COVID-19 Information

Last Revised: February 23, 2021

Below are resources and information pertaining to the Texas A&M graduate community. Stay up-to-date on the latest university-wide news and resources on the Texas A&M Coronavirus page.

Jump To: Academics | EmploymentExtension of Tuition and Fees CoverageTravelWell-beingFinancial Aid and Emergency Resources | Housing Information | International StudentsForms Processing | Messages to Graduate Students | FAQs | Responses to Grad Student Concerns Fall 2020 | Virtual Office Hours

Academics

For spring 2021, Texas A&M University is holding classes in-person with remote options. See the COVID-19 Guide for Students Returning to Campus here.

For teaching and learning resources, visit Texas A&M’s Keep Teaching and Keep Learning pages.

  • Instruction – At this time, Texas A&M is offering classes: 
    • Face-to-face only
    • Face-to-face synchronously streamed via Zoom from the classroom
    • Remote only (not face to face; instruction generally delivered synchronously during scheduled class time via Zoom although asynchronous activities may be used)
    • Online (not face to face; prepared specifically using principles for online learning; instruction may be delivered either synchronously during scheduled class time or asynchronously).

More than 50% of courses are being offered face-to-face (with a remote option). Classroom capacities have been updated to observe physical distancing guidelines. Enhanced cleaning and safety protocols are in place. See more detailed guidance and information from the Provost's Office here.

  • Face Covering Policy -- To attend a face-to-face class, students must wear a face covering (or a face shield if they have an exemption letter). Additionally, face coverings (cloth face covering, surgical mask, etc.) must be worn by all individuals (faculty, staff, students, and visitors) on campus or at off-campus activities that are sponsored by TAMU or TAMU recognized student organizations in the following areas:
    • indoor public areas, except where marked otherwise, even if you are alone (includes all non-private office or residential spaces such as lobbies, restrooms, classrooms, teaching laboratories, research laboratories, common spaces in residence halls, conference rooms, and break rooms)
    • outdoor spaces where 6 feet of physical distancing is difficult to reliably maintain. This policy will be amended as needed in response to conditions on campus.
  • Research – The Vice President for Research is urging researchers to diligent practice safeguards with respect to COVID-19 safety. Plan for Resuming Research Operations:
    • As much research activity as possible should continue to be carried out remotely.
    • For students who must carry out their research on campus or in the field, their activities must be carried out under plans approved at the department or college level that include provisions for social distancing, scheduling, PPE, hygeine, and cleaning protocols as specified in the August 18 guidelines
    • All student researchers, both graduate and undergraduate, must complete on-line training on safe practices related to COVID-19 through either TrainTraq or Howdy, depending on the nature of their appointment, before beginning or returning to any research activities that are not carried out remotely. Further, if significant training and supervision is required for new students, PIs must submit and receive approval by the unit head of plans that specifically addresses how in-person trainings and laboratory instruction/supervision will be conducted in a manner consistent with social distancing and other COVID-19 safety provisions.
    • Researchers working with living organisms shoult wear the appropriate PPE and observe the appropriate protocols for their research. If activities require multiple personnel to work in close proximity, they should be carried out with the minimum number of personnel feasible and allowable.
    • Clinical activities and research involving human participants must be approved by the Clinical Research, Education, and Service Advisory Committee, per the guidance issued on June 8, 2020. https://vpr.tamu.edu/plans-for-resumption-of-clinical-and-human-participant-research-education-and-service-activities-6-8-2020.
  • COVID training, testing, and reporting -- At the start of the spring semester, all students, regardless of whether you are taking classes face-to-face or remotely, are required to complete online COVID-19 Training and Certification no later than January 13. You must complete the training prior to arriving on campus. The training can be found through the Howdy portal.
  • Testing --
    • All students residing in university housing on the College Station campus are required to test for COVID-19 prior to the end of the first week of classes, on or before January 22. Students may test remotely or participate in free COVID-19 testing on campus.
    • All student employees (student workers, graduate assistants, etc.) working on Bryan-College Station campus/sites will be required to test for COVID-19 prior the start of the semester or returning to work. Free COVID-19 tests are being provided for all students. 
    • Students living off campus are not being required to test at this time. However, we strongly encourage and ask them to do so, especially if attending in-person classes, visiting campus, accessing in-person campus resources and/or attending in-person student activities.
    • Students at other campuses/sites beyond the College Station campus will receive guidance from site leadership regarding site-specific protocols.
    • Specific details on this required training, certification, testing and other protocols will be sent in separate emails. Information will also be posted on the university’s COVID-19 website.
    • Students, faculty, and staff who test positive for COVID-19 or who are experiencing symptoms consistent with COVID-19 are required to self-report through this COVID-19 Report Form
    • For more info on testing and where to get a test, click here.
  • Form submission – To reduce person-to-person contact, the Graduate and Professional School has implemented some changes in the way we process documents. We now require electronic submissions of all forms. See our forms page for details. Please be sure to follow the instructions, as failure to do so could result in processing delays. If you encounter any situation that prohibits you from utilizing the revised processes for securing approvals or submitting documents, please contact the Graduate and Professional School at ogaps-info@tamu.edu
  • Cross-Discipline Courses offered across colleges at TAMU may help complete your schedules for spring 2021. Please view the listings provided by the colleges at this link.  Listings will be updated weekly as new submissions are received.

