Employees returning to pre-pandemic work arrangements June 1
Sent to Staff and Faculty | May 26, 2021
I am incredibly grateful for everything you have done to help adapt university operations to keep our students on track toward meeting their educational goals, despite the challenges of the pandemic. With our mass vaccination plan progressing and COVID-19 cases declining, there’s a sense of relief and anticipation among some members of our community. Others may be feeling apprehensive as our daily routines and university operations start to move toward pre-pandemic conditions. I’d like to share some important information with our faculty and staff that reinforces how we plan to hold our summer and fall semesters safely.
RETURNING TO PRE-PANDEMIC WORK
As part of our phased approach to safely resuming a vibrant campus atmosphere and full university operations, starting on June 1, most staff and university administrators working from home will return to our campuses and to work schedules they had before the pandemic.
As a student-centered university, it’s critical to our mission that we provide our students with the engaging college experience for which we are known. Before the pandemic, most classes, services, and activities were offered in-person on our campuses. To meet our institutional goals and create a robust college experience, we are returning our university to pre-pandemic conditions, which means most employees will return to in-person work.
We charted this course because we’re confident that our employees can safely resume in-person work based on a number of factors including the availability and effectiveness of COVID-19 vaccines, low COVID-19 transmission levels, and recent guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. We also know that returning to an in-person workforce is critical for supporting student success to the fullest. After more than a year of implementing COVID-19 health and safety guidelines, our data indicate that our measures worked. Furthermore, across Texas, COVID-19 cases, positivity rates, and hospitalizations continue to steadily decrease, and more and more Texans are getting vaccinated.
Although the temporary process we put into place for employees to request a COVID-19-related modification to their work is ending, employees with disabilities will continue to have the option to request an accommodation via the ADA Coordinator. Also, Texas State’s General Workplace Policy (UPPS 04.04.01) for flexible schedules and temporary remote work agreements remains in place. The guiding principle in determining whether these arrangements make sense is if they enhance services to our students, faculty, or staff. Supervisors should use this guiding principle when considering requests and options. Visit the Employee page of the Roadmap for more information about these policies and remote work protocols. Human Resources is providing additional communication and training for supervisors and employees on this subject.
Getting vaccinated is the best way to bring this pandemic to an end. The university’s vaccine distribution plan has progressed successfully. To date, we have distributed 10,386 vaccine doses to students, faculty, and staff, and partnered with Hays County to administer another 4,796 doses of vaccine to Texas State and other community members. The Student Health Center (SHC) is providing COVID-19 vaccinations to students, faculty, and staff at the San Marcos Campus location (298 Student Center Drive), Monday through Friday. If you haven’t been vaccinated yet, we strongly encourage you to call the SHC at (512)245-2161 to schedule your appointment. We will email students, faculty, and staff and update the SHC Vaccine Information webpage as additional vaccine events are scheduled for summer and fall. The SHC will be working with the Texas Department of State Health Services to enroll the clinic on the Round Rock Campus as a vaccine provider this summer. For more information about where to find vaccine, check Texas Vaccine Finder or CDC Vaccine Finder.
FACE COVERINGS & SAFETY GUIDELINES
Pursuant to the Governor’s Executive Order No. GA-36, face coverings are no longer mandatory for students, faculty, staff, and visitors at Texas State. Face covering is still strongly encouraged, however, especially for those who are not vaccinated or who live with someone who is at risk and/or who has not been vaccinated.
Our COVID-19 response plan still includes the health and safety measures that have successfully protected us for more than a year. For example, we continue to provide COVID-19 vaccinations, promote regular testing for COVID-19, with free testing available on our San Marcos Campus and at testing locations near the Round Rock Campus, and weekly random testing of our university community. We continue to implement the on-campus cleaning and disinfecting protocols, and use the Bobcat Trace reporting system to initiate contact tracing.
Next week our summer I session will begin, with the majority of our classes to be held remotely. We will keep our classroom capacity limits and our large event capacity limits in place through the end of the summer sessions. All summer classes that are scheduled to meet in-person will continue to use a maximum of 50 percent of classroom capacity. Seventy-three percent of classes will be completely online, and while 27 percent will include some form of face-to-face instruction.
The increase in vaccination rates and decrease in COVID-19 rates in the state allow us to plan a fall semester that looks much like the 2019 fall semester with a full-slate of in-person classes, university activities, and student support services. All fall classes that are scheduled to meet in-person will be offered up to 100 percent of classroom capacity. Eight-eight percent of classes will include some form of face-to-face instruction while only 12 percent will be completely online.
Chief Medical Officer Dr. Emilio Carranco meets with my Cabinet every week to present the latest data on vaccination rates and COVID-19 case counts and to assess the effectiveness of current protocols. We will continue this weekly assessment and make any adjustments as needed throughout summer and fall. Select work groups of faculty and staff – including the Health, Wellness, and Safety Work Group and the Continuity of Research Work Group – will be reconvened to share guidance and feedback with the President’s Cabinet and update the Roadmap for fall.
The best way to protect yourself and your loved ones is to get vaccinated. If you’re not vaccinated, we encourage you to continue wearing your face covering and to get tested for COVID-19 before returning to our campuses and periodically throughout the semester.
In the face of significant obstacles, we have stayed the course to continue fulfilling our mission to educate future leaders, conduct groundbreaking research, and support our exceptional students. I look forward to starting a new chapter for our university in fall 2021. Thank you for all that you do.
Denise M. Trauth