A message from Mason’s Title IX Office

Dear Patriots:

Now that classes and other academic programs are being conducted online, George Mason University’s Title IX Office reminds members of our community that maintaining an academic program free from sex/gender discrimination remains a high priority for the university. Faculty, staff, and students should be aware of the following important points:

  • The Title IX Office remains open and is functioning remotely at this time. Anyone impacted by sex/gender discrimination and harassment is encouraged to make a report to the Title IX Coordinator at https://diversity.gmu.edu/titleix-webform. Investigations and all other services will be conducted virtually to assure that any sexual harassment, sexual violence, intimate partner violence, stalking, retaliation, or other sexually discriminatory behaviors are addressed promptly.
  • University policies on sexual harassment and misconduct apply to behaviors that occur in any context, including in person, as well as in online environments and through virtual communications. Any behavior that is prohibited by policy continues to be prohibited in cyberspace, including cyber-harassment, sex-based cyber-bullying, and cyber-stalking.
  • Mason’s sexual and interpersonal misconduct policy applies to students who are registered or enrolled for credit or noncredit-bearing coursework, all university employees, and third parties. This policy pertains to acts of prohibited conduct committed by or against students, employees, and third parties when:
    1. The conduct occurs on campus or other property owned or controlled by the university;
    2. The conduct occurs in the context of a university employment or education program or activity, including, but not limited to, university-sponsored study abroad, research, online, or internship programs; or
    3. The conduct occurs off campus or outside the context of a university employment or education program or activity, and has continuing adverse effects on or creates a hostile environment for students, employees, or third parties while on a university campus or other property owned or controlled by the university or in any university employment or education program or activity.
  • Faculty and staff members are reminded that reporting alleged sexual harassment and misconduct is required when they become aware of current or past incidents or allegations involving members of the campus community, regardless of how they learn of the potential misconduct, whether in person, in writing, or online.

The full text of the university’s Sexual and Gender-Based Harassment and Other Forms of Interpersonal Misconduct Policy, as well as community resources, can be found online, and our online reporting form can be accessed here.

Sincerely,

Angela Nastase, JD
Title IX Coordinator

Julian Williams, JD
Vice President for Compliance, Diversity, and Ethics

Reporting Coronavirus Test Results and Suspected Illness

Mason Patriots,

Due to the high number of suspected and confirmed coronavirus cases in our region, the university is taking a proactive approach to slowing transmission in our community. Public agencies in Virginia are advised by the Commonwealth of Virginia’s Department of Human Resource Management to document positive or suspected cases, and inform those students, faculty, or staff who may have had contact with the individual to take further precautions.

In order for this protective measure to work, we need your help. First and foremost, if you don’t feel well and have symptoms consistent with COVID-19, please contact your healthcare provider. Your healthcare provider should report any suspected or confirmed COVID-19 illness to your local health department.

Additionally, it is critical that the university be aware of who is at risk in our community. Therefore, if you test positive for COVID-19, have two or more symptoms consistent with COVID-19, or have been instructed by medical professionals to self-isolate, the university is asking you to report as follows:

When notified, Human Resources and Payroll, Student Health Services, or EHS will request information about where you were on campus and with whom you may have come into contact. An assessment will be conducted to identify other members of the Mason community who are at risk of exposure and cleaning of university spaces will occur as necessary. Students, faculty, and staff will be notified if quarantine is recommended based on the information gathered.  Please refer to the university’s guidance on who to notify if you are ill with COVID-19 symptoms and always consult with your primary care provider for medical questions.

The university is committed to protecting your confidentiality. At no time will names, positions, or department information be shared with the university community. Only those who are determined to be at risk of exposure will be contacted. Supervisors and employees must not conduct any independent notifications to their employees or colleagues to prevent confusion and breaches of confidentiality. Supervisors should consult the university’s guidelines on when employees or students may return to work or campus, and consult with the appropriate office before advising employees or students on precautions.

If you would like to take a voluntary risk assessment to better educate yourself about COVID-19 and minimize risk to our community, please read more from Provost Wu and the Dean of the College of Health and Human Services. The risk assessment tool is located on the university’s Blackboard homepage. If you have questions about the tool please contact covid19@gmu.edu.

All members of the community should avoid stigmatizing those who are affected by this disease. Instead, please focus on how we can help those in need and protect others from becoming ill.  Thank you for helping us reduce the spread of COVID-19 in our community. If you have any questions about this process, contact safety@gmu.edu.

