Dear Graduate Students,
I know that the past few weeks have generated an unprecedented amount of uncertainty and stress for each of you, as you complete winter quarter, adjust your research projects, change your long-anticipated Spring break plans, and look ahead to an uncertain spring quarter. I know you are also concerned about friends and family near and far.
Communication is essential – yet challenging in times of crisis. I don’t have all the information you need, but I wanted to offer my support and respond to some of the concerns you’ve raised. I’m working closely with your faculty, Deans, and other university leaders to ensure the safety of all members of the university community, and we hope to be able to answer more of your questions early next week.
That said, please check the Stanford Health Alerts website for the most current university communications; guidance on what to do if you feel ill or may have come in contact with someone diagnosed with COVID-19; and updates on travel and event restrictions. New updates are posted each weekday around 6 PM, so please check the website daily for the most current information: https://healthalerts.stanford.edu and Information for grad students and post docs.
Here are a few brief updates on questions we’ve heard:
Housing: Graduate student housing will remain open for the foreseeable future. Stanford is graduate students’ home. They are not being forced nor encouraged to leave their homes in on- or off-campus housing.
Campus Support: Staff in the Graduate Life Office (GLO) will maintain an active physical presence on campus and 24/7 on call availability. GLO is actively working with Community Associates (CAs) to provide supportive programming that reduces social isolation while maintaining recommended social distancing. Many School Deans offices also have staff present on campus, and many other staff – career, academic skills and wellness coaches, Bechtel, OAE, Student Academic Services staff, the Ombuds, and VPGE staff – are available virtually.
Academic and Research Progress: We realize there are significant implications for your academic and research progress and plans that are outside your control. Please know that it’s ok for progress to slow down during times of unprecedented global crisis such as this. It is far more important we take care of our health and the health of those around us. And there are many things we can catch up on remotely, such as analyzing data, writing manuscripts and applications, planning future research projects, and meeting virtually with advisors and collaborators.
Contingency plans have been made regarding research operations. A memo was sent out yesterday which explains new steps that are being taken to further reduce the density of research personnel on campus. These include direction to each Principal Investigator to work with each of their student and postdoctoral trainees to develop a personalized plan that allows each of them to conduct research remotely to the fullest extent possible. Only high-priority lab work, according to priorities established by PIs in consultation with Department Chairs, Institute Directors and facilities managers, should be performed. Please refer to the memo for more details, and talk with your advisor or lab PI about your concerns and ideas.
My colleagues and I have been hearing from many of you with questions, and are trying to address them as answers become available. Please check the Health Alerts site under Information for Graduate Students and Postdocs for updated FAQs.
Please know that this is an unprecedented situation, and the issues we face at Stanford are being faced at universities and schools around the world. There is no game plan for this. We share your anxiety and value your input. Finally, please take care of yourself and those around you.
Stacey F. Bent
Vice Provost for Graduate Education and Postdoctoral Affairs
Jagdeep and Roshni Singh Professor in the School of Engineering
Professor of Chemical Engineering
Professor, by courtesy, of Materials Science & Engineering, Electrical Engineering, and Chemistry