Below are frequently asked questions related to healthy, safety, and the campus’ reopening and operations.
In parentheses after the questions below, we have inserted the most recent date at which the content of each answer was updated.
If you have more questions, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Table of Contents
Clark has made the difficult decision to suspend Clark-approved study abroad for the spring 2021 semester. This decision was made out of an abundance of caution for the health, safety, and well-being of our students, staff, and faculty as well as the communities in which our programs operate. Clark wishes to mitigate risk to study abroad students in terms of their health and safety, academics, and finances.
- Department of State travel alerts: At this time, all but two of Clark’s 53 approved programs are in a Level 3 (reconsider travel) or 4 (do not travel) country. The current unpredictability of the travel advisories, and Clark’s policy on Level 3 and 4 travel, make it impossible for students or for the institution to plan for the spring.
- U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) Levels: All but two of Clark’s 53 locations are in a CDC Level 3 (COVID-19 risk is high) location.
- Open and allowing travelers from the U.S.: As of Sept. 28, 2020, almost half of Clark’s approved programs are in locations not allowing non-citizen travelers from the U.S.
- Immigration and logistics:
- In addition to the above, there are currently significant delays in passport processing, and student visa processing is also currently delayed/compromised.
- Study abroad students would soon need to make non-refundable financial commitments for spring 2021 study abroad programs — flights, visas, program deposits, etc.
- Host country conditions/restrictions such as quarantine upon entry and full/partial lockdowns continue to create hardships for students and negatively impact their overall experience.
- Programs: Between April and August 2020, 10 programs were suspended by the program provider for the spring 2021 semester. More suspensions are expected in mid-November.
Clark will endeavor to work with students and their faculty advisers to find alternate experiences that may satisfy necessary degree components.
All international travel on University business remains suspended until further notice. Please review the Healthy Clark COVID Plan for further restrictions on local and national travel, as well as the quarantine requirements before returning to campus.
Health and Safety FAQs
The Healthy Clark Dashboard number reflects students who are in Clark-provided quarantine and isolation spaces only. These are dedicated locations in campus apartment-style housing that allow for Clark to house students who have tested positive as well as students needing to quarantine based on close contact with a person who has tested positive. These spaces are used for students who cannot quarantine elsewhere, for example, at home. Students whose homes are within driving distance of Clark are instructed to return there to quarantine or isolate. Also, the total number of positive cases may include staff and faculty, who must quarantine at home.
Students are expected to wear their masks at all times, except when they are in their rooms. This means that students should wear masks when they share a common space, especially if they cannot maintain social distance. Common spaces are being cleaned twice a day, and students are encouraged to clean up after themselves as part of their responsibility to communal living. Students living in suites are provided cleaning supplies to clean their own common areas, and these students are encouraged by residential staff to create their own cleaning plan.
Students can leave campus, but we are asking them to take all necessary health and safety precautions when they are off campus.
A student who test positive will be moved to isolation housing for 14 days and will be checked on daily by Clark Health Services and the Department of Public Health. If a student’s medical condition worsens, they will be transferred to UMass Memorial Hospital for additional care.
To help lower the risks of a community-wide outbreak, Clark has assessed and optimized the ventilation systems in our highest-traffic and highest-priority gathering spaces: classrooms, dining, and large common-use areas. Wherever possible, we have increased levels of air flow and outside air, and ensured filtration is within the specifications for each system. Spaces in which ventilation remains a concern have been designated as inappropriate for group activities.
The Healthy Clark COVID Plan outlines the expanded sanitation practices and protocols.
The CDC lists the symptoms for coronavirus (COVID-19) as:
- Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
- Muscle pain
- Sore throat
- New loss of taste or smell
This list is not all possible symptoms. Other less common symptoms have been reported, including gastrointestinal symptoms like nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea.
At this time, CDC believes that symptoms of Covid-19 may appear in as few as two days or as long as 14 days after exposure.
A full range of mental health services for students is being provided by the Center for Counseling and Personal Growth (CPG) this fall. To meet an anticipated need for counseling and psychological services, Clark also has added a fellowship program and Wellness Ambassador team.
We also can help connect you to mental health support and therapists through CPG After Hours, a telephonic support service.
Please note that:
- CPG After Hours is available 24 hours per day, seven days per week.
- The service can be used by students regardless of where they live; students from different states and countries may use this service.
- Students can reach a therapist at CPG After Hours by calling CPG at (508) 793-7678 and selecting Option 2.
Therapy and Student Health Insurance
For the duration of the Massachusetts health emergency, the student health insurance company (Blue Cross/Blue Shield) has waived co-pays and deductibles for all mental health-covered services for therapists who are conducting therapy through a telehealth platform.
There are several resources you use to find a therapist in your community, including the Psychology Today Therapist Finder tool (which searches by Zip code in the United States and by town or postal code in 15+ other countries) and your insurance company’s provider search tool.
If you need additional help in locating a therapist, please contact CPG at email@example.com, and a staff member can assist you.
