In a recent study some early impacts on COVID-19 have been revealed. This works key findings related to impacts and concerns reflects many aspects that I have personally experienced in the last couple of months. However, in this blog post I would like to highlight some of the key recommendations that were made by the study. Furthermore, please review my previous blog post on various resources we make use of in our group to facilitate remote work.

I have added my comments and reflections below each recommendation.

Recommendation 1: Establish clear and direct lines of communication between graduate students, supervisors, departments and institutions.

I think I could improve on this. We have regular coffee meetings, however it is important to have work check-ins as well. I should set apart 30 mins with my students to have check-ins, as we would have those on a regular basis in the office.

Recommendation 2: Reduce the financial burden faced by graduate students, and introduce flexibility into degree completion times.

We have been flexible toward degree completion times. Our department allows us to change those dates.

Recommendation 3: Improve existing health and wellness support systems available at institutions.

Recommendation 4: Provide extensions to study and work permits for international students.

Recommendation 5: Mitigate the impact of COVID-19 on the ability of graduate students to conduct research.

We try to lower the impact of research by providing those resources that the students need. For our group which is mainly simulation focused this involves providing the computing power for the students. Compute Canada is a great resource.

Recommendation 6: Improve the quality of virtual teaching and course work by establishing clear expectations, introducing relevant pedagogical training and increasing the flexibility of course structures.

The learning and teaching center here at UVic has been a great resource. Many of the courses I was able to take on online teaching really informed and shaped my use of the online technology.

Recommendation 7: Mitigate the impact of COVID-19 on the ability of graduate students to participate in professional development opportunities.

Here I also see opportunities for us to improve. I think we could reach out to our industrial partners to connect with the students.

Recommendation 8: Advocate for increased support for graduate students to decision-makers within institutions, and in various levels of government.

Recommendation 9: Embrace long-term planning to mitigate the impacts of COVID-19 in the years to come.

This last point really hits home. Let’s be honest, when we started in March, I didn’t think it would last past the summer. However, we are now expecting a long haul and we are looking at doing work remotely until December. This is a different perspective which means that we can invest in our own work space more heavily and it won’t be wasted. I picked up a small desk, new keyboard and chair for my home office. This really improved my working experience.