Operational Guidance in Response to COVID-19 – UW Graduate School Skip to content

Operational Guidance in Response to COVID-19

Members of the UW Graduate and Postdoctoral community,

By now, you have seen messages from campus leadership announcing that campus operations will continue in a modified, on-line environment throughout the entire Spring 2020 quarter.

As graduate students and postdoctoral fellows, this experience is a little distinctive. And, depending on where you are in your academic progression or the type of program you’re enrolled in, this new learning environment may look a little different.

Most importantly, we encourage to you consult with your mentors, research directors, and program directors to determine how each program is adapting in this new environment. UW is maintaining and updating a FAQ page with the most current information. In addition, please reference Mitigating Impacts to Research Activities from the Office of Research for updates on our research operations.

Specific guidance for graduate students and postdoctoral fellows:

1. We encourage research group leaders to make the best decisions for all members of the research group. Your health and safety is our first priority. And, please do not travel to research spaces if you are sick.

2. We encourage regularly (at least weekly) scheduled opportunities for the research group to connect (via Zoom/Microsoft Teams/etc.) where expectations and concerns are shared constructively and compassionately.

3. At this time, research at UW is open and allowed as long as proper social distancing practices are implemented, so it is possible to carry out research, attending to continuing and longitudinal experiments and producing new data during this unprecedented national emergency.

However, in this emergency situation, productivity may look different than it did last month, and remote work continues to be encouraged if at all feasible. As mentioned in #2, it is acceptable and expected that managing expectations will be necessary as everyone evolves into the ‘new normal’ environment.

4. In a message from Vice President for Research Mary Lindstrom, PIs have been instructed to encourage remote work wherever possible — this goes for graduate students and postdoctoral fellows, as well as research staff. Importantly, graduate students and postdoctoral fellows should not feel obligated to take on additional on-site work simply because they are likely to have fewer out-of-work responsibilities than senior research group members.

5. If graduate students, postdoctoral fellows and research staff are responsible for essential laboratory operations, then they should maintain access to the research space for these activities. However, once these essential activities are accomplished — again, practicing proper social distancing — they should be encouraged to return to their remote workspace.

6. No graduate student or postdoctoral fellow should be required to enter the research space if they do not feel safe in doing so. Simply share your concerns with your PI/research advisor — they have been encouraged to be flexible and as supportive as possible.

7. If you are required to travel to campus but normally rely on public transportation, the UW has opened parking at the E01 or E18 parking lots (UW main campus) and the 850 Republican Street garage (UW SLU campus) and will not ticket parkers there, as we mitigate our response to COVID-19. We encourage you to take advantage of this opportunity.

8. When working remotely, graduate students and postdoctoral fellows are encouraged to perform appropriate activities with their original appointment (e.g., analyzing data, writing manuscripts, progress reports, and their thesis, preparing for a General Exam or final dissertation defense, etc.) unless you have been reassigned to an alternative appointment by your department or PI. Additional work may be assigned by the PI/research group leader. While the location of the work has changed, these activities should all be in support of your original appointment and/or fellowship, and as such, there is no expectation of additional compensation.

9. We encourage international postdocs to be in contact with both the Academic HR and their home country for guidance, as the situation evolves.

10. We encourage programs, faculty, and research directors to make the most appropriate and informed decisions possible to support graduate students and postdoctoral fellows; the Graduate School, Core Programs (cpinfo@uw.edu), and the Office of Postdoctoral Affairs (uwopa@uw.edu) are ready to consult as necessary.

We hope you will all help each other as we navigate this difficult, and rapidly evolving, situation. UW is a strong community, and together we will get through this.


Bill Mahoney, Ph.D.
Associate Dean of Student and Postdoctoral Affairs
UW Graduate School