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Coronavirus (COVID-19) FAQ

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Coronavirus Updates and Resources

Frequently Asked Questions

The Graduate College office is open Monday through Thursday from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. However, most Graduate College staff are working remotely. We recommend emailing your Graduate College Academic Counselor or gradinfo@ou.edu  if you have questions.

We anticipate no disruption in the application submission or review process. We recommend submitting credentials electronically if possible, though we are able to receive regular mail and deliveries from DHL, FedEx, UPS, etc. Information about how to submit credentials is available here. You can submit documents in person Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Email gradadm@ou.edu with other questions.

We now offer electronic versions of many forms. For all paper forms, the Graduate College will accept a scanned copy sent to your Graduate College Academic Counselor with scanned signatures or indication of approval from an OU email address. If you don’t have access to a scanner, you can take a clear picture of each page with your phone.

In fall 2020, non-thesis exams, qualifying exams, general exams, prospectus defenses, annual evaluations, thesis/dissertation defenses, or other similar milestone events may be conducted remotely. Zoom should be used for events that involve oral discussion. The normal Graduate College approval for remote participation will not be required.

These events may be conducted in person as long as in-person courses are being held, and as long as all applicable university policies, including those related to room capacity, masking, and physical distancing, are adhered to. During any period when in-person courses are suspended, exams, defenses, and related milestones must be conducted remotely.

All committee members should participate. For absences, the current policy will apply (see Graduate College Bulletin sections 7.2.5.3 (master's thesis), 7.3.1.4 (master's non-thesis), 8.5.2 (general exam), and 8.7.3 (dissertation defense). 

If you have any questions about these policies, please email gradinfo@ou.edu.

Defenses should be public. Even for in-person events, a Zoom component may facilitate broader participation and help to manage room capacity. The Zoom meeting information can be shared with faculty and graduate students in the academic unit as well as other interested parties such as the candidate’s family and friends.

You may wish to review this overview of Zoom’s meeting participant controls. We recommend the following:

  •  Set the Zoom meeting to mute participants’ audio on entry.
  •  Turn off the feature that plays a sound whenever a participant joins or leaves.
  • Have all committee members’ phone numbers on hand in case anyone has trouble with their Zoom connection; they can join via speakerphone. 
  • Enable participant screen sharing if the student will use slides or other visuals.
  • For committee deliberations, either enable the breakout rooms feature and assign the committee to a breakout room, or have a separate Zoom meeting ready for the committee to join for their deliberations immediately after a thesis or dissertation defense. Alternatively, the waiting room feature can be used to house the student during committee deliberations as well as controlling audience admission during the public portion of the defense.
  • For general exam orals, use the place attendee on hold feature during committee deliberations. 
  • Do a test run to make sure everything is set up correctly.  Have the student practice screen sharing.

More information about Zoom, including how to request support, is available here.

Discuss the situation with your advisor, graduate committee, and/or graduate liaison. They have been encouraged to offer support and, where appropriate, modify plans to support you in making progress while maintaining the integrity of the degree. If you are experiencing a COVID-19-related delay that may require an immediate or future remedy, you can initiate the Report on Delay of Progress Due to COVID-19 online form, which will be electronically routed to your committee (if applicable) and graduate liaison for signatures.  

If you need additional support, contact Dr. Rodney Bates, Director of Graduate Student and Postdoc Retention and Support, Dr. Sherri Irvin, Senior Associate Dean of the Graduate College, or Dr. Liz Karr, Associate Dean of the Graduate College.

See also the FAQs below, especially:

I’m feeling stressed and isolated. Help!

What should I do if I need support?

Some graduate teaching assistants (GTAs) and Graduate Research Assistants (GRAs) are performing some or all of their duties remotely. You should still be working the same number of hours (20 hours/week for a .5 FTE appointment; 10 hours/week for a .25 FTE appointment). Departments are required to track which employees are working remotely. If you are teaching your own class, visit the OU Teach Anywhere site for resources. If you need access to technology to do your work, discuss with your supervisor. 

