COVID-19 Updates

Biomedical Research Building

Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine Graduate Education 2020-21 COVID-19 Updates

The University has committed to a dual-delivery mode of instruction following being exclusively online for the second half of the spring and entire summer 2020 semesters. The intent of this web page is to keep School of Medicine master’s, doctoral, and certificate students up to date on decisions made, what our plans are, and provide answers to common questions. Our goal is to have a safe and engaging 2020-21 academic year. 

On behalf of the School of Medicine Graduate Education Office, please note that the following core principles guide our decisions:

  • The health and safety of all our students, faculty and staff is our top priority
  • It is important to maximize the student experience for all students

These, in addition to local and national guidelines, which are closely being followed by key leadership, will help us plan as we move forward with a safe and effective academic year.

On October 2, Interim President Cowen and Provost Vinson communicated the spring semester schedule. Please keep in mind that some programs will have a different calendar, so be sure to contact your academic program for details.

On July 19, 2020, Provost Vinson shared course registration information for students enrolling in the School of Graduate Studies outlining steps to determine in-person, hybrid, or online modes of instruction for fall semester classes. All academic programs at the School of Medicine, except our MD and Physician Assistant programs, fall under the School of Graduate Studies.

This will be dependent on the course instructor. Some instructors are re-evaluating their assessments and replacing traditional exams with others modes of assessment. Some are using online proctoring or exam monitoring. Others are choosing to make their exams open book. Please check with your instructor!

Things like seminars, including our pre-professional health series and professional development workshops, will be held virtually. This will allow everyone to participate and engage as it would be if in person. Further, they will be recorded, so if you have to miss one due to a conflict, you can still benefit from the content. Some may have the opportunity to attend in person for those who are on campus.

Students have various space options available depending on need and safety protocols. For additional details, please visit the Space Management Initiatives flyer

ZOOM Rooms
The School of Medicine has designated the following rooms on the 3rd floor of Robbins for master's, post-bac and PhD students who need a space to take a remote class with no reservation needed:

  • E325/327 (38 seating locations)
  • E326/328 (37 seating locations) 

These rooms have socially distanced seating and desks which are available Mon- Thur, 8AM-5:30PM, on a first-come, first-served basis for multiple master's, post-bac and/or PhD students at once.  Headphones are required.  QR code signs are posted on the doors for recognition purposes only since these are not used for classes.

Same-Day Reservation Rooms
Master's, post-bac and PhD students now have the option to reserve the following rooms in the School of Medicine on the 3rd floor of Robbins, Mon-Thur, 8AM-5:30PM. 

  • E325A (located within E325/327)
  • E327A  (located within E325/327)
  • E326A  (located within E326/328)
  • E328A  (located within E326/328)

These spaces are intended for individual students or small groups (up to 4 in each) to have the entire space to themselves. Graduate students should visit case.edu/reservations and select the "Same-day Reservations" form. It allows students to make a reservation for that day only, up to two hours in length and it is automatically approved. QR code signs are posted on the door of each room linking to that day's schedule.

There are additional options on the ground floor of the Nursing building. Students can go to case.edu/reservations and case.edu/zoomrooms for availability.

Available Break Rooms
Food is not allowed in classrooms or zoom rooms. If you need to eat a meal or snack, we encourage you to go to one of the following designated break rooms in the SOM.

Building Floor Room Capacity
Sears Tower 2 T212 1
Sears Tower 5 T503 5
Sears Tower 5 T501 10
Wood G WG67 3
Wood G WG69 3
Wood G WG73/75 7
Wolstein G 1212-Cafeteria 16

Most colleges and universities have very similar plans as we do for this semester. Most medical schools will understand that this is the only option for this year and will not think differently of the courses. Our faculty are working hard to ensure that any online courses, or parts of a course that are online, are as equally valuable as they were in person as possible.

We do not formally have connections across the country. However, most hospitals and larger volunteer organizations (such as your local foodbank) have a volunteer portal where you can see opportunities and sign up to be a volunteer. Some of the internships offered through our EnRICH program have been remote, thus not necessitating you be physically in Cleveland. However, this is not common.

We encourage you to continue to volunteer if you can do so in a safe manner. Many volunteer organizations have changed the way they work and have very fulfilling opportunities to participate in while minimizing exposure to others. For example, the Hunger Network of Northeast Ohio has open positions such as helping load food into trunks at a large food drive, where our physician assistant students recently volunteered.

Still continue to check in with physicians. Some may let you still shadow them if you comply with their guidelines, such as wearing a surgical mask. Some may be doing tele-health visits, and shadowing during those visits might be a very interesting experience for you.

Individual programs will continue to connect new and returning students as we have done in the past. Many may have some virtual (and maybe some in-person) events for their students to interact socially. In addition, our Biomedical Graduate Student Organization (BGSO) continues to plan events as well, many of them virtually.

