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Archive: Graduate School Updates About COVID-19

Below are past messages posted to the Graduate School's COVID-19 Updates page.

Fall 2021 Information

COVID-19 Updates and Guidance for Graduate Students

The Graduate School continues to follow the guidance outlined on the University COVID-19 website.
The information below provides guidance specific to graduate applicants, graduate students, and graduate education.

We are in this together, and we ask you to continue doing your part. Stay home as much as possible. Wash your hands—well and often. Maintain physical distance from individuals who are not a part of your household. Wear a mask when not home, and especially when unable to maintain physical distancing. Be an example for others.

Everyone is welcome.

We all belong to the UL Lafayette community, and the Graduate School wants to make sure that everyone is welcomed and respected.
Fear of the COVID-19 pandemic should not be misdirected against individuals because of an individual’s national origin, race, or other protected classes.If you or someone you know has experienced discrimination or harassment, contact our Human Resource partners for support, reporting options, and additional resources at hrcompliance@louisiana.edu. All supervisors and managers are responsible for watching for, stopping, and reporting it. The University will immediately review any allegations of harassment, intimidation, or discrimination and take appropriate action.
For consultation or training on promoting diversity, equity, and inclusion in our learning and work environments, contact the Office for Campus Diversity.

How to Contact Us

While a few staff members have returned to our offices, Martin Hall remains closed at this time.  All support services, programming, and appointments for current and prospective students are being offered remotely.
The best way to contact the Graduate School at this time continues to be by email at gradschool@louisiana.edu.
Individual staff members also remain available remotely during regular business hours by email, direct telephone number, or Microsoft Teams.

Milestone Requirements and Forms Guidance

The Graduate School will continue to require that preliminary/comprehensive/qualifying exams, foreign language proficiency exams, and defenses (prospectus/projects/thesis/ dissertation/synthesis projects) be conducted remotely through videoconferencing platforms such as Zoom or Microsoft Teams (accessed through University licenses) during Fall 2020 and the period between the end of Fall 2020 and Spring 2021.
If it is not feasible to conduct an exam/defense remotely, the committee chairperson may petition the Dean of the Graduate School to conduct the milestone requirement in person. Chairs are asked to consult with department heads prior to making an in-person exam/defense request. Requests must include justification and identify all participants as well as the proposed location, date, and time. On-campus, in-person exams/defenses must follow all health and physical distancing requirements.
For graduate programs that require a public defense of theses/dissertations, this requirement will be reinstated beginning in Fall 2020. Public defenses should be made available through videoconferencing platforms such as Zoom.
In Fall 2020 and Spring 2021, the Graduate School will return to assigning outside observers to thesis, dissertation, and synthesis project defenses/presentations as required by University policy. Outside observers also may be requested using the Outside Observer Request Form.
Submission of the Petition for Regular Admission Status Form and the Master’s Application for Candidacy Form are now acceptable only via the new webforms accessible via the Graduate School forms webpage.
All other forms (e.g., transfer credit requests, doctoral committee appointments, preliminary approval of thesis/dissertation/synthesis project forms, requests for an official leave of absence) and approvals are being accepted as follows:
The student should initiate the process by completing all parts of the form and forwarding it by email to the appropriate faculty member in their department (most often the graduate coordinator) for review and approval.
Upon review and approval, the faculty member/graduate coordinator will convey approval to the Graduate School by sending the completed form as a pdf document to gradschoolapprovals@louisiana.edu.
Approval signatures from required individuals will be accepted:
• whenever possible, on the scanned form with actual ink hand-signed signatures
• from a UL email account from which the approver indicates their approval on the form itself or in the body of the email to which the form is attached
• from a professional email address of an approver external to UL Lafayette (i.e., outside committee member) from which the approver indicates approval on the form itself or in the body of the email to which the form is attached

