I’d like to welcome you back to campus for the spring semester and provide some updates as in-person classes resume. I know that we still face many uncertainties about the course of the pandemic, but I appreciate your continued dedication to scholarship, research and teaching at the university.
You may have seen the recent email from President Hartzell welcoming students back to campus. Below are some additional details and resources specific to graduate students.
Returning to Campus
Free PCT and symptomatic testing continues to be available on campus and helps the university identify infected individuals and prevent the spread of the virus. Employees should report to the Occupational Health Program (OHP) if they have tested positive, have symptoms of COVID-19 (even if they test negative) or have been identified as a close contact of someone who has tested positive.
Additionally, the Academic Blue and UT Select health insurance plans cover FDA-authorized over-the-counter diagnostic tests purchased on or after January 15. Read more about the coverage and reimbursement process online for the Academic Blue and UT Select plans.
We recognize that some graduate student employees are concerned about returning to in-person instruction due their own medical condition or the medical condition of someone in their household. Programs established last fall have been extended through the spring semester. Graduate student employees may request Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)accommodations for their own medical conditions through the ADA accommodation process.
Graduate students with individuals residing in their households with certain immunocompromised medical conditions may be eligible for a temporary Alternative Flexible Work Arrangement (FWA). This arrangement is not the same as requesting leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act(FMLA) or requesting an accommodation for an employee’s own health condition under ADA.
TAs, GRAs, GAs and other student employees should follow the staff process for requesting an alternative FWA.
AIs should follow the faculty process. Please note that for certain steps of the process AIs have their own forms.
New Name: Faculty Innovation Center
We are pleased to announce that starting this month the Faculty Innovation Center (FIC) will operate under the name the Center for Teaching and Learning (CTL).
We are excited to make this shift and believe the new name:
Better captures the unit’s broad scope of work and the important connection between evidence-based learning principles and effective teaching
Aligns the center with peer colleges and universities who use similar language for teams charged with this work
Welcomes all members of our diverse UT teaching and learning community, including students, staff members and postdoctoral fellows
The center will begin updating its website in the coming weeks.
The Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund (HEERF) allocates funds to support individuals and businesses/organizations, including colleges and universities, affected by the pandemic and economic downturn. UT has received funds under HEERF II and HEERF III and has provided three rounds of funds so far for emergency assistance to students—including graduate students—with need.
The university will be distributing another round of HEERF funding to qualifying students during the spring semester. The details for this round are still being planned, and the Financial Aid office will notify eligible students via email once it is ready. Per Federal regulations, funds will be distributed prioritizing students with need.
The award amount may be used to help cover expenses related to tuition, food, housing, healthcare (including mental health care), childcare or for other emergency costs.
Health Care Assistance Fund
Starting in the fall 2021 semester, the university changed the default insurance option for benefits-eligible academic graduate student (AGS) employees from UT Select to Academic Blue. While most students will have lower out-of-pocket costs under Academic Blue, a small percentage may experience increases in out-of-pocket costs due to plan differences.
The Graduate School has developed a Health Care Assistance Fundintended to help AGS employees who encounter higher costs by providing block grants.
Students may apply through an online form by providing receipts, claims and explanation of benefits documents. There is $250 minimum required to apply for the fund, and students may apply once per semester or session.
I look forward to seeing many of you back on campus and wish you a healthy, productive spring semester.
MARK J. T. SMITH Dean of the Graduate School Senior Vice Provost for Academic Affairs The University of Texas at Austin
This communication is from Graduate Students – Official. View this email online.