March 25, 2020
Dear graduate students,
As we prepare for classes to resume on Monday, March 30, I’d like to share information about what you can expect when you begin your remote studies. As the campus has responded to the evolving landscape and impact of COVID-19, graduate students have played an integral role to adapt and continue our academic mission. Many graduate students make critical contributions through their research and in our communities, others lead and support critical work in our classrooms. Faculty members, teaching assistants (TAs) and assistant instructors (AI) are diligently preparing for the transition of undergraduate courses to new learning environments, and faculty members have been transitioning graduate courses as well.
Limited access to academic spaces like research labs and recital facilities is also having an impact on many graduate students. Many students are planning to graduate in May and are concerned about their deadlines to submit their dissertation and thesis documents. Others are concerned about how this might affect their summer employment and many international graduate students are worried about travel safety and restrictions. Graduate School Dean Mark Smith and I are communicating regularly about these issues, and we are committed to working with you and the campus to address them in these unprecedented times. You can expect more information and guidance from the Graduate School in the coming weeks.
I want to begin by recognizing your contributions through this crisis. Thank you for everything you are doing. I fully understand how hard this is on you, your friends and your families. My son was sent home from college last week and began his online classes yesterday. This requires an adjustment for the entire family as we make sure he has what he needs. I have no doubt you are forced to adjust your lives in significant ways, as well.
And we know that many of you are facing significant challenges right now: concerns about access to technology, housing, finances, and the health of yourself and your family. Please contact Student Emergency Services if you need support. Our central priority is doing what is necessary to support you. We want to be sure that you have the support you need to be successful.
What you can expect as classes begin
Faculty and staff members — along with TAs and AIs — have been working diligently to prepare remote classrooms. We must ensure students have reliable internet access and computer equipment to engage in remote learning. If you need WiFi or equipment for online classes, please contact Student Emergency Services and complete this online form for assistance.
Faculty members and instructors are being asked to communicate with students about their remote course plans — including plans for graduate courses — by this Friday, March 27 at noon. Their plans will allow you to be prepared to complete the remainder of the semester and provide guidance on expectations, coursework and the completion of other milestones.
Technology Support for Remote Learning
To support this unprecedented shift to remote learning, we have developed resources for students who lack personal computers or who have other technology access challenges that impede remote learning. (PDF)
Q-Drop and Withdrawal Deadline Extended to May 8
We understand any changes to your classes are significant. To support the transition to this new mode of course delivery, the deadline for Q-drops and withdrawals is now the last class day — May 8.
In addition, we will allow students to choose a Credit/No Credit grading option in courses where that was not previously allowed. Before deciding to change the grading option for a course, graduate students should discuss the change with their graduate advisers. We know that an option like this should be available and we will share more details later this week. If you are enrolled in a graduate professional program, please check with your program advisor regarding the availability of the Credit/No Credit grading option.
Regularly Check Texas One Stop & Graduate School Websites
Before classes begin and throughout the semester, the Graduate School website has information on submitting materials, links to required forms and contacting Graduate School staff. Additionally, Texas One Stop will have critical information around registration, tuition, and financial aid. This information will be updated frequently. Additionally, graduate students can contact their graduate coordinators and advisers for more information.
Please remember to access these services throughout the semester should you need them.
- University Health Services (UHS) is open to provide care for acute illness or injury, including evaluation of COVID-19. Call the UHS Nurse Advice Line — 512-475-6877 — for guidance about when to come to UHS, especially if you have a fever and respiratory symptoms. UHS can also schedule telehealth appointments at 512-471-4955 for some health concerns.
- The Counseling and Mental Health Center (CMHC) remains available for services over the phone, and the CMHC Crisis Line, 512-471-2255, operates 24/7.
Finally, please be sure to regularly check the UT Austin COVID-19 webpage for the most recent updates. You can also provide feedback and submit questions there so we can continue to respond and support you through this challenging period. Our goal is to preserve your academic experience and continue your educational journey as much as possible and ensure your success at UT.
As you prepare to continue your classes next week through new online environments, I want to thank you in advance for your patience and resilience throughout all of this. This will be a considerable adjustment for everyone, but we are committed to helping you to pursue your goals during this period. I deeply admire how well our community has responded, and we will continue to work to support you during this challenging time.