Employment – Graduate Assistants and Student Workers

  • Graduate Assistants should follow the same guidelines issued for non-essential personnel. We are still in "phase 2" of a Return-to-Campus Plan. Consult your supervisors for guidance.
  • GATs (Graduate Assistants Teaching) and GALs (Graduate Assistants Lecturer): The University has taken unprecedented steps to make the delivery of instruction as safe as possible in spring 2021. Classrooms have been modified, classroom capacities have been adjusted to allow for social distancing, and technology has been upgraded to enable remote synchronous participation.

    To see an example of classroom modification, click here. The Center for Teaching Excellence and the Office of Academic Innovation have conducted sessions to help enhance in-person and remote teaching. Sessions are recorded and available on their websites and YouTube channels. They will continue to provide resources and support for instruction.

    Instruction will be delivered in a variety of ways:

    • Face-to-face only
    • Face-to-face with synchronous streaming from the classroom via Zoom
    • Remote only (not face to face; instruction generally delivered synchronously during scheduled class time via Zoom although asynchronous activities may be used)
    • Online (not face to face; prepared specifically using principles for online learning; instruction may be delivered either synchronously during scheduled class time or asynchronously).

Please refer to keepteaching.tamu.edu site for additional teaching resources. For the latest University-wide guidance, click here

Temporary Teaching Modification Requests
If you are—or may be in an upcoming semester—a Graduate Assistant Teaching (GAT) and Graduate Assistant Lecturer (GAL) and you have concerns regarding your safety in performing their teaching assignments in the classroom due to having a medical condition that may lead to increased risk of severe illness from COVID-19 or having a household member with such conditions, you may request a temporary teaching modification request. The Graduate and Professional School will send forms for you to fill out and submit in time for HR to review and assign each request to a risk category for your departments to use when making teaching assignments. 

If you feel your teaching assignment does not account for the conditions upon which you based your modification request, you should first express your concerns with your department staff or faculty member responsible for assigning courses. If a satisfactory resolution cannot be achieved, you may contact the Graduate and Professional School at ogaps-info@tamu.edu or, alternately, the Graduate Operations Committee (GOC) Dean or HR Liaison in your employing college. 

