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Penn GSE: COVID-19

Updates and resources for Penn GSE students, faculty, and staff on the School’s response to the coronavirus pandemic.


News & Statements from Penn GSE

Note to Students from Dean Grossman - April 24, 2020

Dear students,

We are thinking of you and miss seeing you all in person here in Philadelphia. We hope you are safe and healthy, sheltered in place, and connected with your families, faculty members, and peers. Since the pandemic closed campus last month, you, our students, have shown amazing resiliency as we have transformed our educational experience to teach and work remotely. At the same time, we know that this semester has been filled with disruptions and challenges to your lives, your studies, and your research. During these challenging times, Penn GSE continues to work to find ways to support you and your academic career. To that end, I’m writing with details about options to help students cope with these changes, including extending deadlines, emergency funding, PhD funding, and changes to our Leave of Absence policy.

We developed these options after talking with many of you about your needs and assessing what we are able to make happen. We also continue to work with the broader university to amplify and make visible the particular needs of our GSE students and graduate and professional students more generally. Please continue to keep reaching out to us with your concerns. We will work with you to seek solutions that will help you and our community through this unprecedented time.

Emergency fund for graduate students

We know that many of you have incurred unexpected expenses related to COVID-19.  A number of you have already applied for the technology grants through the university. These requests have been sent to us, and GSE will be following up with you to provide funds to address those needs. Now, through a generous partnership with GAPSA, the University has established the GAPSA-Provost COVID-19 Emergency Fund to support full- and part-time graduate and professional students who have incurred unexpected expenses directly related to the COVID-19 disruptions of this semester, including moving expenses, travel, insurance, rental costs, and other urgent needs as appropriate. The application for these funds will be open April 24-May 15; more information will be available on the Graduate Student Center website.

If you are told your COVID-19 expense is not covered by this fund, please contact gse-oss@gse.upenn.edu.  I know that Assistant Dean Tiao has been working tirelessly to make sure that students get the support they need.

Extended deadlines for coursework and final defenses

We also know the pandemic has created situations which make it difficult for some of you to complete coursework and dissertation defenses on the schedule you had originally planned.  Some of you are trying to work in with small children at home, others of you may not have had immediate access to technology or the internet.  We know this has not been easy. In response, Penn GSE is extending a few timelines without additional costs to students. 

Grade submissions

The faculty deadline for entering course grades into Courses in Touch (CIT) for the Spring 2020 semester has been extended. If needed, please contact your instructor to ask about the latest date you can submit coursework and still meet the new deadline to graduate in Spring 2020.

Extensions to allow students to graduate this summer

If you are a master’s student who was planning to graduate in spring 2020 and are now unable to finish your classwork because of COVID-19 disruptions, you will be able to complete assignments in Summer I and graduate in August without any additional cost.

If you would like to take advantage of this extension, you can apply for a scholarship, letting us know how COVID19 and the spring disruptions have affected your ability to finish. Details on applying will be available soon. 

If you plan to graduate in August, you must register by the Summer I drop/add date of June 2. Students MUST be registered in the semester they plan to graduate.

These scenarios will affect every student differently. If you have questions, please contact your faculty advisor, program manager, or the Office of Student Services.

Doctoral student final defenses

PhD and EdD students now have until June 26 to defend their dissertation and not pay Summer term tuition. This essentially gives students the entire Summer I term to complete what you had planned to complete in Spring 2020.  If students turn in their fully revised dissertations in final form to GSE by July 10 (the original date for summer deposit), they will not be charged tuition for the summer. 

If you do not turn in your dissertation by July 10, you will have to pay summer tuition or pay tuition in the Fall 2020 semester. If you pay tuition in Summer 2020, fall semester would be free for students who successfully pass, to provide time to complete revisions and submit the final dissertation.

PhD funding

Many PhD students have had their research interrupted or halted by the pandemic. Recognizing this significant disruption, Penn GSE is allowing PhD students in their final guaranteed year of funded work to apply for an additional semester of funding. Details about the application process will be available soon, but we will ask you to explain briefly how your research has been impeded by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Funding extensions will be available only to those students who are currently in the final year of the funding package promised upon admission. Those who have deferred a final year due to external grants provided in the middle of a graduate career will still receive the original full package guaranteed to them. Those who have accepted a completion-year fellowship —whether from Penn or from an external source—after their full funding package has been expended—will not be considered for these emergency funds. We understand that international students may have particular challenges, and we will address those on a case-by-case basis.

We fully appreciate the fact that many students—not only those in the final year of funding—have experienced significant challenges, delays, and frustrations, and are understandably worried about the future. While we are navigating this time of uncertainty, we are moving to help PhD students with the most immediate need. 

Doctoral Leave of Absence

We want to acknowledge that the circumstances created by this pandemic has affected everyone in very different ways.  In order to give doctoral students the most flexibility in today’s times, ALL doctoral students will be allowed to take a Leave of Absence at any stage due to a COVID-19 related disruption to their research. Students will need to outline the reason for the disruption on the LOA form.

EdD and PhD students will not stop the clock with this leave, but extensions past the time limit will be considered on a case-by-case basis. 

We hope that these options will alleviate some of the stress many of you may be feeling as we near the end of this tumultuous semester.  These are uncertain times, and certainly, none of us could have imagined how this semester would play out.  Please know that we are committed listening to you and doing everything we can to support you.

Please continue to take care of yourselves and one another.

all my best,

Pam

Note to Students from Dean Grossman - April 3, 2020

Dear GSE Students,

I hope you are staying healthy and staying connected to one another. Know that we are thinking of you all and sending our best wishes. If you haven’t already seen the Instagram messages that members of the GSE community have been sharing, be sure to take a look here!

I write because many of you have been asking about a pass/fail option for classes this semester. I wanted to let you know that today the faculty overwhelmingly approved a policy offering our students the option of Pass/Fail grading for the spring and summer 2020 terms. GSE’s policy follows the University’s stated policy for undergraduates and doctoral students, which was recently announced. 