Respectfully,

Lisa Park, MD, MPH
Executive Director, Student Health Services

Lester L. Arnold, Sr.
CHRO | Vice President for Human Resources and Payroll

 

Spring 2020 Grading Options; Summer Term Information

Dear Patriot,

In response to the extraordinary circumstances caused by the novel coronavirus, Covid-19, the Faculty Senate and Graduate Council have approved an emergency grading accommodation policy for Spring 2020 classes. You will have the option to either receive a regular grade for each class, or select the alternative grading mode (credit only option) for each of your classes. To select the alternative grading mode, you must OPT IN by following the instructions below.

Each student’s situation is unique, and you should carefully consider your options before selecting the alternative grading mode. Students in special programs like INTO Mason may have different requirements. We encourage you to reach out to your academic advisor if you have any questions and to review the information found on the Spring 2020 Grading Options page:

registrar.gmu.edu/students/registration/spring-2020-grading-options

The grades that will appear on the student’s transcript if the student selects the alternative grading mode for Spring 2020 classes are:

XS (Extraordinary Circumstances – Satisfactory): The student earns credit in the course by meeting a minimum grade threshold; at the undergraduate level that would be a C or higher, at the graduate level it would be a B- or higher.

XP (Extraordinary Circumstances – Pass): The student earns credit in the course but has not met a minimum grade threshold to apply the course to requirements with a minimum grade requirement; at the undergraduate level this would be a C- or D, at the graduate level it would be a C.

XN (Extraordinary Circumstances – No Credit): The student does not earn credit in the course.

The alternative grading mode carries no quality points, therefore your GPA will not be affected.

Instructions for Changing Grade Mode:

  • To view the web tutorial, click here: registrar.gmu.edu/interactive-demo-change-grade-mode
  • Log into Patriot Web (patriotweb.gmu.edu)
  • Click on the Student Services tab
  • Click on the Registration link
  • Click on the Registration & Planning link
  • Click on the Register for Classes link
  • Select Spring 2020 as the Term
  • Click on the Schedule and Options tab
  • In the list of sections, click in the Grade Mode column and select “Credit/Non-Credit (COVID19)”
  • Scroll to the bottom and click Submit
The option you choose for your final grade will not be made known to your faculty member, unless you choose to do so. Should you opt in for the credit-only mode, your grade will be translated accordingly after the faculty member has entered the grade you earned in the class; your final transcript will reflect the notation you have chosen.

All Summer Courses to be Held in Online Format

For summer 2020, all classes will move to online delivery, shifting from the alternative virtual learning model to a more robust, intentional online experience. Registration for Summer Term will now open on Wednesday, April 15, 2020, to allow for flexibility. Before June 30, all in-person summer programming—such as conferences and camps—will either be offered in an online, virtual environment, or canceled. Further decisions will be made by May 31 about summer programming that could be offered in person after July 1. For additional information, click here:mymasonportal.gmu.edu/bbcswebdav/xid-178791527_1

Selective Withdrawal Extended
The selective withdrawal period has been extended to the last day of classes, May 11, 2020. Undergraduate students may withdraw from any classes in which they are enrolled in Spring 2020 semester. These withdrawals will not count toward the maximum of 3 courses during their undergraduate career. The notation “XW” will appear on their official transcript. Students should consult their academic advisor or a financial aid counselor with any questions about how a selective withdrawal may affect them.

We continue to support you in this challenging time.

Sincerely,

Doug McKenna
University Registrar
George Mason University
registrar.gmu.edu

Mason announces refunds on housing, dining and parking

Dear Patriots,

This is an unprecedented time for all of us. Every day, we face new realities created by the coronavirus outbreak. This event has created a tremendous amount of stress and uncertainty, and I am particularly concerned for our students and their well-being.

I want all of our students to know that George Mason University is here to support you. I know that many of you are worried about your financial stability at this moment. One way that we can help is by providing refunds for housing, dining and parking, which is what I have directed the university to do.

Students will begin to receive their refunds in the coming weeks, with all refunds expected to be processed by the end of the semester. Students who have an Independence plan may receive up to $2,000 from their combined housing and dining refunds, although each refund will vary and be based on specific housing and dining plans. Please refer to these charts to understand what you can expect for your specific refund. Additional information is available in our Student Accounts FAQs.

Credits will be applied automatically to outstanding balances on student accounts, with the remainder refunded by Direct Deposit or check. Students, please check to make sure your mailing address is current in PatriotWeb or enroll in Direct Deposit to assist us in processing these funds. You do not need to take any other action to request a refund. We know you have been significantly impacted by the current crisis and are committed to processing refunds as quickly as possible.