Degree Completion Deadlines

Due to the announced changes to the Fall 2020 academic calendar, changes have been made to the deadlines for completion of graduate written/oral examinations, submission of defended theses/dissertation manuscripts, and final copies of manuscripts to the Graduate School.
• November 2 is the deadline for chairpersons to submit the Preliminary Approval of Thesis, Dissertation, or Synthesis Project Form to GradSchoolApprovals@louisiana.edu. (The student should complete the content of the form and provide it to the committee chair.) Submission of this form tells us that the manuscript has been successfully defended, that all required committee changes have been made, and that it meets acceptable standards of writing for your discipline and the requirements set forth in the Guidelines for Preparation of Theses, Dissertations, & Synthesis Projects. This is the step that triggers the Graduate School final manuscript review and approval process.
• November 16 is the deadline for students to complete written and/or oral examinations.
• November 16 is the deadline for students to submit the final, Grad-School-approved copy of the thesis/dissertation/synthesis project manuscript on archival paper. Due to remote operation, no signatures will be required on approval pages for Fall 2020.
The “clear prior” requirements and deadlines for students also have changed as a result of these academic calendar changes and, of course, this unprecedented time.
“Clear prior” offers a grace period to complete the final review and approval process to graduate students who have satisfied all degree requirements except submission of the successfully defended thesis/dissertation manuscript to the Graduate School. While the degree is not officially conferred until the following semester, students who meet the clear prior deadline are exempt from paying additional tuition and fees for the semester in which the degree is officially awarded.
Requirements for clear prior will be modified temporarily in Summer and Fall 2020 to require submission of the successfully-defended, committee-approved manuscript for Graduate School review and approval by the following deadlines:
• August 14 [updated]:  Clear Prior deadline to be exempt from Fall 2020 tuition and fees
• January 8:  Clear Prior deadline to be exempt from Spring 2021 tuition and fees
During normal times, the final thesis/dissertation manuscript would be required to be not only successfully defended and committee approved but also completely through Graduate School review and approval by these deadlines.
Finally, given the significant time between the end of the Fall 2020 semester and the start of the Spring 2021 semester, faculty members are expected to be especially flexible and accommodating to graduate students working to complete theses/dissertations in time to meet the clear prior deadline in January.


How will graduate courses be offered in Spring 2021?

The University's goal is to continue to blend in-person, remote, and online learning in a way that preserves valuable on-campus experiences and reduces the potential for exposure to COVID-19 in Spring 2021. The full academic calendar for the semester can be viewed on the Registrar's website.

The graduate student learning environment will look different depending on your program. Most programs will offer graduate courses on-campus (OC) or via hyflex courses that utilize a combination of on-campus learning with remote/online technology (HF) while others will offer hybrid (HY), remote (RM), or online (OL) graduate courses.

Definitions of these course delivery types are available here.

You should review the delivery type for individual graduate courses on the Schedule of Classes. Below is a general overview of how graduate programs plan to offer courses in Spring 2021.
Graduate Program Course Delivery Modes
Accounting (M.S.) OL
Applied Language and Speech Sciences (Ph.D.) HF
Architecture (M.Arch.) HF, RM
Biology (M.S.) OC, HF, RM
Biology, Environmental & Evolutionary (Ph.D.) OC, HF, RM
Business Administration (Graduate Certificate) OL
Business Administration (M.B.A.) - online OL
Business Administration (M.B.A.) - on campus OC, HF, HY, RM
Cardiovascular Nursing (Graduate Certificate) OL
Chemical Engineering (M.S.E.) OC, HF
Civil Engineering (M.S.E.) OC, HF
Communication (M.S.) OC, HF, HY, RM, OL
Computer Science (M.S.) OC, HF, RM
Computer Science (Ph.D.) OC, HF, RM
Computer Engineering (M.S.) OC, HF, RM
Computer Engineering (Ph.D.) OC, HF, RM
Counselor Education (M.S.) HF
Criminal Justice (M.S.) HF (only 597 will be RM)
Earth & Energy Sciences (Ph.D.) OC, HF
Education (M.A.T.) Elementary Education OL
Education (M.A.T.) Elementary French Immersion OL
Education (M.A.T.) Special Education HF, RM
Education (M.Ed.) Curriculum and Instruction - Instructional Specialist OL
Education (M.Ed.) Curriculum and Instruction - Special Educ. Diagnostician HF, RM, OL
Education (M.Ed.) Gifted Education HF, RM, OL
Education (M.Ed.) Educational Leadership HF, RM
Education (Ed.D.) Educational Leadership HF, RM
Electrical Engineering (M.S.E.) OC, HF
English (M.A.) HF, RM, OL
English (Ph.D.) HF, RM, OL
Environmental Resource Science (M.S.) HF, RM
Francophone Studies (Ph.D.) HF, RM
French (M.A.) HF, RM
Geology (M.S.) HF
Health Care Administration (Post-MBA Graduate Certificate) OC, HF, OL
History (M.A.) HF, RM
Informatics (M.S.) OC, HF
Instructional Coach (Graduate Certificate) OL
Kinesiology (M.S.) HF, RM, HY, OL
Mathematics (M.S.) OC, HF, RM
Mathematics (Ph.D.) OC, HF, RM
Mechanical Engineering (M.S.E.) OC, HF
Music (M.M.) OC, HF, RM
Nursing (M.S.N.) OL + Clinical Experiences (OC)
Nursing Practice (DNP) OL + Clinical Experiences (OC)
Petroleum Engineering (M.S.E.) OC, HF
Physics (M.S.) OC, HF
Professional Writing (Graduate Certificate) OL
Psychology (M.S.) OC, HF, RM
Speech Pathology (Communicative Disorders M.S.) HF
Systems Engineering (Ph.D.) OC, HF
Systems Technology (M.S.) OL
TESOL (Graduate Certificate) OC
Updated 2021.01.04
Learn more about on-campus class size and safety protocols as well as disability services and accommodations here.