Yes. Check out these resources:
- Clark University Police: Extension 7575 on campus or 508-793-7575 off campus
- UMASS Memorial Medical Center Emergency Mental Health (EMH) Services: 508-344-3562
- Community Healthlink Mental Health Emergency Hotline: 1-866-549-2142
- National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-TALK
- National Hopeline Network: 1-800-SUICIDE
- Samaritans: 1-877-870-4673
- Pathways for Change 24-hour hotline (sexual assault): 1-800-870-5905
- Crisis Text Line: Text “GO” to 741-741
Teaching and Learning FAQs
Yes, students can withdraw from a course at any time up until the start of exams.
Synchronous learning occurs when the instructor and students interact in real time through an online medium. Asynchronous learning happens on your time, and may include such methods as posted lectures, discussion boards, and self-guided lesson modules. When students see a course labeled as “online” and days and times are listed, this is synchronous, and students should log onto Zoom at the appointed time to participate remotely. Any course listed as online without a day and time is asynchronous, and students should pay particular attention to the course syllabus for instructions and due dates.
Clark has returned to its normal grading procedures for this fall, which means that most courses will default to the letter grade option. As always, students have the right to request courses be graded as pass/fail. The last day to declare the pass/fail grading option for undergraduate students is Sept. 11. Please note that many courses counting toward major requirements cannot be pass/fail. It is best to discuss grading options with your adviser.
All courses taught during the winter intercession will be taught online.
Campus Life FAQs
Clark will provide a face covering for anyone who has misplaced or cannot afford one.
If you are unable to wear a face covering for medical reasons, please contact Student Accessibility Services at 508-793-7608.
A student who refuses to follow pro-social policies will be given a chance to learn and adapt their behaviors. If the student continues to blatantly disregard requirements, they will be reviewed within the University’s conduct protocols. Sanctions escalate in intensity if a student’s behaviors do not change, and/or if a student is highly disruptive (uncooperative, threatening, etc.) in their unwillingness to comply with social distancing and mask-wearing.
The All Access plan is not available this fall. If you signed up for this plan, you have been automatically moved to the 15-Meal Plan. A 19-Meal Plan available for those who wish to have a meal available at every meal period. Your meal plan status can be updated on your Clark housing and dining self-service link within CUWeb.
Residential students have been given swipe access to residence halls as they have in previous years. First-year students can swipe into first-year halls, and upper-class students can swipe into upper-class halls. They are encouraged to meet in the common areas of the campus, where proper distancing can occur. Enabling swipe access allows for appropriate contact-tracing to occur.
Yes. It is highly advised that students do not visit in the confines of double- or single-occupancy rooms, but it is permitted. Clark would prefer that socialization occurs in spaces where social distancing is an option. No more than one visitor is permitted in any bedroom.
Financial Aid FAQs
Domestic Students: Financial aid for domestic graduate students is typically in the form of Federal Direct Stafford Subsidized and Unsubsidized student loans. Merit aid and institutional scholarships have been awarded through the admission’s process. Please refer to your admission’s letter for details or visit the graduate section of our financial aid website for more details.
International Students: International students are not eligible for the Federal Direct Stafford loan program. Institutional scholarships and merit aid have been awarded as part of the admissions process. Please refer to your admission’s letter for details.
For questions related to emergency funding through the U.S. Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, please visit our CARES Act page.
The pause on in-person research due to Covid-19 risk remains in place. However, the IRB recognizes the possibility that moving forward some types of in-person human subjects research, in some locations, might be conducted in such a way as to maintain the minimal-risk standard. The bar is high in meeting this minimal risk standard (face-to-face meetings with masks, social distancing and disinfection protocols would not be sufficient). Nevertheless, the IRB will consider case-by-case waivers to the research pause for a limited set of circumstances.
Waivers of this type will only be approved if researchers can demonstrate that: (1) the research will provide direct social benefit, (2) there is overriding or urgent justification to conduct the requested in-person research at the current time, and (3) the research will be conducted in such a way that the risk of Covid-19 infection is minimal.
Regarding condition (2), completion of a degree requirement is not considered to be an overriding or urgent justification. Advisors and departments are encouraged to alter requirements and projects to enable degrees to be completed using research methods that are not subject to the research pause. Regarding condition (3), the burden will be on the researchers to demonstrate that the minimal risk standard applies, beyond a reasonable doubt. This implies that the risk is no more than the subjects would encounter regularly as part of their day-to-day lives.
As an illustration, IRB might consider a waiver for research where all in-person interaction occurs concurrent with interactions at the facility that will already be taking place, regardless of the research project. An example would be an observation of already-ongoing classroom activities at Clark, with students who are already present in the classroom, such that no additional in-person interactions are required beyond those already taking place. Interactions of this type would have to occur under all relevant safety guidelines appropriate to the setting. As before, waivers will continue to be considered for cases where the benefits of continued in-person interactions outweigh the risk due to COVID-19 (see original statement on the IRB website, https://www.clarku.edu/offices/sponsored-programs-and-research/irb-human-subjects/).