In total, the university will refund $7.1 million in housing fees, $4.3 million in dining fees, and $1.77 million in parking fees. This represents roughly 5,500 on-campus housing refunds, 15,000 parking passes and 4,300 meal plans.

We are also very concerned about our faculty and staff during this time and are taking steps to help ease the financial strain this situation may be causing. Additional information will be forthcoming regarding faculty and staff parking and dining accounts.

Students should be aware that the recently passed Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (“CARES”) Act has a number of provisions that may help address students’ current financial needs.  For information on Economic Impact Payments, please consult https://www.irs.gov/newsroom/economic-impact-payments-what-you-need-to-know. Information on expanded eligibility for unemployment benefits and online applications are available from the Virginia Employment Commission athttp://www.vec.virginia.gov/covid19. For those with questions about student loans, the Department of Education reported Tuesday that it has set student loan interest rates to 0%, suspended student loan payments, and stopped wage garnishments. Additional guidance is available here: https://www.ed.gov/coronavirus under the “Additional Resources for Higher Education Institutions” heading.

We also know that many students need more help and that every dollar counts. In recognition of the unprecedented need and hardship many of our students are facing, the university has changed the focus of its annual Giving Day initiative to Patriots Helping Patriots, with an emphasis on the University Life Student Emergency Fund. The need is great as many of our students work part- or full-time and many have lost their source of income as a result of these unprecedented circumstances.

Many of the requests are directly related to technology so that students can continue learning in our alternative online environment. More than 800 students have submitted applications to the fund, with an average request of $1,900. As of last Friday, $435,508 has been distributed to students in need, out of a request pool of nearly $1.6 million, according to our partners in Advancement.

Our faculty and staff have made tremendous efforts to ensure we can continue our mission of access to excellence. I’m now asking those of you who have the ability to help others, to please consider making a gift to the student assistance fund to help our students succeed and thrive during these uncertain times.  We are all in this together, so let’s come together to support those who need our help the most.

Thank you.

Anne Holton
Interim President

A message from the Mason Korea Campus Dean

Dear Mason Korea Community,

I write to let you know that we have decided to continue teaching online until the end of the semester rather than to resume face-to-face classes on April 6.

This decision was not made lightly. It was based on the Korean Ministry of Education’s new recommendations for K-12 schools and what has clearly become the continuing need to socially distance in order to protect our communities. As always, the health and safety of those communities, on campus and off, are of primary importance to us.

Students who are living on campus and wish to remain on campus may do so. Students who wish to check out of on-campus housing can contact IGC housing directly, and notify their RA.  We urge everyone to continue to practice social distancing and effective disease transmission control by washing their hands frequently and for at least 20 seconds, using hand sanitizer, always coughing or sneezing into the elbow, considering wearing a face mask, and getting plenty of rest. If you have any flu-like symptoms, please self-isolate and follow these instructions.  If you are a student living on campus and have these symptoms, please also notify Student Affairs at mksa@gmu.edu.

I am gratified by the extent to which students and faculty alike have adjusted to learning online.  And I am impressed by the hard work students and faculty alike have put into making this adjustment. We continue to ask students who run into obstacles with online courses to discuss them with their instructors. They may also contact Academic Affairs at mkaa@gmu.edu. If the problem is technical, students can get support from Mason’s ITS Support via email or live chat. For additional help, Prof. Kent Zimmerman (dzimmer2@gmu.edu) has agreed to assist with especially difficult problems.

I also want to thank Students Affairs for organizing a set of “socially distanced” events for us to enjoy, and to recognize all the students, faculty and staff who have participated in them.  If you have not yet done so, please check out our events calendar.  If you have an idea for such an event, let the Office of Student Affairs know at mksa@gmu.edu.

I know that our current situation can be stressful.  Students who wish to can, as always, reach out to staff in the Office of Student Affairs or to Mason Korea’s wellness counselor.

Addressing the covid-19 situation has required from all of us patience, flexibility, hard work, and the ability to handle uncertainty. I have appreciated the way members of our community have demonstrated those virtues and supported one another during this time.  I look forward to the day when we can begin to interact regularly in the physical as well as in virtual world­—and that day will come! In the meantime, though, we can take pleasure in what we have achieved as a community during this challenging time.

Yours in Patriot Pride,

Robert Matz
Campus Dean
Mason Korea

Office of Executive Administration
George Mason University Korea
Phone: +82-32-626-5001
Email: gmukorea@gmu.edu

Mason’s Actions Regarding Governor’s Stay At Home Order

Dear Patriots:

The university is working closely with the state to take precautions and reduce the risk to our community during the coronavirus outbreak. This requires everyone’s help, so we are grateful to everyone who is taking measures to be safe.