International Student Guidance

The Graduate School recognizes that the worldwide pandemic has presented unique challenges for our international graduate students.
While the Division of Global Engagement is the best resource for international students concerned about what the disruptions caused by COVID-19 mean for them as students at UL Lafayette, the FAQs below are intended to supplement that important guidance.
How does UL Lafayette’s plan for graduate instruction in Spring 2021 impact my ability to enroll as an F-1 student?
UL Lafayette has adopted a “hybrid model,” with a mixture of in-person and remote classes, for Spring 2021.
At the present time, SEVP has not provided guidance to universities regarding online enrollment for the Spring 2021 semester. Please make sure to check your louisiana.edu email and the Division of Global Engagement’s webpage for updates regarding SEVP regulations impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. At the current time, the Office of International Affairs is recommending that students enroll in primarily on-campus, hybrid, and HyFlex classes for the Spring 2021 semester
I am currently in the United States and need to transfer my I-20. Will I be able to start my graduate studies at UL Lafayette in Spring 2021?
Yes.
For new international graduate students who are currently in the United States and hold a student visa that will be transferred to UL Lafayette, we anticipate no issues preventing enrollment on campus in Spring 2021.
I am currently outside the United States but have been admitted for Spring 2021 or am a current student. I do not know whether I will be able to arrive at UL Lafayette to begin the Spring semester. Can I begin/continue my graduate studies remotely or online?
It depends.
We are dedicated to doing everything possible, within what is permitted by law, to ensure that our international graduate students can begin/continue their graduate studies at UL Lafayette.
Beginning or continuing graduate studies while abroad, however, will depend on your program’s availability of remote or online classes, your location, and your research area.
Contact the Graduate School to determine if remote or online enrollment is available or if it will be necessary for you to delay enrollment by deferring admission or taking an official leave of absence. The Graduate School will consult with your graduate program and the Division of Global Engagement to provide the guidance you need.
Please note that you cannot hold a graduate assistantship appointment while outside of the United States.
Can I enter the United States with my valid visitor/tourist visa or on the Visa Waiver Program (ESTA) to start my program in Spring 2021 and just change it my status to F-1 or J-1 later?
No.
Students are not eligible to begin a degree or exchange program on a visitor/tourist visa or on the Visa Waiver Program.
I was awarded funding to support my graduate studies at UL Lafayette but I am still outside the United States. If I am permitted to begin/continue my graduate studies remotely in Spring 2021, will I be able to keep my assistantship?
No.
You will not be able to be employed, even as a graduate assistant, at UL Lafayette while living abroad.
It is not possible to be paid a stipend for assistantship or fellowship duties at UL Lafayette performed outside of the United States.
I was awarded a tuition waiver to support my graduate studies at UL Lafayette but I am still outside the United States. If I am permitted to begin/continue my graduate studies remotely in Spring 2021, will I be able to use this tuition waiver?
Contact the Graduate School to determine if your tuition waiver will support remote or online enrollment from abroad.
I was awarded a Robert Elliott May Resident Graduate Tuition Fellowship, which waives non-resident fees. If I am permitted to begin/continue my graduate studies remotely in Spring 2021, will I still be eligible to pay only resident graduate tuition rates?
Yes.
Current graduate tuition and fees are available online here.
As a new graduate student, can I decide to defer my admission to a later semester?
Yes.
See “Delaying Graduate Enrollment Guidance” below for information on how to make this request.
As a continuing graduate student, can I decide to take an official leave of absence?
Yes. Please note that any continuing F-1 or J-1 student who chooses to take a leave of absence must complete and submit a Withdrawal Form so that their I-20 or DS-2019 can be terminated for “Authorized Early Withdrawal.”
See “Delaying Graduate Enrollment Guidance” below for information on how to make this request.
If I decide to delay my enrollment, will my assistantship or fellowship funding still be available to me?
Assistantship and fellowship offers are not guaranteed if you decide to defer admission or take an official leave of absence. Talk with your graduate coordinator or assistantship/fellowship supervisor to determine if funding will still be available to you in the future.
If I decide to delay enrollment, will my Robert Elliott May Resident Graduate Tuition Fellowship still be available to me?
Yes.
If I decide to delay my enrollment by deferring admission, will I need a new I-20?
Yes. A new I-20 will be issued to you with the same SEVIS number and new dates.
If your I-20 included assistantship or fellowship funds, the Graduate School will require notification from your graduate program that these funds will be extended to the new admission term.
If I decide to delay my enrollment by taking an official leave of absence, will I need a new I-20 and/or visa?
Yes.
The Graduate School will provide guidance to you about how to obtain a new I-20.
Information for Applicants
Prospective and recently-admitted students are encouraged to review our applicant FAQ page for current information regarding our application requirements and processes. Highlights include the following:
• Some programs have made the decision to continue to suspend the GRE requirement for Spring 2021, Summer 2021, and Fall 2021 applications.
• The Duolingo English Test will continue to be available as a temporary alternative to IELTS, TOEFL, and PTE testing options for those applying for all 2021 terms.

