Dear Sul Ross Community:
When we left for spring break, we could have never imagined how much our world would change. And yet, through the devastating conditions, our faculty and staff pivoted quickly to continue our educational mission. Our students learned valuable lessons about perseverance, flexibility, and compassion. We all learned that life can take unexpected turns, but our resilience makes us stronger. You are amazing and you should take a moment to congratulate yourself, your colleagues, your students, and your friends for the outstanding finish to this semester.
With the Governor’s Order to begin opening the State of Texas, we will establish a plan to re-open and resume our operations. We will do this in phases with safety at the forefront of every decision. We intend to re-open the campus for the fall semester but we will monitor the conditions and make plans accordingly. While we want to return to campus as quickly as possible, we must all understand that our previous practices for business operations and campus life will not be the same. We cannot overlook the lack of vaccine or treatment and must remain ready to make decisions based on the available information.
To accomplish the re-opening of our university, we will work in phases and stay vigilant to changing conditions. We will plan to work in the following three phases:
Phase I – Sul Ross will remain under Emergency Operations until May 30. This will include building closures to the public, remote work and flexible schedules for employees, and continued social distancing protocols. Other than essential employees, all Sul Ross faculty and staff should continue to work remotely, for now. During this extended closure, divisions heads and supervisors will work on plans to bring employees back to campus.
Phase II – Emergency Operations will end on June 1 and the University will initiate a return-to-campus process. At this time, employees not approved for working remotely will begin to physically return to campus for regular business operations. Employees working under a telecommute agreement may continue to work remotely unless otherwise instructed by supervisors. Some university buildings will be open to the public or will allow for authorized visitors only. Offices will limit the number of visitors permitted, to practice social distancing. Division heads and supervisors will develop protocols that address the number of visitors that offices may safely admit.
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.
The Executive Cabinet will serve as the Recovery Plan Task Force and will form sub-groups to provide input into the plan to re-open the University. To accomplish this plan, various employees may be called to campus to engage in discussions and provide information relevant to the situation. We are especially grateful to the many university employees who continue to work on campus in preparation for a safe return to business.
Our goal is to re-open “normal” university operations by July 1, but we will continue to monitor the situation and make adjustments and decisions when necessary. The plan to re-open to full business operations is also dependent on federal, state, and local government actions as well as public health conditions.
Updates and new details about the plan to re-open will be posted on the Sul Ross COVID-19 webpage.
This summer, Sul Ross will celebrate 100 years of ongoing instruction to students across the State of Texas. We earned our reputation as an institution forged in the remote desert of far West Texas and the Rio Grande borderlands. There is no place like Sul Ross and we can unequivocally state that we stand united and ready to blaze our way through new frontiers. Thank you for your hope, strength, love, and passion to continue our mission.
We will get through this together.
Sul Ross State University officials continue to discuss measures to reopen campuses for fall of 2020. The university recently announced that classes for summer will be delivered through remote instruction including the continued use of video conferencing and online instruction. University officials intend to work throughout the summer with faculty and staff to develop and implement plans to return to face-to-face instruction in the fall.
“Our goal is to reopen for the fall semester, but we recognize that we must continue to monitor the situation and will keep safety as our top priority,” said President Bill Kibler. “Like all higher education institutions, we remain very aware that normal operations will look different going forward.”
The Texas Governor’s Executive Order expired on May 1, but some travel restrictions remain in place in local communities where campuses are located. Considering both state and local orders, the University will take additional precautions and reopen in phases with enhanced safety protocols. The University will provide more details to the campus community about reopening in additional communications.
“The situation is fluid and requires flexibility so we are working hard to develop various scenarios that we can utilize as information becomes available,” Kibler stated. “We remain cautious but hopeful that we can bring our people back to campus soon.”
The University provided the following updates in response to COVID-19:
- Brewster County (Alpine Campus) announced yesterday that the first positive COVID-19 case was confirmed in South Brewster County. The notice indicated that the case was a result from the mobile testing over the weekend. The individual has been in self-quarantine over the past week.
- All Sul Ross State University campuses remain closed to the public until further notice. Employees are encouraged to continue working remotely and/or through flexible schedules to practice social distancing.
- The university directive for employees to self-quarantine if they traveled or received visitors from outside of the Tri-County area (Brewster, Jeff Davis, and Presidio) is now expired. Employees should monitor their health conditions and stay home if they feel sick.
- The Governor’s Executive Order removes any requirement to wear face masks in public places. Sul Ross employees and students are not required to wear masks while on campus but are strongly encouraged to do so when in public spaces. All individuals should continue to practice social distancing and wash hands frequently.
- The University will not accept new residents in university housing for the first summer session and will assess conditions for the summer II residency opportunities. Current residents will be permitted to remain in university housing with residential living approval.
- On-Campus Residents wishing to check out of university housing must schedule appointments with housing staff to maintain social distancing protocols. Staff may be reached at email@example.com to schedule check outs.
