March 23, 2020
Dear JHU Graduate Students:
During these highly unusual and challenging past few weeks, you have undoubtedly been receiving important messages from your respective programs and schools. While they will remain the key source of information, we also wanted to connect with you to offer further guidance and to relay our commitment to developing strategies that can support you in your academic and professional pursuits as well as your personal health and well-being.
This correspondence provides information on:
- Graduate student stipends, teaching, and hourly employment
- Health and wellness resources for graduate students
- A new universitywide website targeted specifically to graduate students
- Setting goals for academic progress during this period of remote instruction and research
- Graduate student research
- Life Design and professional development during this alternative educational arrangement
Graduate Student Stipends, Teaching, and Hourly Employment
- Doctoral students who had previously been receiving regular stipends or salaries from their division, from training grants or from research grants: These payments will continue from current funding sources. Doctoral students are expected to continue their work on research and proceed toward academic goals to the extent possible while working remotely. Meetings with advisers and supervisors should continue using online tools in order to agree on goals and objectives during this altered approach to scholarship.
Graduate students currently serving as teaching assistants (TAs): Graduate students serving as TAs will continue, remotely, with their assigned teaching responsibilities, to the greatest extent possible, and support that graduate students ordinarily receive for performing these teaching activities will continue under existing mechanisms. Graduate students working hourly as TAs and in situations where their teaching assistance cannot be completed remotely will need to consult their division for whether alternative hourly work may be available.
- Graduate students receiving Federal Work-Study (FWS) support: The university’s commitments to graduate students receiving FWS support remain unchanged. Graduate students are expected to continue to work remotely on FWS-supported projects. Graduate students receiving FWS support whose work cannot be done remotely may be reassigned to other hourly work. Regardless, graduate students receiving FWS will be guaranteed their hours and payment.
- Graduate students being paid hourly (casual) and not on FWS: Most graduate students who have been working and paid hourly will likely be able to continue to provide this work remotely and will continue to be paid. There will be some number of students, however, whose jobs (e.g., shelving books in the library or serving as an accompanist) are suspended during this public health crisis. We are encouraging faculty, programs, and divisions to post new, additional positions for remote hourly work that graduate students can fill. We regret, however, that some students who had been engaged in hourly work will not have that work available or replaced during this period. Any students for whom this poses a significant financial hardship should be in touch with their dean’s office to see whether any additional opportunities may be available.
- Graduate students temporarily based in another country: FAQ and additional guidance will soon be issued by the university for any graduate students who are temporarily based outside the U.S. during this period of remote scholarship and teaching. If any graduate students are currently residing in Cuba, Iran, North Korea, Sudan, Syria, or Ukraine (Crimea region), please be in touch with email@example.com for further guidance.
Health and Wellness
We are acutely aware that the COVID-19 outbreak is causing changes in day-to-day routines for everyone. For some, this may be associated with an increase in anxiety. Many people also have questions about the illness itself, including what they should do if they believe they have been exposed or feel like they are beginning to have symptoms.
- For emotional support, Homewood (KSAS and WSE) and Peabody graduate students can access the Counseling Center; SAIS, SOE, Carey, AAP, and EP graduate students can access the Johns Hopkins Student Assistance Program. Graduate students from East Baltimore can access either the Johns Hopkins Student Assistance Program or University Health Services.
- For questions about physical health including possible COVID-19 exposure, Homewood, Peabody, SAIS, SOE, Carey, AAP, and EP students can contact the Student Health and Wellness Center; graduate students from East Baltimore can contact University Health Services. Please call or email before going to any of these locations. Most services are being provided remotely to protect all in our community, especially the most vulnerable.
We also encourage you to get outside for fresh air, using proper physical distancing. The outdoors can be one of the most therapeutic environments in which to respect this necessity. Take the time to walk, run, bike, or hike while remaining 6 feet from others. Disconnecting for a while each day also is important for physical and mental health.
JHU Graduate Student Website
The university and each school have been working to transition student services online to serve your needs. We have created a new website to consolidate information about universitywide and school-specific resources relevant to graduate students. We will update this site as new information becomes available, so we encourage you to check back frequently. Beyond the information especially geared to graduate students listed on this page, additional regularly updated announcements for the JHU community related to COVID-19 can be found on the Hub’s COVID-19 information page. We also recommend the Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center for a look at how Johns Hopkins is contributing to the global response to COVID-19 through expertise in public health, emergency management, and infectious disease.
Setting Goals for Academic Progress
It is as important as ever to be in regular touch (via remote connection as specified) with your academic adviser/mentor during this period of remote instruction and research. Goals that have been set previously—whether through a formal Individual Development Plan or equivalent, or more informally—may need to be altered. But it remains very important to discuss goals for this spring term in order to ensure that expectations are articulated and agreed upon, academic work can continue, and some kind of structure can be created, to the extent possible, including with regular check-ins.
We recognize that graduate students are in a variety of situations. Some have small children at home. Some are working on research related to COVID-19. And some have told us that their work is relatively unaffected, as they had previously been doing work that relied predominantly on a computer and the internet. Clear understandings between you and your adviser will be essential during this period. Any graduate students who feel that they are not receiving the academic support they need should reach out to their school’s vice dean for education or to our offices.
Graduate Student Research
We appreciate that the types of research in which our graduate students are engaged, and the ways in which it will be affected by COVID-19 related changes, also vary tremendously. As above, we urge you to meet with your academic adviser(s) to agree upon any changes in goals for the spring term from what had originally been outlined for your own research. We refer graduate students to the JHU research administration coronavirus website for regularly updated information on current JHU research policies. Please note that almost all face-to-face human subjects research is being put on hold currently, as is most animal- and laboratory-based research. Wherever graduate students are physically based, the expectation is that they are following local policies and expectations relevant to COVID-19 movement, distancing, and safety.
Professional Development and Life Design Resources
Our career service functions of life design and professional development remain active during this time of remote work. Our Homewood and East Baltimore offices have created extensive virtual programming and offer one-on-one consultations by Zoom, as do the career offices of specific JHU schools. You may want to visit the websites of the Professional Development and Career Office (East Baltimore) or the PHutures office (Homewood) during your period of remote work as well as visiting JHU school-specific career office sites.
Finally, we would love to hear from you (firstname.lastname@example.org) if you have ideas for how to provide additional remote resources that would be helpful for the graduate student community, or for connecting with other students or faculty. We know that so many of you have been identifying ways to continue your research, scholarship, and teaching despite new constraints on all of us; and we are proud to continue to hear so many stories of graduate students volunteering within both the JHU and Baltimore communities to provide help and relief to others.
Times like this present us with unprecedented circumstances. But our graduate student community has a long history of rising to unforeseen challenges, designing unique solutions, and demonstrating a selfless ability to make the world better. Please keep us apprised of what you are doing, things we should know, and ways that we can help.
Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs
Nancy E. Kass
Vice-Provost for Graduate and Professional Education
Johns Hopkins University
Phoebe R. Berman Professor of Bioethics and Public Health
Johns Hopkins Berman Institute of Bioethics and
Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health