How will Graduate Student Orientations be available?

To ensure a safe and accessible environment for our students, the Graduate School orientations are now offered online, accessible via Moodle, here.

The New Graduate Student Orientation introduces the skills, resources, and networks of support essential to success in grad school at UL Lafayette.

The Graduate Assistant (GTA/GRA/GA) and University Fellow Orientation, included as the last module in the New Graduate Student Orientation, includes information on completion of hiring paperwork and mandatory University trainings.
Check with your graduate coordinator for details about a program-specific orientation for new students in your department.
International students should review plans for the New International Student Orientation on the Division of Global Engagement on its COVID-19 Response & Updates website.
Graduate Assistantship and Fellowship Guidance
To ensure the safety of our University community, the University has turned to a risk-based assessment to guide the return to on-campus learning and operations. As part of this effort, the University has announced a multi-phased return to campus plan that is available on the UL Lafayette COVID-19 Response website.
Beyond the specific guidance provided below, graduate assistantship (GTA/GRA/GA) and graduate fellowship appointments are expected to adhere to the policies and protocols outlined in the University Return-to-Workplace Guide.
Graduate students appointed as graduate assistants or graduate fellows are expected to be in residence in Louisiana and available to be on campus in Spring 2021 unless a Temporary Graduate Assistantship Remote Work Request has been approved by the Graduate School. Unfortunately, because the University has determined that individuals who reside outside of the United States cannot be paid stipends, completion of remote assistantship or fellowship duties from abroad cannot be approved.
In order to return to campus as a graduate assistant or fellow, you must complete the following:
• Before returning to campus:  "Preventing COVID-19" 25-minute course available on Moodle
• Each day prior to arriving on campus:  Employee COVID19 Daily Self-Check
• If directed not to arrive on campus due to COVID-19:  Student COVID-19 Quarantine & Isolation Reporting Form
Talk with your department head or assistantship/fellowship supervisor to determine how your position is part of the return-to-campus plan.
In an effort to protect the health, safety, and welfare of our campus community, academic departments (or hiring units) and supervisors should make every reasonable effort to accommodate requests from graduate students for flexibility, physical distancing, staggered scheduling, and remote work options.
• If the scope of assistantship or fellowship duties can be performed effectively remotely, supervisors may approve remote work until the easing of social distancing restrictions.
• If the scope of assistantship or fellowship duties typically performed do not lend themselves easily to remote work, supervisors may assign alternate duties to accommodate such requests.
Graduate students requesting an adjustment to their assistantship or fellowship assignment should follow the established process in their academic unit (or hiring unit, if not an academic appointment) for identifying solutions.
Where there are requests for flexibility for reasons other than individual health considerations (e.g., age, caregiving responsibilities for or cohabitating with an at-risk individual, child care needs), graduate students are encouraged to work productively with their supervisors to identify solutions that balance individual needs with the needs of the University.
Academic departments, hiring units, and supervisors should not request documentation from graduate students to demonstrate high-risk conditions or justification for accommodation. Rather, they should notify the EEO/ADA Coordinator at hrcompliance@louisiana.edu of such requests.
If accommodation and/or alternate assistantship or fellowship duties cannot be mutually agreed upon by the academic department/hiring unit/supervisor and graduate student, the Graduate School should be notified. The Dean of the Graduate School—in consultation with the Academic Dean, the Dean of Students, and Human Resources—will facilitate resolution.