  • Courses with “Passing” grades now will be accepted towards all degrees conferred by GSE (M.S.Ed., M.Phil.Ed, Ed.D., Ph.D).
  • In accordance with the university policy, this policy makes any grade of D or better a passing grade. 
  • A grade of “Pass” would have no impact on a student’s GPA. 
  • A failing grade would be factored in as a 0.0. 
  • Students must maintain an overall GPA of 3.0 to remain in good academic standing and to graduate.
  • Faculty will not be informed when a student opts to take a course Pass/Fail. 
  • For spring semester, students must petition for Pass/Fail by 11:59 P.M. Eastern Time (US) on April 13, 2020. Here is a link to the required form.

We understand that not all students will, or even should, elect this option. Students should seek their faculty’s advice about this, as in some cases licensure or certification programs or external fellowships may require grades. Please reach out to your program manager or faculty advisors if you have any questions about your own situation.

At a time with so much uncertainty and anxiety, we hope that we can at least relieve any anxiety you may have about the impact of COVID-19 disruptions on your grades. Please take good care of yourselves and each other.

All my best,

Pam

Note to Students from Ann Tiao - March 27, 2020

Hello, Penn GSE Students!

I want to check in with you as we finish our first week of remote learning. We are all new to this, but if we work together, we can finish the semester strong. The key to making this collaboration successful is communication. Please let your instructors, program managers, and us know what is working and what isn’t. Penn GSE is committed to creating solutions.

Dealing with harassment

If you have been harassed or intimidated because of the coronavirus, please tell us in the Office of Student Services (OSS). Even if the incident did not happen on Penn’s campus or have a direct Penn connection, we can begin the process to support you. In addition to providing personal support, it’s possible that university services can work outside of Penn’s campus boundaries with other jurisdictions.

Connectivity issues

We understand that there will be glitches and challenges to using video conferencing for classes and meetings. We have asked instructors to be flexible with students who encounter technical difficulties and to provide alternative ways that students can access course content.

Here are two additional tips:

Changes in registration dates

The dates have changed again for Summer 2020 and Advanced Fall 2020 registration. The new dates are now April 14–April 24.

Graduation registration closes today!

A final reminder, if you are you plan to graduate in May or August you must register to graduate by 5 pm EDT today.

Looking to sublet your Philadelphia apartment?

We know many students moved out of their off-campus apartments earlier than expected. If you have an apartment that is ready to sublet and you would like to lease it to a fellow Penn GSE student, please contact OSS. We will try to match you with students who currently need housing in Philadelphia.

Seeking support

Between moving, job disruptions, finding new ways to care for ourselves and family members, and figuring out how to live in our new reality, we know circumstances have changed for many students in the last month. If you find yourself struggling please reach out.

  • If you are encountering difficulties with your courses, please contact your program manager. If you are dealing with issues such as housing, food insecurity, or loneliness please contact OSS.
  • And remember that Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) remains open and offers a number of ways to access a counselor, including 24/7 phone access.
  • Finally, please continue to check Penn GSE’s Coronavirus FAQ page for the most up-to-date school-specific information.

In the next week, our office will roll out an expanded series of virtual events to help reconnect you with community members outside your courses and programs. However, don't just wait for us! Everyone is dealing with some feelings of isolation and loneliness right now. Check-in with your friends or people you met in a class last semester. Call, text, chat. Set up virtual happy hours or workouts, or whatever it is you like to do. It’s not a perfect substitute for grabbing falafel at Goldie together, but it’s important to continue connecting with your community. We are all in this together!

Thank you for your patience, your resilience, and your commitment to learning and to each other. 

Stay Strong, Penn GSE!

Ann

Note to Penn GSE Community from Dean Grossman - March 23, 2020

Dear Penn GSE Community,

“The only recognizable feature of hope is action.” Grace Paley

Today the university resumes classes through virtual teaching and learning, in the midst of tremendous uncertainty in so many aspects of our lives. In the past weeks, many of our students have had to move, in some cases across the world. Philadelphia residents, in addition to many others across the country, have been told to remain at home to help slow the spread of COVID-19. Our faculty and staff have spent the past week adjusting to working and teaching remotely, learning new tools, routines, modalities, even as they adapt to a new normal. Nothing is the same.

We recognize that this uncertainty brings up many feelings. Many people are feeling a sense of loss, loss for the events that won’t happen, at least in person, sadness for the opportunities missed, and longing to see the people who until recently were so much a part of daily lives. Many are trying to balance work and school with complex and difficult personal situations. We are all reeling from the enormous changes that have taken place around us and worried about how this global pandemic may affect our communities and world. If you’re feeling any of these things, know you are not alone. 

At this time, it’s also important that we focus on the things that have not changed. If the last few weeks have taught me anything, it is that the Penn GSE community is a resilient and generous one. Throughout the disruption, people have reached out to ensure that our students, staff, and faculty are safe. People from across the school have jumped in to develop resources for working and teaching remotely and to provide hours of training. Faculty have been redesigning syllabi to adapt to these changed circumstances, and many of our executive format programs have already been running virtual weekends, often with very limited notice. Staff have been helping each other stay in touch and maintain our operations. Students have met virtually to support one another. We have learned an enormous amount in the past two weeks about the strength of our community.

Although distance divides us right now, we are united as a community in our commitment to helping you through this tumultuous time – whether you are a student, staff member, or faculty. With luck, the resumption of classes will provide a much- needed sense of normalcy. We can continue to show up for each other and create the sense of human connection that is all the more important at a time of physical distance.

Thank you all for your patience, perseverance, and resilience. While we know the coming days and weeks will continue to be challenging, I know we will all continue to act--to take care of ourselves, to stay connected to each other, and to support our families, communities, and health workers by staying home. 

Take good care,

Pam 

Note: If you are feeling overwhelmed, know that Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) remains available for students, no matter where you are. For faculty and staff, the Employee Assistance Program can also provide support. You can also check on our COVID-19 page for resources updates. 

Note to Students from Ann Tiao - March 20, 2020

Dear Penn GSE Students,

As you might suspect, we are sending you an update after two very long weeks of constant change. Please note to read this ENTIRE email, since this is all important information you will need to know. 