Dear Sul Ross Community,
Several local governments recently decided to require the use of face masks when in public places. According to reports, Eagle Pass and Del Rio have been requiring the use of face masks or individuals risk being fined. Uvalde has recommended the use of face masks and is still considering mandatory coverings. On Tuesday, the City of Alpine decided to move to a response level three and will require face coverings beginning on Friday, April 24. To support these local efforts, Sul Ross employees and students should wear face masks when on campus in public places, particularly when face-to-face interaction is necessary.
- Click this link to see an instructional video from the US Surgeon General about how to make face masks: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tPx1yqvJgf4.
- You can also find additional information to sew masks at: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prevent-getting-sick/diy-cloth-face-coverings.html.
In a news release yesterday, Brewster County (Alpine Campus) announced that COVID-19 Testing will be available by appointment for people who have one or more symptoms of the virus at local testing sites. Please go to www.brewstercountytx.com for county-wide updates and more information. Click here for the news release: http://www.brewstercountytx.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/04/News-Release-COVID-19-Testing-Site-Locations.pdf.
As we have learned the situation continues to change quickly, please stay safe, stay home if possible, and together we will get through this.
Stay strong Lobos!
The following information includes updates about the Sul Ross State University Coronavirus Response.
- Summer I and II classes will be delivered online. Students will be charged regular tuition and fees, including the distance learning fee per credit hour and will receive an institutional aid award to fully offset the distance learning fee. Traditional residential campus-based fees, such as recreational sports fee, medical fee and student center fee will be waived. This action is consistent with other universities in the Texas State University System.
- On campus residents may continue living in university housing for the remainder of the semester and continue to shelter in place per the Brewster County Executive Order. Students wishing to check out of housing should schedule appointments with the Housing Office by calling 432.837.8190 during regular business hours (Monday-Friday between 8 am and 5pm). Appointment block options will be explained and a confirmation email with further instructions will be sent after scheduling.
- While the graduation ceremony will not take place,
we are asking May graduates to send their pictures to Robert Greeson (firstname.lastname@example.org) to be included in a commemorative video. All campuses are invited to participate. Graduation completion requirements will be verified before photos will be added to the video.(video is in final production)
- All University events and external events have been cancelled until further notice. University officials will evaluate the conditions in June to determine whether any activities may resume. These activities include but are not limited to university functions, sports, department events, and external events.
- The Office of Information Technology sent out an email about Wi-Fi and technology access from David Gibson earlier this afternoon to your Sul Ross accounts. Please read that email for additional ways that the University can assist you.
The following information includes updates about the Sul Ross State University Coronavirus Response for Employees.
- According to reports, we may have employees who travelled outside the tri-county area (Brewster, Presidio, and Jeff Davis Counties) or received visitors from outside the area over the past few weeks. For the safety of our families, friends, neighbors, and the community, effective immediately, Alpine Campus employees are asked to stop travelling outside of the tri-county area to assist the area-wide effort led by city and county officials to limit the spread of the virus in this region. Employees are asked to report to their supervisors if they travelled outside of the tri-county or received visitors from outside of the area within the past two weeks. Employees will be asked to self-quarantine and will be put on administrative leave for 14 days if they travelled or had visitors from outside of the area. Employees may be asked to make up hours for the administrative leave for those business days during that time. The CDC issued instructions for essential employees exposed to the virus: we ask employees to monitor your temperatures, especially before reporting to work, wear a mask, and practice social distancing at work.
- Del Rio, Eagle Pass, and Uvalde campuses will continue to operate business under the current conditions including remote work, limited on-campus staff, and by practicing guidelines from the CDC. This includes social distancing, washing hands, and wearing masks at work when around others or generally when in public according to city or county executive orders at each site.
- While the graduation ceremony will not take place, we are asking Faculty to send their pictures and encouragement signs to Robert Greeson (email@example.com) to be included in a commemorative video. All campuses are invited to participate. Look for an email from Jessica Velasco for details.
Memo from President Kibler
I want to thank each and every one of you for your leadership, your creativity and your hard work during this unprecedented time. The challenges we have faced and will continue to face are unique. I am very proud of the dedication and the spirit of helpfulness you have shown to our students and to each other as we have made and implemented many very difficult decisions to protect our university community. Now as the economic and budgetary effects of the COVID-19 pandemic becomes more apparent, we must prepare for the reality of the impact on our financial future, both near term and long term.
We are doing the right thing by changing our traditional campus and instructional life to allow students to complete their courses from the safety of their homes. The health of our faculty, staff, and students must continue to be our highest priority. We know that these decisions will result in the loss of budgeted funds and we must accommodate those losses and prepare for the additional financial losses we may experience in the coming weeks and months.
We anticipate that our Summer enrollment may be significantly less than in recent years and that Fall enrollment may also be negatively impacted. It is prudent that we act now to conserve our resources for the future. We must move expeditiously to continue to provide the best possible educational environment for our students while also continuing to act to protect our faculty and staff.
Therefore, we will implement the following changes to our budgets, effective immediately:
- We will temporarily delay all personnel actions, including the posting of new positions and hiring to fill vacancies. Certain exceptions will be allowed, such as the President position and the Vice President for the Middle Rio Grande campuses, which are both critical positions. Requests for exceptions will require Executive Cabinet review and Presidential approval.
