Office of the Provost
1201 West University Dr.
ESSBL - Executive Tower 5.101
Edinburg, TX 78539
Phone: (956) 665-2111
Faculty/Staff: Preparing for the 2021 Fall Semester - August 3, 2021
We hope that all of you are staying safe and healthy, and we look forward to your return to campus this fall semester.
The safety and health of our UTRGV community and the quality of services and education we provide continue to be our priorities. That is why we are closely monitoring the COVID-19 delta variant, which is causing a surge in cases across the country and in our region.
At this time, based on current medical guidance, we are moving forward with safely operating and offering courses this fall as planned with no changes to the listed modalities. We are also prepared to pivot should the medical guidance suggest we do so.
Stay Safe and Stay Engaged!
There are currently no local, state, or national COVID-19 health mandates that enable us to require that members of the UTRGV community wear face coverings, social distance, or get vaccinated. Within these limitations, as faculty and staff members, it is important that the choices you make about how to interact, teach, and provide support services on campus be informed by these proven and effective best-mitigation practices . To receive the vaccine, please log on to the UTRGV Vaccine portal and schedule an appointment or simply walk in to our student and/or employee health clinics in Brownsville, Edinburg or Harlingen.
It is also important that we remain in constant contact, particularly as the delta variant continues to spread. We will continue to email you to address developments of direct impact on your work, and all the latest updates and resources will also be available on our Welcome Back website .
Frequently Asked Questions
A Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) section is currently being populated on the Welcome Back website. If you have a FAQ that you would like to submit, email it to WelcomeBack@utrgv.edu , and we will work to answer it as best we can. As you know, this is an ever-changing situation, so as information becomes available so will answers to our questions.
In the meantime, we have compiled some of the most popular FAQs from faculty and staff below. Again, please visit the Welcome Back website for additional FAQs , which will be expanded and updated throughout the semester.
As always, thank you for your hard work and dedication to our students. We will continue to work diligently to keep you informed and prepared to help ensure that you experience a safe and successful fall semester.
Dr. Janna Arney, Deputy President and Interim Provost
Dr. Michael Hocker, Dean, School of Medicine
Are employees required to return to campus this fall?
We will continue to safely return our workforce back to campus. As we announced this summer, division leads and supervisors will work together to best determine when and how you return to campus.
We understand that some of you may need to continue working from home based on a variety of factors, such as specific health conditions. Please work directly with your supervisor regarding your unique circumstance or contact the Office of Human Resources at firstname.lastname@example.org .
May I require students or colleagues to wear face coverings in the classroom, lab, office or any other indoor setting?
No, you may not require them. As a state public institution, UTRGV may not require/mandate anyone to wear a face covering. However, you and we as a university will continue to strongly encourage students, faculty, staff and visitors to continue wearing face coverings, particularly to help slow the spread of the delta variant. Being vaccinated and wearing your face covering is your best defense regardless of what those around you, including colleagues and students, choose to do.
If I can’t require, may I ask students or colleagues to wear a face covering in the classroom, lab, office or any other indoor setting?
Yes, you may ask and strongly encourage, but everyone has a right to say no because, again, we cannot require/mandate the wearing of face coverings. If a person refuses to wear a face covering, you can still protect yourself by getting vaccinated and wearing your own face covering. In an office setting, if a visitor does not wish to wear a face covering making you uncomfortable, you may consider moving the meeting to the hallway, outdoors, a conference room, or online.
Do faculty office hours need to be held in my office?
Office hours must be available for students and clearly posted on your syllabus. The modality for those office hours is up to you. You may elect to meet students and other visitors in the classroom, a conference room, outdoors, or online.
What if I want to wear a face covering in the classroom, but I am concerned that students are unable to hear me lecture?
We understand that whether you wear a mask will be informed by factors like your classroom's configuration or your lecture style. You may decide to wear a mask but realize you need assistance in projecting your voice in a classroom not already equipped with a microphone. If so, we have a limited supply of microphones for faculty teaching in classrooms not already equipped with a microphone. Or, you may decide against wearing a mask because of the available distance between the podium and students.
Will social distancing and classroom capacity limits still be enforced?
No, social distancing will not be enforced, and classrooms will return to full capacity. As we transition to these changes, we highly encourage all campus community members to get vaccinated and to wear face coverings to help mitigate COVID-19 exposure. Additionally, academic buildings will continue to be stocked with hand sanitizer and sanitation wipe stations.
May faculty change their course modality to online synchronous or online asynchronous for the fall semester?
No. However, if conditions change and we are not able to offer traditional and hybrid courses safely, this guidance will be updated. As you may or may not know, SACSCOC, our regional accrediting body, and the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board had issued waivers for the offering of courses and programs online due to the pandemic. Those waivers have since expired and new rules regarding external reporting requirements went into effect as of December 2020. The Office of Institutional Accreditation is working with deans and chairs to ensure that we follow SACSCOC and U.S. Department of Education guidelines regarding how many courses we can offer online in any given program and to address reporting requirements. Decisions about modality are discipline-specific and based on peer feedback about the pedagogies and best practices that will ensure the best student outcomes and deliver the highest quality education.
Faculty do have the flexibility to design their traditional and hybrid courses using a variety of blended learning models in order to make safe use of face-to-face classrooms, reduce classroom density, and maximize student learning.
Will guidance be provided to faculty and staff who are returning to the classroom/office?
For faculty, the Center for Teaching Excellence (CTE) and COLTT are developing resources for faculty regarding how to teach safely in hybrid and face-to-face learning environments. Several professional development opportunities are being offered to support faculty in successfully organizing blended/hybrid learning environments (the logistics), as well. Representatives from the School of Medicine are partnering with the CTE and COLTT for these new resources, which can be used in preparation for teaching safely in the fall. These resources should be announced via email and will be placed on the Return to Campus website.
For staff, the Office of Human Resources provides a number of services during the COVID-19 pandemic. For information on appointments, benefits, employee assistance, wellness and leave, visit the HR COVID-19 Resources page.