While we might be experiencing physical distance, we are still part of one Penn GSE community, and our faculty and staff are working to support your individual needs. I want to highlight some things to consider as our extended spring break winds down, and we prepare to resume classes remotely next week.

Please be on the lookout for regular communications from Penn GSE’s Office of Student Services (OSS) and other offices, which will resume on Monday. They will contain key information about graduation, course registration, and the programming we are creating to help keep our community well informed and connected.

As we continue to communicate with you, please keep reaching out to us. In the last two weeks, Penn GSE has been able to help students find solutions to a wide array of problems. However, we could only do that because students reached out to us. Bring your concerns — about classes, about schedules, about your welfare — to program managers and OSS. We will work together with you to find a way forward.

As you all know, our current situation continues to evolve. Please continue to check Penn GSE’s Coronavirus FAQ page for the most up-to-date school-specific information.

Penn GSE’s buildings access is now restricted
Consistent with Gov. Wolf’s order suspending all businesses that are not life-sustaining, Penn GSE will need to restrict access to its buildings to essential personnel. This means students will not be able to enter the buildings and must prepare themselves to learn remotely without coming onto campus. If this makes accessing the internet a problem, please reach out to your instructors and program manager to let them know in advance. If you do not have connectivity at home in Philadelphia and were counting on GSE building access, please reach out to me in Student Services as soon as possible.

Remote learning
Remote teaching and learning will be a new experience for many of our students and faculty. We are all trying to stay flexible, and the faculty are focused on delivering a high-quality learning experience in this new modality. In addition, we have been working hard to develop some tips to help you prepare for class. Please check Penn GSE’s guide to remote learning for information on technology, communicating with instructors, and getting help from Penn GSE’s IT team. We recommend being proactive about understanding the technology before the semester really gets started again. Be sure to reach out to IT before your classes start if you have any difficult connecting to the applications that will be used for coursework. If you continue to experience issues while off campus, please ensure that your instructors know about the issue, and email me to let me know about the concerns you have or problems you are encountering.

If you become ill

  • If you feel sick and are currently in the Philadelphia area/Delaware Valley, you should contact SHS at 215-746-3535, as you usually would. 
  • If you have the symptoms or have been diagnosed with COVID-19 and are no longer in the region, please notify Ashlee Halbritter (ashleeh@upenn.edu) in Student Health Services, as well as Student Services at gse-oss@gse.upenn.edu. This information will not be shared with anyone else at GSE, but will be used to help retrace contacts and inform people who may have been in contact with you.
  • If you are ill and cannot attend class and/or participate in class activities, just inform your instructor that you are ill and cannot go to classes or complete coursework. No other information is required. If you report that you are ill with COVID-19, your program staff will either contact SHS or ask you to do so per the instructions above.

Mental health support
In the wake of COVID-19, we understand this can be an isolating, stressful, and challenging time for many students. OSS would like to support students as best we can remotely. We will be hosting BlueJeans check-ins throughout the semester to get a sense of how students are doing, what you need from us, and any questions you may still have about transitioning and moving forward. Please complete this short form to sign up for a group check-in and to submit any questions you may have. For questions that may impact many students, we will post answers on Penn GSE’s Coronavirus FAQ page. We are here to support students during this difficult time, so please don’t hesitate to reach out to us.

Between moving, job disruptions, and finding new ways to care for ourselves and family members, we know circumstances have changed for many students since the start of break. If you find yourself struggling when classes resume, please don’t be afraid to talk to your instructor, program manager, or OSS. We will all work together to find a solution.

Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) remains open and offers a number of ways to access a counselor, including 24/7 phone access.

Graduation update
I hope you have all seen President Gutmann’s note that Penn’s on-campus commencement ceremonies, including Penn GSE’s ceremony, have been cancelled. While Penn plans for how we can celebrate your accomplishments in a safe way, it’s important to note that graduation and commencement are not the same thing. Students who are eligible will still earn a degree and graduate in May or August.

To do so, all students who are eligible to graduate in the spring or summer 2020 semesters must register for graduation by March 27. All students must apply here: https://www.gse.upenn.edu/student-forms/apply-to-graduate ($75 fee for applications submitted after this deadline).

PhD students must also apply here:

https://fission.sas.upenn.edu/sso/gas/degree/app-start.php/ ($100 fee for applications submitted after stated deadline).

We understand that your graduation date may change given our current situation. Regardless, you should still apply for graduation with your original intended graduation date. Graduation dates can be postponed with no penalty. However, you cannot graduate and receive a diploma if you do not APPLY to graduate.

Registration for summer and fall classes
Please note the following changes to the Academic Calendar due to the COVID19 response.

Registration for Summer 2020 has been moved to March 30.

Advance Registration for Fall 2020 has been moved to March 30 through April 12. Fall 2020 Course selection will re-open on April 22.

For Doctoral students: Information on Dissertation defenses
For the Spring 2020 semester only, the University has waived the requirement that most committee members must be physically present for Ph.D. proposals or defenses and will allow any number of committee members and/or the student to participate in thesis defenses remotely if necessary or desired. For Ed.D.s, GSE faculty have passed a resolution that says while in-person EdD defenses are preferable, where situations call for it (such as this semester), dissertation chairs may make the decision to allow people to participate virtually with the approval of the student’s division chair. For questions, please contact your dissertation chair, OSS, or the Student Records Office (gse-sro@gse.upenn.edu).

These last two weeks have been stressful for every member of our community. However, our students keep demonstrating their perseverance as we move forward in these difficult times. Our dean recently said that crises show what an organization is really like. I hope you will agree with me that Penn GSE has shown that it’s a stronger organization when everyone works together to bring about better outcomes for everyone. Bring your determination and sense of caring with you as we return to our virtual classrooms on Monday.

Most importantly, keep taking care of yourselves and each other.