- All EC members, deans and department heads are requested to curtail any expenditures that are not absolutely necessary through the end of the fiscal year.
- As you all know, all university sponsored travel is cancelled. This policy will continue to remain in effect until health and government experts indicate it is safe to travel. We know that some faculty are planning to submit papers or proposals for delivery at academic conferences. Assuming that travel restrictions may be lifted by the next academic year, faculty members may submit proposals for conferences beginning with the next fiscal year. As we get closer to that time, we will be able to determine whether that travel will be permitted at the time.
- All planned facility renovation and improvement projects that have not started at this point, will be delayed until the next fiscal year. All enhanced cleaning and routine facility repairs will continue as needed.
I know there will be many questions about how these changes will be implemented and I will ask Vice President for Budget and Finance, Chris Clifford and each respective Vice President to provide further details in the days ahead.
These changes will undoubtedly cause additional challenges across all four of our campuses and I sincerely hope that many of these cost-saving measures will prove to be unnecessary in the months to come. However, we would be remiss in our responsibilities as leaders if we do not act now and assure that we are good stewards of the resources we have. The extraordinary challenges presented by COVID-19 demand unprecedented fiscal discipline. We will continue to provide updates as we address and respond to this evolving situation.
Thank you again for all that you do for Sul Ross!
4/2/2020 SRSU COVID-19 Update
Governor Abbott issued an executive order announcing Essential Services and Activities protocol to minimize non-essential gatherings and in person contact with people on March 31, 2020. Sul Ross State University will remain open and continue business operations under this order. We are working with the Texas State University System to address the protocols and determine additional steps needed. Click here to read Governor’s executive order: www.gov.texas.gov/news/post/governor-abbott-issues-executive-order-implements-statewide-essential-services-and-activities-protocols
Congress recently passed the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA). The FFCRA requires Sul Ross to provide employees with paid sick leave and expanded family and medical leave for specific reasons related to COVID-19 and will apply from April 1, 2020 – December 31, 2020. Sul Ross developed guidelines that comply with the Act and provide guidance for employees: www.sulross.edu/section/315/human-resources.
Additionally, Brewster County (Alpine Campus) issued a shelter in place order on March 31, 2020 that permits only essential businesses to remain open. Sul Ross will continue business operations both on campus and through remote work to fully comply with the order (Ord. No. 7, Sec. 14 Certain Educational Activities). Please note that Val Verde County (Del Rio Campus; valverdecounty.texas.gov/) and Maverick County (Eagle Pass Campus; co.maverick.tx.us/) remain under order for shelter in place. For updates for City of Uvalde (Uvalde Campus) go to: www.uvaldetx.com/. And in surrounding areas near Alpine both Presidio County and Jeff Davis County issued shelter in place orders as well. To comply with the orders, employees working on campus must carry a Sul Ross issued transit authorization form and Sul Ross ID with them that identifies the university as an essential business. Please contact your supervisor for instructions on how to obtain the authorization forms.
Above all else, please stay home Lobos, only go out when absolutely necessary, it is up to you to protect yourself and your loved ones.
- Effective March 31, 2020, the university identified the following offices as essential to continue business operations at all campuses. Employees in these areas are permitted to work on campus if remote work is not feasible and must follow CDC guidelines for social distancing and safe work habits to prevent the spread of the virus. Our custodial services are taking precautions to maintain clean offices, but you should remain vigilant and protect yourself.
- Admissions (On Campus and Remote)
- Financial Aid (On Campus and Remote)
- Communications and Marketing (On Campus and Remote)
- Accounting, Budget, and Business Services – Employees in this area and employees who submit forms to this area may fall under this category. For example, employees who regularly process requisitions, travel, employment documentation for their department are considered essential to business operations. (On Campus and Remote)
- Academic Affairs including Advising, Faculty Instruction, and Instructional Technology (On Campus and Remote)
- Information Technology Services (On Campus and Remote)
- Library Services (On Campus and Remote)
- Human Resources (On Campus and Remote)
- Registrar (On Campus and Remote)
- Advancement & Alumni (On Campus & Remote)
- Institutional Effectiveness (On Campus & Remote)
- Academic Success Center and other Student Services (On Campus and Remote)
- Dining Services for To-Go orders only (Alpine – On Campus)
- Residential Living (Alpine – On Campus)
- University Post Office (Alpine – On Campus)
- University Police (Alpine – On Campus)
- Physical Plant (Alpine – On Campus)
- Print Shop (Alpine – On Campus and Remote)
The situation surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic remains fluid and requires significant flexibility to continue providing services and conducting university business. Previous updates included information for university employees and student employees regarding the work situation. The following points either add to the current information or provide updates based on the available knowledge.
- Sul Ross State University remains open and will continue business operations. However, university offices and buildings are closed to the public and individuals seeking services should contact university employees via phone or email. Please allow time for employees to receive messages and respond. Our commitment is that we will reply as soon as possible. For a list of major offices’ contact information please go to the FAQ page on the COVID-19 webpage: srinfo.sulross.edu/covid-19/
- Effective April 2, 2020, Sul Ross State University will reduce the use of university emergency leave and will resume business operations. Based on federal guidance from the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, employees are eligible to receive emergency paid sick leave under certain conditions. To read the Sul Ross State University guidelines please click here: www.sulross.edu/section/315/human-resources
- University employees have continued working either on campus while practicing social distancing and other measures prescribed by the CDC or through remote work.