Delaying Graduate Enrollment Guidance

The Graduate School is committed to assisting you as you make decisions about enrollment in Spring 2021.
Recently-admitted graduate students who have not yet begun their graduate studies may defer admission, without fee or penalty, to a later semester. Find instructions for deferring graduate admission here.
Continuing graduate students may request an Official Leave of Absence by submitting a Leave of Absence Request Form found here.
If you have funding (e.g., an assistantship, fellowship, scholarship), discuss with your graduate coordinator or assistantship/fellowship supervisor how delaying graduate enrollment may impact your funding. Similarly, if you have received federal financial aid, you should consult with the Office of Financial Aid.

 

Guidance for Submitting Forms during Remote Operations (updated 2020.04.03)

To facilitate the submission of forms and required signatures in Spring 2020, the Graduate School will accept formal notifications, forms, and faculty approvals electronically as follows:

For Final Reports, no signatures will be required. Rather, upon notification to gradschoolapprovals@louisiana.edu by the chairperson of the committee or graduate coordinator (via their UL email address) that a student has successfully completed all degree requirements (e.g., comprehensive exam and/or oral defense), the Graduate School will email each committee member requesting that they individually provide approval of this Final Report notification. All committee members will be required to provide approval using their UL email address (or, in the case of external members, an email address associated with their professional appointment).

For thesis/dissertation/synthesis project Approval Pages, no signatures will be required. Rather, upon receipt of the Preliminary Approval Form at gradschoolapprovals@louisiana.edu from the chairperson of the committee (via their UL email address), the Graduate School will email each committee member requesting that they individually provide approval of the defended manuscript. All committee members will be required to provide approval using their UL email address (or, in the case of external members, an email address associated with their professional appointment).

For Applications for Candidacy, no signatures will be required at this time. Rather, the student should complete all parts of the form and forward it by email to the graduate coordinator for review and approval. The graduate coordinator is asked to confirm that the committee members identified have agreed to serve on the student's committee. Upon doing so and using their UL email, the graduate coordinator will then forward the form confirming approval and committee membership to gradschoolapprovals@louisiana.edu.

For all other forms and required signatures, the Graduate School will accept forms and approvals electronically at gradschoolapprovals@louisiana.edu as follows:

1. The student should complete all parts of the form (e.g., Preliminary Approval Form, Transfer Credit Request, Petition for Regular Status) and forward it by email to the appropriate faculty member in their department (most often the committee chair or graduate coordinator) for review and approval.

2. Upon review and approval, the committee chair and/or graduate coordinator shall convey approval to the Graduate School by sending the completed form as a pdf document to the email address above. Approval signatures from required individuals will be accepted:

  •     whenever possible, on the scanned form with actual ink hand-signed signatures
  •     from a UL email account in which the approver indicates their approval of the form, and it is sufficient for the approver to note approval in the body of the email to which the form is attached
  •     from a professional email address of an approver external to UL Lafayette (i.e., external committee member), and again it is sufficient for the approver to note approval in the body of the email to which the form is attached


GUIDANCE FOR GRAD ASSISTANTS (GTA/GRA/GA), FELLOWS, AND SUPERVISORS 2020.03.26

The University is committed to supporting its student employees to the greatest extent possible. To this end, graduate assistants (including GAs, GTAs, and GRAs) and fellows will continue to receive their regular pay. Graduate assistants and fellows will continue to receive their monthly stipends and tuition/fee waivers.

The procedures for reporting time are as follows:

  •     Supervisors for graduate assistants and fellows must submit a GA-Fellow Continuity Plan (found on our website here) to the Graduate School for each funded student.
  •     Payroll will email a voucher to graduate assistants and fellows at the end of each pay period.
  •     Graduate assistants and fellows must forward the completed voucher to GradSchoolApprovals@louisiana.edu.
  •     Graduate assistants and fellows must confirm in the body of the forwarded email whether they were able/unable to complete duties as had been expected.
  •     The Graduate School will approve and forward the voucher to Payroll.