Absolutely! Be sure to check in with your program to learn more details. 

Our goal for the 2020-2021 academic year is to create an experience that works for everyone and is of the highest quality. Although the circumstances are difficult to execute, we are up for the challenge. Many students surveyed have shared their preference for in person experience. Similarly, many students have also shared their need for remote instruction due to travel, health or other personal reasons. Therefore, we will make a 100% online experience available to those students who need it. However, for those who prefer in-person experience, there will be options for in-person interactions available. Regardless of how much of your program you do online, you will have access to the same high quality courses with exceptional faculty. You will have access to the same professional development, library resources and other services. In addition, to increase flexibility, you will have the opportunity to switch to more online or less online mid semester if you so choose or if the pandemic landscape changes. As a result, the tuition will be the same.

Case Western Reserve is committed to implementing dual-delivery instruction. This is important to be inclusive of students who are unable to attend due to health reasons, travel challenges or other reasons. In general, this means that all classes will have the opportunity to have 100% remote students. Faculty are reviewing courses and evaluating best approaches for each class offered. More details on individual courses will be shared by respective programs. Some will be in person (with virtual access available to remote students), some will be fully online, and some will offer a blend of in-person, online, and other activities.

The School of Medicine is currently requiring all individuals entering buildings to wear a mask and has installed additional hand sanitizing stations. In addition, increased cleaning has been implemented in all School of Medicine buildings. For more details, visit School of Medicine COVID-19 communications for faculty, staff, graduate students and post-docs. In addition, for more University-wide health communications, please visit CWRU COVID-19 Health Updates. 

Additional on-campus safety precautions for faculty, staff, and students include:

  • Faculty and staff reporting to campus must complete an online daily health attestation form. 
  • Non-medical cloth masks must be worn at all times when on campus.
  • Physical distancing 6 feet to ensure guidelines are met; reduction of population density.
  • Max Occupancy signs have been posted by common areas. 
  • Cleaning materials are provided in all public areas to allow research and administrative staff to clean surfaces commonly used for break rooms, conference rooms, and offices being used for meals. 
  • Utilize Zoom technology or phone conferencing in lieu of in-person meetings. 
  • Use stairs whenever possible; two people in an elevator at one time.

Yes! But please check with your program for more details as your program may have some changes or limitations. As of right now, our clinical programs are working with their clinical/public health rotation sites for clinical rotations. Some rotations are happening via telehealth, some are happening fully in the clinic/community with aid of masks, social distancing and/or other precautions. The School of Medicine is working to ensure all students who need PPE have access to them.

President Snyder and Provost Vinson shared the modified calendar for the Fall 2020 semester during Summer 2020. Spring 2020 semester updates will be shared widely when available. 

The revised calendar aims to lower student travel to and from campus, and also lower the number of people on campus before the height of flu season begins, and applies to graduate programs who largely follow the undergraduate academic calendar. Professional degree programs will receive updates from their respective programs as their academic calendar plans are finalized. Below is the approved Fall 2020 calendar, with changes to the usual academic calendar in bold:

  • Monday, Aug. 24: Classes Begin
  • Monday, Sept. 7 (Labor Day): Classes Held
  • Monday-Tuesday, Oct. 19-20 (Usually Fall Break): Classes Held
  • Monday-Tuesday, Nov. 23-24: No Classes (in lieu of Fall Break)
  • Wednesday, Nov. 25: No Classes (in lieu of Labor Day)
  • Thursday-Friday, Nov. 26-27: University Holidays (Thanksgiving)
  • Monday-Friday, Nov. 30-Dec. 4: Final Week of Classes Held Remotely
  • Monday, Dec. 7, Friday, Dec. 11: Reading Days
  • Tuesday, Dec. 8-Wednesday, Dec. 16: Final Exams (Excepting Dec. 11) Held Remotely

The Office of the Provost website provides guidance and resources as students, faculty, and staff experience the 2020-2021 academic year. 

It is important for our students to have the best guidance and safety protocols around visiting, moving to, or living in Cleveland amid COVID-19. Please visit the Cleveland Visitor Center website for helpful travel information and resources. Be sure to contact your program if you have any additional questions.

COVID-19 Q&A for International Students

International Student Services (ISS) provides specific guidance to international students. ISS offers virtual advising hours only and appointments by Zoom or phone in light of the university’s plans to protect the health and well-being of the campus community against COVID-19.

Virtual advising is available on Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays, from 11:00 AM to 3:00 PM ET. An ISS advisor will be available to answer your questions (during the scheduled times) using the chat box here.

For more program-specific information, please contact your Graduate Program, or email somcovid19@case.edu