- Employees working remotely should continue to do so until further notice and avoid being on campus except for crucial and compelling reasons, i.e. pick up equipment, sort mail, scan documents. Staff employees should complete the telecommuting agreement. Faculty are not required to complete the telecommuting agreement. You may access the agreement here: www.sulross.edu/section/315/human-resources
- We cannot predict when the situation will be resolved but we must continue business operations. Effective April 1, 2020, the university strongly encourages supervisors to provide maximum flexibility for employees who are unable to work remotely due to the nature of their job responsibilities by taking the following measures. Supervisors must provide work schedules to division heads by April 3, 2020 or when changes occur:
- Offer flexible hours to ensure that employees are not working in close proximity with each other in the same office space. Employees are permitted to work on campus between the hours of 6:00 am and 9:00 pm, seven days a week. For example: if an employee receives approval from their supervisor, they may work the standard 40-hour week on campus outside of the normal 8 am – 5 pm, Monday – Friday business week and may now include weekends.
- Actively encourage staggered work schedules for employees who must work on campus in environments with limited space. For example: one employee may work 6:00 am – 2:00 pm M-F and a second employee may work from 2:00 pm – 9:00 pm M-F. When unavoidable overlap occurs, employees must follow CDC guidelines.
- In cases where employees must care for children and are unable to work either on campus or through remote means, the Families First Coronavirus Response Act provides measures for emergency leave beginning on April 1, 2020 under the Emergency Family and Medical Leave Expansion Act for Child Care Conditions. For the full guidelines please click here: https://www.sulross.edu/section/315/human-resources
- Student and Temporary Employees will receive paychecks through April 30 or as authorized by each department. Employees received messages to Sul Ross emails from the Human Resources office with additional details. Student and temporary employees are discouraged from being on campus to work unless supervisors provide compelling justification to division heads for those arrangements.
- Remote Course Delivery – Faculty members continue working out details to use Blackboard and Zoom Technology to deliver courses. Students will receive grades per course and should remain in contact with instructors if concerns or issues arise.
- Last Day to Withdraw – Sul Ross extended the last day to withdraw from courses to April 9. Students receiving financial aid should consult with counselors prior to dropping courses to determine potential future impact to financial aid.
- May 2020 Commencement Cancelled – Students who complete all requirements must apply for graduation by Friday, April 3 and will receive diplomas via certified mail. Graduation is a special time at Sul Ross, and we will miss the opportunity to recognize our graduates at the commencement ceremony in May. We encourage students to participate in the December commencement ceremony pending any additional information with the pandemic. We are developing a commemorative video that will feature photos from our graduates, please check your Sul Ross email or Sul Ross social media for more details about photo submission.
- April 10, 2020 – The University is closed in observance of Good Friday. Essential Services will reopen on Monday, April 13.
- Effectively immediately, Sul Ross State University is pleased to announce all applications for freshman admission will be considered under a holistic, test-optional format for students applying for Summer 2020 and Fall 2020. Students will not be required to submit an SAT/ACT score to receive an admissions decision.
- We are excited to offer a virtual New Student Orientation to students this spring and summer. Registration is still required, check here for information: https://www.sulross.edu/page/4188/new-student-orientation
We understand that the uncertainty of the situation continues to cause anxiety and stress. We must look to other states and countries to learn lessons from their experiences with this virus. In doing so, there are two key points that we should all remember:
- Wash your hands and disinfect high contact areas – take additional precautions and stay vigilant. The virus is fragile and can be killed on skin and hard surfaces easily but you must do your part.
- Stay home. We are all in this together and through our collective actions, we can help to prevent the spread by limiting our interactions outside our homes.
Stay safe Lobos!
As of March 23, 2020, Val Verde County (Del Rio Campus) issued a shelter in place order. This order requires all non-essential business personnel to remain at home to follow the “Stay Home, Work Safe” edict. Sul Ross State University will continue to comply with the order by taking the following actions for the Del Rio Campus:
- Since March 17, 2020, all university buildings were closed to the public with only a few employees working in university offices. Our buildings will remain closed to the public until further notice. Employees should provide services through remote delivery including: phone calls, emails, or video conferencing.
- Effective March 24, 2020, the university identified the following offices as essential to continue business operations. Employees in these areas are permitted to work on campus, if remote work is not feasible and must follow CDC guidelines for social distancing and safe work habits to prevent the spread of the virus. SWTJC assured us that their custodial services are taking precautions to maintain clean offices, but you should remain vigilant and protect yourself.
- Financial Aid
- Communications and Marketing
- Student Services
- Business Services – Employees in this area and employees who submit forms to this area may fall under this category. For example, employees who regularly process requisitions, travel, employment documentation for their department are considered essential to business operations.