2020.03.20

Yesterday, the University announced that remote learning courses will be continued through the end of the Spring 2020 semester.

In light of this decision (and given recommendations from public health officials, developing restrictions on travel, and the continuing fluid nature of this situation), it is expected that graduate assistants/fellows and their supervisors will finalize a basic continuity plan for continued duties. This expectation is because we understand that the work that graduate assistants and fellows do is integral to the teaching, research, and administrative mission of the University, but also provides critical living stipends, tuition/fee waivers, and support for graduate students’ progress toward degree in other important ways. Our goal is to ensure that this important support and work continues.

Supervisors are now asked to complete the continuity plan found on our website here for each graduate assistant (GTA, GRA, GA) and fellow in their area. Please discuss with your department, college, unit leadership as necessary. Questions can also be directed to Dean Farmer-Kaiser at mary.farmer-kaiser@louisiana.edu. Completed forms should be sent to GradSchoolApprovals@louisina.edu. (Please do not send them to Dr. Farmer-Kaiser's email address.)

Graduate students who presently serve as a GTA, GRA, GA, or fellow, if you have not already done so, please be in touch with your supervisor to discuss how duties and communications will continue during the Spring 2020 semester.


Remote Operations - 2020.03.23

As you know, Governor John Bel Edwards recently issued a statewide stay-at-home order that requires all Louisiana residents to shelter in their homes except to perform essential tasks.

In compliance with that order, beginning at 5pm today, the Graduate School moved to fully remote operations. What does that mean for you? It means that you can rest assured that we’re all still working with you and for you—just in our own homes.

During this time of remote operations, the best way to reach us is via email at gradschool@louisiana.edu. You can also reach our individual staff members by email or by calling their individual office phone numbers, which are available on our website.

You will be the first to know when the Graduate School offices in Martin Hall reopen in person. For now, know that you are in our thoughts. Stay well, and remember that we will get through this together.


Withdrawals, Resignations, and Leave of Absence - 2020.03.20

On Thursday, March 19, the Registrar’s Office announced that the date to withdraw/resign from classes this Spring has been pushed back (and also that the process has been changed to accommodate a remote request). Like you, I’m glad these announcements were made.

My hope is that this later deadline gives you the time you need to adapt to the changing situation. Those of you who work in health care fields, I know are already finding it hard to align your graduate studies with new developments in this very fluid situation. Others of you who are parents are trying hard to figure out how to make graduate studies work now that children are home. And so many others are working to set up home workspaces that need to be shared with partners and roommates. And, of course, there’s the constant stream of fluid, scary information about all matters related to Covid-19. (Oh, and there’s the incredibly appealing escape provided by Netflix, videogaming, etc.) It’s a lot to take in.

So, with all that’s coming your way, I want you to take the time you need to assess the current situation before you make any big decisions about grad school. Get into your classes, see how they are changing in this remote environment and ask your professors questions (all of them—big, small, and even those that you fear might seem ridiculous). Figure out how your work expectations are changing. Get your kids, partners, and roommates settled.

There is now no rush to make the decision to drop a class or resign. But, should the time come, and you decide to make the hard decision that graduate studies is too much to handle in this moment, then, yes, initiate the steps outlined by the Registrar’s Office to withdraw/resign from classes. If you do decide to resign, however, I hope you will simultaneously take the step to request a Leave of Absence. We want you back here when you’re ready to be back, and a formal Leave of Absence will make it easier to return.


Progress toward degree and graduate degree completion - 2020.03.17

Progress toward degree and graduate degree completion are tough even in the best of circumstances, and we understand that developments related to COVID-19 are causing additional anxiety as our graduate students work to move forward with preliminary/comprehensive exams, qualifying papers, thesis/dissertation defenses, DNP synthesis project presentations, and other important academic milestones.

The following procedures have been put in place for Spring 2020 to assist us all in navigating public health concerns, the changes that have come with the transition to remote course delivery, and the need to keep progress toward degree completion moving.

The published deadlines for Spring 2020 remain in effect at this time for graduate written/oral examinations, submission of defended thesis/dissertation manuscripts, and final copies of thesis/dissertation manuscripts to the Graduate School.

