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Dear Postdoctoral Scholars,
I know that the past few weeks have generated an unprecedented amount of uncertainty and stress for each of you, as research projects, travel, and perhaps your own plans may be shifting. I know you are also concerned about friends and family near and far.
Communication is essential – yet challenging in times of crisis. I may not have all the information you need, but I want 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 in the coming days.
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 at https://healthalerts.stanford.edu and we are continually updating our Information for grad students and post docs. Please also consider signing up for daily email updates from the site; a sign-up link is on the site.
Here are a few brief updates on questions we’ve heard:
Campus Support: Staff in the Office of Postdoctoral Affairs (OPA) will be readily available to you online, by phone and email, and in person if needed. Many other staff – career, academic skills and wellness coaches, Bechtel, OAE, School Deans office staff, and the Ombuds – are available virtually.
Working from Home: Earlier today you received a message from the Dean of Research, the Chair of the Faculty Senate, and me. Given the new “shelter in place” requirement by several Bay Area counties, including Santa Clara County where most Stanford facilities are located, at this time all non-essential personnel should be working from home. Postdocs will continue to be paid as they work from home. You will receive an email from the Office of Postdoctoral Affairs with more information, including a link to a Postdoc Telecommuting Agreement for you to sign. An earlier memo sent out over the weekend directed Principal Investigators 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. Please refer to the memo and to the Health Alerts website for the most current details, and talk with your advisor or lab PI about your concerns and ideas.
We realize there are significant implications for your 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.
Spring Quarter: Spring quarter courses will be offered online once the quarter begins and until further notice. The Office of Postdoctoral Affairs is similarly working to adapt its programming to an online platform.
Appointments: OPA is working at full capacity, so any changes to your appointment can be processed in a timely fashion. Some of you whose appointments are ending soon may be concerned about traveling. I encourage you to speak with your faculty PI as soon as possible to explore options. A short extension may be possible to enable you to remain here.
Visas: Bechtel is the best source of information regarding your visa. They have determined that J-visa holders may work from home. H-visa holders should file a telecommute agreement, and consult with Bechtel if you have questions.
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. I also encourage you to be in close communication with your PI during this time.
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