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Information for Graduate Students and Postdocs

Updated July 10, 2020

The following information applies to all graduate students and postdocs enrolled in the University (including AS&E, the Eastman School of Music, the Simon Business School, the Warner School of Education, the School of Medicine and Dentistry, and the School of Nursing).

Latest update

University responds to ICE guidance that restricts international students’ fall semester options

The University of Rochester, like many institutions, was surprised by the July 6 guidance issued by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), which is the agency within the U.S. Department of Homeland Security with oversight of the F-1 student visa program.

We are sharing our strong concerns with our elected officials, and are developing an amicus brief in support of the federal lawsuit Harvard and MIT have brought against ICERead more.

Rochester Restart: Safe reopen for fall 2020

The comprehensive reopening plan submitted to New York State details specific procedures for a safe restart in the fall. The plan for classes involves beginning the undergraduate academic semester as planned on Wednesday, August 26, but eliminating fall break. After the Thanksgiving holiday, all instruction would be moved online.

To meet standards of physical distancing, a hybrid online and in-person approach will be necessary. All large lecture classes will be conducted online, while smaller classes will be a hybrid of online and in-person.

The plan also details procedures for laboratory research. See the research safety procedures. Additional information, applicable to all laboratory research at the University—both at the Medical Center and on the River Campus—can be found here.

Get more information on the Fall 2020 academic plan.

New York State domestic travel guidance

In recent weeks, Governor Andrew Cuomo has announced that individuals traveling to New York State from specific states experiencing high infection rates of COVID-19 are required to self-quarantine upon arrival for 14 days. Thus far, this list of states has continued to grow and is updated here.

We are working closely with our state officials to understand how this guidance will affect our plans for students coming to Rochester and moving onto campus in August, and what options we will have. We will update our students and families as soon as we receive new information and can provide a final plan.

Please continue to visit our Rochester Restart website, which features the latest updates and news about the University’s work to reopen this fall.

Access to libraries

River Campus Libraries: Although the physical spaces are closed, many services, including access to library staff expertise and guidance, remain fully operational. About one-third of Rush Rhees Library’s physical book collection is available electronically.

River Campus Libraries has established a dedicated page offering information about services, including tips for conducting library research remotely. Outreach librarians have launched a YouTube channel, #RCLatHome Resources, that provides tutorials for navigating library databases.

You can also reference the library’s list of free and extended access to materials during COVID-19. These publishers have made their collections free to use at least through the end of May.

In addition, HathiTrust and the Internet Archive’s National Emergency Library are providing temporary access to materials under copyright.

Miner Library has established a dedicated page to support online learning, teaching, and research needs.

Financial matters

For the latest information about fall 2020 billing, payments, and fees, visit the Office of the Bursar.

Need assistance with off-campus housing?

Graduate students living in rental units off campus who have problems or concerns related to rent payments, agreements, and other aspects of their lease can contact Rebecca Orton (, coordinator of off-campus housing programs in the Office for Residential Life and Housing Services. Rebecca is also available to help students looking for off-campus housing, sublets, and roommates.

Information for postdocs

Health insurance

For postdocs with medical insurance through the Garnett-Powers & Associate plan administered by Excellus, there will no cost to the postdocs for COVID-19-related expenses:

  • No cost to members for COVID-19 testing where medically necessary consistent with CDC guidance
  • No cost to members for medically necessary office, urgent care, or ER visits related to COVID-19
  • No cost to members for telehealth services

Leave and benefits

Please note that we are currently awaiting guidance from the federal government on Employer-Provided Sick Leave and the Family and Medical Leave Act.

Similar to the new faculty/staff policy, postdoctoral associates and postdoctoral fellows who have been placed under voluntary or involuntary quarantine by the Department of Public Health will be granted full pay for up to 14 days, as per Centers for Disease Control (CDC) guidelines.

For postdocs able to conduct some or all of their research remotely, postdoc benefits will not be affected by these arrangements.

Hotline for all faculty, staff, and families

An Emotional Support/Resources Hotline is now up and running to help faculty, staff, postdocs, and their families navigate these challenging times. All University faculty and staff, affiliated hospital staff, and all family members can access this free, anonymous, and confidential service by calling (585) 276-3100. The line is open 7:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Monday through Friday and is staffed by volunteer clinicians from URMC. Volunteers can provide guidance and support on a wide range of personal and professional concerns, including:

  • Anxiety and stress management
  • Housing
  • Finances
  • Food needs
  • Child care

They can also connect you and your family with a variety of helpful resources. You will not be asked to give your name unless you wish to do so, and no information about your call will be shared with anyone.  Please note that this is not a mental health crisis line; if you need mental health crisis support, please call (585) 275-​8686.

Ombuds Services: Resolving disputes or conflicts

The ombudspeople (or ombuds) continue to serve as a neutral resource, providing confidential and informal assistance to members of the campus community who need help with resolving University-related disputes or conflicts. Ombuds support is available within AS&E for postdocs, graduate students,or faculty, and for postdocs and graduate students in SMD.

Counseling and support through EAP

Postdocs who need support coping with anxiety, fear, or stress—related to COVID-19 or any other issue—can find counseling and support resources through the Employee Assistance Program. Please reach out if you need support.

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