Spring 2020 Updates Related to COVID19

March 17, 2020

Updated 4/26/2020

Event guidance
Courses/ Grading
Mental Health
General Resources

As you may be aware, the Ohio State University has announced the suspension of face-to-face instruction of lectures, discussion sections, seminars, and other similar classroom settings, and the move to virtual instruction through the end of the spring semester. The final day of classes for spring semester is Friday, April 24, 2020 and finals will be conducted from April 27 - May 1.

The summer term will also be conducted virtually, starting and ending one week later than originally published. Classes will start on May 13, 2020 and end on July 31. Finals will take place Aug. 3‑5, and summer commencement will be Aug. 9.

The university is remaining open and will continue normal business. However, the format of this business will temporarily change to accommodate precautionary measures that will reduce the risk to the university community and the public. These measures apply to the entire university across all three of our campuses- Columbus, Wooster, and Statewide. The function of these changes is to promote social distancing, which the US Center for Disease Control defines as “remaining out of congregate settings, avoiding mass gatherings, and maintaining distance (approximately 6 feet or 2 meters) from others when possible.” With new information constantly coming to light, we are compiling relevant information for graduate students below. We will continue to share updates as more information becomes available and have included links for you to access the latest information.

On 3/22/2020 the president invoked Ohio State's Disaster Preparedness and University State of Emergency Policy, formalizing some of the adjustments put in place and providing the university with flexibility for a variety of financial decisions over an extended period if necessary. Campuses remain open, but with restrictions and limitations previously announced. A policy FAQ is available through Human Resources.

Thank you for your cooperation and collaboration related to COVID-19. At this time, the primary concern is for the health and safety of everyone. Remember, it is important to keep in contact with your advisor and stay on top of the latest updates during this time. If you have questions, don’t hesitate to reach out to your advisor, graduate program coordinator, or CFAES Graduate Education Coordinator Kayla Arnold.

CFAES Dean’s Update messages


Ohio State has extended the date for cancellations of all university events to Monday, July 6. Any university event scheduled between now and July 6 will be canceled, and no new university events will be scheduled until that time.

The Office for Research and Graduate Education is adjusting workshops and events as necessary in accordance with university guidance. We will share further updates about scheduled events as they are available. Please see updates below and contact Kayla Arnold with any questions.

  • All write-ins through May have been cancelled on both campuses.
  • Messaging Matters: Social Media Storytelling workshop was recorded on April 13 and is available to view.

The Plant Sciences Symposium scheduled March 27-28 has been postponed until summer 2020. Please check their website for further details.

The CHAIRE Research Symposium scheduled on April 7, 2020 has been cancelled. They hope to establish a future date for the symposium in the fall. All who submitted accepted abstracts will be invited to present their research. Please contact Brittany Fischer with any questions or concerns.

In place of the 2020 CFAES Annual Research Conference, a virtual awards ceremony and poster competition is being held. View the recording of the virtual awards ceremony and the posters entered in the poster competition here.

CFAES Wooster Campus Town Hall Meeting
Friday, May 1, 10:00-11:00 a.m. Connect via Zoom.
The agenda will include updates from Dean Kress, Dr. Anne Dorrance, Dr. Gary Pierzynski, Dr. Kris Boone, and Dr. Graham Cochran. Questions can be submitted in advance for the Q&A portion of this meeting. 

Spring commencement
The university will hold a historic virtual commencement on May 3 with Apple CEO Tim Cook delivering the commencement address. The livestreamed event will begin at noon on Sunday, May 3. In light of restrictions on large gatherings at this time, there will be no students or guests in Ohio Stadium. Graduates will receive their degrees by mail. Importantly, this in no way limits or excludes a live commencement ceremony for the Class of 2020 class. The university will hold a graduation ceremony at a later date for members of the spring Class of 2020, their families and guests, at a time that is safe and practical. The Class of 2020 will be actively included in the scheduling and planning. 

Grading Policy Changes, Spring 2020

As students are experiencing disruptions caused by COVID-19 pandemic, the Graduate School is taking steps to be flexible to students’ circumstances while maintaining program integrity and ensuring mastery of the material to exceed minimum expectations for graduation education.