Effective immediately and throughout the period of mandated remote instruction, the Graduate School strongly recommends that preliminary/comprehensive exams, defenses, and committee meetings be conducted remotely via videoconferencing platforms such as Microsoft Teams, Skype, or Zoom. See below for some resources that might assist you in setting up these remote meetings:

Microsoft Teams Training Guide (see also UL Lafayette resources on Teams)
Zoom Guide to Videoconferencing (Pro Version)

If the campus remains open and it is truly not feasible to conduct preliminary/comprehensive exams and/or defenses remotely, the committee chairperson may petition the Dean of the Graduate School to conduct milestone requirements in person. I ask that you take care to consult with your department head as well as the student and all committee members prior to making this request. The request must identify all participants, proposed location, date, time, and identify remote/in-person participants individually. For any in-person meetings, social distancing is an absolute necessity.

For graduate programs that require a public dissertation/thesis defense, beginning immediately and continuing throughout the period of mandated remote instruction, defenses are to be limited to the student and committee members (and outside observer, if assigned by the Graduate School).

For Spring 2020, the Graduate School will assign outside observers only if formally requested using the Outside Observer Request Form at http://gradschool.louisiana.edu/outsideobserver. If you are a member of the Graduate Faculty who is available to serve in this capacity, please complete the Outside Observer Availability Form at http://gradschool.louisiana.edu/outsideobserveravail.

To facilitate the submission of forms and required signatures in Spring 2020, the Graduate School will accept formal notifications, forms, and faculty approvals electronically as follows:

For Final Reports, no signatures will be required. Rather, upon notification to gradschoolapprovals@louisiana.edu by the chairperson of the committee or graduate coordinator (via their UL email address) that a student has successfully completed all degree requirements (e.g., comprehensive exam and/or oral defense), the Graduate School will email each committee member requesting that they individually provide approval of this Final Report notification. All committee members will be required to use their UL email address to provide approval.

Similarly, for thesis/dissertation/synthesis project Approval Pages, no signatures will be required. Rather, upon receipt of the Preliminary Approval Form at gradschoolapprovals@louisiana.edu from the chairperson of the committee (via their UL email address), the Graduate School will email each committee member requesting that they individually provide approval of the defended manuscript. All committee members will be required to use their UL email address to provide approval.

For all other forms and required signatures, the Graduate School will accept forms and approvals electronically at gradschoolapprovals@louisiana.edu as follows:

  1.         The student should complete all parts of the form (e.g., Preliminary Approval Form, Transfer Credit Request, Petition for Regular Status, Application for Candidacy) and forward it by email to the appropriate faculty member in their department (most often the committee chair or graduate coordinator) for review and approval.
  2.         Upon review and approval, the committee chair and/or graduate coordinator shall convey approval to the Graduate School by sending the completed form as a pdf document to the email address above. Approval signatures from required individuals will be accepted:
  • whenever possible, on the scanned form with actual ink hand-signed signatures
  •  from a UL email account in which the approver indicates their approval of the form, and it is sufficient for the approver to note approval in the body of the email to which the form is attached
  •  from a professional email address of an approver external to UL Lafayette (i.e., external committee member), and again it is sufficient for the approver to note approval in the body of the email to which the form is attached

Fortunately, the Graduate School process for final review and approval of defended theses, dissertations, and synthesis projects is managed remotely already. No changes will be made to this process other than that (1) we ask that Preliminary Approval Forms be submitted by committee chairpersons (electronically as noted above and instead of by the student) and (2) we will be developing remote workshops (and continuing remote office hours) to support our thesis, dissertation, and synthesis project writers. Those who have applied for graduation in Spring 2020 will receive additional guidance shortly from Dr. Philip de Mahy in the Graduate School.

Please do not hesitate to contact the Graduate School if you have questions and stay tuned for new developments in this very fluid situation.

And again, make sure that you are taking care of yourself and remember that we remain here for you.

 

A MESSAGE FROM DEAN FARMER-KAISER - 2020.03.18

Graduate Student Parking - 2020.03.15

Please know that Transportation Services will not be running buses from Cajun Field on Monday and Tuesday, and continuing while on-campus courses are conducted remotely. During this time, graduate students involved in the instructional mission, research, and/or who are on assistantships in other areas that necessitates them to be on campus are permitted to park in Zone 15 (Earl K. Long Gym and Oliver Hall lot).


Transition to Remote Instruction - 2020.03.14

Yesterday, the University announced that beginning on March 18 all on-campus instruction will transition to remote instruction. Online courses will not change.

Graduate students enrolled in on-campus or hybrid courses should plan to participate remotely (and not to come to campus specifically for face-to-face instruction). Faculty will be in touch with you next week to guide you in this transition. Faculty and/or graduate program leadership will communicate with graduate students in clinical (and other kinds of professional placements) and labs to provide guidance about how these important program requirements will be managed.