Stay Strong, Penn GSE!
Ann

Note to Faculty from Dean Grossman - March 20, 2020

Dear Faculty,

Thank you for your patience and perseverance in these extraordinary times. I am thinking of all of you as you prepare to move to teaching your classes remotely under challenging circumstances. I hope the materials and resources we’ve provided have been useful. If there are other things we can be doing to support you, please let us know.

By now you should have seen Governor Wolf’s edict to suspend all businesses that are not life-sustaining and Penn’s follow-up statement about the need to respond. Here are some Penn-GSE specific points to know:

  • BUILDING ACCESS – We believe that shortly only essential personnel will be allowed into our buildings – and only for an emergent situation. Those personnel, which include only a few people, will be notified. Should a “shelter-in-place” order for Pennsylvania be issued, which may happen and has already happened in California, no one will be allowed in the Penn GSE buildings. If you need anything out of your workspaces, we recommend that you retrieve it today or tomorrow.
  • IT SUPPORT – IT will continue to be available to support our community’s needs, but remotely. To get assistance, please go to the IT resource page and submit a ticket at https://onepenn.gse.upenn.edu/information-technology
  • WORKING REMOTELY -- All faculty should all be prepared to teach from home. If you need help, please reach out to IT ASAP. We know a few of you have been hoping to teach from an empty classroom; under this new ruling, it’s not clear that this will be possible. Remember, no support staff will be present on site to assist. All support will now be remote. 
  • VIRTUAL DEFENSES/PROPOSALS for Ph.D. & Ed.D STUDENTS –
    • For Ph.D.s, -- this Spring 2020 semester only, the University has waived the requirement that most committee members must be physically present for Ph.D. proposals or defenses and will allow any number of committee members and/or the student to participate in thesis defenses remotely if necessary or desired.
    • For Ed.D.s – GSE faculty have just passed a resolution that says while in-person EdD defenses are preferable, where situations call for it (such as this semester), dissertation chairs may make the decision to allow people to participate virtually with the approval of the student’s division chair. For questions, please contact OSS or the Student Records Office (gse-sro@gse.upenn.edu).
  • PASS/FAIL – Earlier today, the provost and vice provost for education sent out emails indicating sweeping policy changes allowing undergraduates and PhD students to take courses pass/fail. While the University is able to make decisions for these groups, they cannot make decisions about our professional degrees, including the MSEd and EdD. We will be discussing these matters with you in the days ahead to try to come to a solution that works best for all our students. Our current policies do not allow students to take most classes pass/fail.
  • STUDENT ILLNESS -- If you learn that a student is ill for any reason and is physically present in the Philadelphia region, or has been within the last 14 days, please have them contact Student Health Services as you usually would. Additionally, if you are made aware of a student case of COVID-19 (suspected or otherwise), please send that information to Ashlee Halbritter in SHS (ashleeh@upenn.edu), cc:ing OSS at gse-oss@gse.upenn.edu, or have that student send the information. SHS will contact the student and ensure that they are getting the support they need and also follow up with anyone they may have been in contact with. [Note: under absolutely no circumstances should programs send/share/track this info with anyone else. Only Imani and Ann will be checking the OSS email, and will not be keeping specific information on file anywhere.]

Please reach out to me or appropriate staff if you have any questions or concerns. As always, I appreciate your flexibility and patience as we navigate this uncharted terrain—together.

Take good care of yourselves, your families, and your communities,
Pam

Note to Staff from Emma Grigore - March 20, 2020

Hello everybody!

I wanted to thank everyone for making the extraordinary shift to a virtual Penn GSE go virtually seamlessly. These past few weeks have been marked with rapid decisions and constantly changing information – as well as the need for us to transition to unexpected new ways of working in incredibly short periods of time! I am humbled and amazed by how the staff has all come together to support one another and the School.

For the duration of remote working, our plan is to send out a regular communication (no more than once a week) with information, reminders, and community-building. Please send any ideas, recommendations on engagement or other feedback to: https://upenn.co1.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_3pJbJgjMv3UpKsJ.

This note will allow us to stay abreast of resources, tips, and how to make the best of this situation. We’re thinking about including things like “our favorite thing on the Internet,” how to stay physically and mentally fit, establishing structure, book recommendations, and a weekly virtual lunch. We’d love for you to participate or share ideas!  Some Penn-GSE specific points to know now:

  • Building Access – As a follow-up to Penn’s message about a more drastic closing of the university (in keeping with Governor Wolf’s edict to suspend all business that is not life-sustaining), only essential personnel will be allowed into our buildings (those personnel will be notified), and only for an emergent situation. If you need anything out of your workspaces, we recommend that you retrieve it today or tomorrow.
  • Staying up-to-date – First, please check our GSE-specific coronavirus page for ongoing updates. The Communications team and Web team are working tirelessly to keep it up-to-date (especially the FAQs). If you have a question, or would like to see something posted, please email Jennifer Moore at jenmoo@upenn.edu
  • Parking Permits - Employees have the option to temporarily cancel their permits and use the $6 daily rate. You can have the permit reactivated once you return to work; and you will not be charged again until you return. You will only be charged up to the date you request a temporary suspension of your permit. If you are interested in suspending your parking permit, send your name, PennID, and license plate number, along with a request to temporarily suspend your parking permit, to parking@upenn.edu. Penn Transportation and Parking’s website is found at: https://cms.business-services.upenn.edu/transportation/ 
  • Guide to working remotely – Penn HR has posted a helpful guide to working remotely – take a look! The guide includes online trainings, tech advice and tips on establishing new norms and check-ins
  • Refunding SEPTA passes – Partially used Monthly March 2020 Passes and Weekly Passes for the Weeks of March 9 & 16. SEPTA is offering credits for unused and partially used passes valid during these periods. More info can be found here.
  • Of note regarding Ph.D. and Ed.D Students -- For the Spring 2020 semester only, the University has waived the requirement that most committee members must be physically present for Ph.D. proposals or defenses, and will allow any number of committee members and/or the student to participate in thesis defenses remotely if necessary or desired. For Ed.D.’s, GSE, has passed a resolution that says while in-person EdD defenses are preferable, where situations call for it, chairs may make the decision to allow people to participate virtually with the approval of the relevant division chair. More information is available on our FAQ.
  • Student Illness -- If you learn that a student is ill for any reason and is physically present in the Philadelphia region (or within the last 14 days), please have them contact Student Health Services as you usually would. Additionally, if you are made aware of a student case of COVID-19 (suspected or otherwise), please send that information to Ashlee Halbritter in SHS (ashleeh@upenn.edu), cc:ing OSS at gse-oss@gse.upenn.edu, or have that student send the information. SHS will contact the student and ensure that they are getting the support they need and also follow up with anyone they may have been in contact with. [Note: under no circumstances should programs send/share/track this info with anyone else. Only Imani and Ann will be checking the OSS email, and will not be keeping specific information on file anywhere.]

