Executive Summary

June 8, 2020

In May 2020 the President appointed a Return to Campus Task Force to provide recommendations and procedures for bringing university operations back to campus in a safe and practical manner.  The Task Force consisted of 26 individuals representing all stakeholder groups and divisions across UTRGV, and included faculty, staff, a student, and administration.  In addition, the Task Force appointed and engaged seven workgroups, to examine Athletics, Campus Auxiliary Services and Student Life, Campus Events, Lecture and ClassroomActivities, Instructional Laboratories, Research Laboratories, and Off-Campus and Clinical Activities.  These groups involved an additional 80 individuals in the development of specific, actionable recommendations across the spectrum of campus operations.

This Executive Summary will detail at a high level the major recommendations of the Task Force and its workgroups.  Additional actionable detail and specific information is outlined in the full report document, entitled "Return to Campus – Consolidated Report of the Task Force".  Further program-specific detail and guidance is offered in each of the individual workgroup reports, which are also available for review and utilization.

The Task Force and all workgroups recognize that the situation with COVID-19 is highly fluid, and it is possible that modifications may need to be made during the academic year in order to continue functioning in alternate formats.  All groups, therefore, support the development of contingency plans in the case of all instructional activities and operations needing to return fully online.

Click here for the full Executive Summary

Summary of the Task Force’s Guidance:

  • Health and Safety Recommendations

    • It is critical the campus community follows good public health practices:
      • Maintain a physical distance of 6 feet.
      • Wash hands frequently.
      • Stay home if sick or having respiratory symptoms.
      • Clean and disinfect one’s personal environment.
    • The use of face coverings is required on campus when:
      • In all campus buildings, classrooms, libraries and laboratories.
      • Face coverings are not required when:
        • In one’s personal office space, as long as 6-foot distance can be maintained.
        • Outdoors, as long as 6-foot distancing can be maintained.
  • Campus Events

    Updated: 07/21/2020

    In order to mitigate the potential spread of COVID-19 on campus, specific policies must be followed in the scheduling of all campus events.

    • All indoor and outdoor in-person events on all UTRGV campuses will continue to be cancelled
    throughout the month of June.
    • The Event Task Force will continue to monitor the COVID-19 situation and provide updates when
    available. Policies around size of and requirements for campus events will be reviewed regularly, as
    changing conditions would direct.

  • Campus Auxiliary Services and Student Life

    • Campus Auxiliary Services will begin a phased approach to reopening on June 1, 2020.
    • Preventive measures will be required to reduce likelihood of spread of disease, including:
      • Required use of face coverings.
      • Use of floor signs/markers to practice social distancing.
      • Use of plexiglass dividers.
      • Reduction of occupancy to 25% capacity.
      • Single-occupancy rooms in on-campus housing.
      • Use of remote technology where appropriate and feasible.
      • Access by appointment to services and facilities, such as University Recreation, on-campus move-in, or Student Union meeting rooms.
  • Libraries

    Campus libraries will reopen on June 1, 2020, with specific usage instructions, including:
    • Required use of face coverings and social distancing.
    • Books and physical items will not circulate at this time.
    • Computers will be available with appropriate social distancing.
    • Printing will be permitted, but only personnel will retrieve the printouts.
    • Available staff can answer questions, but more specific requests should be made and scheduled virtually.
  • Athletics

    • The Department of Athletics staff will return to campus on an alternating schedule beginning June 8, 2020.
      • Staff must have no symptoms of COVID-19 or contact with COVID-19 positive individuals for 14 days prior to arrival of student-athletes.
      • Staff will have frequent wellness checks by athletic training staff
    • Domestic student athletes will return to campus beginning July 15, 2020, after self-isolating for 7 days prior to arrival.  International student athletes will return to campus beginning July 1, 2020, and will self-isolate for 14 days on arrival to campus.
      • Clearance for return will be based on review of travel history.
      • Students-athletes will be required to have negative COVID-19 testing results prior to being cleared for participation in athletic activities.
    • Athletics has developed specific housing and training policies that are detailed in the consolidated report.
  • Instructional Laboratories

