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COVID-19 FAQs for Graduate Students

INSURANCE & HEALTH SERVICES

If you will remain in Providence and plan to use Health Services and/or CAPS during the coming months, please complete this short two-question survey so we can plan resources accordingly.

For information related to accessing health services, please see the Student Support section of Brown’s COVID-19 page.

Will I still have my health insurance?
Yes, your health insurance coverage will not change, and your status as an active student will continue. For more information on Brown’s student health insurance plan (SHIP), please see the Insurance Office website

Can I add my spouse, partner or dependent to my health insurance plan if they have lost their insurance recently?
Yes. When the loss of insurance is the result of a qualifying event, such as the loss of employment related to COVID-19. The student would need to complete a qualifying event form and obtain a letter from the spouse or partner’s insurance company indicating current coverage is being terminated. To start this process, please contact [email protected].

Is my health insurance valid outside of Providence?
Yes, students enrolled in Brown’s student health insurance plan should know that their plan covers care both domestically and internationally. UnitedHealthcare Choice Plus and United Behavioral Health Network are the provider networks. Please log in to Gallagher Student Health (www.gallagherstudent.com/Brown) and click on “Find a Doctor” to search for a provider in the network. When making an appointment, you should always confirm that the provider currently participates in the network.

Can I access health insurance when outside the United States?
Yes. When outside of the United States, you will likely be asked to pay for your medical care first and will then need to submit for reimbursement. Covered Expenses will likely be reimbursed on an Out-of-Network basis. When you submit claims for reimbursement, you will need to have the itemized bill(s) translated into English and include a letter informing the claims administrator that you are seeking reimbursement for charges previously paid. Please ensure that your name, ID number, address (to receive your reimbursement check), and your school’s name are on the bill. Please review additional information on the Gallagher Student Health website, including the 2019-2020 Brown University Frequently Asked Questions.

I see a therapist at CAPS. Can I keep seeing them?
Please check the CAPS website for the latest information, as well as information on Student Support on Brown’s COVID-19 website.

What about my prescriptions?
Students can have prescriptions transferred to their home or a local pharmacy. Students must contact their home or local pharmacy and request that they contact the Brown pharmacy at 401-863-7882 to transfer their prescription. The pharmacy fax number is 401-863-2178. 

Students who are leaving Rhode Island for another country should speak to the pharmacy staff at 401-863-7882 to see if they can obtain a vacation override for extra months of medication.

Per state regulations, the Brown pharmacy can only mail prescriptions to a Rhode Island address.

UNIVERSITY TRAVEL 

In light of the spread of COVID-19 (coronavirus) across the country and around the world, Brown University has restricted all University-sponsored travel with a return date before May 30, 2020, if the travel is:

  • international;
  • domestic, non-essential; or
  • involves conferences or large groups

What is the definition of University-sponsored travel?
This is travel resulting from or connected to your graduate research, studies, teaching or research appointment at Brown. This includes travel organized or hosted by Brown, or funded in any part by University funds, including personal funds reimbursed by Brown; start-up or internal research funds, the Doctoral Research, International, Joukowsky or Conference Travel grants, Global Mobility Award, departmental funds, etc.; externally sponsored grant or contract dollars (e.g., NIH or NSF awards); or funds from another institution.

For more information on University definitions of sponsored travel, visit Brown's International Travel Risk Management website.

What is considered essential travel?
Graduate students are expected to make their own judgment on whether domestic travel is essential, consulting with chairs or DGS and advisor when appropriate. In no case will travel to conferences or large-group meetings be allowed unless it is pre-approved by the Provost. Exceptions to the ban on international travel must also be pre-approved by the Office of the Provost. 

My travel has been canceled and I am concerned about my academic progress. Whom can I speak with?
Contact your faculty advisor or director of graduate studies to discuss the impact of travel cancelations on your academic progress.

How should I go about cancelling existing reservations?
If you inform your airline that your University has restricted travel to your destination, you may be able to receive a credit for the price of your ticket. You may also be able to receive a refund for hotel accommodations and conference fees. If you require a formal letter from the University explaining the impact of the University’s travel policy on your travel plans, please contact [email protected]. If you receive a voucher for a trip that was cancelled due to Brown’s guidance on COVID-19, it is your responsibility to use the voucher for future University-sponsored travel.

