Roadmap to Return
President Denise M. Trauth | June 18, 2020
Dear Students, Faculty, and Staff,
For the past two months, Texas State University has been deeply engaged in preparing our campuses for a slow, methodical, and phased return to the delivery of some level of face-to-face instruction and student support services beginning summer II and continuing into the fall. Today, I am sharing several updates detailing key decisions and progress the university has made.
Roadmap to Return for Summer II and Fall
I am pleased to introduce the Texas State University Roadmap to Return. Informed by the latest public health guidance and research, as well as contributions from the university community, the Roadmap charts our path for keeping our community safe and our students advancing toward their educational goals during this very dynamic situation. The Roadmap presents a phased approach, with built-in flexibility, to ensure access and quality for our students through the delivery of a combination of face-to-face, online, and hybrid instruction and support services.
The Roadmap includes:
- 10 Guiding Principles for Health, Safety, and Wellness – outlines foundational environmental and behavioral modifications required to mitigate the spread of COVID-19.
- Face Coverings and Masks Guidelines – provides descriptions of an effective mask, and explains why wearing face coverings are required across our campuses.
- Employee Guide to a Healthy Workplace – supports faculty and staff, including undergraduate and graduate student employees, with the resources, guidance, and processes to share in the responsibility of returning to some level of face-to-face instruction and student support services safely and successfully.
- Student Roadmap – describes what to expect in the classroom, student support services, and student life.
- Faculty Roadmap – identifies the resources for teaching and modifications for ongoing research activities.
- Staff Roadmap – details changes in the workplace, safety precautions, and provides helpful employee forms.
- Self-Assessment – helps all employees and students monitor their own health on a daily basis.
- Bobcat Pledge – reminds us that Bobcats protect Bobcats; take the pledge to protect and respect yourself, others, and the Texas State community!
The goal of the Roadmap is to provide the primary information that students, faculty, staff, and guests need to know. The Roadmap will continue to evolve as we approach the fall semester and adapt to the constantly changing situation around the spread of COVID-19. I appreciate your patience throughout this process. We will continue to evaluate our options and strengthen our plan as more information becomes available to ensure our approach is safe and academically sound. Soon, we will add details about the COVID-19 reporting processes, contact tracing, travel, and intercollegiate athletics, to name a few.
Summer II: Flexible Face-to-Face, Online, and Hybrid Teaching
I want to emphasize that although face-to-face instruction resumes in summer II, the majority of summer II courses will be offered remotely, based on the decision of the instructor and the delivery method required by the course. For instance, the nature of some clinical and laboratory-based courses require face-to-face, hands-on instruction for effective learning. Currently, 1,149 sections of courses will be offered during summer II. Of these, 725 sections (63 percent) will be delivered remotely or in a hybrid format. This will significantly reduce the number of students, faculty, and staff on our campuses. We will have about 5,000 students on our campuses in face-to-face classes during summer II. The combined capacity of our two campuses is nearly 40,000 students. This allows for a great deal of physical distancing. At our peak time, we will have about 1,950 students on the San Marcos Campus in class at the same time. So, we will use about five percent of our built capacity at any given point in time. This is a relatively small number spread across the entire campus.
Requirement: Wear a Face Covering
Texas State requires students, faculty, and staff to wear face coverings at all times on our campuses, both indoors and outdoors, unless you are alone. Research shows that cloth face coverings provide the best protection from the spread of COVID-19. It is the most important health guidance in our 10 Guiding Principles for Health, Safety, and Wellness in the Roadmap.
Increased Positive Cases
As students return to our campuses, and with fewer restrictions on businesses and activities in our state and nationwide, Texas State is preparing for the likelihood of an increase in the number of positive cases in our university community. There has already been an increase in confirmed positive cases in San Marcos and across Texas. Like you, I am concerned about what it will mean for you, our families, our community, and Texas State. It is critical that we all do our part. Although we cannot eliminate the risk of infection entirely, we can take action to mitigate the risk. We still have a couple of months before the launch of our fall semester, and this gives us needed time to improve our collective behaviors and reverse these current trends. We must exercise care and follow precautions and best practices as we go about our daily activities on our campuses and in our communities.
Planning and Decision-Making Process
I recognize the tremendous responsibility we have as an institution to ensure safety measures are in place to help protect our community while we move forward with our educational and research mission. More than 120 of our talented Texas State faculty and staff participated in eight work groups outlined here and several subgroups to develop recommendations and plans that created the Roadmap. I want to thank our work groups for their hard work, collaboration, and thoughtfulness.
Our decisions to adjust university operations and the degree to which we open our campuses are informed by the most recent scientific research and on the advisement of Texas State’s Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Emilio Carranco, state and local public health officials, and state and national government agencies. Furthermore, we are now using a scenario-based decision planning framework to guide university operations. We have identified four scenarios to indicate the severity of COVID-19 transmission and implications for the university. Given the fluctuating nature of the COVID-19 situation, decisions to adjust the scope of operations and the degree to which the campuses are open will be based on the framework described here.
Webinars for a Safe Return
To help our university community learn more about how we are planning for the summer II session and the fall semester, I will host a webinar to provide Texas State faculty and staff an update on the work of the Continuity of Education Work Group on June 24, 2020, 10:30 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. Over the next two weeks, three additional webinars will be held:
- Health, Wellness, and Safety for Supervisors
June 29, 3:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m.
- Health, Wellness, and Safety for Faculty
June 30, 3:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m.
- Health, Wellness, and Safety – Experts Field Your Questions
July 2, 3:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m.
Preparing for the return of our students during the pandemic requires creativity, flexibility, commitment, and cooperation. Above all, it provides the opportunity to show our best Bobcat quality–taking care of one and other with respect and kindness. Thank you for your commitment to Texas State, to our students, and to our mission.
Denise M. Trauth