Guidelines for Graduate Students

    UofL is committed to providing a safe environment for graduate students during the Fall 2020 semester, while maintaining the academic standards of their programs of study. Graduate students funded by fellowships, scholarships, or assistantships are expected to participate fully in the intellectual life and research atmosphere of the university; students should be active and engaged in their programs of study. With regard to the Fall 2020 semester schedule, graduate students should continue their research, creative activity, and service or teaching duties through the end of the semester (including post-Thanksgiving) following their unit guidelines and in accordance with university’s safe-return to work policies and the EVPRI’s protocols for reducing COVID-19 exposure in the research environment.

    The university is committed to supporting funded graduate students to assist them in meeting the obligations of their assigned duties during the fall semester. The pivot to fall guidelines outlined for faculty and staff will apply to graduate assistants and fellows. 

    Considerations for students who are supported by a Graduate Assistantship:   

    • Graduate Teaching Assistants (GTAs) who function as the instructor of record may have options for hybrid or online course development. GTAs who function in instructional support capacities (labs, recitations, grader, and other duties) may have options to decrease contact time with students, especially in larger enrollment classes. Further, it is expected that departments will equitably distribute contact time with consideration of GTA and faculty teaching when developing hybrid courses. 
    • Graduate Research Assistants (GRAs) will follow the protocols set by their primary advisor or faculty mentor in accordance with the guidelines established by the Office of the EVPRI. 
    • Graduate Service Assistants (GSAs) who have administrative duties will follow the protocols established by the staff or faculty supervisor in the unit of their work assignment in accordance with the university’s safe return to work guidelines. 

    If a graduate student cannot meet their fellowship or assistantship obligations due to a reason substantially related to COVID-19, such as an underlying health condition or the need to care for someone with an underlying health condition or other personal reasons related to COVID-19, they may request modifications in their duties. The first step is to inform their department Chair or reporting supervisor. The Chair/reporting supervisor will collaborate with the student to identify duties that will fulfill the requirements for the fellowship, scholarship, or assistantship, and maintain the student’s progress towards degree and professional development. In these cases, the student and Chair/reporting supervisor will complete a Graduate Student COVID-19 Duty Modification Request Form to be submitted to the Associate Dean of the student’s academic unit and the Dean of the Graduate School for final approval.

    • If a mutually agreeable modification to work obligations cannot be reached, consultation with the unit’s Associate Dean for graduate education and/or the Dean of the Graduate School may be required to determine if the student may retain funding for the semester, or whether it’s in the student’s best interest to take a leave of absence in the fall without funding. 
    • Requests to defer a fellowship, scholarship, or assistantship will be considered on an individual basis and require approval by the program and unit Dean. Students who are funded by University Fellowships or Diversity Scholarship will also require approval by the Dean of the Graduate School.

    If the university should need to move fully online, the same rules as in Spring of 2020 will apply:

    • GTAs will be asked to move classes fully online either as instructor of record or in support of the instructor for the class(es) to which they have been assigned. 
    • GRAs in essential research labs will continue to work under the published safety protocols from the office of the EVPRI; in non-essential research labs, students should follow the guidance of the mentor, program or department, so the student may continue to make progress towards degree while following guidelines from the EVPRI. Students will continue to receive their assistantship while the lab remains inactive. 
    • GSAs will be asked to work remotely as much as possible. If no remote work can be found, they will continue to receive their assistantships while offices are closed for in-person work.



    Approved: 6-18-20