How can I be reimbursed for expenses already incurred?
Students with previously approved travel funding from the Graduate School, their program or another source should seek refunds where possible. If not, the Graduate School will provide reimbursement up to the original approved amount, inclusive of cancellation fees. Where funding was approved from other sources, including programs and centers, students are encouraged similarly to seek reimbursement from those sources. 

What about University-sponsored travel after May 2020?
For travel beyond May, we recommend that students consider delaying non-refundable airline purchases for as long as possible as travel restrictions may quickly change or be extended. No new applications for travel or conference funding are being approved at this time.

If I am already traveling internationally, can I apply for funding?
All travel requests must be reviewed carefully and approval may not be possible, as it would be hard for the University to assess the safety of such travel. The Graduate School will review such questions on a case-by-case basis, please email [email protected].

Am I still covered by International SOS under the new travel restrictions?
Yes! International SOS provides Brown University travelers with 24 hour worldwide medical and travel assistance.

PERSONAL TRAVEL

What about personal travel or traveling home to teach remotely?
Graduate students considering leaving Providence are encouraged to review with their programs that they can meet their Brown obligations remotely and, if so, notify their programs that they plan to continue their teaching and research out of residence. Please review the University guidance on Travel, where any changes will be updated. 

Graduate students considering international travel, for instance to return home, should be aware that you may face a quarantine and/or flight cancellations. Also, you may be unable to return to campus for an extended period after international travel, face visa complications, or be unable to travel to some U.S. destinations contending with the spread of coronavirus. If you are unable to return to campus, you may be required to take a leave, depending on the requirements of your program. All students are encouraged to think through the steps and potential issues before considering any travel.

PAYMENT/FUNDING

I receive a stipend through a fellowship, TAship, RAship, or Proctorship. Will I still receive my stipend? 
All PhD and MFA students will continue to receive their funding. We encourage any students who are receiving payments through interdepartmental mail to their departments to sign up for direct deposit, as mail services may be curtailed and office mail rooms may not be accessible.

I am experiencing financial hardship. What are my options?
Students experiencing financial distress can complete a request for emergency funds in  UFunds, listed under E-Gap Funds. As always, we will give these requests the fullest consideration that our available resources will permit.

What is the status of my student employment job?
Students should be in communication with their supervisors to discuss whether their work can be performed remotely. Supervisors have the authority to approve remote work assignments during the remainder of the spring semester. Students should directly contact their supervisors. Student employment managers can email [email protected] or call (401) 863-3896.

UNIVERSITY SERVICES

How will I keep in touch with offices about time-sensitive issues if physical offices are partially or fully closed?
Graduate School functions will be maintained, with many services shifted to virtual support. The best way to reach the Graduate School with questions is to email [email protected]. Deans and staff can meet with you remotely by phone or zoom. You can make a remote meeting appointment with the Associate Dean of Student Support, as well.

What other University services are available while physical offices are closed?

What about my SEAS accommodations?
Please contact SEAS with any questions and or requests for accommodations. Please call 401-863-9588 or email [email protected], and identify yourself as a graduate student. You may also wish to review with your instructors how your accommodations may be impacted by changes to your courses, such as the move to online instruction. 

We ask that all instructional staff be as flexible as possible, within reason, during this time. This may be due to a student’s accommodation need, but also due to a variety of other concerns such as technology issues, location/time zone differences, etc.

Can I still use my meal vouchers that I received through the Meal Gap program? 
Meal gap vouchers that have been issued to students by the Graduate School can be used at the Sharpe Refectory. See more about Dining Services operations during this time.

HOUSING

Can graduate students who live in auxiliary housing remain in their apartments?
Yes. All graduate students living in Brown-owned Auxiliary Housing have received additional information from that office. 

I’d like to offer housing to another student who is vacating their residence. Is this ok?
We strongly advise against providing space in your home for any other student who has been asked to vacate their residence on or off campus. There is space available on campus for undergraduate students who may not be able to travel home and they should contact Residential Life. Were a need for such students to self-isolate arise, they would need to do so off-campus.

TEACHING, CLASSES & ACADEMIC CONCERNS

I need help putting my classes online.
See the Teaching & Learning section on the University’s Coronavirus Updates website, as well as the University’s message on Ensuring Continuity in Teaching and Learning with details and resources.

Are classes for graduate students still being held in person?
No. Classes for all students should now be offered remotely, including directed reading courses and small group discussions.

Will academic deadlines be extended?
At this time academic deadlines remain in place, including grade and exam deadlines, as well as dissertation and thesis deadlines.

What will happen with my planned capstone project or internship off campus?
For students with planned capstone projects or internships off campus, alternatives are being considered to replicate this experience in a different way. Please review with your program.

Should I still meet in person with my advisor?
In accordance with the University guidance, we strongly discourage any non-essential meetings to take place in person. We recommend using video- and teleconferencing options wherever possible.

LAB AND HUMAN SUBJECT RESEARCH

My research is laboratory based. How might this impact me?
Guidance for students in research laboratories can be found on the Office of the Vice President for Research’s website here: OVPR COVID-19 Guidance. All non-critical, on-campus research will now also be restricted to essential activities. Activities that are deemed critical, including animal care and other lab activities, will be maintained. In accord with current University policy, students who are not required to be on campus for these reasons should plan to remain off campus.

There are essential activities that are critical to maintaining my research? How might this involve me?
Many animals in research labs require specialized care that in some cases only graduate students may be able to provide. We also recognize that this is important for the continuation of your graduate research work. Where possible, graduate students may be asked to periodically provide care for these animals. Arrangements will be made by PIs and departments to designate some graduate students as site-critical personnel for the continued care of animals. 

Other critical lab functions may also involve limited numbers of graduate students, such as maintaining high and ultra-low temperature equipment and supplies. PIs have been asked to identify any graduate students who are site-critical to maintaining essential activities and to communicate with those students in the coming days. Graduate students who are involved in critical research activities and who continue to come to campus after March 18 should practice social distancing, good hygiene, and sanitizing work environments.

I do human subject based research. How will this impact me?
All human subject research activities must be conducted remotely effective Monday, March 16. In particular, research participants are no longer permitted to travel to campus, and Brown personnel cannot travel to participants' homes. Please continue to review the COVID-19 Updates for Research at Brown website and reach out to your graduate program directors with any questions.

DISSERTATION DEFENSES

Can my defense be moved to a virtual format?
Yes, at this point in time, all dissertation defenses and similar events should be conducted virtually, such as through Zoom. While the University remains open, only essential personnel should be on campus until further notice. 

Can my friends and family attend my defense?
We understand that your dissertation defense is an exciting and pivotal time in your Ph.D. experience, and represents a cumulation of years of intensive courses, conversations, research, and writing at Brown. Visitors should not come to campus to attend. You are more than welcome to share a teleconference link.

Can I postpone my defense?
It is recommended you review this request with your advisor and defense committee. While academic deadlines remain in place, individual students may be able to work with their programs to modify the defense date.

Can I submit my dissertation signature pages electronically?
Yes. In addition to the electronic dissertation submission process, all Ph.D. candidates can submit their signature page to the Graduate School electronically, by sending it to [email protected]. The Graduate School will accept scanned signatures, as well as electronic signatures. Please see the Graduate School’s Dissertation Guidelines webpage.

STUDENT PARENTS

My child’s daycare or school is closed, are there any options to secure backup care?
We understand the disruption this may have on your academic progress and that this may cause additional stress for both you and your children. The National Association of School Psychologists has released a parent resource guide to think about ways to talk to your children about COVID-19.

In the event of the potential disruption of your regular care channels, using backup care via Care.com may help. Please register at browngradfamilies.care.com and carefully review any updates on services from Care.com. Each active degree-seeking graduate student is eligible for a maximum of 5 subsidized days of care per year. If you have used your 5-day benefit, please contact the Graduate School at [email protected]. For more information on using backup care please see our Backup Child Care page. If you are experiencing financial hardship, you may complete a request for emergency funds in UFunds, listed under E-Gap Funds.

INTERNATIONAL STUDENTS

International students considering personal travel should contact the Office of International Student and Scholar Services (OISSS) for general travel and re-entry information. Please see the OISSS website for recent communications, including a COVID-19 FAQ for international students.

ADDITIONAL FAQS

For answers to the following more general questions, please see the University Coronavirus website.

Whom should I contact for more information?
Please know that the Graduate School will remain open. We are able to meet with you virtually and/or answer questions via email at [email protected] or phone at 401-863-2600.