Coming back to campus in January 2021

Protecting the health and wellness of the Aggie community is important. As an educational institution, we also must support our students as they work to achieve their educational goals. For that reason, every office that directly works with students will be operational during regular business hours beginning January 11, 2021. These front-line offices include academic departments, colleges, and student service providers. Responsiveness and service excellence remain critically important, while on-campus population density should be limited to less than 25% of pre-pandemic staffing. Offices will use staffing alternatives like staggered schedules and virtual services including Zoom, Teams, email, chat and phone to communicate with students and deliver excellent service.

Move-in Schedule for Campus Residents

Move-in for in-state residents will begin January 17, 2021, and continue through January 24, 2021. To allow for social distancing and to limit the number of people in a facility at any given time, each resident will be limited to two helpers during their move-in. Face coverings will be required, along with social distancing and frequent hand-washing. 

Resident students traveling to the Las Cruces campus from out of state, including El Paso and Juarez, will arrive for early move-in by January 11, 2021. While students commuting daily from communities outside New Mexico must follow mask-wearing and social distancing guidelines when they are on campus, our resident students join the housing community – their Aggie family – when they make a home on our campus. For the protection of all of our resident students, quarantine requirements outlined by the New Mexico Department of Health will apply to all campus housing arrivals from out of state. These students will need to fill out an Early Arrival Request form on their myHousing portal, and provide documentation of travel so we can coordinate their living spaces with their travel plans.

Faculty and Staff

Although offices that serve students will be open, we will continue our reduced levels of staffing on campus overall to reduce opportunities for viral spread. Ideally, across campuses, and as in the fall semester we will have approximately 25% of normal staffing levels, in aggregate, as we begin the spring semester. This may change based on guidance from the New Mexico Department of Health.

Offices and departments that can operate effectively entirely through telework will continue to do so. Employees at risk for COVID-19 according to CDC guidelines will continue to work from home if their job duties allow. NMSU recognizes the importance of employee privacy regarding medical information.

A decision tree for supervisors can assist in planning for staffing needs.

We’ve also developed an Alternative Work Arrangement (AWA) policy that promotes low employee density on the campus and allows for work to get done productively in remote locations. The options available in AWA include telework, flex time, short-term work modifications, and a compressed work week. Training modules have also been developed to assist managers and employees. Additional resources for telework are available at hr.nmsu.edu. Faculty and staff will receive information about a reminder training on COVID-safe practices beginning in January.

Resources on self-care and emotional wellness support are always available to faculty and staff from NMSU. 

 

Research and Creativity

NMSU Research continues to follow a phased approach adopted from Association of Public and Land-grant Universities Council on Research. Progress along phases is based on COVID-19 data from the CDC and New Mexico Department of Health, plus guidance from state, local, and university administrative policies. Research activities conducted under Phases 1 through 4 require review and prior approval from research unit directors, department heads, deans and the vice president for research (VPR). The detailed plan and timeline is available at research.nmsu.edu.

Workspaces

To facilitate employee transition back to campus, supervisors will ensure that their office includes, posted in a prominent place, the following information:

  • A daily health self-monitoring checklist
  • Instructions should an employee develop symptoms of COVID-19 or have a positive test for COVID-19
  • New Mexico State University COVID-19 Safety Commitment
  • Office-specific procedures for shared equipment like copiers, phones, refrigerators and water coolers
  • Any additional department-specific protocols for maintaining a healthy environment, including cleaning and waste removal 

Some recommendations for department-specific protocols include:

  • Employee break areas may be used if 6 feet is maintained between occupants.
  • Face coverings may be removed for eating and drinking, but a separation of 6 feet among individuals must be maintained.
  • Employees should be particularly aware of social distancing in restrooms.
  • Meetings in online format should continue to be an option, even if all participants are on campus.
  • All in-person meetings should begin with safety and health reminders.

Outside of the NMSU environment, faculty, staff, and students should be aware of their exposure to others. Anyone who believes they have been exposed to COVID-19 must place themselves in quarantine as public health protocols dictate