Researchers who wish to apply for such a waiver for an already-approved protocol should complete a waiver application and submit the completed form via email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Forms can be requested from the IRB and will soon be available on the IRB website. For research that has not been previously approved by the IRB (and hence does not have a protocol number), the same waiver application must be submitted together with the standard IRB Proposal Application.
As before, the IRB also encourages researchers to request a formal modification of their research protocols so that research can continue via remote means (e.g., Zoom). Submit modification requests via email, along with clear explanation and justification, to email@example.com. All requests must include the original IRB protocol. Attached your previously approved proposal with “tracked changes” (preferred) or highlights to identify the modifications to your original protocol that are requested in order to allow research to continue during the pause.
Yes. The temporary suspension does not apply to:
- Interactions conducted remotely — such as via Skype, Zoom or telephone — that cause no additional in-person contact involving subjects.
- Surveys or data collection conducted online, via telephone/mail, or using other remote methods.
- Circumstances wherein the researchers and subjects will already be in identical degrees of in-person contact regardless of the research taking place. An example would be in-school classroom observations during regular classroom activities, where observations are conducted by a teacher who would be present in the classroom regardless of whether the research takes place. For this exception to apply, researchers must submit a request to the IRB; the waiver request is explained in the FAQ below.
- Data analysis from human subjects interactions that have already taken place — and hence require no further in-person contact.
- Other types of human subjects research that can be conducted without in-person contact.
Researchers conducting in-person research that they believe falls under exception No. 3 (outlined in the above FAQ: in-person research that will not cause additional in-person contact) must submit a formal request to continue this research during the pause.
No in-person (i.e., face-to-face) research of any type is allowed during the pause without explicit prior approval of the IRB.
Submit requests, along with clear explanation and justification (and the original IRB protocol number), to firstname.lastname@example.org.
We will process these requests as soon as possible.
Researchers may request a waiver of this in-person suspension under particular circumstances, which will be reviewed by the Institutional Review Board (IRB) on a case-by-case basis. There is no specific form that must be completed. Submit these requests via email, along with clear explanation and justification, to email@example.com.
All requests must include the original IRB protocol number and previously approved proposal (as an attachment).
Cases in which waivers might be granted include:
- Research for which the researchers can demonstrate clearly that the benefits of continued in-person interactions outweigh the risk due to Covid-19. Except in rare cases, these waivers will not apply to most types of social and behavioral research conducted at Clark.
- Research for which the researchers can demonstrate, beyond a reasonable doubt, that the proposed in-person interactions will not increase the probability and magnitude of harm from Covid-19. (The IRB cannot currently envision cases where this would apply at Clark, but is leaving this option open to address unforeseen circumstances.)
- Other research for which the researcher can present a clear and compelling reason why in-person interactions need to occur or continue as part of the project. (The IRB cannot currently envision cases where this would apply at Clark, but is leaving this option open to address unforeseen circumstances.)
Yes. The IRB encourages researchers to request a formal modification of their research protocols so that research can continue via remote means.
To do so:
- Submit these modification requests via email, along with clear explanation and justification, to firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Include the original IRB protocol.
- Attach your previously approved proposal with “tracked changes” (preferred) or highlights to identify the modifications to your original protocol that are requested in order to allow research to continue during the suspension. For example, interviews or even focus groups can potentially be held via remote platforms such as Skype or Zoom.
The IRB will review and approve these modification requests as soon as possible to enable research to continue.
As mentioned in the above FAQs, human subjects research that involves only remote data collection (e.g., via internet or telephone) does not require modification and can continue as originally approved by the IRB.
If you have questions about whether your research is subject to this mandated pause, please contact the IRB Chair, Robert Johnston, email@example.com.
The Institutional Review Board (IRB) will lift the temporary suspension as soon as conditions demonstrate that in-person research interactions will not place subjects or others at significantly increased risk due to COVID-19.
We understand that this will be difficult for many of us at Clark, and regret any disruption that this may cause. The IRB may issue updates to this policy as conditions dictate or to address questions as they arise.
Please address any questions regarding this policy to the IRB Chair, Robert Johnston, firstname.lastname@example.org.
We realize that questions may arise concerning this policy. If in doubt, your affirmative duty as a researcher at Clark is to protect the rights and safety of your research subjects.
Clark University’s Office of Human Resources has outlined various scenarios under which an employee will be paid while in quarantine or isolation, and addresses the issue of alternative work arrangements due to COVID-19 disruptions. Information can be found in a special, password-protected web page for employees: Resources for COVID-19 and Campus Reopening (you must sign in with your Clark email address and password).
Yes. Before returning to campus, all employees were required to complete online training via a Zoom session that covered the basics of COVID-19 safety and Clark’s policies/guidelines regarding returning to work. The session was recorded, and is available under Resources for COVID-19 and Campus Reopening (you must sign in with your Clark email address and password).
Faculty and staff members seeking assistance may call the Employee Assistance Program at 1-800-828-6025.
Have More Questions?
If you have other questions not addressed by the information above, please email those questions to email@example.com.
If you are seeking more information, we recommend referring to sources considered credible and informed. This includes the following sources: