Frequently Asked Questions
Although in-person activities have resumed on the UTEP campus, the University continues to evaluate regional COVID-19 data and monitor guidance from the Texas Department of State Health Services and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Here are some important things to keep in mind:
- Stay home when you’re sick. If you experience COVID-19 symptoms, get tested. Testing is available to students at the Student Health and Wellness Center. Learn more at utep.edu/covidtesting.
- Vaccination is the most important thing we can do to take care of ourselves and each other. Visit epcovidvaccine.com to learn about UTEP’s on-campus vaccine clinics and find the numerous sites where you can receive a free COVID-19 vaccination.
- To reduce the risk of becoming infected with the Delta variant and potentially spreading it to others, the CDC recommends that fully vaccinated people:
- Do not need to wear a mask outdoors but may choose to wear a mask in crowded outdoor settings if they or someone in their household is immunocompromised.
- Wear a mask in public indoor settings if they are in an area of substantial or high transmission (El Paso County is currently in an area of substantial transmission).
- Wear a mask in public indoor settings if they or someone in their household is immunocompromised or at increased risk for severe disease, or if someone in their household is unvaccinated.
- The vaccination rate in El Paso is over 80% and the vaccination rate among UTEP faculty and staff is over 90%. The vaccination rate among students is fluid as the student body changes each term. Learn more about the local situation here: epstrong.org/results.php.
Below are answers to some common questions about how the pandemic impacts the campus environment.
Faculty and Staff FAQs
Masking and Social Distancing
As a state agency, we cannot require face coverings. Although we strongly encourage our campus community and visitors to wear masks in accordance with CDC guidance, we will not deny educational or other services based on whether a person is wearing a mask.
While the CDC is recommending indoor masking, there are no current recommendations about social distancing. Faculty can assign seating in their classrooms, as always. (Please note seating decisions cannot be made based on mask usage or vaccination status.) However, we have not arranged the fall schedule with capacity to distance all classes, so making room changes may not be possible at this time.
Instructors can choose to hold office hours outside or in locations such as the Library or a conference room where there is more space to spread out. You may also set up your own office furniture to make it natural to maintain a substantial social distance.
If you’re more comfortable wearing a mask in class but have trouble being heard, UTEP can supply portable amplifiers that were purchased for this purpose. Amplifiers can be reserved through the Help Desk at email@example.com or 915-747-4357.
We may not require students to disclose their vaccination status. Individuals may share their vaccination status voluntarily, but this information must not be used to make educational or employment decisions or to deny access or services to students, employees or visitors to the campus.
UTEP is partnering with University Medical Center to host an on-campus vaccine clinic for the first three days of classes (Aug. 23-25) to make vaccines easily available on campus to faculty, staff and students. For more information, visit utep.edu/vaccine. We hope to bring the vaccine clinic to campus every three weeks. We also will be conducting campaigns to encourage vaccination among students. Over 90% of faculty and staff are vaccinated and vaccinations are now widely available throughout El Paso (see epcovidvaccine.com). Students who live far from campus may find it easier to choose a local option. The El Paso vaccine website reports that Uber now provides free vaccination rides through its app, in order to facilitate access.
Faculty who have significant health-related concerns that would contraindicate teaching in person can work with the Equal Opportunity Office (EO) to determine if an accommodation is appropriate. EO is equipped to manage these requests and to maintain the confidentiality of health information. A decision at this point to change an in-person course into hybrid or online format must be approved in advance by the Provost.
As in any circumstance when you are ill or unable to come to campus, talk to your department chair. If you are feeling well enough to continue teaching, you may likely do so remotely until you are able to return. It is always a good idea to have class materials loaded to Blackboard and/or OneDrive, so that a colleague can access and step in as necessary. While breakthrough infections are still relatively rare, illness and injury can happen to anyone, at any time. Have a contingency plan in place to assure student learning may continue.
UTEP has collaborated with the City of El Paso to offer a mega drive-up testing site on University property at 3333 N. Mesa at Kern Drive. To learn more, visit utep.edu/covidtesting.
While there is not any one-size-fits-all approach to attendance policies, it is important to talk with students about contingency planning and to be as flexible as is practical in the event that students cannot come to class due to illness. Avoid attendance policies that encourage students to come to class when sick.
The CDC recommends that those who are unvaccinated quarantine after exposure to COVID-19. Vaccinated people do not need to quarantine unless they have symptoms. We are not currently planning to reinstate the screening app, but we will continue to encourage those who feel any symptoms to stay home in order to protect themselves and others. We encourage students, faculty, and staff to voluntarily report positive tests to firstname.lastname@example.org. The COVID Action Team will provide support for students, check in on them to determine what they need, and contact faculty and supervisors, as needed. Faculty and staff should work with their supervisors to arrange for remote work or appropriate leave, depending on their health status.
The CDC does not recommend quarantine for those who are vaccinated and asymptomatic, even if they have been exposed. The CDC recommends that unvaccinated individuals quarantine for 10 days, or seven days after receiving a negative test result.
There is no prohibition against teaching in outdoor spaces, provided that it is pedagogically appropriate for your course and students have access to what they need to participate in the class. If you want to reserve an outdoor space for such a purpose, please contact Nicole Aguilar at email@example.com. Portable amplifiers may be reserved through the Help Desk at firstname.lastname@example.org or 915-747-4357.
Classrooms will continue to be cleaned on a daily basis, but research indicates that the enhanced levels of disinfectant use are not needed, as surface transmission is not the primary way this airborne virus is spread. You may certainly bring wipes and/or sanitizer to class, if you prefer. Facilities Services has a large supply of wipes that can be obtained by submitting a request to the Facilities Service Desk at tma.utep.edu/servicedesk/. Look for “Re-order UTEP Cares Supplies.”
The CDC recommends that all individuals exposed to a positive case monitor for symptoms for 14 days from the date of exposure.
Vaccinated individuals who do NOT have symptoms should test 3 to 5 days after the date of exposure. These individuals do not have to self-isolate but should wear a mask indoors when they are in public.
Vaccinated individuals who DO have symptoms must self-isolate and test 3 to 5 days after the date of exposure.
Unvaccinated individuals, regardless of whether they have symptoms or not, must self-isolate and test 5 to 7 days after the date of exposure.
If anyone tests positive, regardless of vaccination status, they must self-isolate and report their results to COVIDAction@utep.edu. An Environmental Health and Safety representative will contact the individual and offer additional guidance and instructions.
COVID-19 testing is available for all currently enrolled students at no cost in the UTEP Student Health and Wellness Center located in Union Building East, first floor. No appointment is necessary, although preregistration online is required. Students can be tested even if they are not experiencing symptoms. More information, hours of operation and a link to preregister are available here: covid.utep.edu.
Yes. We will be testing students prior to their move-in to the on-campus dormitory or apartment facilities.
UTEP and the City of El Paso are working together to offer a mega-testing site for COVID-19 on UTEP property. Students, employees and the general public can stop by the COVID-19 Mega-Testing Site at 3333 N. Mesa at Kern Drive between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m. Monday through Saturday. This public site offers both drive-up and walk-up testing. Testing options include nasal or saliva PCR tests. Results will be available within 24-48 hours. The only drive-up entrance to the site is from Sun Bowl Drive at Kern Drive. No appointment is necessary but online pre-registration at this link for both drive-up and walk-up testing is recommended to save time. Learn more at www.utep.edu/covidtesting.