Graduate students involved in the instructional mission, research, and/or who are on assistantships with activities other than the instructional mission and research, should refer to the information below for additional guidance.

Graduate students serving as instructors and/or supporting courses as a GTA should contact the department/faculty responsible for the respective courses for guidance on how to adapt/deliver a course via a remote delivery format appropriate for the course and/or how to support faculty doing so. The University has prepared the resources below for faculty and GTAs regarding remote teaching and learning.

● Moodle Basics for Faculty and GTAs
    Hosted by Distance Learning, the Moodle Basics webinar covers how to: locate the Moodle course shell, make the course available to students, post contact information, upload course syllabi and instructional materials, send announcements, create quizzes and discussion forums, monitor activity, grade assignments, and host virtual office hours. Each workshop is 90 minutes and includes an hour-long presentation and a Q&A session.
        ○ View available webinar times and register.
        ○ UPDATE (2020.03.17): The Moodle Basics sessions for faculty and GTAs are online only now. The link for joining either Zoom session is https://ullafayette.zoom.us/my/distancelearning.

● Tutorials and Guides
    This guide developed by the Office of Distance Learning provides the “essential steps” for setting up a course and sharing coursework in Moodle. View tutorials and guides.

● Teaching Remotely FAQs and Resources
    This resource page offers answers to FAQs, an intro to important tools and resources, and a guide for creating a course continuity plan. View Teaching Remotely FAQs and resources.
  
● Additionally, several universities have produced, or are updating, emergency guidelines for teaching online. The Chronicle of Higher Education Teaching Newsletter recently highlighted these as being particularly thorough.
        ○ The University of California at Santa Cruz has put together this guide on teaching during unplanned events. It offers both technical and pedagogical advice.
        ○ Indiana University has developed a “Keep Teaching” guide that walks instructors through different scenarios, including complex ones, such as how to replicate lab activities online.
        ○ Kansas State University Global Campus has created an interactive online community to share resources and advice for planning academic continuity.
        ○ Daniel Stanford, director of faculty development and technology innovation at the DePaul University Center for Teaching and Learning, created a handy Google document with links to remote-teaching resources at various colleges. Readers can add their own college’s resources to the list.

Graduate students conducting research for their theses, dissertations, synthesis projects, or as part of a research assistantship are expected to continue their research activities. Research labs should implement mechanisms and/or shift activities to conduct research remotely wherever possible (e.g., computational work, research of online resources and databases, data analysis, etc.). Where research activities on campus and in associated research facilities are necessary, additional practices should be adopted to keep health and safety a priority (see below). Please contact your research supervisor for further guidance or if you have additional questions. To minimize the disruption of graduate students’ research progress, please consider the following steps:

● When possible, allow graduate students to perform their research remotely.
● If research cannot be performed remotely, research supervisors are asked to consider the following steps to minimize risk in the research environment:
        ○ Be flexible and understanding when working with graduate students to develop plans for their research.
        ○ Stagger schedules so that researchers can avoid close contact.
        ○ Identify pieces of equipment and areas that are used frequently by multiple people. Enact cleaning practices so that each user disinfects the equipment and/or areas as appropriate following each use.
        ○ Develop a schedule and contingency plan to ensure that research activities that are critical and require a physical presence, such as ongoing research studies with animals, are not disrupted.
        ○ Graduate students with health issues that put them at high risk if they contract COVID-19 should be allowed to perform research activities remotely. These activities could include data analyses, online research, writing, literature reviews, etc.
        ○ Recognize that the situation is rapidly evolving and may cause anxiety in our graduate students, not only with respect to their personal health and wellness, but also that of their friends and families.

Graduate students on assistantships with activities other than the instructional mission and research are expected to report for work even as on-campus classes have been suspended. This expectation is because we understand that the work graduate assistants do provides stipends, tuition/fee waivers, and supports your progress toward degree in other important ways. Plan to talk with your assistantship supervisor on Monday to discuss how your duties will continue. Supervisors may consider alternative work assignments, separate work areas, staggered/accommodated/flexible scheduling, and/or remote work as appropriate.

Please know that your faculty, supervisors, graduate programs, and the Graduate School are committed to supporting all graduate students as we navigate public health concerns and the transition to remote course delivery.

Make sure that you are taking care of yourself and remember that we are here for you.