Last updated: November 16, 2020
This update supersedes all previous communications.

We are sharing the following with the caveat that information impacting decision-making changes rapidly given the evolving situation involving COVID-19. For additional COVID-19 information, please reference the COVID-19 Intranet site

We know this is a stressful time for all, with much uncertainty and concern for others as well as personal well-being. The CARE team is fully functional and available for self-referral. Your faculty may seem busy, but be aware that they understand the disruption and anxiety, and students should feel free to reach out to them.

  • Information on Student Testing and Reporting Process, General Announcements, Degree Verification, Transcripts and more can be found at the link.  

  • Please use the resources on our Student Records webpage for degree verification, transcript requests, name change requests, enrollment status verification, etc. Enrollment Services staff are available to take care of your needs, but we need to alter the ways you normally interact with us. While the "safer-at-home" order is in effect, staff are not available to meet in the office. Email your requests.

  • Fall and Spring classes will continue in distance delivery format, with limited exemptions for onsite instruction. Please continue to monitor emails from your course director with instructions on how they will manage the delivery of content and exams. Report any problems with connectivity or access to your course director. If you need assistance, please contact Jennie McGuire. See below for research guidelines.
  • Dissertation/thesis defenses continue to be held in a modified form. Consult program directors for specific guidance on planning of thesis and dissertation defenses. 
  • As of this update, four students have tested positive for COVID-19 since research reopened on June 1, through community exposures. All students have since been cleared to return to duties after self-isolation.

Research Guidelines

  • “Stay at Home” orders were altered by the City of Winston-Salem and the North Carolina Governor’s office to ease some restrictions. Executive Order 169 began Oct. 2 at 5 pm and was amended by Executive Order 176 on November 10 to further restrict indoor mass gatherings to 10 (Note that due to education exemptions, you may experience larger numbers in classrooms ONLY—the EX restrictions still apply to outside social gatherings).continues for three weeks through October 23..
  • Graduate students were permitted to resume limited, on-site research activities starting June 1, 2020. Institutional guidance can be found in the School of Medicine and Graduate School “Wake Up Research” guides.
  • Students should continue to comply with CDC and NCDHHS guidelines on personal safety:
    • Maintain safe social distances; the CDC recommends maintaining minimum six feet (two meters) of distance from others, even if you’re well.
    • Students must obtain and wear a protective mask when in the facilities, in common areas, and when traveling to and from laboratories. When working around others, surgical grade masks are recommended.
    • Maintain CDC handwashing recommendations (20 seconds with hot water) or use hand sanitizer (containing at least 60 percent alcohol) when water isn’t available. 
    • Stay in contact with your mentor and lab mates to reassign duties as necessary. 
    • Those permitted to enter animal areas must adhere to posted requirements for PPE.
    • Take the extra step to disinfect shared research equipment before using.
    • Avoid touching your face.
  • Advisors are encouraged to communicate with their students and address expectations and concerns about research progress and grades for the semester.
  • Your awareness of your own health is essential as we all work together to maintain a culture of safety. As part of this, students must self-monitor each day using the checklist below and notify Employee Health of any of the following positive symptoms: 
    • Do you feel like you may have a fever above 100°F? (If so, take your temperature and stay home if you have a fever). 
    • Do you have a new or worsening cough that is not related to another medical condition? 
    • Do you have sore throat not related to another medical condition (e.g. allergies)? 
    • Do you have difficulty breathing or shortness of breath that is not related to another medical condition? 
    • Do you have new joint or muscle aches not related to another medical condition or another specific activity (e.g. due to physical exercise)? 
    • Do you have recent (<5 days) loss of smell and taste? 
    • Do you have new onset of vomiting or diarrhea not related to another medical condition? 

    If you experience ANY of the preceding symptoms, contact Employee Health using the Employee Health Portal or call (336-716-4801 option 2). Please identify yourself as a Graduate student. You may email Samantha Lodish in Employee Health directly with concerns or questions about possible exposure. You should receive a call back within a few hours. You should remain home until contacted or if you have doubts about your status. 

  • Any student feeling unsafe because of ongoing obligations should report this first to your advisor, or alternatively to the program director and finally to the Graduate School. Students should confer with advisors regarding standard operating procedures while in research labs. The “Wake Up Research” guide provides additional guidance.
  • Limited return of WFU undergraduate students to School of Medicine learning experiences may be permitted. Laboratory advisors and sponsoring departments and centers are responsible for ensuring compliance with institutional and laboratory safety policies for these learners. Watch for announcements from the CTSI to determine when this is allowable, as conditions may change without notice. 


  1. Research activity is underway, but students should never come to lab or research sites without obtaining permission of your research advisor. Follow the “Wake Up Research” guide to protocols related to return to research. If you CAN be home, you SHOULD be home
  2. Even if you have permission to enter the facilities, you should remain at home and notify your advisor if you are ill. The “Wake Up Research” Guide provides guidance on self-monitoring and what to do if you have symptoms. 
  3. Be alert to institutional emails and bookmark the student page for updates. Communications are coming rapidly, which may introduce revisions in guidance. If you have questions, please email the Graduate School and ask.