Given the University Senate resolution on March 25 and a Graduate Council vote on April 1, the Graduate School has revised its policy FOR THIS SEMESTER ONLY (Spring 2020) to require that graduate students may choose the PA/NP option with a C- as the minimum passing grade for all graded graduate courses in lieu of continuing to pursue a letter grade. Read full guidance here.

Talk to your advisor and program coordinator to determine what options you may have for your courses. If you are interested in pursuing this option, work with your graduate program coordinator. Deadline for requests was April 17.


End of semester deadlines have been adjusted for spring 2020. The deadline to graduate for all students with an approved application to graduate has been moved to July 2, 2020. View full guidance from the Graduate School about changed deadlines.

Please see the attached letter from the dean of the Graduate School for information about spring end-of-semester and summer graduation. This information will also be added to https://senr.osu.edu/about-us/sp2020-guidance, which you can access from senr.osu.edu from “About us” > “SP2020 guidance.”


Graduate examinations/ Defense
The OSU Graduate School is providing all services electronically beginning March 18, 2020 until further notice. This includes all registration (enrollment, credit, GA appointments, etc.) and graduation services (exams, format reviews, etc.).

Note, while the final day of classes and finals week for courses have been pushed back, the Graduate School’s deadlines for final master’s and doctoral examinations and final document submission remain unchanged and can be viewed here. We will post the latest information if this changes.

How should I change my oral examination (candidacy exam or final defense)? 
The Graduate School has agreed to be flexible for oral exams scheduled through April 20. Examinations should still meet the Graduate School videoconferencing guidelines, however video exams taking place for the remainder of the spring 2020 semester will not require a petition (see guidance from the OSU Graduate School). 

The Graduate School can assist with planning an examination that both verifies the identity of the student and maintains the integrity of the examination process. Videoconferencing (e.g., Zoom) is a relatively easy way for an examination to be held and allows all parties to see and hear each other. It is relatively easy to comply with exam requirements, as the student can be seen by the examination committee, and either a proctor or a scan view of the environment will be expected to ensure no one is in the room assisting the student (unless previously approved as a proctor), the student doesn’t have assisting materials that were not permitted, or another person is providing prompting.  

If you have questions, please feel free to have your advisor contact Tim Watson (Director of Graduate School Graduation Services) or contact him directly.

Document Format reviews
In order to provide increased flexibility in our processes, the Graduate School will now offer students the opportunity to conduct dissertation and thesis format reviews electronically. Although students are welcome to complete this process in person while campus is open, they now have the ability to complete this process remotely if so desired. Students choosing to utilize the electronic option should send an e-mail to the Graduate School’s Graduation Services address (grad-schoolgraduationservices@osu.edu) indicating their name, advisor’s name, and interest in an electronic review. Once received, a Graduate School staff member will respond with instructions as to how the document should be submitted and how the review will be conducted. Any subsequent questions should be directed to either Graduation Services or to the staff member assigned to the student’s review.


Public seminars
How should I change my upcoming public seminar (i.e. scholarly seminar or exit seminar)? 
To follow the current guidance on social distancing, and because there will be fewer people on campus who could attend anyway, we strongly recommend that all on-campus scholarly seminars or exit seminars through April 20 be arranged as webinars using CarmenZoom. If you have already scheduled your in-person seminar, please make sure that you contact the appropriate personnel to ensure that any equipment can accommodate a CarmenZoom option. 

If you’ve never used Zoom before, you can find training videos and instructions here. Please contact IT if you have questions about using Zoom for your webinar. 


As of March 19, the University has announced that we will need to immediately cease all research activity that cannot be performed via telework or that does not fit one of the three criteria identified below.

Faculty and graduate students are not to keep coming to labs, greenhouses, or other facilities to continue research activity. Nor are you to gather in remote locations. We realize the significant negative impact this will have on the CFAES research community in many ways and will work to provide you with additional relevant details to understand and minimize those effects.

Please note that the university is defining critical research as:

  1. COVID-19 research that has the potential to mitigate the spread of the pandemic;
  2. Certain medical research that if discontinued would endanger the lives of the participants in the research; or
  3. Procedures that require timely and regular attention from a person to maintain critical laboratory infrastructure and experimental conditions. For example, providing animal support, maintaining equipment that requires gas, cryogenic service, monitoring irreplaceable cell lines, and other substantially similar treatments. 

Note, these are unique times and we must do our part to minimize the transmission of the COVID-19 virus. We will do our best to assist you in minimizing the long-term impacts of a reduction in research activity. If you have specific questions about continuing research, please contact your advisor. For general questions, feel free to contact Gary Pierzynski.

View the latest research updates


Graduate Student Carpool
Due to fact that in-person classes have been cancelled for the remainder of the semester, the Graduate Student Ride Share service on both Columbus and Wooster campuses is suspended until fall semester. If you have any questions, please contact Kayla Arnold.


Mental Health Resources
OSU Counseling and Consultation Services (CCS) has suspended all in-person live services (including groups) until May 3, 2020, but is still providing services remotely. Any student with concerns may still contact CCS for assistance at 614-292-5766 (if calling after hours, press 2 to be connected to a counselor). Helpful information is being updated frequently at https://ccs.osu.edu. Additionally, you may reach out to our CFAES Embedded Mental Health Counselor David Wirt for assistance.

The Graduate Student Support Group meetings will continue via Zoom for the remainder of the semester (the group will also meet during spring break). Meetings take place every Friday from 4:30-5:30PM. If you have questions, would like the link, or would like more information, please contact Leo Taylor.

Further, there is a new, private Facebook group for OSU graduate students. The purpose of this group is to provide a private space for graduate students at The Ohio State University to share resources and advice about how to navigate graduate school. We hope that this resource will provide some extra support for students as we are functioning remotely for the remainder of the semester (and into the future). We encourage you to share this with other OSU graduate students who may be looking for these types of resources. You must request to join the group, however Leo expects to approve requests quickly. Join the Facebook group here.

Mental Health tips during Covid-19
Taking Care During COVID-19
CDC guidance on mental health and coping during COVID-19
Taking Care of Your Behavioral Health During an Infectious Disease Outbreak - Factsheet
Compiled tips on staying well


CFAES CarmenCanvas, Zoom Trainings and Keep Teaching OSU
As previously noted, Ohio State ATI Academic Affairs and our partners in OCIO worked together to provide additional guidance as we temporarily move from face-to-face to teaching virtually.  Recorded sessions as promised are linked below:

How do I get started?
Carmen Basics
Fun OSU themed Zoom backgrounds

ODEE offered a workshop focused on Keep Teaching OSU, along with an overview of the tools most aligned with the transition to online/remote delivery. View the recorded session here.


The University is not closing and while we are shifting to teleworking as much as is feasible, the key is to maintain operations as much as possible. All current telework-related guidance and frequently asked employment-related questions specific to COVID-19 can be found on the Human Resources website.

I’m a graduate research associate. How will this affect my duties? 
University employees, including graduate associates, will continue working. However, flexibility through telework is encouraged wherever possible. You should speak with your supervisor to determine whether any of your work can be done remotely. By reducing the number of people on campus wherever possible, we reduce the risk to those whose responsibilities require them to work on campus. If you are working on campus, please remember to wash your hands and practice social distancing. 

What if I need to take computer equipment home?
The OSU Office of the Chief Information Officer (OCIO) is managing the process for employees/ graduate students to take home equipment. To help with remote work, policies around peripheral equipment for Managed IT Services partners are being adjusted (this includes those in CFAES). This means that you can take home regular work equipment (monitors, docks, keyboards) if needed. If you are taking home monitors, docking stations, or other peripheral equipment (such as docking station, keyboards, mouse, etc.) you must tell your manager. Managers are responsible to keep track of who is taking what home, and take responsibility for making sure their staff brings the equipment back when the time comes.

If you need equipment beyond what you typically have (e.g. stands or monitors with stands, etc.) please contact the IT Service Desk to request those items.

Ideas for keeping busy

  • Organize files on your computer - BuckeyeBox, your desktop, google drive, emails...
  • Get a head start on materials for future events / online events
  • Finally read that book on your desk!
  • Make progress on writing your thesis, dissertation, or other writiing projects
  • Pursue a professional development opportunity that you haven't had time for. Online Learning for Professional Development could include:
  • Research/ apply to existing grant opportunities. You can check out the latest grant opportunities for graduate students online.
  • Get some exercise! Taking time for a walk or to move your body will help break the monotony and help you reenergize.
  • Participate in OSU Extension’s virtual take on March Madness - Agriculture and Natural Resources Madness! Extension educators will be hosting informational webinars three times per day (at 9am, 12pm, and 3pm). Topics include stress management, soil fertility, livestock, forestry, and others.


