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Graduate Division COVID-19 Update: March 23, 2020

Section 1

March 23, 2020

Hello Grad Students and Post-Docs,

For those of you having a much needed rest on this first day of Spring Break, enjoy it! It can be hard to feel anything but guilt and anxiety when so many around us are losing jobs, falling ill, or coping with seemingly impossible situations. It’s okay to relax for a minute and not worry. Put on your own mask first, as they say on the airplane. You will be up and ready again soon enough.

For those of you not resting, perhaps because you are madly writing a paper or studying for your comprehensive exams, or perhaps because you are home-schooling children, or perhaps because you are working in healthcare, you’ve got this! You are strong and excellent and incredible or you would not be in the position you are.

Now, for a few small updates from campus and answers to questions we have gotten:

UCI Libraries Remote Resources:
Did you forget to return that library book? I know in my house we did, and my second grader is racking up some pretty hefty fines. The good news is that just like his elementary school, UCI understands these are not normal times. Please check out the library’s website for additional information on remote resources: https://www.lib.uci.edu/remote-resources

In the middle of the page is a section that will answer many questions--called "Managing Your Library Account" and "Returning Materials":

  • Our book drops are open at Langson and Science Libraries.
  • If an item is due and you are unable to renew it and do not want to come to campus to return it (due to illness or other extenuating circumstances), you should keep it until you are able to safely return it. If you are charged late fees, please email us at circadm@uci.edu. We understand that this is a special situation, and special considerations will be made.
  • Books can also be returned by mail at:
    UC Irvine Libraries, Attn: John Bareford,
    P.O. Box 19557
    Irvine CA 92623
  • If you do return your items it will not be reflected in your library account until staff are able to return onsite.

Reminder about Health Services:

Student Health is up and running for those of you on or near the Irvine campus. From their website:

Effective 3-9-2020 followed by additional guidance received 3-16-2020, UC SHIP will reduce the student cost share to $0 for all medically necessary screening, testing and treatment for COVID-19 in a manner consistent with directives recently issued by the CA Department of Managed Care and the CA Department of Insurance. Cost sharing includes, but is not limited to, copays, deductibles or coinsurance. Medically necessary screening, testing and treatment for COVID-19 may include hospital services (including emergency department), urgent care visits, provider office visits, telehealth encounters (e.g., LiveHealth Online) and clinical labs where the purpose of the visit is to be screened, tested and/or treated for COVID-19.

If you have GSHIP and are not on or near the Irvine campus, please check out the information on GSHIP online. Most notable:

When you are traveling away from home and/or campus, you have access to care across the country through Anthem’s BlueCard® PPO Program. If you’re traveling outside the U.S., you have access to care through the Blue Cross Blue Shield Global Core Program. For assistance, please visit Anthem Blue Cross or contact the Blue Cross Blue Shield Global Core Service Center at (800) 810-2583 (BLUE).

Housing:

So far, it appears that only a small number of students currently living in grad and family housing have requested to move out. For the rest of you, please remember to use proper social distancing procedures and to obey the Governor’s Stay at Home order. This means, in short, other than your household, you should really not be interacting with other people in person. This doesn’t mean you can’t go outside. It does mean when you go outside, you should be a MINIMUM of 6ft apart from people who do not live in your home. 

Requests for Additional Support:

We are examining requests systemwide for additional financial support as well as waivers, changes to degree requirements, changes to time to degree, and so on. There are no easy answers to these questions, and most challenging is that none of us can predict the future. We wouldn’t want to approve a one quarter extension or waiver only to learn that the impacts require something much longer nor make major changes only to find there is a cure next week (we can hope!). So, please be patient, and know that we are watching all of these things. We are only one week into our Stay at Home process, and we simply don’t know what we don’t know yet.

Some additional resources that may be helpful to you:

Dean’s Virtual Office Hours

We know this is an uneasy time, especially with information changing minute-by-minute. We also know that despite the flood of ridiculous emails you get each day, you’ll still have questions! 

Guess what? That’s okay! 

As a reminder, I or someone from my senior staff will be available for virtual office hours for 30 minutes every day, Monday - Friday for as long as needed to answer any questions or concerns. All graduate students and postdocs are welcome! All you need to do is click this link and you’ll be in: https://uci.zoom.us/j/7277477057. Below are my office hours for the next two weeks. All times are Pacific Standard Time.

  • Tuesday, March 24:      4pm – 4:30pm
  • Wednesday, March 25:  9:00 am – 9:30am
  • Thursday, March 26:    1pm – 1:30pm
  • Monday, March 30:      9:00am – 9:30am
  • Tuesday, March 31:     1pm – 1:30pm
  • Wednesday, April 1:      10am – 10:30am
  • Thursday, April 2:          12:30pm – 1:00pm
  • Friday, April 3:              10am – 10:30am

And Now the Good News:

UCI is one of many places currently conducting clinical trials on drugs that can treat COVID-19. I am incredibly proud and honored to know that some of your research will go towards ending this epidemic. Some of you are creating beautiful art that responds to our current crisis. Others of you are studying impacts of social distancing on children, on society, and on vulnerable populations, such as those coping with domestic violence or in need of clean water. PhD students in Education are on the forefront of studying remote learning, especially for people with chronic illness or disabilities, that can now be leveraged to lessen impacts for our families and other scholars in Education are asking important questions about the very nature of the university experience. PhD students in Social Ecology and Social Sciences are on the forefront of understanding the particular adverse impacts of this crisis on the homeless or on our elections, and of course our graduate students in Public and Population Health are the next generation of practitioners and scholars to address this and any future public health crises. Our virologists are working towards creating vaccines for this and other diseases. Never before has the need for and importance of academic scholarship been more clear. 

Let us all hope for a brighter week this week than last.

Be well and stay safe as we all adjust to this “new way of living”!

Gillian Hayes
Kleist Professor of Informatics
Vice Provost for Graduate Education
Dean of the Graduate Division