- Academic Affairs including Advising and Faculty Instruction
- Information Technology Services
- Also, effective March 24, 2020, essential personnel are encouraged to work from home, some may receive university equipment (laptops) to continue job functions. If employees in these areas are hindered by technology issues like limited or no internet service at home, they should contact their supervisor to discuss alternative options.
- All other university functions not included in the essential business operations list will be put on hold until further notice. Employees in those areas will continue to receive emergency leave until further notice.
- Student Employees and Temporary Employees have received additional instructions through their official Sul Ross email. The University is committed to paying these employees until the last week of classes or as authorized by the department.
The situation continues to change rapidly and requires quick and deliberate actions to address the challenges. Thank you for your patience and understanding. Check the SRSU COVID-19 Response page frequently for updates: srinfo.sulross.edu/COVID-19/.
Dear Sul Ross Community and Friends:
No one could have prepared for the situation that we currently face. The COVID-19 pandemic takes us out of our normal reality and places us directly into a surreal existence. I find myself pausing every day to reflect on the circumstances and pray that we will find solutions quickly. But with all that is happening, I am struck by the compassion and caring that we continue to see through the many service industry employees who continue to provide the public with food, medicine, and supplies.
I am especially grateful for the many faculty and staff members who have done extraordinary work over the past week to find solutions to continue our mission. This is unlike anything we wanted to experience, and I appreciate the way so many have stepped up to make sure that Sul Ross is not falling behind in our university operations. I would also like to especially thank our physical plant employees who have continually cleaned and sanitized our buildings to provide a safe environment for people to work.
Our people have been working hard amid the serious concerns and increased anxiety that many feel. It is my firm belief that in order to take care of others, we must also take care of ourselves. With that in mind, I am declaring that Friday, March 20 is Mental Health Day and SRSU employees need to take the day off to get some rest, spend time with families, and take time away from the campus. There will be a few exceptions to this because we must still provide essential services but be assured that I have been in contact with supervisors for them to provide an alternative day off. Many of our employees are still on emergency leave but I am well aware that there are numerous individuals who continued to work on campus or worked remotely this past week. As a mental health day, I am asking that all eligible employees take the day off and do not work on university business on Friday. The work will still be there on Monday, but I am more concerned that you also need a break to rest tomorrow. The CDC recommends that as we continue to go through this crisis, we also need to manage our stress and anxiety.
The uncertainty surrounding this situation has thrown us all off our game, but I commend you all for continuing to do great work for Sul Ross. Our way of doing business will change for the foreseeable future and I thank you for your patience and adaptability as we all go through the overwhelming changes in our lives.
I promised to provide updates as they became available. Below are some additional actions that we have taken in light of the growing concerns.
- Dr. Rob Kinucan, Executive Vice President and Provost and our deans have been meeting regularly as a group and with individual departments to move toward remote delivery of classes quickly. Many faculty members have already contacted students to provide instructions about how their classes will continue for the remainder of the semester. Dr. Kinucan will provide more details about the transition in a separate communication from his office.
- The Sul Ross Childcare Center is closed until further notice. The center does not have the staff necessary to meet state requirements due to a strong reliance on student assistants. The center cannot remain open under those conditions. Additionally, by keeping the center closed we are following federal guidelines and practicing social distancing while not allowing gatherings of 10 or more people.
- We provided the following information to the Texas State University System in our discussion with system staff and other presidents. We still have many students who will remain on campus as this is their primary residence. We are not asking our students who show the greatest need for university housing to move to alternative locations, they are welcome to remain in university housing. We will keep the dining services open at the Morgan University Center and the C-Store at the Lobo Village Building open for on-campus residents only.
- Students who plan to move out of university housing early must schedule appointments with Housing Staff by calling 432.837.8190 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. We must maintain an orderly process for move out to follow the guidelines set forth by the CDC and maintain social distancing. Students who choose to move out early will receive a housing credit for use beginning in Fall 2020 that is a pro-rated amount of the cost of their rooms in the various halls. Different halls charge different amounts, so this is not a one-size fits all credit. Students moving out who are graduating this May, who are recipients of Hazlewood education benefits, or formerly in foster care will receive cash refunds. The process/details for refunds is continuing to be refined and once details are finalized there will be further communication.
- As of yesterday, Brewster County (Alpine Campus), Val Verde County (Del Rio Campus), and Maverick County (Eagle Pass Campus) issued a Declaration of Local State of Disaster which provides our local government with wide authority to take actions that will protect the county and city residents. Please follow any directives given by your local government officials with regard to health and safety guidelines specific to your areas.
- As previously mentioned, the University will remain closed to the public until further notice. This includes students and visitors. Only authorized personnel will be allowed entrance to university buildings. University employees may continue to work on campus while practicing social distancing and following other CDC guidelines. Visitors and students needing assistance from our offices should call or email university employees for help rather than attempting to enter university buildings for face-to-face contact.