How we can stay connected –

  • Save the date for a virtual lunch with the Dean and Chief People Officer to ask any questions or share feedback on the current situation - Friday 3/27 from 12-1pm at https://bluejeans.com/9354149020
  • Get the kinks out and join your fellow staffers for virtual Pilates with Erin Chambers next Tuesday and Thursday from 12-1pm at https://bluejeans.com/2057882566

We understand that there are many challenges to working at home. I am personally so grateful that the University is committed so strongly to our community. We will all be doing the best that we can, and I hope that this letter can be a way to stay connected.

Be well,

Emma Grigore
Chief People Officer

Note to Students from Ann Tiao - March 16, 2020

Dear Penn GSE Students,

As we start this extended week of spring break, I want to give you some updates about housing and accessing services. Please understand that this is an evolving situation. For the most up-to-date school-specific information, check Penn GSE’s Coronavirus FAQ page.

Housing update

There has been some confusion regarding on-campus housing, and we know some of you have been hearing conflicting information. The university is encouraging all students to move home for the semester. However, some of you are unable to return home. Our office is continuing to work with students to find a resolution. I want to make one point very clear: Penn GSE remains committed to making sure everyone who has been counting on campus housing has safe and secure housing for the rest of the semester. If you have any concerns please contact me immediately.

Van Pelt-Dietrich Library Center closed

All Penn Libraries, including Van Pelt-Dietrich Library Center, are closed until further notice. Digital resources and virtual services remain available.  

https://www.library.upenn.edu/blogs/libraries-news/covid-19-libraries-policies-and-information

Mental health support

In the wake of COVID-19, we understand this can be an incredibly isolating, stressful, and challenging time for students. Penn GSE’s Office of Student Services (OSS) would like to support students as best we can remotely. We will be hosting BlueJeans check-ins later this week to get a sense of how students are doing, what you need from us, and any questions you may still have about transitioning and moving forward. Please complete the short form here to sign up for a group check-in and to submit any questions you may have. We are here to support students during this difficult time, so please don’t hesitate to reach out to us.

Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) remains open and offers a number of ways to access a counselor, including 24/7 phone access. Here is some helpful advice from Yale Medicine on managing anxiety amidst the coronavirus crisis.

Remote learning

We know many students are wondering what their classes will look like. Instructors are using this extended break to re-organize their lesson plans to meet instructional goals. You can expect to hear more details from your instructor in the next few days. 

Accessing the Office of Career and Professional Development

Until at least March 31, all appointments will be scheduled via Handshake, and all appointments will be conducted via BlueJeans. If you have questions, email Director Amy Benedict, but please understand that response times might be longer than usual. Drop-in hours will not be held during this time.

Graduate assistantships

All graduate assistants (GAs) who work within Penn GSE have the option to continue their work remotely through the semester. Contact your supervisor to discuss modifying your duties. 

GAs who work at Penn, but not at Penn GSE, or who work at a different organization should ask their supervisor about remote working options. If your organization cannot modify your work or will not continue to pay you, contact me. 

We will continue to be in touch as we prepare for classes to resume remotely next week. Please keep reaching out to program managers and OSS with your questions. We can only help solve the problems that we know about. We will work to find a solution. 

You have likely seen an email from Penn’s Chief Wellness Officer, Benoit Dubé, letting our community know that three undergraduate students have tested positive for COVID-19. The students, including one who returned to campus, are in isolation and are now receiving appropriate medical care. Penn has contacted people with whom these students were in contact. As Dubé said in his note, while we are taking drastic measures to reduce the spread of infection, we should continue to treat one another with compassion and respect. 

Whether you are with us in Philadelphia or in your home communities, please continue to take care of your physical and mental health. And thanks again for your patience, flexibility, and resilience. 

Stay strong, Penn GSE!

Ann

Note from Dean Grossman to Staff and Faculty - March 13, 2020

Dear Staff and Faculty,

 As a follow-up to the Provost’s note below that strongly encourages faculty and staff to work remotely, we wanted to share Penn GSE-specific information and guidance to staff and faculty. 

Remote work:

First of all, our goal is to rapidly decrease the number of people on campus to help reduce the spread of COVID-19. For this reason, we are urging people to work remotely if at all possible.

 Flexibility is key, as we work to continue university operations within a complex and constantly evolving situation. This will be a particular challenge as we simultaneously work to transition to remote teaching. Some staff will still be on campus to assist in this process. Teams are working on how to develop rotations so that fewer people are on campus at the same time.

 Our primary concern is your well-being and the well-being of our communities. Self-quarantining is a priority if you think you have been exposed. We also need to be sensitive to individual health risks, childcare challenges, connectivity challenges, etc. Please note, it is essential we respect any government guidance about quarantining or staying at home.

 Please see the highlighted questions below in the Provost’s email when considering remote work arrangement options. Communicate with your manager, who will determine whether – and which employees - can work remotely. Contact Emma Grigore for assistance if necessary.

Additional thoughts:

Meetings & Communications – at this point, every meeting should be moved to a virtual environment. Connect with the people that you work with and create a plan for the best modes of communicating – whether it’s email, Teams, Slack, or BlueJeans, or other means. Please make sure that you have telephone lists to reach out to each other by phone. If you have specific needs, please reach out to IT with any questions. If you’re responsible for a division or team or department, be sure to get this information from your team ASAP.

