6/16/2020 Memo from Pete Gallego
DEAR SUL ROSS FAMILY IN ALPINE:
At this point, we know of no positive COVID-19 cases on campus — but the virus is definitely circulating. We know that some members of our Lobo family have been in close proximity to individuals in our area who have, in fact, tested positive. If you fall in this category, WORK FROM HOME. DO NOT COME TO CAMPUS. You should also notify anyone else you’ve been around. They should work from home also.
I want to reiterate the responsibility we have as a university community to take care of each other. If you or anyone around you is showing symptoms of COVID 19, or has been in contact with someone who has tested positive, report the situation to your supervisor immediately and begin following CDC recommended precautions.
Rest assured that your supervisor will be flexible in finding a solution that will allow you to work remotely. Understand that, if you arrive at work showing symptoms — or if you begin to show symptoms during the workday — your supervisor is being directed to send you home immediately. If you’re feeling ill, please let your supervisor know at once.
In all such instances, the following protocol is to be observed:
‣ Supervisors will report the incident to the president’s office.
‣ Physical Plant staff will be deployed to deep clean offices and high trafficked areas.
‣ A decision will then be made by the administration in concert with the supervisors, regarding any additional steps to be taken.
For those who report possible cases to their supervisor, please follow the CDC recommended steps and immediately contact your medical provider. You and your primary care doctor can make the best decision for your individual case. You may not return to work until your medical provider has cleared you to return to work.
If everyone does their part, we can limit the spread of COVID-19 and work in a safer and less stressful environment. Again, please:
Wear a face covering when in public.
Wash your hands regularly, for 20 seconds.
Use hand sanitizer with at least a 60% alcohol base.
Practice social distancing, of at least 6 feet.
Please stay safe — and let’s take care of each other.
6/13/2020 Memo from Pete Gallego
My policy is to be transparent, always. To that end, I am providing all of you with the following information.
Recently, Alpine received news of a handful of positive COVID-19 cases. According to the Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS), this now brings our total to eight cases. Though this is not welcomed news, I am told that the individuals involved are all now self-isolating at home. DSHS is working to contact those who may have had contact with the individuals who tested positive.
As I write this, no patients have close ties to the university itself. However, Alpine is a small and close-knit community. It is not inconceivable that the university could have its first COVID-19 case in the near future. For now, our campus remains closed to the public. Employees on campus will notice limited or no access to buildings and hand sanitizing stations at or near all building entrances.
Our plans do not stop there. Over the next several days, we will be receiving shipments of sneeze guards for use at various locations. We will also be receiving a shipment of infrared thermometers so that we will have the ability to measure the temperatures of individuals on campus.
We continue to encourage our employees to WEAR A MASK or other face covering both on campus and off. The mask or face covering should cover both nose and mouth. As I often say, “If you don’t like the mask, you really won’t like the ventilator.”
The health and safety of our students, staff and faculty is our priority. Thus, we continue to fine-tune our anti-COVID-19 “Safe School, Safe Students” prevention plans.
We receive new information almost daily from health professionals as well as federal, state, and local authorities. Our response plans must remain flexible to allow for changes in circumstances.
This past Friday, the CDC issued new guidelines for the summer. These guidelines revolve around the same core principles: (1) respect individual space (2) wash your hands regularly and (3) use face coverings.
For everyone except staff now assigned to the physical plant, working remotely from home remains acceptable.
For all faculty and staff coming on campus, please follow these simple and basic recommendations while you are here:
- Wear a mask or other face covering while on campus;
- Wash your hands frequently for 20 seconds with soap and warm water;
- Use the hand sanitizer with 60% alcohol-base found at or near entrances and exits;
- Avoid touching your eyes, mouth, and nose;
- Avoid close proximity to those who are sick;
- Clean surfaces before and after use;
- Maintain social distancing, at least 6 ft (two arms’ lengths) away from others;
- Cover your face when sneezing or coughing (but not with your hands); and
- Dispose of tissues properly.
PLEASE STAY AT HOME IF YOU ARE SHOWING SYMPTOMS OF COVID-19.
We hope for a successful and speedy recovery for anyone affected by this virus. As we continue through these trying times, I ask everyone to do their part and to act responsibly. Together, we can stop the spread.
I will be sure to keep you updated as things progress.
Pete Gallego, President
Dear Sul Ross Community:
Following close monitoring of local, state, and federal guidelines, Sul Ross will continue to reopen in phases over the next two months. We will take necessary precautions and follow CDC guidelines to ensure a safe opening. Our plan is subject to change depending on state and local conditions.
As you know, we will remain under Emergency Operations until May 31 when we close out Phase I. During Phase I, buildings remained closed to the public, hand sanitizer stations at each building entrance were installed, university employees were provided masks, offices and common spaces were cleaned and sanitized, sneeze guards were installed in several high traffic areas, employees were encouraged to work remotely, additional PPE was ordered (including thermometers), signage encouraging social distancing was ordered, and classrooms were rearranged to maintain social distancing.
