall classes will begin as planned on August 24, and classes will conclude before Thanksgiving, at which point students are encouraged to leave campus for the semester. After Thanksgiving, there will be a study week, followed by a week of final exams conducted remotely. There will not be a Labor Day holiday or Fall Break.
Pending approval by the Kansas Board of Regents, the first day of the spring semester will change from January 19 to February 1. Stop Day and Finals Week remain unchanged. Spring Break will not occur midway through the semester as it typically does; rather, it will be added to the Winter Recess, resulting in the later-than-normal February 1 start.
Course scheduling and classroom configuration
Our goal is to maximize the in-person classroom experience to the greatest extent possible. KU is committed to ensuring the majority of students, if they choose, have the majority of their courses with in-person instruction in whole or in part. In-person scheduling will prioritize typical freshman courses, labs or courses that are most effective in-person, courses involved in the KU Core, and courses that are required to complete a degree.
To ensure flexibility and meet the specific needs of students and instructors, we will provide support this summer for faculty to design and develop fall courses so the same section can be offered in multiple formats— i.e. in-person, online and/or a hybrid approach — while ensuring that each format is a highly engaging experience for our students no matter where they may be.
To help limit the density of students in classrooms and allow for frequent cleaning, we will schedule classes from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m., Monday through Friday, though most courses will be held from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday will be utilized as a last resort.
Additionally, we will modify time between MWF classes to 15 minutes to avoid congestion in buildings, walkways, buses and other areas. We are piloting a health monitoring app that allows each Jayhawk to check symptoms and access secured buildings based on health status on a daily basis, and we are marking each building to change traffic patterns to help de-densify campus.
Students, as we finalize the class schedule this summer, those of you who have already enrolled can expect there may be some adjustments to your fall schedules. We will reach out to you in July with more information about how your schedule may change.
Testing and contact tracing
Testing and contact tracing will be key to a thoughtful and science-based return to campus. Through our on-campus Watkins Health Services, we will be partnering with The University of Kansas Health System and LMH Health to coordinate our testing and contact tracing efforts, in conjunction with Lawrence-Douglas County Public Health and the Kansas Department of Health and Environment. This partnership will enable KU to access our partners’ medical expertise, technology and data in ways that will benefit both our campus and the broader Lawrence community. We will provide further details later this summer with guidance for how our students, staff and faculty will participate in testing activities.
On-campus housing and dining
On-campus residential facilities and dining centers will be open for the fall, and modifications will be made to promote physical distancing and other health and safety measures in each building. Most facilities will operate near capacity, with additional shared community expectations in place to prioritize the health and wellness of students who live – and staff who work – in these facilities. The move-in process will be spread over a longer period of time to reduce congestion and allow for physical distancing. More information from KU Student Housing will be shared soon with students.
Faculty and staff who are at-risk and unable to return to campus
We know some of you have underlying health conditions – such as asthma, hypertension, diabetes, chronic lung disease, or weakened immunity – that may put you at higher risk if exposed to the virus. We are ready to work with you to make reasonable accommodations. We will use the same process for COVID-19 as we use for other ADA accommodation requests. Details are available at https://humanresources.ku.edu/employee-accommodations. Please fill out your forms as soon as possible so we can ensure your work is covered appropriately. Per federal guidelines, please be prepared to provide documentation from your physician when you apply. Contact our ADA Resource Center for Equity and Accessibility at email@example.com or 785-864-7416, and they will help you make plans. If it is the case that you are not eligible for an accommodation, we will work with you to determine what options may be available to meet your needs.
Safety is each of our responsibility
While no one can ever promise complete safety to another – this was true prior to COVID-19 and will be true after – we are so appreciative of all the people who are giving tireless effort in campus workgroups to explore options that support greater safety for our campus. In sum, it is because you – students, staff and faculty – are KU’s greatest assets that we are taking a comprehensive and coordinated approach to provide for your health and wellness when you are on campus this fall.
While we are providing for your safety, we need to also ask that each of you provide for the safety of your fellow Jayhawks, as well as for your own, when you return this fall. You can expect to be asked to: sign a social responsibility pledge and commit to the actions it describes; wear a mask when you are in a space with others who may be closer than six feet apart; and adhere to social distance guidelines according to public health guidelines. You’ll learn more about our asks of you as we get closer to the fall semester.
More information to come
Of course, all of this is subject to change based on the latest medical guidance and evolving circumstances. Again, we will continue to partner with – and rely on – each of you to help us continue to develop our plans in the weeks ahead.
Thank you for all you do on behalf of KU.
Doug and Barb
Douglas A. Girod
Barbara A. Bichelmeyer
Provost and Executive Vice Chancellor
June 10, 2020, Chancellor's Weekly COVID-19 video update series
The volume and pace of information during the past three months has been remarkable. Everything we think we know seems to change each day. Such is the nature of life during a pandemic.
In recent weeks, I have consistently heard how much you value the regular updates we are providing via email, the coronavirus.ku.edu website, and Zoom discussions with campus leaders.
In light of this feedback, for the rest of the summer I will host weekly Zoom updates during which I will share the latest news regarding our work to reopen campus for the fall semester. These weekly discussions will be pre-recorded and shared with campus each Wednesday via email and posted on our Chancellor’s Weekly COVID-19 Update page.
Most of these weekly updates will be no more than 15 minutes and feature at least one guest alongside me. We know your time is valuable, so we will structure these updates to get you the information you need as efficiently as possible.