Forwarding your phones – please make sure you have the ability to pick up calls, either by forwarding to your home/cell phone or making sure that you can forward messages to your email account to listen to them. Instructions are below:

Call Forwarding and Phone Settings

You can configure your phone’s forwarding through the PennNet Phone Settings website.

  1. Log into https://pps.voice.isc.upenn.edu/ with your PennKey.
  2. Click Features and Voice Mail.

Click on the yellow information buttons (/var/folders/5j/gwnb0l1d4cz9w07t3mlzr8bh0000gq/T/com.microsoft.Word/WebArchiveCopyPasteTempFiles/cidimage001.png@01D5F92B.95F8ACF0) on the page for more information on specific features.

Scheduled Call Forwarding

Set Call Forward All to schedule to have your phone automatically forward to another line on specific days or times.

 IT Support - IT staff will continue to be available to support faculty and staff as they transition to virtual working and teaching.

  • Ticketing – the best way to get your needs met is to open a help request at https://tickets.gse.upenn.edu. The team will be monitoring tickets during this weekend and beyond, and will be available to respond.
  • Remote 1-on-1 assistance – we encourage you to schedule an appointment for remote assistance: https://calendly.com/gse-it/
  • In-person assistance – we understand that some of you may need in-person assistance – we’ll host drop-in hours Monday-Thursday from 2-4 pm in 3700’s Rm 124.

Temps – those employees whose job functions do not allow them to work remotely, including temporary employees, should work with their supervisors to develop additional duties they can complete off-site. At this time, no University paid employee will be put in an unpaid status. Managers, if you have temps, please let them know ASAP about the University’s commitment to them at this time. Contact Emma Grigore if you need assistance determining remote work for any employees.

Mailroom and packages – mail delivery, for now, will continue. For packages, a guard will be available to accept package delivery. Moving forward, please do not have packages delivered to GSE because of limited storage capacity. If something is delivered, please pick it up – and consider re-routing beforehand if possible.

Visitors – per the Provost’s note, visitors are restricted from campus; that includes in-person visits to Admissions.

Planning for Staff Illness/Insurance coverage – plan for if you or a team member becomes ill; create plans that include sharing information so that work can continue. Please let Emma Grigore know if you have a suspected or confirmed case of COVID-19; this will be kept confidential, but will allow us to reach out to people who might have been exposed. Please note the important benefits update that can be found here. Highlights on Penn’s insurance coverage expansion include:

  • Coverage of COVID-19 testing
  • Coverage of treatment
  • Available telemedicine on demand (215-615-2222)
  • Free home delivery from CVS pharmacy for prescription medication

Adjusting Hours – if you need to adjust your working hours outside the traditional workday, please work with your supervisor and Emma Grigore.

Office Building Availability – extra cleaning and disinfecting will continue in all Penn GSE buildings. We anticipate that initially, a handful of employees over the next week may choose to work in their buildings during the transition to virtual teaching. Below is building availability, which of course, is subject to change.              

3700 Walnut

Security – Front Desk
Allied Universal officers will continue to be posted at the main entrance during hours of operation

Hours of Operation – main entrance
3700 Walnut Street, Floor 1, Rooms 200 and 203

M-Th 8:30am - 10:00pm
F 8:30am - 9:00pm
Sat 10:00am - 4:00pm

3700 Walnut Street, Floors 2, 3 & 4

24/7 swipe access for GSE faculty, staff and previously authorized students

Solomon Main entrance – moving to 24/7 swipe access with a valid Penn ID     

Stiteler – building hours change to 24/7 swipe access with valid Penn ID; 2nd floor (no change) – swipe access limited to GSE faculty, staff and previously authorized students

3440 Market – currently, no change to building hours. However, 3rd & 5th floor will be 24/7 swipe for GSE faculty, staff and previously authorized students 

Thank you again for all your patience and perseverance as we pull together as a community – while maintaining our physical distance.  

All my best,

Pam

Read the provost's Message to Faculty and Staff Regarding University Operations

Note to Faculty on Remote Teaching and Learning from Dean Pam Grossman - March 13, 2020

Dear colleagues,

As you’ve seen from the emails from the president and provost, spring break for students has been extended by a week to allow faculty time to prepare for remote instruction. We have been working hard to develop as many resources as possible to help you during this time. While this may seem daunting, the good news is that with the additional week of break, most of our class sessions are behind us for the semester. Please note that the semester has not been extended by a week. Our task now is to find ways that allow us to achieve the learning goals we’ve outlined in our syllabi via teaching remotely and to find ways to accommodate a shortened semester. 

Most of what we do in class—group discussions, small group discussions—can be replicated using BlueJeans. We have also secured licenses for Zoom for those of you who would prefer using that application. You can use either BlueJeans or Zoom to conduct a synchronous class session. However, remote streaming can prove a challenge at times. Some students may find it hard to connect, so it will be important to prepare asynchronous activities as well on Canvas—for example, providing guided questions for readings and setting up threaded conversations. This will also be important because it is inevitable that some of us will get sick and therefore be unable to attend class.

To help people develop a level of comfort in adapting to remote teaching, we will be providing a range of training activities. Our goal is to keep things as simple as possible. Of course, things won’t work seamlessly, and so we’ll all need to be flexible.

A few reminders: 

  • If you had assignments due next week, please understand that next week is now an extended Spring Break, so we assume due dates will be adjusted.
  • Please communicate with your students how you will be conducting class with them the week of March 23rd. The university is expecting that you will teach your class at the regularly scheduled time but will also provide asynchronous options. This may mean taping class sessions on BlueJeans or Zoom and posting them to Canvas for students to review.


Remote Teaching Resources

If these sorts of remote teaching activities are relatively new to you, we strongly urge you to schedule a 1-on-1 consultation (which can be done virtually or over the phone) through our IT team. They can also connect you with colleagues who can provide advice adapting class activities to a virtual environment. Contact (IT Support) In addition, Kim Eke and Michael Golden will be available for in-person office hours in room 203 on Tuesday, March 16, and Wednesday, March 17, from 2pm to 4pm. 

