For our first town hall, we asked you to submit any questions you had as faculty and staff members. As you know, there are several task forces across campus working to determine answers to these questions. While some answers may change due to this being an evolving situation, here are some of the key takeaways, as well as a few answers to questions we were unable to answer during the course of the broadcast.
Will the semester dates change?
While the final approval on dates is still pending, we anticipate both in-person and online classes starting a week early on Aug. 17 and students will be released for the semester before the Thanksgiving holiday.
Will the university be conducting testing of students, faculty and staff?
As director of human resources Kurtis Neal points out, the university is not a medical facility and therefore not equipped to conduct such testing. However, Shannon and local medical facilities are equipped to do so. Students can use Shannon on Demand to be screened and determine whether or not they need to be tested. Additionally, we’re developing a screening tool to determine who is safe to return to campus.
I keep hearing about a screening tool, what is it?
Currently, a tool is being developed for students and employees to screen for symptoms and/or contact with known positive cases.
Say a student tells me they or their family member has had COVID-19, what should I do?
The screening tool that is being deployed has been developed with that question in mind. If a student answers yes to that question, they will be instructed to stay home and contact Shannon on Demand. If the student has not used the app, then you should notify your supervisor and recommend to the student that they go home and contact Shannon on Demand. Your supervisor will notify the appropriate people in Student Affairs and we will deal with the situation from there.
Will there be football in the fall?
Yes! Interim president Angie Wright explains, “We don’t know what it will look like exactly, but there will be football for the Rams in the fall. Fans may have to socially distance at the stadium, or there may be limited ticket sales, but there will be football and sports. All games will be broadcast locally on Channel 6.”
Will there be hazard pay for employees?
Unfortunately, no. The way pay is structured from the state of Texas, that isn’t possible at this time. Director of human resources Kurtis Neal adds, “We’ll be working to ensure that all our employees are provided with a safe working environment.”
Will there be different meal plan options?
Dr. Javier Flores, vice president of student affairs and enrollment management explains, “No, for right now meal plan options will stay the same. However what is important to note is that the method and delivery of food service will be modified.” When dining on campus, take precautions like washing hands before and after meals. Hand sanitizer stations are available at the entrances and exits of dining areas. Stay 6 feet apart, and opt for cashless payment when possible. Chartwells has updated their dining procedures.
Information for Classes
As a faculty member, do I need to prepare to switch my classes to online at a moment’s notice again?
We do not anticipate the need to move to all online at the moment. Sending face-to-face students home at Thanksgiving should help ensure that. Having said that, if there is another severe outbreak and the Governor dictates that we must go online, we obviously will comply. I think we know enough about the spread of this virus now that we would be able to predict if that order was coming.
Will instructors be allowed to use traditional paper exams or will they be required to do all classroom assessment electronically? If electronically, will they be allowed to reserve computer labs so the exams can be proctored.
Paper exams are acceptable. The most recent research indicates that surface contact with paper, cardboard, metal or other surfaces is not a high risk route of transmission. If you choose to give electronic exams, there are a number of ways to proctor them without putting them in one of our computer labs. That, however, is an option.
Will students who are self isolating or are unable to come to class due to a pre-existing condition be able to view recordings?
Yes. We are outfitting all classrooms with the capability to record lectures given in almost any format. Students needing a recording of a class should contact Student Disability Services to apply for an accommodation.
Sanitation and Spaces
We are working closely with our partner ABM and members across campus to make sure classrooms and spaces are sanitized regularly. But it should be noted that the most important factor is making sure that everyone is socially distanced and does their best to wear face coverings. Along with an intense communication and awareness program, we intend to place signage in buildings to reinforce the physical distancing guidelines that align with CDC recommendations. The following are answers concerning your questions on the use and cleanliness of spaces on campus.
Will there be hand sanitizing stations outside of each classroom/building?
We intend to have hand sanitizing stations placed in many locations throughout campus including outside of classrooms. We have had ABM order hand sanitizer stations for every building exterior door entrance and also all restroom entrances. Due to high demand they will not be here until late June or beginning of July. Pending any shipping or availability setbacks they would definitely be installed before August. As soon as they arrive we will make sure they are installed. ABM is also pursuing sanitizing wipes at classroom entrances to provide students the ability to clean a desk before they sit down.
Will there be additional outdoor seating for students and employees?
We’re looking into as many ways to utilize our outdoor spaces as we can. We are looking at procuring additional outdoor seating, but at this time with budget cuts that may not be possible. But socially distancing out of doors is an excellent option for students and employees alike.
Will offices be moved and spread out?
For some offices, yes. Interim director of finance and administration Doug Fox notes, “Many of these steps are being taken right now to spread out employees as much as possible.”
Who should I talk to if I need sneeze guards installed for workstations that deal with the public.
Please contact Doug Fox or Sam Spooner and they can help you assess your space and needs.
What about hallways? How will we enforce social distancing in hallways?
We need to have departments determine building flow directions. In addition, one entrance/one exit flow (with the exception of emergency situations) should be put in place. For stairwells, designate up and down stairwells. The floors of elevators should be marked to designate standing locations and maximum occupancy based on distancing requirements.
Are we allowed to purchase cleaning supplies with M&O (i.e. lysol wipes, hand sanitizer)?
Yes, but we have set up a special account for COVID-19 specific purchases. Purchases from this account can be initiated through your respective VP office. In addition, we have purchased bulk quantities of wipes and sanitizer that will be available to departments.
How will students get water if fountains are turned off?
Water refill stations can be turned on separately from the water fountain. We will use this feature or provide water bottles for students. Rest assured that they will have access to drinking water.
What is the protocol for bathrooms?
All restroom entrances will have hand sanitizer stations installed and maintained by ABM. Keep the RAM Family Healthy flyers should be posted on the entrance and exit to every bathroom reminding everyone of proper hygiene.