As part of those efforts, we’d like to make sure you all saw Virginia Governor Northam’s March 30 Stay at Home Executive Order. This has implications for the Mason community and each of us personally.

The Governor’s order, which is officially known as Executive Order 55, requires all Virginians to remain at home as much as possible, suspend all non-essential travel, and to avoid congregating in groups of 10 or more to prevent the spread of coronavirus. This order reinforces the university’s current guidance for mandatory telework and social distancing precautions with exceptions for healthcare personnel, critical work, research, and instruction that can only be conducted on campus. The order also specifically directs higher education institutions to cease all in-person classes and instruction, and cancel all gatherings of more than ten individuals, consistent with actions Mason has already taken.  The order effectively extends these actions on campus until June 10.

To ensure compliance with this order, deans and supervisors will be asked to reexamine all work currently taking place on campus and with the directive that all non-critical functions cease immediately. The university is working on a process to provide credentials for those faculty and staff who must travel to and from campus. University faculty and staff should carry Mason identification when traveling to and from work.

George Mason University has already prohibited university-sponsored or related domestic and international travel. Although public health officials strongly discourage travel, students, faculty, and staff may travel for personal reasons permitted by the Governor’s order. The university strongly encourages all students, faculty, and staff to avoid all but essential travel necessary to care for yourself or others. If you have traveled internationally, the CDC recommends a 14 day quarantine period.

Residential students who travel internationally or out of state must contact Housing and Residence Life at 703-993-2720 between 8:30 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. Monday through Friday, or through email at housing@gmu.edu, to gain official written approval before returning to their residence hall so that quarantine accommodations can be made. Employees who travel must contact Human Resources and Payroll to discuss their return to campus. If you have questions about symptoms or the need to quarantine, please contact your healthcare provider.

We are highlighting these directives to help prevent the spread of coronavirus within our community. Please visit www2.gmu.edu/coronavirus for the latest Mason updates and thank you for doing your part to help the Mason Nation respond to this outbreak.

Respectfully,

David Farris, PhD
Executive Director, Safety and Emergency Management

Lisa Park, MD, MPH
Executive Director, Student Health Services

Mail Services Update

Mail Services has provided the following information:
  •  Fairfax Campus:  There will be no regular mail delivery until normal operations resume.   Mail Services front counter will be open for pick up Monday – Friday, 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. (The Hub mailroom will be closed on weekends).
  • Arlington and SciTech Campuses: Interoffice mail delivery service will be on Tuesdays and Fridays. There will be no regular mail delivery until normal operations resume.
  • Mail delivery to essential departments will continue per usual schedule.
  • Departments can pick up their mail and packages at Mail Services in The Hub, Monday – Friday 10 a.m. – 2 p.m.
Any questions regarding Mail Services should be directed to Kristin Masters at kmaster@gmu.edu.

Official Grading System Changes for Spring Semester

Dear Mason Nation,

With the extraordinary circumstances created by the coronavirus, including the transition to alternative virtual instruction, the university wants to ensure that all students have opportunities for success this semester. In recognition of that, the Faculty Senate met Tuesday and approved two motions to provide accommodations to grading policies for undergraduate students for the Spring 2020 semester:

  1. Incomplete Grades 
    Incomplete grades (I) may be given to students who are passing a course but who may be unable to complete scheduled coursework by the end of the semester due to extenuating circumstances. Instructors should be flexible in awarding Incompletes if the student requires additional time to finish coursework. The previous deadline for completing work for the spring semester was Friday, October 23, 2020. The deadline for completing work related to an Incomplete grade received in Spring 2020 has been extended to the end of the Fall 2020 semester.
  2. Credit/Non-Credit Opt-In
    Each student registered in A-F graded courses is able to decide individually, on a course-by-course basis, whether they want to receive a letter grade in the class or if they will receive an alternative grade. The default selection, if no action is taken by the student, will be A-F grading. To the extent practicable, faculty will submit A-F grades. For students who opt into alternative grading, the submitted grade would then be converted by the Registrar to alternative grades.

PLEASE NOTE: The Office of the University Registrar will communicate with eligible students to their official Mason-issued e-mail address with information on how to select the new alternative grade mode for their classes. Information on the specific grading categories will also be provided.