    • Instructional labs will open for face-to-face educational activities with the fall 2020 semester.
    • All laboratory spaces will be surveyed for their capacity, recognizing the requirement for appropriate social distancing.
      • The size of laboratory classes will be determined based on these capacity assessments.
    • Instructional lab where student objectives can be achieved without face-to-face contact should be conducted online.
    • Instructional laboratories with hands-on requirements will be offered in a hybrid or reduced-seat-team approach, which will rotate users into the space to conduct in-person experiences, yet maintain social distancing for each section.
      • Rotation of students into labs will reduce the number of students in educational spaces and promote safe distancing.
      • The maximum size of student working groups, defined as activities with learners in close working proximity, will be four (4) students.
      • Multiple student working groups are allowed depending on size of lab and appropriate distancing.
    • All participants in activities in the instructional laboratory activities will follow routine campus
      safety and social distancing policies, which include enhanced precautions such as the use of masks
      and gloves, and being screened for symptoms prior to entry using the UT Health RGV screening
  • Lecture Courses and Sections

    • Lecture courses and sections will open for face-to-face educational activities
      with the fall 2020 semester.
    • All lecture courses with more than 50 students will be delivered online.
    • College deans will work with UTRGV Facilities to determine the safe capacity of each classroom or space.
    • Face-to-face instruction will occur using hybrid or reduced-seat-time formats, with compliance to rules of physical distancing.
      • Under no circumstances will classes meet with more than 50 students.
    • All synchronous class interactions will be recorded and available on Blackboard.
    • Training will be made available for all faculty in optimal online instructional methodologies.
  • Off-Campus Activities (Clinical, Teaching, Internships)

    • Off-campus activities will resume July 1, 2020 and will continue to expand at the
      beginning of the fall 2020 semester.
    • Individuals participating in off-campus activities will arrive in the Rio Grande Valley at least 14 days prior to beginning the activity.
    • Individuals will self-screen daily using the UT Health RGV screening questionnaire.
    • Individuals will follow all requirements of the off-campus facility for social distancing, hygiene, and use of face coverings.
    • All learners participating in clinical activities must have a negative COVID-19 test result within one week of beginning the activity.
    • All clinical learners will have specific education around the use of personal protective equipment (PPE) and best clinical practices to mitigate exposure to and spread of COVID-19.
  • Research Laboratories

    • Laboratory directors (LD) and principal investigators (PI) are responsible for all research conducted within laboratories under their supervision.
    • All laboratory users must follow UT Health RGV and safety protocols, which may be expanded to the use of face masks and other personal protective equipment (PPE) as indicated.
    • Research activities should be scheduled to comply with physical distancing of at least 6 feet.
    • Research laboratories will maintain sign-in and sign-out sheets to be used on entry to and exit from the lab.
    • Additional health and safety requirements may be required in research laboratories, as directed by research administration and environmental health and safety.
  • Testing Centers, Incubators, and Business and Agricultural Centers

    • All users will participate in these activities by appointment only.
    • All users will complete the UT Health RGV screening questionnaire prior to arriving on site.
    • All services will be offered with appropriate social distancing and at safe numbers based on capacity of the specific space.
    • Cleaning of spaces will be completed daily and between each group of participants.
  • Travel Guidelines

    • Current guidelines restrict all non-essential business travel for UTRGV employees.
    • Travel outside the State of Texas and the border cities in Mexico is strongly discouraged.
    • On return from travel outside these areas, all members of the campus community must complete a required screening form.
      • Individuals may be asked to self-isolate based upon their travel history.
    • Travel guidance will be updated as conditions warrant.
  • Screening for Illness

    Updated: 07/29/2020

    UTRGV Faculty, Staff, Student-Employee

    Employees who have been instructed to return to the workplace must, each day prior to visiting any UTRGV campus/off-campus facilities, review the current version of the UT Health RGV screening questions regarding COVID-19-related symptoms.

    If you answer yes to any of the screening questions, have been exposed to someone with COVID-19, or have been tested for COVID-19, do not access any UTRGV campus/off campus facilities. Instead, please communicate with your supervisor and fill out the following Preliminary COVID-19 Screening Form. Your information will be reviewed, and a member of the COVID-19 Response Team will reach out to you. The COVID-19 Response Team is responsible for identifying and contacting others who may have been at risk.

    Employees may not return to work until they are released by a member of the COVID-19 Response Team. If you develop symptoms or starting to feel unwell during the workday on campus, please communicate with your supervisor, leave work immediately, and fill out the Screening Form. Your supervisor will work with you on leave management or a remote work arrangement.

    UTRGV Students

    Students who have COVID-19 related symptoms should follow these steps:

    Call Student Health for a free phone screening.

    • Edinburg: (956) 665-2511
    • Brownsville: (956) 882-3896

    If your call is not answered, proceed to fill out the UT Health RGV COVID-19 Phone Screening Request Form. Based on the phone screening results, you will either be told to quarantine, isolate, or make an appointment to go to UT Health RGV Student Health to get tested.