Change in Campus Recovery Level
Thursday, August 20, 2020
The Cabinet and COVID-19 Action Team continue to monitor health conditions in the community daily.
The data we have justify moving to “Low Density Operations,” but conditions warrant caution. We know there have been some reporting delays with public health information on testing. That said, hospitalization rates are clearly going down. It’s likely that the number of new cases is declining because people are doing the right thing – wearing face coverings, staying six feet apart, washing hands, staying home when sick, and working remotely when possible. These measures work, and we must continue them because the disease is still in the community around us.
Effective Friday, August 21, we will move to “Low Density Operations” with an additional precaution: faculty and staff who can work remotely will continue to work remotely.
Although “Low Density Operations,” as we set out in our plan, calls for only the vulnerable to work remotely, we want you to work remotely if you can do so effectively. Many of you have shown how that can be done well over the past five months, and keeping the number of people on campus low helps protect everyone while we get the job done.
In-Person and Hybrid Classes
As of Wednesday, 80% of fall classes are being taught completely by distance and only 3% are fully face-to-face. Only 12% of our course sections have more than 10 students in them meeting at one time because we adjusted the course schedule in July to reduce the size of classes and spread them out. No course section will meet on campus this fall with more than 50 students.
In-person and hybrid classes scheduled to start next week will proceed as planned.
Because so many people will be working remotely, there will be far fewer of us on campus during the first week of school. While there will also be far fewer students, we all need to make the extra effort to reach out and ensure we are helping our students, even if it is not in person.
If your office on campus has the lights out during the day and might normally have students come in to ask a question as school starts – even if they are in the wrong place – I would ask you to make extra effort to let them know how to talk to a real person. A phone number on the door that doesn’t go to voicemail, or some other more creative solution is vital. Going the extra mile to be accessible and responsive will go a long way for our students.
The University will also be pushing information out to students on how to get help online or by phone if they need it, and there will be substantial helpline staff next week, but don’t wait for us. Please help students where you can.
UTEP Proactive Coronavirus Testing
As of Wednesday night, we have tested 11% of the faculty, staff and students we expect to have on campus during the fall semester. We reached the goal of 500 samples taken on Wednesday with results returned in 21 hours on average. It’s taking less than a minute to have the sample taken.
So far, we have identified 6 students and 1 staff member who had the virus and didn’t have any symptoms. This is fewer than 1% of those tested and is lower than we expected. We want to find more people who are sick and don’t know it so that they can stay home until they are better.
Please, if you are going to be on campus this fall, even if it is just for 8 hours a week, fill out the consent to test at consent.utep.edu.
The testing program is for people who have no symptoms but might be carrying the virus. If you are sick, stay home.
Testing is open:
No appointment needed.
Monday to Friday 8 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Friday, August 21 testing will be at:
Fox Fine Arts Lower Level Courtyard and
UTEP Union Dinner Theater Patio
Locations are updated weekly as we adjust to make this convenient at utep.edu/covidtesting.
And here’s an added bonus. For those faculty and staff who consent and get tested by Friday at 2 p.m., we will be drawing a name for a really nice gift basket.
Please, consent and go get tested. It helps everyone if you do.
Health Screening Tool
And one more reminder on using the health screening tool that is now available to all students, faculty, staff and visitors at screening.utep.edu. This page can be saved to a home screen on Apple or Android devices. It should be completed before you come to campus, every day.
We will be operating this fall with coronavirus still in our region. We will continue to monitor conditions daily and try to make decisions that will allow our students to continue progress toward their degrees while we protect the health of our faculty, staff, students and the community we serve.