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Latest fall semester guidance

August 26, 2020

A message from Dean Cooley

Copied to: DGSs, Registrars, Department Chairs
In this message: Answers to your questions about Phase 3 of research reactivation, remote health care, and information for Teaching Fellows

August 26, 2020

Dear graduate students,

At last, welcome to Fall 2020, which promises to be an unusual and even historic fall term. I offer my heartfelt thanks to the many students, faculty and staff members whose enormous amount of careful planning now allows us to assemble either in person or virtually to resume university life. Things will be different and some of our plans may need to be modified, but I look forward to seeing how our adjustments for the pandemic will lead to innovations across higher education.

You may have heard that Yale started Phase 3 of Research Reactivation on August 24, and a number of you are wondering about what Phase 3 will entail. For those of us on campus, guidance for Phase 3 largely resembles that of Phase 2. Physical distancing, daily health checks, and the use of face coverings and PPE remain the same. Decisions about enacting phases are made with the guidance of Yale’s public health experts in concert with the State of Connecticut and Federal guidelines. At the moment, the State of Connecticut has not yet announced its Phase 3 plans.

Here are links to information you may need right now as you prepare to return to campus:
For the Vice Provost for Research’s August 17 announcement about Phase 3
For detailed information about Phases 2 and 3
For detailed guidance about returning to campus including safety requirements, responsibilities, and reporting
For information about how to access laboratory safety plans in EHS Integrator

You will notice in the FAQs below that there are a number of questions about health care for students registered and located away from New Haven and working conditions for Teaching Fellows (TFs). This table is designed to help you understand your status and the corresponding on-campus access and healthcare coverage. I have included answers to a number of your questions below.

Some of you are understandably anxious about being required to teach in person, even if you feel unsafe returning to campus. I want to emphasize that no Teaching Fellow will be required to teach in person under any circumstances. If you have any questions about this, please contact Pam Schirmeister at You may also use this webform to report issues related to your teaching assignments now and throughout the term.

I will schedule GSAS Town Hall meetings throughout the semester as issues arise. In the meantime, updated information and answers to your questions will be posted on the GSAS website in the form of FAQs. As always, feel free to contact the GSAS office with questions or concerns now and as the term progresses. Please do stay in touch, adhere to the COVID health recommendations, and have a wonderful semester.

With best wishes for your health and success,

Lynn Cooley

Dean, Graduate School of Arts and Sciences
C.N.H. Long Professor of Genetics
Professor of Cell Biology and of Molecular, Cellular & Developmental Biology

Questions and answers

Registration in absentia

Who may register in absentia?
Please see this useful chart to see if registering in absentia fits your situation.

What is the deadline to register in absentia?
The deadline to register in absentia has been extended to September 30.

Healthcare coverage

If I register in absentia am I eligible for the academic travel rider?
The deadline for applying for the fall 2020 travel rider has passed.

A student must be approved to register in absentia in order to apply for the travel rider.  However, being approved to register in absentia does not mean you will receive the travel rider as you must apply for it before the deadline. Information about the travel rider can be found here. Yale Health has not announced dates for the opening and closing of the spring 2021 travel rider application.

I work remotely but haven’t advanced to candidacy yet. What are my non-emergency healthcare options?
According to the Yale Health website if you are away from New Haven, you can communicate with your provider through MyChart, and obtain medical care via telemedicine with the MyChart app. For licensing reasons, in some states this may take the form of a telephone call rather than video chat.

What are my healthcare options if I reside overseas?
International SOS (ISOS) is offered by Yale for emergency and medical assistance coverage for travelers for acute and emergency medical issues.

What do I do if I test positive for COVID-19 or have some other medical emergency?
If you test positive for COVID-19, call Yale Health or healthcare facility near your home. Stay calm, self-isolate, and follow the instructions given to you by your provider.

The Yale Health COVID-19 Hotline is 203-432-6604.
For all COVID-19 related questions, please see Yale Health’s comprehensive webpage for students.

For other medical emergencies you must call 911 as always.


How should Teaching Fellows (TFs) be registered in order to teach remotely?
Students in any registration status may teach remotely.

Who determines if a course will be taught in person or remotely?
Faculty submit requests for in-person teaching of undergraduate courses to the College’s Course of Study Committee which makes the decision. Graduate courses are managed by the programs themselves. Teaching fellows who wish to teach sections and labs on campus may request classroom space through the form sent from the TFP on 8/25.

If a course assigned to me is meant to be taught in person and I reside in New Haven, may I opt to teach it remotely?
Yes, but some courses may request a TF who is willing to teach in person if necessary. In such a case, the program will appoint someone who might be willing to teach in person. No TF will be required to teach on campus without consent.

If a TF begins teaching in person and subsequently feels unsafe, is it possible to convert to remote teaching?
Yes, and in fact all courses must offer a remote option even if some students learn in person.

What are the guidelines for social distancing and desk placement in classrooms?
All lab courses must go through a rigorous vetting process with EHS that includes a safety plan, and all courses must have a remote option. Please see the Yale Environmental Health and Safety website for detailed information about how our spaces are made as safe as possible for students, faculty, and the rest of our community.

International Students

I am a new international student.  If I am enrolled remotely during the fall term and come to campus in the spring term, will I be eligible for summer CPT to complete a summer internship?
For most students the answer is no. The regulations require at least one academic year of study in the U.S. as F-1 student to be eligible for CPT. The exception is for internships that are required of all students in academic program and represent a degree requirement. Only the M.S. degree program in Biostatistics meets this requirement.

Links to further information


Academic travel rider

Yale Health student coverage