We also recognize that your circumstances may change, leading to increased risk of severe illness from COVID-19 during the course of a semester or in the interim between the time you submit a temporary teaching modification request and the start of classes. If your circumstances have changed in a way that you feel may warrant a modification to your teaching assignment, you may request a review by contacting the Director of Employee Relations, Andrew Barna, at andrew.barna@tamu.edu

  • GARs (Graduate Assistants Research): Texas A&M began allowing approved research to resume on June 1, 2020. PIs must must submit research plans for deparment and college approval, even if just adding new researchers. All graduate student researchers must complete on-line training on safe practices related to COVID-19 through either TrainTraq or Howdy, depending on the nature of their appointment, before beginning or returning to any research activities that are not carried out remotely. Consult your supervisors and the Plan for Resuming Research for guidance.  
  • GANTs (Graduate Assistants Non-Teaching): Like GARs, GANTs or paid graduate student workers should consult their supervisors and the Preparing for Spring 2021 guidance from the President's Office. 
  • Safety Concerns -  If you feel you are being asked to teach, do research, or otherwise work under conditions which do not meet university guidelines, notify your supervisor or department head. If you feel uncomfortable discussing your concerns with someone in your department, contact the Graduate and Professional Studies Ombuds Office. You may also contact the Division of Research if the unsafe activity falls under research.
  • Ombuds - The Ombuds Office provides a safe, non-judgmental space where you can share complaints or concerns confidentially and off the record. We are available to assist graduate and professional students as well as staff, faculty, and administrators:
    • Addressing communication challenges
    • Navigating difficult situations
    • Handling abrasive behavior or unfair treatment
    • Navigating academic red tape or roadblocks
    • Funding issues (e.g., assistantship, etc.)
    • Immigration related issues
    • Other questions and concerns related to graduate education

Email ombuds@tamu.edu to schedule a confidential phone or zoom appointment to explore a range of options or strategies for moving forward.

  • Leave Guidance - Under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, Texas A&M is providing Emergency Paid Sick Leave (EPSL) and Emergency Family and Medical Leave (EFMLA) to all employees, including Graduate Assistants, who are unable to perform their assigned duties due to certain, specified COVID-19-related reasons. Visit https://employees.tamu.edu/covid-19/FFCRA for FAQs, Request Forms, and Workday Job Aid. All leave-related questions concerning the coronavirus, including the use of EPSL or EFMLA, should be emailed to benefits@tamu.edu for TAMU or hschr@tamu.edu for HSC

Extension of Tuition and Fees Coverage for GAT, GAL, and GAR Students Delayed by COVID-19

The University recognizes that COVID-19 has caused profound disruptions for our students. The consequences of these disruption may vary by student, but it is clear that working remotely, as well as restrictions on travel, lab and facility access, and person-to-person contact, has impeded progress to degree for many of you.
 
For Ph.D. students on GAT, GAL, or GAR assistantships, there is University-wide mandate requiring your tuition and fees be covered by your program or alternative sources of funding. The mandate covers you for four or five years, depending on your entry status. See the tuition and fee payment webpage for details.
 
If your mandate period ended in May, August, or December 2020 and COVID-19-related factors have caused a delay in your progress toward your degree, know that the mandate sets minimum coverage. You may request an extension of tuition and fee coverage required by the mandate up to a year to accompany your assistantship. We encourage you to contact your program faculty, graduate director, staff advisor, or graduate student organization for guidance.
 
If your mandated coverage is not expired, but you anticipate needing extra time to degree, know that we are aware of the possibility and expecting requests over the next few years. We are prioritizing requests from students who are in the last year of mandated coverage.

Financial Aid and Emergency Resources

Financial Information and Assistance
For info on types of aid available, including grants, loans, and other assistance, contact Financial Aid at 979-845-3236 or https://financialaid.tamu.edu/Graduate/Types-of-Aid

If you have lost funding or incurred unexpected expenses for something related to COVID-19, we encourage you to review available University resources. 

Students facing financial difficulties as a result of the COVID-19 health crisis can apply for emergency financial assistance. Please detail the reason for your request. Financial Aid also offers other types of assistance, including grants for domestic and international students that are awarded based on need. If you are applying due to extenuating circumstances, make sure to include that information in your application.

Additionally, the Graduate and Professional School, colleges, and departments share a joint commitment to find solutions for students whose academic progress has been impeded by COVID-19 or university actions taken in response to the pandemic.
 
Recognizing that we are still in a period of uncertainty, but working to enhance student support moving forward, Colleges and the Graduate and Professional School agree to:

  • Actively foster flexibility, borne out of a spirit of understanding and compassion for students
  • Examine each student’s situation individually, considering all relevant factors that may have impeded progress to degree
  • Understand that non-academic factors (financial insecurity, travel restrictions, connectivity issues, family pressures, stress) may have impeded progress to degree
  • Communicate with transparency and openness
  • Recognize that impacts of the pandemic will likely extend into future semesters

 

 

HEERF Funding
Funds provided through the Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund II (HEERF II) are authorized by the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act (CRRSAA), 2021, Public Law 116-260, signed into law by President Donald J. Trump on Dec. 27, 2020. The Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund I (HEERF I) was initially established by the CARES Act, which was passed by Congress and signed by President Trump on March 27, 2020.
 
Of the HEERF II funds that Texas A&M is set to receive, approximately $20 million has been made available for Emergency Aid to assist students with unexpected expenses as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Click here for more information. 


General Resources
Student Assistance Services also offers emergency financial support and connects students who are experiencing mental health challenges, food insecurity or other difficulties to local resources. If you or someone you know is in need or seems to be in distress, please contact their office at 979.845.3113 or submit a Tell Somebody report.

Other Resources:

Food Resources
12th Can -- The 12th Can is a student-run food pantry built to serve all students, staff, and faculty in need of assistance.

Travel

Until further notice, university-sponsored domestic and foreign travel is suspended unless the travel is deemed mission critical. Mission critical domestic and foreign travel requests must be submitted through Concur so the Office of Risk, Ethics and Compliance can conduct an assessment before making a recommendation to the Office of the Provost. Final approval is required prior to departure. See the University's Travel Guidance page for more details. The university strongly discourages out-of-state and international personal travel. Only international travel should be recorded on the travel reporting portal

Grad Student Well-Being

Coronavirus is disrupting our lives by posing a grave risk to our health and safety. It is interrupting research and possibly impeding progress toward degrees for graduate and professional students. It is important that we do what we can to maintain both our physical and mental well-being during this time. To ensure the safety and well-being of all students, follow the latest guidance on the Texas A&M Coronavirus page. 

Face Coverings -- The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends the use of cloth face coverings in public settings, including in any situation where social distancing measures and other hygiene practices are difficult to maintain (e.g., grocery stores, pharmacies, campus buildings), and especially in areas of significant community-based transmission. As of June 15, 2020, face coverings are required on campus. Effective June 3rd, Texas Governor Greg Abbot has mandated that masks be worn in most public places.  


Mental Health -- Stay attuned to changes in your mental health. If you are in distress, the following Texas A&M resources are available for graduate and professional students:

You can also visit "Coping during COVID-19" a CAPS resource for information and tips on staying mentally healthy and supporting others during this time of increased isolation. Also, watch "Promoting Mental Health during COVID-19," a webinar by Michelle Robichaux, a professional counselor with TAMU CAPS. 

If you or anyone you know is in an unstable or threatening situation or just needs a wellness check-in, submit a "tell somebody" report through the Offices of the Dean of Student Life.

Physical Health -- Staying physically active is good for your body and mind. The CDC recommends visiting parks, trails, and other open outdoor spaces to destress and get some fresh air, following a few simple steps to keep you and others safe. The Rec Center is open (with restrictions) to a limited number of participants. 

Community Guidelines -- Stay up-to-date with the latest guidance from College Station, Bryan, Brazos County, and the State of Texas

Housing Information

Housing may be a source of stress for you, whether you’re an incoming fall 2020 graduate students wondering about where you might live or an existing renter with questions about your rights or any resources that might be available to you. We’ve compiled a page of information from the Off-Camus Student Services, one of the Offices of the Dean of Student Life, and the Texas A&M Law School to help.

