Message from the President: Commitment to Safety and Success

Tuesday, August 18, 2020 :: Office of the President

Dear UTRGV Family:

I want to start this message by, once again, thanking all of you for your hard work and dedication during these difficult and challenging times. Due to your continued perseverance and adaptability, we continue to successfully navigate these unprecedented conditions together.

As we end the summer semester and turn our focus toward a new academic year, I’d like to take the time to explain what you can expect when we start fall semester on August 24.

First off, I want to reiterate the university’s commitment to your safety and success. That has been our focus throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, and our Commitment to Safety and Success will not change during the 2020-21 academic year.

Back in March we had hoped that we could return to normal in the fall, but the pandemic has forced us to do things differently. Please rest assured that we have worked diligently over the summer to develop and implement measures to ensure your safety and success.

To Our Students

Most of you will take your classes online or in a hybrid format with greatly reduced time on campus. Thanks to the hard work of our faculty and academic leadership, we developed a variety of course delivery options, so our students could design schedules that best fit their needs. As a result, approximately 95% of our courses will be taught either online or in a hybrid format. Only those courses whose subject matter cannot effectively be taught online will be offered on campus, face to face.

For those of you in courses that must be taught on campus, the university has also worked hard to make your on-campus experience a safe one. We have followed CDC guidelines closely to modify classrooms and facilities and to develop and implement health and safety protocols meant to protect our campus community and the communities we serve.

We need your help, however, to make this semester safe and successful. Please adhere to all university protocols and hold others responsible for doing their part. Also, please stay engaged with the university by communicating with your professors and taking advantage of student support services offered both on campus and remotely.

Find more information on our Commitment to Safety and Success website. If you have any questions or concerns, please speak with your professor or email coronavirus@utrgv.edu.

To Our Faculty and Staff

To further reduce our on-campus population, we will continue to return our staff back to campus gradually and safely. As we announced this summer, division leads and supervisors will work together to determine when and how you return to campus. Faculty will have access to their offices, but we ask that you closely follow safety protocols in accessing them.  

As with our students, the university has worked hard to make the on-campus experience for faculty and staff safe. We will continue to follow CDC guidelines closely to modify facilities and office spaces as we have done throughout the summer. We ask that you also adhere — and hold others accountable — to university health and safety protocols.

In addition, we understand that many of our faculty and staff may need to continue working from home based on a variety of factors, including health conditions and child care. Department chairs and supervisors will continue to assist you with your situation. Please work directly with your chair or supervisor regarding your unique circumstance, and if additional information or assistance is needed, please contact the Office of Human Resources at hr@utrgv.edu.

Lastly, it’s important that we remember that all of us, faculty, staff, and administrators, are here to serve our students. Their success is our success, so in this unusual semester, we must go above and beyond to ensure the safety and success of our students and ourselves.

Health and Safety Protocols

The following are some of the university protocols that have been implemented for fall. As always, for a complete list of guidelines and resources, visit our COVID-19 updates and resources website.

  • If you’re sick or have been in contact with someone who is, stay home: If you plan to access our campuses or off-campus facilities, you must first perform a pre-screening health check by asking yourself these questions:
    • Have you been in close contact (within 6 feet) of anyone with a confirmed COVID-19 case in the last 14 days?
    • Do you have a measured temperature greater than 100.0°F or feelings of fever or chills?
    • Do you have a new or worsening cough, shortness of breath, difficulty breathing, sore throat, muscle pain or body aches, nausea, vomiting, headache, loss of taste or smell, or diarrhea?

If you answer yes to any of them stay home and follow the student/employee screening and reporting process.

  • Face coverings are required: If you access our campuses/off-campus facilities, including classrooms, you will be required to wear a face covering over your nose and mouth. For more specific guidelines, including how the university will enforce this requirement, please read our face covering protocol.
  • Practice social distancing: Whether you are indoors or outdoors, be sure to keep 6 feet of space between yourself and the people around you. Wearing a face covering while maintaining a physical distance of at least 6 feet will help keep you and others safe and healthy. Keep in mind that there might be instances when you are forced to be closer than six feet (e.g., leaving a classroom, bathroom, busy hallway), but CDC guidelines state that if you wear a face covering and keep these encounters to less than 15 minutes, your potential exposure is minimal.
  • Enhanced cleaning and hygiene: Enhanced cleaning procedures have been added to help disinfect all high-contact public spaces, including classrooms and surfaces such as entrance door handles, doorknobs, light switches, counters, faucets, paper towel, soap, and toilet paper dispensers, toilet partition latches/handles, stair hand rails, open seating areas, benches, and elevator controls. In addition, we have mounted hand sanitizer dispensers in common areas, and disinfectant wipes will be available for each academic space to clean your personal area.
  • COVID-19 testing will be available: If you become symptomatic or know that you’ve been exposed to someone who has tested positive, we have developed an internal process through which you can be tested by UT Health Rio Grande Valley. You can find step-by-step instructions for students, faculty and staff by clicking here.

Remember, the measures that the university has implemented this fall are meant to keep you and others safe, but they will not be fully effective unless we all take personal responsibility for adhering to them. Please do your part to keep yourself and others healthy and safe!

Stay Informed

I encourage you to visit our new Commitment to Safety and Success webpage, where you can find protocols, guidelines, videos and frequently asked questions regarding the fall. This semester will look different from any other previous semester, so please ensure you are properly informed as we move forward together.

If you have any questions or concerns, please speak with your supervisor or email coronavirus@utrgv.edu.

As always, I hope everyone stays safe and healthy, and best of luck this fall.

Sincerely,

Guy Bailey
President

Source: Message was sent via email from the Office of the President on August 18, 2020.