Graduate assistants must be physically present in the US to hold fall 2020 or spring 2021 GTA or GRA appointments, except for appointments 100% funded by an external agency that has specifically approved an international remote work arrangement for the student. Any exceptions must be reviewed on a case-by-case basis by the Office of Legal Counsel. Contact Dr. Sherri Irvin, Senior Associate Dean of the Graduate College, for more information. 

This orientation will be offered remotely via Canvas prior to the spring 2021 semester, and participants will be able to complete it at their own pace. Please refer to the New GTA Orientation webpage for more details.

Graduate teaching assistants taking an ECC Test and/or Screening Test can complete these tests via Zoom. ETCS can also advise and register individuals for necessary assessments via email and Zoom. We encourage individuals to complete their initial appointments as soon as possible, to avoid delays in the certification process. ECC Test reviews can be conducted before retesting via Zoom as well. Contact the ETCS Administrator, Bushra Asif, for details or to schedule.

Students who missed the May 20 deadline for spring 2020 P/NP grading may submit an appeal to the Office of the Registrar here: http://laserfiche.ou.edu/Forms/PNPAppeal. We do not anticipate that P/NP grading will be offered for subsequent academic terms.

At the end of the spring 2020 semester, you had seven days after grades were posted to choose whether to keep the letter grade or to elect P/NP (pass / no pass) grading for letter-graded courses. Graduate classes with a letter grade of A, B or C were eligible to be converted to P. Graduate classes with a letter grade of D or F were eligible to be converted to NP. These choices were made on a course-by-course basis.

Grades of P for spring 2020 carry credit and will count toward the degree. They are not calculated in the GPA. Choosing P instead of a letter grade may have consequences for professional licensure or financial aid from non-OU sources. 

We recommend that you discuss potential consequences with faculty in your unit and check with non-OU financial aid agencies about whether a grade of P would affect your eligibility. (Please note that normally, a grade of P would not count toward a graduate degree. A policy exception has been made due to the Covid-19 disruption in spring 2020.)

Grades of NP are neutral, carry no credit, do not affect the GPA, and will not trigger academic penalties. NP is not the same as U or F. 

To qualify for a degree or graduate certificate, a student must have a minimum 3.00 GPA in the coursework applied to the program (identified on the Graduate Certificate Program Report, the master’s Program of Study, and the doctoral Advisory Conference Report.) Prospective Spring 2020 graduates with a program GPA below 3.00 may still opt into P/NP grading but will need to enroll for an additional term(s) of coursework if they have not met the program GPA requirement for graduation.

Additional information about P/NP grading is available at the OU Learn Anywhere site. Students who have previously been placed on “academic probation” and have specific questions about the effect of opting into P/NP grading may wish to contact their academic counselor.

Internship and practicum activity that can be completed 100% remotely, with no in-person contact, may continue. Internship and practicum activity that requires reporting to a workplace and/or engaging in in-person work may be undertaken voluntarily by the student. A remote alternative should be provided to any student who requests it. Resumption of field work must be approved by the Office of the Vice President for Research and Partnerships.

See the official OU guidelines related to professional travel here. If you choose to travel for personal reasons, you may be required to self-isolate and undergo health screenings on your return. Be sure to check the latest university guidelines and take everything you will need in case you are required to self-isolate for 14 days or more before returning to campus. Self-isolation requirements may change without notice.

If you received a travel or research grant from the Graduate College and your travel has been affected, we will honor the award if the conference or research travel is rescheduled during the 2020-2021 academic year. We will try to cover any non-recoverable expenses you have incurred. If you are not able to use funds that were awarded to you, we will cancel the award and you will be eligible to apply for the funding for a future purpose.

Please contact Gail Shelton with questions about these matters.

Graduate Student Life is offering remote workshops on professional development, wellness, and other topics. Regular updates are posted here.

Here are some things you can try. The National Alliance on Mental Illness also has great tips on dealing with stress, staying in touch with people, and getting help when you need it.

Create structure.