International Students

Campus Operations -- For information about Texas A&M campus operations, stay up-to-date with the University’s Coronavirus page.

Research -- For information about research operations, visit the Vice President for Research Coronavirus page

Vaccination -- 
We encourage you to vaccinate against COVID-19 infection in your home country as soon as vaccinations are available to you. While Texas A&M University is not requiring students to be vaccinated, we are currently—and may continue into the fall 2021 semester—providing COVID-19 vaccines to graduate and professional students on campus. As you may know, however, some vaccines require two doses as long as one month apart and it can be a full fourteen days after your second dose before you are considered fully vaccinated.

Travel -- For updates on travel restrictions, health insurance, immigration status, employment, submitting required documentation, and visas, visit the International Student Services Coronavirus Info pageTexas A&M is still planning to hold classes in-person courses in fall 2021. We are aware that some international students are still experiencing diffuculty obtaining visas to enter the United States, as well as other impediments to travel. For admissions options for international students who may not be able to travel for fall 2021, including remote learning and deferral options for the first semester, please contact your department. 
It is recommended that you book travel accordingly and adhere to the following guidelines:
Before you travel to the United States:
  • Currently, all air passengers coming to the United States, including U.S. citizens and fully vaccinated people, are required to have a negative COVID-19 test result no more than 3 days before travel or documentation of recovery from COVID-19 in the past 3 months before they board a flight to the United States. As the situation remains fluid, we recommend that you review the CDC requirements for air travel as well as the requirements of your airline in advance of your flight, and the week prior to the flight. 
During travel:
  • Wear a mask over your nose and mouth. Currently, masks are required on planes, buses, trains, and other forms of public transportation traveling into, within, or out of the United States and in U.S. transportation hubs such as airports and stations.
  • Avoid crowds and stay at least 6 feet/2 meters (about 2 arm lengths) from anyone who is not traveling with you.
  • Wash your hands often or use hand sanitizer (with at least 60% alcohol).
After travel:
Guidance varies depending on whether you are
fully vaccinated with an U.S. Federal Drug Administration (FDA)-authorized vaccine.
If you have been fully vaccinated with an FDA-authorized vaccine:
  • Get tested with a viral test 3-5 days after travel.
    • Testing will be available to you on the Texas A&M University campus.
    • If your test is positive, isolate yourself to protect others from getting infected. Also, report your positive test to Texas A&M University.
  • Self-monitor for COVID-19 symptoms; isolate and get tested if you develop symptoms.
  • Follow all state and local recommendations or requirements after travel.
If you are unvaccinated or received a vaccine that is not FDA-authorized:
  • Get tested with a viral test 3-5 days after travel AND stay home and self-quarantine for a full 7 days after travel.
    • Testing will be available to you on the Texas A&M University campus.
    • Even if you test negative, stay home and self-quarantine for the full 7 days.
    • If your test is positive, isolate yourself to protect others from getting infected. Also, report your positive test to Texas A&M University.
  • If you don’t get tested, stay home and self-quarantine for 10 days after travel.
  • Avoid being around people who are at increased risk for severe illness for 14 days, whether you get tested or not.
  • Self-monitor for COVID-19 symptoms; isolate and get tested if you develop symptoms.
  • Follow all state and local recommendations or requirements.
To isolate means that you stay in a specific location, room, or area and avoid all contact with others. You should isolate if you have COVID-19, whether or not you have symptoms. Isolation separates people who are infected with the virus from others, even in their home. You can leave isolation to seek medical attention and get tested as needed, but you should go directly to your appointment, minimize contact with others, and return to quarantine.
If you might have been exposed to COVID-19, you should stay home and avoid going out in public. This is called
self-quarantine. Self-quarantine keeps someone who might have been exposed to the virus away from others. You can leave quarantine to seek medical attention and get tested as needed, but you should go directly to your appointment, minimize contact with others, and return to quarantine.
 

Defense Announcements