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Wednesday, October 28, 2020

Campus

Work-study program provides no guarantee of remote work options


Some positions previously offered by the work-study program will not be returning for the 2020-2021 academic year. | File photo

The University work-study program, which made positions available to eligible students in Cougar Pathway on August 10, features fewer placements and does not guarantee the ability to work remotely for all positions.

Some positions previously offered for work-study will be unavailable for the 2020-2021 academic year, while others are only available to be conducted in a face-to-face format.

“Not all positions are returning,” said executive director of Financial Aid Briget Jans. “Not all positions can translate to remote work, but… students are being allowed to work remotely.”

The responsibility for determining whether remote work is possible for a particular work-study position rests in the hands of a student’s direct work-study supervisor.

The supervisor considers a variety of factors when determining the feasibility of remote work including state and federal regulatory requirements, the ability to fulfill job duties off-site and security.

“The supervisor makes the determination on whether the job can/should be performed remotely, but it is driven by the ability to ensure that the work is secure and properly supervised,” Jans said.

Students in work-study positions for which remote work is not an option will be expected to conduct regular self-assessments for COVID-19 symptoms, practice social distancing and wear a face covering on campus.

“(The University) expects that each individual on our campus take personal responsibility with regard to their own health and safety. Every person on campus plays a pivotal role in mitigating the risk of COVID-19,” executive director of Media Relations Shawn Lindsey said.

“Lack of adherence to safety standards will be addressed by supervisors,” Lindsey added.

Health junior Alanis Guajardo has no qualms about returning to campus if needed. Although the first-time work-study recipient does not know whether her position will necessitate face-to-face interaction, she is open to the idea.

“I personally don’t mind in-person or remote work-study jobs … I feel that UH is doing whatever is necessary to keep everyone safe, despite whether or not they are working on campus,” Guajardo said.

“I am currently in a situation where I would appreciate any job to help me financially with school.”

In the event that the UH transitions back to primarily remote operations, the hourly wage-based income of work-study students whose positions can only be conducted in-person could be jeopardized.

“For 2020-21, neither the U.S. Department of State or the State of Texas have issued any regulatory relief allowing students to be paid grants using work-study funding like they did in the spring. As the requirements are now, students will only be paid for hours worked.”

For Alanis, the prospect of a return to remote operations causes worry about the feasibility of continuing to work off-campus in her work-study position.

“If the University were to shift back to fully remote operations again, I would without a doubt be concerned about not being able to work and receive financial support from a job,” Guajardo said.

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