We have new information on One Penn GSE: one page on (Teaching & Working Remotely) and another specific to moving a course online quickly (Teaching Remotely) to help faculty with this transition. These pages include links to a number of resources. I want to thank our our IT and Communications teams and all of you who have sent suggestions for their help in launching these sites so quickly!

Our colleagues at Catalyst have also scheduled a number of trainings. The initial offerings are listed below with more to follow. Please sign up here: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/virtual-instruction-resources-for-penn-gse-faculty-tickets-99542965690

Monday, 3/16
Getting Started with Online Learning (BlueJeans and Canvas)
2:00–3:00pm
5:00–6:00pm
 
Tuesday, 3/17
Doing More with Canvas
1:00–2:00pm

Catalyst is in the process of developing training videos that will help people understand the basics of remote teaching: (Catalyst video demos). The first video, Getting Started with Online Learning, is already posted and will help you use BlueJeans and Canvas, if you are not familiar with these tools. I want to thank Michael Golden, Betty Chandy, and the whole Catalyst team for developing these resources so quickly! I already watched the first video and although I’ve used BlueJeans many times, learned how to send an invitation to a meeting! 

Penn’s Center for Teaching and Learning is also providing remote trainings that focus on how to use Canvas, how to run your classroom remotely, and how to assess learning. You can sign up for these trainings here: (Penn CTL Trainings). Other resources from CTL that focus on remote teaching may be found here (Penn CTL). 

Penn’s library has resources that can address questions about Canvas at (Van Pelt Canvas Support). The following email address is the best way to get questions answered by library staff: canvas@pobox.upenn.edu


Crises present opportunities as well as challenges. Our opportunity in this particular crisis is to learn more about teaching remotely and how best to support one another.  If you are already comfortable using BlueJeans or Canvas, please let us know if you are willing to be a resource to colleagues. If any of your TAs or GAs might be a resource, please let us know.  We are compiling a list of people who can help others. I also want to thank our incredible team at GSE who has worked tirelessly over the past few days to pull together all of these resources and communications. We are a very lucky community indeed to have so many talented and dedicated staff and faculty. 

Stay well,
Pam

A Message to Staff from Dean Grossman and Emma Grigore - March 12, 2020

Dear Staff,

We are entering uncharted territory as a school and university over the next few weeks. We are all learning, and we greatly appreciate you sharing your questions and thoughts as we work to solve a wide array of new problems. We depend on you to let us know what concerns or issues we might be overlooking. Please keep it up – we are counting on you to help move the school forward!

Staying Healthy - The health and wellbeing of our entire community remains our top priority. We are asking for everyone’s support to keep our community healthy. First, we hope that everyone is practicing the basic healthy habits of frequent handwashing, avoiding touching your face, avoiding handshakes and hugs that experts have been recommending to avoid health risks. We also encourage you to provide increased “social distancing” by limiting the number of people at meetings, holding meetings in large rooms to provide more space between people, and providing for remote participation in meetings. If you feel ill, please do not report to work. As we stated before, if you have health concerns, underlying issues, or your child’s school has closed, please contact Emma to consider remote work options on a case by case basis.

Maintaining Operations -- We want to be able to maintain operations even as we adjust to a sudden shift to remote teaching and working. We are putting together workshops, virtual learning, curating resources, etc. to assist faculty who are focused on maintaining the quality of learning in a new environment. We will be working to support you as well in these efforts as we prepare for a possibility of needing to work remotely. We are sure that at this time most of you are having conversations in your respective areas about how to pivot quickly to implement all of these changes. This is an opportunity for us to use this time to plan for any future changes in university operations. The staff is critical to this effort. Please begin to make preparations in case we need to move to remote work.

Getting Information – Many of you attended the Tuesday staff meeting, where we were able to share information about planning, policies and resources around COVID-19, including adjusted leave policies related to COVID-19. In case you weren’t able to make the staff meeting, the presentation was recorded and is available here. You can also download the slides and obtain running GSE updates and resources around COVID-19 planning here, as well as links to the University’s information and resources around the virus. We will continue to communicate via emails, but please check GSE and Penn’s sites often to get the most up-to-date information. We will begin posting all correspondence and updates to our community, whether it is students, staff, or faculty, on our OnePennGSE coronavirus page, which also links you to Penn’s various coronavirus information pages here -- https://onepenn.gse.upenn.edu/deans-office/coronavirus

Be Compassionate – Be mindful that many people are spread very thin (especially IT & Student Services). Please be compassionate and understanding during this rapidly changing scenario. We also recognize that this is a very stressful time for you and your families, as you worry about vulnerable members of your family and how best to protect them. As a reminder, the Penn Employee Assistance Program (EAP) is available 24/7 and provides resources such as counseling and help with navigating the healthcare landscape for you and your family (including your parents).

Everything may not run smoothly at first. Information and solutions may be imperfect, and we need to be generous with each other as we navigate the COVID-19 challenge.

Please reach out to Emma if you have questions, feedback, or are not sure how to navigate some aspect of this evolving situation. In the meantime, take good care of yourself and others. Crises are stressful, and the best way to mitigate that stress is to support one another. 

Emma G. Grigore
Chief People Officer HR Director | GSE HR

Pam Grossman
Dean and George and Diane Weiss Professor of Education

A Note to Managers from Emma Grigore/HR - March 12, 2020

Dear Managers,

Thank you for your leadership as we pivot to remote teaching and learning. At this point, you have seen the other emails about resource pages, update pages, etc. We are making sure that we are preparing for any contingency. Here are a few things that I want to communicate to you as managers and leaders in your respective areas:

Stay informed – please read the guide for managers and become familiar with the responses to FAQs (but again, please involve me if someone believes that they have been exposed or is requesting that they work remotely). Check in with the OnePennGSE coronavirus page on a regular basis – we’ll be communicating all our updates there to students, staff and faculty, as well as resources (coming soon!). There may be a lot of questions you can’t answer – I’m happy to partner with you on this.