To clarify and expand on previous decisions, the university has suspended all university-sponsored international and non-essential domestic travel until future notice. All travel that has been scheduled through June 30, 2020, must be cancelled (see cancellation guidelines), and no new travel may be booked until further notified.

Read the latest information about university travel restrictions.

Current travel policy:

  • Unless we have mission critical work (that can be documented) requiring in-state travel between our various locations – Columbus, Wooster, and statewide, those trips should be discontinued, effective immediately
  • Fleet vehicle use will be solely for the purpose of documented mission critical work that has been pre-approved by the Dean; all other use will be denie
  • Even if employees/students have blanket travel requests already approved (and therefore they do not require additional eTravel approval), they should still NOT be traveling for business unless they have documented, pre-approved mission critical work

Process for Requesting Approval for Mission Critical Travel:

  • Review travel and ensure that it is mission critical and has minimal health and safety risk for participants.
  • Send a request including the following to your department chair or unit director/lead:
    • Date(s) of Proposed Travel
    • Destination, to/from details
    • Traveler(s) and their OSU affiliation (faculty, staff, student, etc.)
    • Purpose of the trip noting why it is mission critical
  • The request will be reviewed by your leader and if they are in support, they will copy the requestor on an email to the dean for review/approval.
  • The Dean will reply all to communicate a decision.
  • Questions about the travel approval process should be directed to the Chief of Staff, Lori Bowman: bowman.978@osu.edu

Returning from travel
Based on the level 3 travel warning for Europe from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Ohio State is requiring that students, faculty and staff currently traveling in one of those countries self-quarantine for 14 days upon their return to the United States. During the 14-day self-quarantine period, you are not permitted to come to work, attend our limited non-virtual clinical or field experiences, or participate in any other campus or community activities.

If you are returning from domestic travel, please maintain heightened vigilance: keep at least three feet of distance between yourself and other people, wash hands frequently (and not just the regular old job that we tend to do), don’t shake hands, and, above all, at any sign of illness isolate at home (meaning keep to a separate room, separate bathroom, separate kitchen utensils) and contact a healthcare provider if illness becomes severe.

Miscellaneous Resources
Some existing resources have been compiled below. However, if you have immediate needs for food or other necessities, please contact Kayla Arnold.

Emergency Grants for Students: The university has created the Together As Buckeyes emergency grants program, funded primarily by the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act. It is available to undergraduate, graduate and professional students. To see full eligibility details and more information, please visit the COVID-19 financial aid webpage.

Food Assistance: The Buckeye Food Alliance is an on-campus food pantry located in Columbus, run by students for students. The Buckeye Food Alliance strives to provide access to healthy food for students to alleviate food insecurity at Ohio State. This service is open to all Ohio State students. Starting Monday, March 23 through the end of Spring semester, they will have extended hours at the Lincoln Tower room 150 location: M-10am-2pm, T-4pm-8pm, W-4pm-8pm, R-10am-2pm, F-11am-3pm. To learn more about the Buckeye Food Alliance and see hours, check their website.

Creative ideas to get food while stuck at home: Uber eats has announced that it is waiving delivery fees. Additionally, some restaurants are waiving delivery fees while others are offering delivery, even though they may not traditionally. Call your favorite local restaurants to see what options are available.

If you need to get groceries, some grocery stores (such as Aldi’s or Kroger) may offer grocery delivery. Take advantage of deals such as free delivery for the first three orders over $35.

Free and reduced-cost internet: Options from third-party providers are collected on the Keep Learning Internet Access page.

Library services: University Libraries continue to provide a full suite of instructional and research support services, including chat, email and phone assistance through the Ask Us service or direct support with a subject librarian or functional specialist. VPN and/or remote desktop software can cause authentication issues when trying to access electronic resources. Users experiencing access issues should contact the Ask Us service for troubleshooting assistance.

Student loan payments: The CARES Act, the stimulus package currently being discussed to help those impacted by coronavirus, includes options for increased flexibility in paying certain types of student loans. We suggest that you contact your loan provider to find out what options you may have.

Homeschooling Resources: Struggling to be productive with kids at home? Here are some ideas and resources to help keep kids occupied.



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