Write down a schedule for your day, indicating when you plan to get up, eat, work, exercise, do something fun, and go to sleep. Set alarms or reminders to help keep yourself on track.

Set attainable goals.

What can you reasonably get done, given the distractions you’re facing? Can you do 30 minutes of writing? Can you prepare a tasty lunch? Can you spend 20 minutes doing some household organizing? Write down your goals for the day.

Celebrate success and accept imperfection.

When you meet your goals, give yourself credit! If it didn’t work out, use what you learned to adjust your approach.

Move your body. Get outside if you can.

Fresh air is good. Stretching helps with blood flow. Free yoga and exercise videos are available online. No access to videos? Practice forms of movement that feel good to you. Try playing some music.

Plan some fun.

What would make your day better? Plan some activities you enjoy, bearing in mind the need to maintain good hygiene and physical distance from those who don’t live in your household. Consider singing, dancing, taking a warm bath, self-massage (focusing on your neck, shoulders, hands, legs, scalp, etc.), drawing, or writing in a journal.

Use technology to stay in touch.

Feeling isolated? Give someone a call or send them a message. Even if we can’t see each other in person, let’s try staying in touch in other ways.

Try to eat well.

Try not to eat too much sugar or salt. Try to have some protein. Canned and frozen fruits and vegetables are a good option if you don’t have fresh produce on hand. Stay hydrated. If you drink alcohol, avoid excess.

Practice gratitude.

Now is a great time to try a daily practice of recognizing the good things in our lives. There are even apps for that, such as Presently for Android or Gratitude Happiness Journal for iOS.

Breathe.

Breathing exercises can help reduce stress.

Limit the time you spend on stressful information.

Before you start looking at news and social media, set a timer for 20 minutes (or a time that seems right to you) and commit to closing those sites when the timer goes off. If you have trouble stopping, consider using an app that blocks selected web sites for a period of time. You can find info here.

Be patient and kind to yourself and others.

We are all doing our best. We may be grouchy. We may not get as much done as usual. Let’s keep moving forward, be flexible, and keep working to find the structures and practices that work for each of us.

Call for help if you need it.

The University Counseling Center, 405-325-2911, is open during regular business hours, and counseling sessions can be held by phone.

The SAMHSA Disaster Distress Helpline, 800-985-5990, provides 24/7 crisis counseling and support to people experiencing emotional distress related to natural or human-caused disasters including infectious disease outbreaks.

SAMHSA also offers a 24/7 National Helpline for treatment referral.

The NAMI Crisis Text Line is open 24/7. Text NAMI to 741741.

If you are having thoughts of self-harm, you can call these numbers:

  • National Hopeline Network - Suicide prevention, awareness, and education. 1-800-SUICIDE (1-800-784-2433) or 1-800-442-HOPE (1-800-442-4673)
  • National Suicide Prevention Lifeline - 1-800-273-TALK (1-800-273-8255).

Here are some university resources:

University Counseling Services (appointments can be offered by phone)

Accessibility and Disability Resource Center

Writing Center

Sooners Helping Sooners (emergency financial support accepting requests to help with living expenses) 

Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

Additional financial resources for both domestic and international students are listed here. If you are in Oklahoma and need help with rent, food, or utilities, call 211 or text 211OK to 898211.

Information about online Alcoholics Anonymous meetings is being collected in this shared document.

Some locations have seen an increase in racism and xenophobia based on mistaken assumptions that the novel coronavirus can be attributed to particular groups of people. If you feel you are being treated unfairly, discriminated against, or harassed based on race, ethnicity, or national origin, contact the 24 Hour Reporting Hotline to report your experience.

Discriminatory and harassing behaviors are against university policy and have no place in our community. If you observe such behaviors, please speak out against them and offer support to the individuals targeted. 

If you have a concern that you don’t feel able to address with faculty or staff in your academic unit, please contact Dr. Rodney Bates, Director of Graduate Student and Postdoc Retention and Support, Dr. Sherri Irvin, Senior Associate Dean of the Graduate College, or Dr. Liz Karr, Associate Dean of the Graduate College.