Telework in Support of Social Distancing

Dear Graduate Students and Postdoctoral Scholars, As the number of COVID-19 cases in Vermont increase, it is imperative that the University of Vermont support the effort to limit the spread of the disease by embracing social distancing in time and space. This action protects our UVM community, the community of Burlington and the health care professionals whose work is critical to treating patients.  We have taken a number of steps to limit the number of people on campus including a transition to remote learning for all students and the ability of faculty and staff to telecommute. We also want to ensure we are taking the necessary steps to protect our graduate students and post-doctoral scholars involved in research.

All graduate students and postdoctoral scholars, as well as medical and undergraduate students who may be conducting research in on-campus facilities, are expected to work with their PI or research advisors to  develop a plan to work on research-related activities remotely. Exceptions can be made if your participation is critical for essential functions of the lab as defined by your advisor and both your role and the essential research function are approved by your advisor’s Dean. However, no student or postdoctoral scholar may be required to participate in on-campus research if they are not comfortable doing so. Any student in a high-risk category (e.g., underlying health condition, over 60, pregnant, immune-compromised) should immediately discontinue on-campus work and transition to remote instruction or research activity. All work in the laboratory must follow guidelines to protect the health of you and those around you. Maintain social distancing in time and space, wash your hands often with soap, do not touch your face, cover your mouth when coughing or sneezing and disinfect shared equipment and surfaces before and after use.  The plans must be completed and student and postdoctoral researchers working remotely no later than March 30th

In addition to research activities, graduate students who may be working as graduate advisors in university offices should transition to telework. Graduate teaching assistants should also be working remotely.

If you are engaged in research for credit, you should discuss with your advisor those scholarly activities you can accomplish remotely. Graduate teaching assistants will have responsibilities guided by the needs of the courses you support. Since all courses are expected to be taught remotely, you should work with your faculty to create a plan to ensure you are working remotely as well.  Graduate advisors should work with their supervisors to determine whether their duties can be accomplished remotely or their duties can be changed to make telework possible.

A more formal arrangement to define remote work for postdoctoral scholars and graduate research assistants exists:

Postdoctoral Associates are university staff and must complete the staff telework agreement with their supervisor. This agreement is approved by the Dean or Department Head and Human Resources.

Predoctoral and Postdoctoral Fellows are considered employees of the agency that funds them and they, along with graduate research assistants, must complete an offsite work agreement in collaboration with their advisor. This agreement is approved by the Dean or Department Head and the Dean of the Graduate College.

It is our expectation that faculty advisors understand the need for this response to the COVID-19 situation and will support your transition to telework. If you feel that your PI or advisor is not supportive of this transition, please reach out to the Dean of the Graduate College (Dr. Cynthia Forehand; for support in the process.

Please continue to monitor the university’s COVID-19 website for updated information as the situation continues to evolve.