- University employees are encouraged to work from home, if possible. A telecommuting agreement will need to be completed for this consideration and in order to be considered for available equipment to check out. Human Resources is working on making the form electronic for quicker responses and will have that up and running soon. We understand that some positions will not permit working remotely and will require some employees to be on campus to conduct business. We ask that all employees on campus keep office doors locked, practice social distancing, and follow CDC guidelines. All other employees whose jobs do not lend themselves to remote work will continue to receive emergency leave until further notice. Our primary objective is to continue university operations in a limited capacity so that we do not fall behind our reporting requirements or necessary business during this situation.
- Students who are employed by the university will fall under the same guidance as full-time employees. Supervisors must determine if student employees are needed to conduct essential university business functions. In those cases, students will be permitted to either work on campus under the same restrictions as stated above or may be permitted to work remotely if possible. All other student employees will be treated with the same guidelines as regular employees and be given emergency leave until further notice.
- We have received a fair number of questions about Sul Ross’ response to COVID-19. We compiled questions into a Frequently Asked Questions section on our COVID-19 webpage. You may have other questions or input that you would like to share and we welcome your feedback. Please submit your questions on the SRSU COVID-19 FAQ page >> Ask a Question. The SRSU COVID-19 Response webpage has updates, resources, and information that will assist you during this unusual situation.
- We will continue to allow certain categories of employees to remain on Emergency Leave to refrain from having to use employees’ accrued annual leave or sick leave. Again, some employees have continued to work both on campus and remotely this week. Your supervisors should be in contact with you to assess your ability to work on campus or remotely, all others will remain on Emergency Leave until further notice. We are actively attempting to limit the number of employees on campus to follow CDC guidelines and encourage people to stay at home.
- As you know, Sul Ross State University cancelled May Commencement Exercises. We understand that many students and families are heartbroken, as we feel, about this action but felt we could not delay the decision as it is only 8 weeks away. Students who complete the requirements to graduate in May will be mailed diplomas and transcripts will be available. The Commencement Ceremony is important to the symbolism and ritual to provide celebratory closure to academic careers but your progress remains viable and should be a priority for our students. We encourage you to consider participating in our December Ceremony but we are so proud of your progress as it stands. We are actively brainstorming ways that we can celebrate your achievement through virtual means in May, stay tuned.
The exponential growth of this virus requires each of us to do our part. We cannot panic in this crisis and we must think of each other so that we can all work together. Please do not hoard products, stay home as much as possible regardless of whether you are ill, avoid gatherings (small or large), help others when you can, and please take breaks from watching the news for your mental health. The CDC guidelines remain the same and ask that we all:
- Wash your hands or use hand sanitizer frequently
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick
- Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then dispose of it properly
- Avoid touching your face
- Disinfect items you touch frequently including your phones, tablets, & computers
- Stay home if you are sick and reach out to your medical provider if needed
- Practice social distancing and avoid large gatherings
The following quote with a few Lobo tweaks is never more appropriate than now:
“For the strength of the pack is the Lobo, and the strength of the Lobo is the pack” adapted from Rudyard Kipling.
Be strong and lean on each other during this time of uncertainty, together we will come out of this. Thank you for your continued patience and understanding as we make progress. The information continues to change rapidly, please go to our SRSU COVID-19 Response webpage for updates.
My best to you,
Dear Sul Ross Community:
The unprecedented nature of the COVID-19 pandemic presents the university with numerous challenges and opportunities to find creative solutions to continue our higher education mission. Over the next days, weeks, and months, we can expect to learn many lessons personally and for the organization. My promise to you is to keep you informed of the actions that we will need to implement along the way to help assure everyone’s health and safety.
There is no doubt that this situation is alarming and can cause fear and anxiety across all walks of life. I hope that we can alleviate portions of that stress by taking some very purposeful, necessary actions. In response to these events, we will enact policies or take quick action to assure we follow CDC guidelines and work toward social distancing to minimize the rapid spread of the virus.
I expect that many of you have questions and I will provide you with some answers. As you can imagine, the nature of the situation changes rapidly so we are doing our best to ensure that we develop solutions that focus on the health and safety of our community while still fulfilling our mission.
Here are a few decisions that we made today, but please note that the circumstances will still require additional evaluation and may include new or updated actions in the upcoming days:
- Effective immediately, if you travelled through one of the thirteen (13) airports where international medical screening was conducted in the past seven (7) days, we ask that you self-quarantine for fourteen (14) days per CDC guidelines. These airports include: John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK), New York; Chicago O’Hare International Airport (ORD), Illinois; San Francisco International Airport (SFO), California; Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (SEA), Washington; Daniel K. Inouye International Airport (HNL), Hawaii; Los Angeles International Airport, (LAX), California; Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport (ATL), Georgia; Washington-Dulles International Airport (IAD), Virginia; Newark Liberty International Airport (EWR), New Jersey; Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport (DFW), Texas; Detroit Metropolitan Airport (DTW), Michigan; Boston Logan International Airport (BOS), Massachusetts; and Miami International Airport (MIA), Florida. If you recently travelled, please self-report to the Student Health Center at 432.837.8102 or email@example.com.