While these weekly updates will focus on our efforts to manage the pandemic, for this week’s inaugural episode, Provost Bichelmeyer and I felt it appropriate also to discuss ongoing national and campus conversations and protests related to racism, inequality and injustice.
As we look to the fall, our goal is to welcome back to campus as many students and scholars as are able and willing to be here in a way that continues to prioritize the health and welfare of our community. We will continue to partner with – and rely on – each of you to help us shape our plans in the weeks ahead. I look forward to sharing additional updates on our fall reopening plan as details are finalized.
Douglas A. Girod
June 4, 2020, Updated protocols for accessing campus buildings
(Sent to all Lawrence Staff, Faculty, and Affiliates and KU Graduate Research Assistants)
Help us maintain a healthy community as we reopen campus begins with a daily review of your own health status.
Our ongoing efforts to restore campus require flexibility and agility to adapt to changing conditions. Successfully restarting our on-campus research, academic and work activities will also take the cooperation of the entire KU community. Because our highest priority is the health and safety of all students, faculty and staff, we continue to adjust our protocols based on the latest guidance from local, state and federal health officials.
Today I am announcing both a step-up and an innovation in protocols for entering buildings as we reopen them. Previously, individuals who were approved to return to research buildings were asked to complete a health status self-assessment each time before entering a building. To better protect everyone’s health as more people are approved to return to campus, this honor system will be replaced with staff monitors at entrances of some buildings to confirm the health status of individuals entering those buildings.
To provide an easier and more private option for our faculty and staff, KU is partnering with a non-profit organization founded by Brian McClendon to test a health verification mobile app called CVKey through a pilot project. Brian is a KU alumnus, former Vice President at Google and current KU Research Professor in the School of Engineering. He has pulled together a team of volunteer experts from around the world to develop the app to help communities more safely reopen during COVID-19. The CVKey Project Council of Advisors includes former Kansas Governor Kathleen Sebelius, who also served as U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services, and Perry Alexander, KU AT&T Distinguished Professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science and Director of the Information and Telecommunications Technology Center.
About the Pilot Project
During the pilot, individuals who are approved to work on campus can use the app to daily assess whether they are at risk of novel coronavirus exposure and what actions to take if they are. Although the app is not mandatory, individuals can use it to complete the health status assessment that is required each time before entering a building. Individuals who choose not to use the mobile app will be required to complete a paper health assessment form before entering their building.
Faculty and staff approved to work in select research buildings during the pilot project will be notified with additional details about the process and how to download the app before the screenings begin on June 8. During the pilot, the app will only be available to individuals approved to work in the designated campus buildings.
Using the CVKey mobile app is not required, but it provides benefits over the paper health assessment alternative:
- Health information is not shared with staff building monitors
- Individuals can complete the self-assessment at home and know before leaving if their health status allows access to campus buildings
- Streamlined entry into the building
- App is automatically updated with information on COVID-19 symptoms
The self-assessment and health-related information is strictly confined to the individual’s mobile device. No personal health data is shared or stored outside the mobile device. The only information provided to the staff building monitor through the QR code is a simple yes or no indication of whether the person’s health assessment meets the criteria to enter the building that day. The app cannot be used for other functions, including location tracking or contact tracing.
Our Shared Responsibility
Not only does this effort help ensure each member of the KU community is current on the latest known symptoms of COVID-19, it also helps each member play an active role in protecting the health and well-being of everyone on our campuses. This effort embodies our mission of “making discoveries that change the world,” and we are fortunate to have this opportunity to partner on a solution that could provide a responsible way for communities around the world to move forward and reopen more safely.
Barbara A. Bichelmeyer
Provost & Executive Vice Chancellor
May 30, 2020, Statement on Diversity and Inclusion
Dear Campus Students, Staff, and Faculty,
Our institution’s stated commitments to diversity, equity, and inclusion mean little if we cannot clearly condemn and combat anti-Black racism and violence. As the recent experience of Christian Cooper while birdwatching and murders of Ahmaud Arbery while jogging; Breonna Taylor while sleeping; and George Floyd while pleading simply to breathe powerfully remind us, the manifestations of such discrimination are simultaneously routine and egregious. The death of Tony McDade also reminds us that transgender people of color are subject to even greater risk of violence. These current tragedies are only a few examples of racist acts arising from unjust systems, deeply engrained biases, and long historical legacies. Amidst the present pain and trauma many are feeling—on top of a global pandemic and increasingly divisive political climate affecting this country—there is much to be done.
Let’s make it a priority right now to sustain and care for ourselves and each other. Many of us find comfort and sustenance in community, so please watch in coming days for opportunities to virtually convene in affinity based and other community conversations. Continue to connect and find support also through the Office of Multicultural Affairs (OMA), the Emily Taylor Center for Women and Gender Equity (ETC), the Center for Sexuality and Gender Diversity (SGD), and the network of Faculty and Staff Councils.
Additionally, let’s (re)commit to realizing our values in action. This includes the teaching, research, and service endeavors many of us are already doing across campus and beyond. However, I hope we are further compelled to individual and collective participation in frank conversations and continued education; peaceful protest and sustained, strategic agitation; and coalition-building that leverages enduring change. In the spirit of such action and engagement, here are a few initial offerings:
The Color of Change
Black Trauma and Showing Up at Work
Talking with Children about Race
George Floyd Memorial Fund
Ahmaud Arbery Memorial Fund
Jennifer Ng, Ph.D.
Interim Vice Provost, Diversity and Equity
Professor, Educational Leadership and Policy Studies