Summary of Updates Shared during the April 20, 2021, Town Hall
April 21, 2021
During yesterday’s virtual Town Hall for students, faculty, and staff, I was joined by Dr. Eugene Bourgeois, Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs; Dr. Emilio Carranco, Chief Medical Officer; and Dr. Cynthia Hernandez, Vice President for Student Affairs. Together, we delivered exciting news about what to expect for the upcoming summer and fall semesters.
The main takeaway from yesterday’s Town Hall is that the fall semester will look much like the 2019 fall semester with a full-slate of in-person classes, university activities, and student support services.
As Dr. Carranco outlined during the Town Hall and in the email he sent yesterday, the increase in vaccination rates and decrease in COVID-19 rates in the state allow us to plan for a fall semester that provides an engaging and safe university experience for our students, faculty, and staff. Please review Dr. Carranco’s email regarding COVID-19 data trends, our vaccine distribution plan, vaccine effectiveness, and the effectiveness of our on-campus prevention and safety measures.
A recording of yesterday’s Town Hall is posted on my website. The purpose of this email is to update you on the key points presented yesterday about the 2021 summer and fall semesters.
INSTRUCTIONAL DELIVERY MODE
- Summer: 73 percent of classes will be completely online, and 27 percent will include some form of face-to-face instruction. All summer classes that are scheduled to meet in-person will continue to use a maximum of 50 percent of classroom capacity.
- Fall: 89 percent of classes will include some form of face-to-face instruction and 11 percent will be completely online. All fall classes that are scheduled to meet in-person will be offered at 100 percent of classroom capacity.
Currently, face coverings are required on Texas State campuses, and will continue to be required through the summer terms. At a later date, the President’s Cabinet and I will determine whether this policy will change in the fall. There are numerous health and safety benefits derived from continuing to wear face coverings even if you are vaccinated. Please continue to wear your face covering!
Regular vaccination events will continue on the Texas State campuses throughout the summer. On April 22, we are partnering with Hays County to hold a mass vaccination clinic at the University Events Center. This is a great opportunity for faculty, staff, and students – as well as family members, friends, and retired faculty and staff – to be vaccinated. Getting vaccinated helps us get back the in-person experiences that make Texas State special. Anyone can register for the April 22 vaccination event. Please register today!
Spring commencement ceremonies will be held outdoors, socially distanced, at Bobcat Stadium on May 13-14. The plan for August commencement ceremonies will be finalized and announced soon.
Sewell Park will remain closed through the end of the spring semester, and will reopen exclusively for graduation candidates participating in commencement ceremonies on May 13-14. Beginning on May 15, Sewell Park will reopen to all visitors. University face coverings and physical distancing policies will apply to Sewell Park. We will continue to monitor the COVID-19 data and may need to revisit closing the park if necessary.
EVENTS & LARGE MEETINGS ON CAMPUSES
- The current capacity restriction of 50 percent of the rated maximum capacity for all on-campus indoor spaces will remain in place through August 8, and is set to be lifted August 9, shortly after the end of summer II.
- In-person events and activities will be back in full force on our campuses this fall, including Bobcat Preview, Homecoming Weekend, and Family Weekend. On the Round Rock Campus, we will open more lounge space and start activities on the new recreation field.
Academic modifications related to COVID-19 that were granted to eligible students will expire at the end of summer II. Policies and procedures for students with disabilities to request accommodations remain in place.
EMPLOYEES RETURN IN-PERSON JUNE 1
As part of our phased approach to safely resuming a vibrant campus atmosphere and full university operations, starting on June 1, staff and university administrators working from home will return to our campuses and to work schedules they had before the pandemic. We are confident that we can return our employees to in-person work safely for a few reasons:
- After a year of implementing our COVID-19 health and safety guidelines, our data indicate that these guidelines are working. There has been no evidence of transmission in our classrooms, offices, or residence halls beyond roommates.
- The vaccine distribution plan has progressed successfully. All employees will have the opportunity to get vaccinated on our campuses by the end of May, and all students will have the opportunity to get vaccinated before the fall semester begins. People who are fully vaccinated should be able to return to in-person work and participate in face-to-face classes and activities.
- Employees with disabilities will continue to have the option to request an accommodation via the ADA Coordinator.
There will be very few exceptions that will warrant modifications to an employee’s work environment or schedule. For example, someone may be allergic to a component of the vaccine and cannot take the vaccine or may have other extenuating medical circumstances. In cases like these, employees should talk with their supervisors, who may consider separate office spaces, increased separation between co-workers, flexible schedules, or remote work options.
Also, Texas State has a General Workplace Policy (UPPS 04.04.01) for flexible schedules and remote work agreements. The guiding principle in determining whether these arrangements make sense is if they enhance services to our students, faculty, or staff. We ask supervisors to use these guidelines when considering exceptions during this transition period. Any exceptions to the return to in-person work beginning June 1 will require approval from the employee’s Vice President.
In the face of significant obstacles and uncertainty, we have stayed the course to continue fulfilling our mission to educate future leaders, conduct groundbreaking research, and serve and support our exceptional students. I look forward to ushering in a new season for our university in which this pandemic is behind us, and the lessons we’ve learned over the past year make us even better equipped for any challenges that lay ahead. Stay safe and well.
Denise M. Trauth