The Recovery Plan Task Force met weekly to discuss recommendations that made safety and health the top priority. Other task forces focused on needed changes in instructional delivery, sports, and business operations for the fall semester. The Governor’s Office has declared that masks are not required as part of our state reopening. As a state agency, we will follow the Governors instructions and encourage the use of masks while ultimately leaving that particular decision to the discretion of each individual.
Phase II will begin on June 1st and will initiate a return to campus process. To accomplish this we will take the following actions:
- Gatherings of 10 or more should be avoided unless precautionary measures for social distancing are enacted.
- Virtual meetings and phone conferences will continue to be utilized when appropriate.
- Vulnerable or sick individuals should continue to work from home or shelter in place with supervisor approval.
- Employees, with supervisor approval, may continue to work remotely.
- Limited buildings will be open under restricted access based on the needs and occupancy rate.
- Supervisors should work with staff to enact staggered or flexible schedules to limit the number of employees in each office, where feasible.
- Non-essential travel remains cancelled until further notice.
- The Recreation Sports Center and Gallego Center will remain closed through the month of June.
- The University Center will be open to on campus residents and university employees but will not permit large gatherings and will adhere to strict social distancing and sanitization protocols.
- Campus tours may be given while practicing social distancing and/or visitors may take a self-guided tour as developed by the Enrollment Specialists.
- Employees must have doctors’ notices when ill and be cleared to return to work by a medical provider.
- Supervisors will be given latitude to ask visitors or employees to leave offices if they appear symptomatic. In such instances, supervisors are asked to use compassion and show respect for the individual.
- Summer I classes will continue with remote delivery.
Phase III – On July 1, the University will enter its final phase and will begin “normal” operations. All buildings will be open to the public and the majority of university employees will return to campus for regular business operations. Division heads and supervisors will remain in close contact to monitor safe working conditions.
To open safely and through a university-wide effort to mitigate the risks, we will:
- Practice social distancing protocols and follow CDC guidelines
- Encourage personal hygiene practices, including regular handwashing
- Provide hand sanitizer at building entrances
- Request employees, visitors, and students to self-monitor and screen for symptoms of COVID-19 before coming to campus
- Encourage face coverings or other PPE to be worn at the discretion of individuals
- Check temperatures when necessary if social distancing cannot be maintained
- Sanitize and disinfect common and high traffic areas
- Require isolation, if positive cases of COVID-19 are confirmed and follow with contact tracing by the local health authorities
- Limit university-related business travel
- Prevent symptomatic people from returning to work until cleared by medical provider
- Continue taking precautions to protect the most vulnerable among us, especially those who have a heightened risk for infection
Every day we learn more about the virus and its impact on our nation, state, and local areas. Like many of you, I am ready to move back to a normal life, but I remain cognizant of the need to be cautious and careful in the decisions we make. While we hope to return to some normalcy this summer, we must all be ready to take necessary action if the threat grows greater.
Thank you for your patience and continued dedication to Sul Ross. We will get through this together.
Under Governor Abbott’s Executive Order, the mandatory 14-day quarantine for travelers was lifted except for individuals traveling through certain airports. To see that information, click here: https://www.dps.texas.gov/covidtravel/.
All university employees may travel unrestricted without a requirement to self-quarantine unless you feel sick or display symptoms associated with COVID-19. If so, please contact your medical provider and your supervisor and remain in contact during quarantine. If you or anyone in close contact with you tests positive for the virus, please report that to your supervisor so that the university may take additional precautions to clean work areas.
On Tuesday, President Kibler announced the plan to re-open campuses in phases over the summer including the current Emergency Operations where buildings remain closed to the public and employees may continue working remotely until May 30th. Stay tuned for more details about each phase.
CDC information about COVID-19
Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) is a respiratory illness that can spread from person to person. The virus that causes COVID-19 is a novel coronavirus that was first identified during an investigation into an outbreak in Wuhan, China. Follow the CDC website for the most up-to-date information.
The virus that causes COVID-19 probably emerged from an animal source, but is now spreading to people. Monitor the CDC website for more information about how the virus is transmitted.
- Person to Person: The virus is thought to spread mainly between people who are in close contact with one another (within about 6 feet) through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes.
- Surfaces: It also may be possible that a person can get COVID-19 by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it and then touching their own mouth, nose, or possibly their eyes, but this is not thought to be the main way the virus spreads.
Patients with COVID-19 have had mild to severe respiratory illness with symptoms of
- shortness of breath
If you experience symptoms and have been in contact with a person to have COVID-19 or you live in or have recently traveled to an area with ongoing spread, seek medical advice by calling to a healthcare professional. Monitor the CDC website for more information about the symptoms or what to do if you experience these symptoms.
People can help protect themselves from respiratory illness with everyday preventive actions.
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
- Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol if soap and water are not available.
Monitor the CDC website for more information about how to prevent the virus.
There is currently no vaccine to protect against COVID-19. The best way to prevent infection is to take everyday preventive actions, like avoiding close contact with people who are sick and washing your hands often.
There is no specific antiviral treatment for COVID-19. People with COVID-19 can seek medical care to help relieve symptoms. Monitor the CDC website for more information about vaccinations and treatments.