Meet with your team – please check in on your team members’ physical and emotional well-being; make sure that they can come to you to with concerns. If the University decides to move to remote work quickly, please prioritize thinking through how that would work and what the challenges might be. Please take some time to meet with your teams to discuss agile contingency plans, thinking through what happens if colleagues are working remotely or are ill and unable to work. What kind of “mission continuity” plans can you develop? What physical files need to be with employees, do phone numbers need to be exchanged? Have staff connect with IT to investigate how they might be able to work remotely and what preparations they may need to make. If you have an employee whose job cannot be done remotely, please connect me to discuss alternatives.

No Penn related travel & new guidelines for job interviews – in keeping with the Provost’s guidance regarding visitors from other cities and countries, as an alternative to on-campus interviews, please consider offering an online option to candidates. BlueJeans, Zoom, or Skype are all resources available. For candidates who do not have access to a computer with a camera, consider using BlueJeans or a telephone/conference line to conduct the interview by phone. Please also offer flexibility to candidates if they need to reschedule. Newly-released guidance for on-campus interviews during this time can be found here.

Please let me know if we are missing anything in our correspondence. It has been wonderful to see everyone pitching in and helping each other out. Remember to keep communication open, that everyone is trying their best, and it is important that we move forward in as a constructive a manner as possible.

Thank you,

Emma G. Grigore, PHR
Chief People Officer HR Director | GSE HR

A Message from Dean Pam Grossman - March 11, 2020

Dear Members of the Penn GSE Community, 

By now, you should have received the email from the President and Provost letting us know that Penn will be extending spring break for students for another week and moving all university classes online by the week of March 23 to help mitigate the spread of COVID-19. 

We are hard at work as a university and as a school preparing for this unprecedented move.  I know this is a significant change for many of us, and it will require us all to be flexible and patient as we navigate this new reality.  Please know that we will do everything we can to support students, faculty, and staff as we transition to virtual teaching and learning.  The good news is that we have an additional week to prepare for the remainder of the semester.

Later this week, Kim Eke, our Director of IT, will be sending around detailed information to faculty and staff about logistics and support.  We are also developing a schedule of trainings to help faculty move their courses online. We have a number of tools at our disposal – such as Canvas, BlueJeans, Panopto – that will make this transition easier.  

GSE Students – Ann Tiao and her team in the Office of Student Services stand ready to support you as you think about the ramifications of this announcement for the rest of the semester. We understand that many of you are worried about transitioning to an unexpected format for learning, and that some of you are also concerned about loved ones. We are committed to working with you to find solutions that support you during this transition.  A few things to keep in mind:

  • University housing will remain open for those who are unable to return home.
  • University student services, including CAPS, SHS, and Weingarten Learning Center, will also remain open and able to provide support services.
  • If you do not have internet access from home, there are many places across campus where you can access the internet, or we will work with you to find access in your community.
  • If you are in a clinical setting as part of your required fieldwork, you can continue to fulfill these requirements in person.  If you are part of a vulnerable population, due to underlying health conditions, and concerned about remaining in school or community settings, please contact your program director or program manager, and we will work to find alternatives.

You will be receiving a follow-up message from the Office of Student Services later today that provides additional information. 

GSE Faculty/Instructional Staff:  We know that some of you may need support in transitioning your class to an online experience.  We are busy organizing training sessions for some of the most common tools you are likely to use, including Canvas, BlueJeans, Dropbox, and Panopto, all of which are supported by GSE.  Much of next week’s faculty meeting will be devoted to this topic and will provide opportunities to get assistance.  A few things to keep in mind:

  • If you do not have a Canvas site set up for your class, please work on getting one set up immediately, as this will be one of your primary tools for communicating with students, posting assignments, and leading online discussions. 
  • Be sure to download BlueJeans.  We urge you to begin experimenting with video conferencing with your colleagues. 
  • If you have resources or ideas about teaching remotely, please share them with us.  We will be creating a Dropbox with resources for teaching online. 
  • If you’re comfortable with teaching remotely and willing to help colleagues, please let Kat Stein know.  She will be compiling a list of people to reach out to for help.

Staff:  Yesterday’s staff meeting was devoted to the topic of preparing for working and teaching remotely. You can access the recording of the meeting and the slides here. Please be sure to review these materials if you weren’t at the meeting. At this point, the University expects staff to attend work as scheduled. Remote work options will be evaluated on a case by case basis for employees who are either in vulnerable populations or have family members who are in those populations.  Emma Grigore will be following up tomorrow with additional information.

We will continue to communicate updates via email, but we recommend you also check out the newly-launched University coronavirus pages, which have a growing list of answers to many of your questions at https://coronavirus.upenn.edu/. The University will continue to update these pages in the coming weeks. 

I want to thank all of you for pulling together as a community as we work to implement the University’s decision to move to remote learning for the remainder of the semester.  I am hoping that we can all use the next 10 days to prepare for this transition to online teaching.  Although the transition may be bumpy at times, I hope that as a community of educators, we can adopt a learning stance during this transition and assume that people are doing their best to provide high quality learning experiences under challenging circumstances.

I know that GSE is comprised of incredible people, and that one of the hallmarks of our school is the thoughtfulness and kindness we bring to the world. Let’s work together to keep our families and our Penn family safe in the coming weeks and to create the best possible virtual learning experiences for everyone.

All my best,
Pam

GSE All Staff Meeting - March 10, 2020

Access the recorded meeting at https://bluejeans.com/s/1URZj (you will be prompted to enter your Penn email address and single sign-on login information). Download the Slides

Stay up-to-date on Penn & Coronavirus - March 3, 2020

Stay up-to-date and find resources about the current novel coronavirus (COVID-19) at https://coronavirus.upenn.edu.

Contact the Penn GSE Dean's Office

Diana Johnson
Executive Assistant, Dean's Office
215-898-7014

Emma Grigore
Chief People Officer
215-746-3133 

Eric Kaplan
Chief of Staff
215-573-9404

Matthew Hartley
Associate Dean for Academic Affairs
215-898-8414

Lizzie Petela 
Dean’s Office Coordinator 
215-746-6885