- Effective March 16, 2020 at 5:00 pm, all Sul Ross State University offices and buildings will be closed to the public until further notice. University operations will continue and will require some employees to work on campus and others will work remotely, as appropriate. Supervisors will be in touch as more plans are made to determine which positions are applicable for both categories. We understand that some positions do not fit in either category and have authorized emergency leave. Our biggest concern is to ensure that all employees are paid and do not need to use their personal leave during this crisis. We also want to ensure that the university supports employees with children who may need to stay home per ISD guidelines.
- The University is on an extended Spring Break, classes will resume on March 23. The Federal Government issued guidelines that include social distancing and restricted large gatherings of 10 people or more. In line with those guidelines, the university will move to remote delivery of classes on March 23 and will NOT resume face-to-face classes for the remainder of the semester. Individual faculty members will contact students with information about course delivery for the remainder of the semester by Thursday, March 19. Our faculty are working on alternative methods of delivery to provide the best options in these unusual circumstances. Be assured, that we are working hard to do what is best for our students’ continued academic success.
- Effective today, all university events are cancelled until further notice based on Federal Government guidance to cancel gatherings of 10 people or more. This includes, but is not limited to any gatherings for student organizations, department functions, theatre or musical productions, sporting events, externally-sponsored events, etc. Events such as the Alumni Gala, Trappings of Texas, Honors Convocation, Sully Showcase, Scholars Luncheon, Alumni Ring Ceremony, and many others are included in this cancellation.
- The above cancellation of university events includes May 2020 Commencement exercises in Alpine and Eagle Pass as scheduled for May 8, 2020 and May 9, 2020. This action was not decided lightly, and there are many students and families who will be broken-hearted. For that, I am truly sorry, but I hope that you understand that the rapid nature of this situation required significant and decisive action. Those students who were scheduled to graduate in May are invited and encouraged to participate in December graduation ceremonies, pending any new developments with COVID-19.
- Students whose primary residence is university housing may remain on campus or return to campus after the extended break. We recognize that many students live on campus and do not have plans to move away. We will continue to do our best to accommodate students in this situation. To better understand how we can best serve the needs of our residential students, please complete the survey at the following link: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/8JXH6GT. Your input will assist us as we continue to determine next steps for Sul Ross. Students who use university housing and decide not to return are asked to schedule appointments with Residential Living staff for check out. Staffing is limited for this process and we want to avoid large groups as a prevention measure. Res Life will start taking appointment next Monday by calling 432.837.8190.
- Effective this week, ARAMARK transitioned to full service dining operations – no self-serving of food is allowed. ARAMARK will provide To-Go boxes for on-campus meals. Meals will be limited to on-campus residents with meal passes. Students and visitors will not be permitted to gather in the dining hall. While we understand that this is awkward and increases isolation, we want to take every precaution to avoid large gatherings or opportunities for people to spread the infection.
- Academic Advising will remain open to students through remote methods, but we ask that students schedule these sessions with faculty or on-campus advisors and discuss your academic path via email, phone, or video-conferencing. The platform that we use to provide advising will certainly change, but we are committed to ensuring that our advising remains at a high quality.
- The seriousness of the situation surrounding COVID-19 requires the university to provide quick, relevant, and at times urgent information for students and university employees. The current usage of the Sul Ross mass email system that includes the following list serves FS-ALL, FS-ALP, FS-RGC, STU-ALL, STU-ALP, STU-RGC often can be seen by recipients as undesired email or Spam due to the quantity of messages that individuals receive on a daily basis. Given the current situation, the university is enacting a strict mass email policy. Effective today, the list serve mentioned above will only be used for messages by university offices to send communications necessary for normal business operations. These mass email messages will generally include:
- Announcements or information from university executive officers.
- Information that directly relates to the continuance of University business.
- Alerts regarding campus community health and safety issues.
- Information that relates to changes in University policy or time sensitive procedures.
- Effective today, all athletic programs are suspended for the duration of the spring semester. This includes competitions and practices for both spring and fall sports. Given the decision to move to remote delivery of classes, we found it necessary to cancel athletic programs to discourage students from returning to campus while we experience this pandemic crisis. I cannot adequately express my disappointment for this decision as it certainly affects a large number of our students and especially seniors, but we believe it is the right action to take with the information we currently have. On a positive note, the NCAA recently made the decision to grant an extra year of eligibility for spring sport athletes including seniors who choose to continue their academic career and work on graduate degrees. More decisions from the NCAA and the American Southwest Conference will come as actions are evaluated and lessons learned.
These decisions and many others will likely cause more questions and concerns. Like you, we find ourselves frustrated over issues out of our control and for not having answers immediately available. We share the concerns surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic and recognize that many people find themselves scared or anxious. If you or someone you know needs support, please reach out to the Counseling Services available at each campus.
We must all do our part to flatten the curve so that we provide time for our medical professionals to ensure resources are available. Our Sul Ross community is filled with grit, perseverance, and strength, please provide support to your fellow Lobos through this difficult time.
Thank you for your patience and understanding as we continue to make decisions about Sul Ross. As you can imagine, the information changes quickly, please regularly check our website (www.sulross.edu) for updates. I wish you and your family well during these difficult times. Please stay safe and cautious.