For Graduate Students/Law School/Cohort Programs
Students, including undergraduates, enrolled in cohort sections or special programs will follow the decisions of their professional school or of the unit about which courses, if any, are eligible for the credit/non-credit option.

The Antonin Scalia Law School will separately determine the grading policies for its courses.  Graduate programs may select specific graduate courses that are eligible for Credit/Non-Credit declaration by Wednesday, April 1.

For courses not selected, graduate students will be able to request a change in one or more of their courses to this new grading option. All requests will have to be submitted by May 11, and will be subject to their academic unit’s approval based on the following parameter: the student must provide a compelling reason why their academic success has been affected by the changes triggered by the coronavirus/ COVID-19.

We appreciate the broad engagement of the university community with the Faculty Senate on this issue over the past week. As faculty, student learning is our main objective. It is our hope that empowering students to make decisions about the grading categories that will be used to evaluate their work during this unique semester will reduce some of the stress associated with the transition to virtual learning.

Be well.

Shannon Davis
Chair, Faculty Senate

S. David Wu
Provost and Executive Vice President

Message to Mason Students from Student Health Services

Dear Mason Patriots,

Student Health Services (SHS) remains committed to supporting the health of students during this time of unprecedented university operational changes. Information in this email will help students understand how to care for their health if concerned about a potential exposure to coronavirus (COVID-19) or have symptoms of respiratory illness.

While the best way to help prevent the spread of illness is through keeping physical distance from others, remember to stay socially connected with friends and family through video chat, phone, apps, or other means during this time. Continue social distancing, take everyday precautions like washing hands to prevent the spread of illness, and stay informed about COVID-19 using credible sources, such as the main George Mason University coronavirus website, the local health department, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention(CDC).

If You Have Been Exposed to Coronavirus

If you have a fever (100.4°F/38°C or higher), cough, or shortness of breath, and think you have been exposed to coronavirus, call your primary healthcare provider for advice and guidance. Stay home, and call your provider before going to the clinic.

Follow the instructions of your healthcare provider or local health department. You may be asked to self-isolate or self-quarantine (stay home and avoid contact with others) and monitor your health. Most people who are mildly ill with COVID-19 are able to recover at home. The CDC has information on how to protect yourself and others if you are sick and ways to manage your symptoms at home: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/if-you-are-sick/index.html

If you have concerns that you have been exposed to COVID-19 but you do not have any symptoms, call your primary healthcare provider for guidance. Your healthcare provider can evaluate your risk and tell you precautions to take to protect your health and the health of others. This might include self-monitoring for development of symptoms for 14 days.

If you are a student and you were told by your healthcare provider or health department that you may have COVID-19 or may have been exposed to COVID-19, please complete a voluntary self-report form in our secure, online Patient Portal. This information goes directly to Student Health Services and SHS staff will follow-up with you if necessary during operating hours. If you are having symptoms, do not use this portal, please call.

Who to Call for Health Questions

If you are a Mason student and have returned to your permanent residence, call your local primary care provider. Your local healthcare provider will best understand the risks of coronavirus in your community and can help determine whether you need further evaluation or testing. They may tell you to manage your care from home.  Most people who are mildly ill with COVID-19 are able to recover at home.

Students living on-campus or those living locally for whom Student Health Services is their primary care provider, can call Student Health (703-993-2831) during our open hours for guidance. After-hours, there is a nurse advice phone service available.

Students who do not have a local healthcare provider can call Student Health (703-993-2831) during open hours for guidance. You can also call a local urgent care or primary care clinic.

Call First, Do NOT Walk-In

Call before going to a doctors’ office or healthcare facility if you have symptoms of COVID-19. Calling ahead allows healthcare workers to take appropriate precautions to help reduce the spread of illness before your arrival.

You should not go to an emergency room unless it is an emergency, for example, you are having difficulty breathing. If you need to go to the emergency room, and you have symptoms and a known exposure, you must call ahead to ensure proper infection control protocols are in place before you arrive.

Emergency Symptoms of COVID-19

If you develop any of the following severe symptoms of COVID-19, get medical attention immediately. Call 911 and tell them you may have COVID-19 so they are able to take precautions. Some emergency warning signs include:

  • Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath
  • Persistent pain or pressure in the chest
  • New confusion or inability to arouse
  • Bluish lips or face

These are uncertain times and the situation continues to evolve. Our dedicated, compassionate team at Student Health Services is here to support our students. We believe that working together as a community, we will be able to successfully adapt, and come out stronger and more resilient than ever before.

Sincerely,

Lisa L. Park, MD, MPH
Executive Director, Student Health Services