Guidance on Student Workers in Academic Instruction Roles

March 15, 2020

I am writing to share guidance for Graduate and Undergraduate Students that have jobs related to academic instruction, e.g., working as teaching assistants, graders, tutors, preceptors, etc., (hereafter referred to as “student workers”), and their faculty supervisors, during the COVID-19 mitigation period.  Graduate and undergraduate students are strongly encouraged to work remotely.  However, they are not prohibited from being on-campus.

This includes student workers who have remained in the residence halls on campus, those who are away but need to return, and / or those planning for working from off-campus locations.

We ask that each student worker collaborates with their individual faculty supervisor to develop an effective plan that minimizes risk to yourselves and to your colleagues, while sustaining your work to the highest extent possible.  We strongly encourage as much work as possible to be completed remotely.  If student workers supporting our academic enterprise are on campus, they must adhere strictly to the events, meetings and gathering policy issued this week.

Please also consider ways to limit personal interactions in your work, mixing remote work, onsite work, staggering schedules, and holding meeting by teleconference to maximize social distancing. 

The work plan developed with each student worker should include the means of communication with the faculty supervisor, what technology is needed to support remote work, and how you will jointly understand and monitor your joint efforts to serve the student population.  Unit heads / chairs / directors and Associate Deans for Academic Affairs will be excellent resources for developing these plans where there are challenging situations to manage, e.g., for laboratory sections.

Note that we are also working towards issuing separate guidance, to follow shortly, for students on how they will be able to continue to access the internet and / or computing facilities if they are on or near our domestic campuses.

The University is committed that employees not experience financial hardship if they are quarantined, unable to work remotely, or have reservations about working on campus. We expect, based on discussions to date, that University employees, including student workers who do not return to campus, will continue to be paid. We do not want any employee to feel pressured to keep working in any situation that puts them at increased risk of exposure to Coronavirus in order to be able to support themselves and their families. 

Finally, I’d like to remind everyone to be as supportive and compassionate as possible with the students in your classes, many of whom are finding these sudden changes very stressful to which to adapt. The more stability, clarity and certainty you are able to offer them, the easier they find it to sustain their academic progress during this most difficult semester.

Regards, Liesl