My best to you, Bill
And members of the SRSU Executive Cabinet: Rob Kinucan Lisa Harris Chris Clifford Leo Dominguez Patricia Nicosia David Gibson Jeanne Qvarnstrom Yvonne Realivasquez
Due to recent decisions from K-12 schools to close next week, President Kibler is authorizing emergency paid leave for various categories of employees. Department heads including Directors, Department Chairs, and above are asked to report to work on Monday to begin strategizing plans for remote course delivery and business operations. Given the extraordinary situation, all others including student workers, will receive emergency paid leave for the week. Dining services and residence halls will remain open for students living on campus. If department heads are unable to report to work, please contact your supervisor to discuss alternative means of communication. Next week we will engage in significant planning for university functions and will need input from each department. Please remain available to department heads who may need to contact employees to gather information regarding work functions. Stay updated with additional information by going to www.sulross.edu and also check your Sul Ross email frequently for more communication from each division. We are all in this together and we want to ensure that input from each area is considered as make decisions in this unprecedented situation.
3/12/2020 Letter from Dr. Kibler
Dear Students, Faculty, Staff, and the entire Sul Ross State University community,
You are all aware of the local, statewide, national and international implications of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. The health and safety of our students, faculty, staff, alumni, supporters, friends and visitors will always be our top priority and will drive each decision we make. Thus, I am announcing proactive measures designed to help limit the risk and the impact on our four campuses. Following the guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), we are implementing a number of actions to help protect our community:
- SPRING BREAK EXTENDED FOR STUDENTS:
Sul Ross State University is extending Spring Break for students until March 22. No classes, including lectures, seminars, discussions or presentations, will be held March 16 through March 22.
Beginning March 23 through April 12, organized lecture, seminar and laboratory courses will be conducted remotely. Course delivery methods will be appropriate for the individual course requirements and may be provided on-line, through ZOOM conferencing, conference calls, e-mail or in chat rooms. Exceptions for individual instruction will be communicated by the instructor. Faculty members are encouraged to be flexible in meeting student needs. Faculty will notify students by March 19 with information on how each individual course will be taught.
Remote course delivery may extend beyond April 12, if deemed necessary for community safety. Otherwise, on April 13, remote course delivery will end, and face-to-face instruction will resume, unless the instructor provides other direction. Advanced notification will be provided by the University. The final exam schedule will follow the published calendar, unless otherwise notified.
The Executive Vice President and Provost and the Deans will provide additional guidance to faculty members next week on how to plan and proceed for these changes in instructional methodology.
- STUDENTS ON CAMPUS:
Students are encouraged to stay at home, but university on-campus housing and dining services on the Alpine campus will be open for students deciding to return. Residential student services will be available and protocols regarding sanitization and hygiene are being followed. Students who do choose to return to campus after the extended Spring Break will be strongly encouraged to practice social distancing and prevention practices recommended by the CDC. Students who work on campus should consult with their supervisors for guidance on work schedules.
- CAMPUS OPERATIONS:
Sul Ross State University campuses and all offices will open on Monday, March 16 as scheduled. Faculty and staff who are on leave during Spring Break will return to work March 16 to continue preparing for remote instruction and the continuity of courses and business operations of the university.
- FACULTY AND STAFF:
Per policy, faculty and staff may work from home to the extent that they are able to perform their functions remotely and only with permission from supervisors.
- UNIVERSITY SPONSORED EVENTS:
All university sponsored events that involve a gathering of 50 or more people and involve people traveling to our campus from beyond our local community are cancelled through April 19. Specifically, the 2020 Alumni Gala and the Museum of the Big Bend Trappings of Texas events are cancelled. Large gathering events beyond the April 19 date will be evaluated and determinations will be made and announced in advance. All events scheduled to be held on campus next week are cancelled.
All university-funded international and domestic travel is cancelled until further notice. Per policy, any personal travel internationally to countries with a CDC Travel Warning Level 2 or 3 will be required to self-isolate for 14 days before returning to campus. The university strongly encourages everyone to evaluate personal travel and avoid areas in the United States with active community COVID-19 transmission. Those traveling to an affected area in the U.S. are required to contact Student Health Services (432.837.8102) to receive guidance before returning to campus and may be asked to self-isolate for 14 days. More information will be provided next week.
In consultation with American Southwest Conference Staff and university Athletic Directors, all ASC athletic events are suspended for the weekend of March 13-15. They will reconvene on Monday to consider additional factors and take necessary steps for the remainder of the semester.
- BEST PRACTICES:
You can help prevent the spread pf COVID-19 as follows:
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
- Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth.
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.
- Stay home when you are sick, except to get medical care.
- Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
- Practice social distancing and avoid large gatherings.
- STAY TUNED FOR UPDATES:
Updates from Sul Ross may be found on the homepage at www.sulross.edu - look for the banner on the top of the page. Sul Ross will frequently post updates on the SRSU website and in university-issued e-mail and via socials. Please checks these resources frequently for updates.
We understand that implementing these changes with such limited notice will present challenges to us all. However, if we can all work together and communicate we will work through it. I sincerely appreciate your patience and cooperation.
Bill Kibler President