Key updates & quick-reference

Updated 1/7/2022

Contacts to know

Vaccination & testing protocols

Updated 5/27/2022

Updated vaccine requirement for all students who are on campus

Vaccination for students who will be on campus for any reason is required beginning July 1, 2022. We know that vaccination is one of our most effective tools for preventing serious illness and hospitalization due to COVID-19 infection, and in the absence of mandatory surveillance testing, this expanded vaccine requirement will help reduce the risk to our students, faculty and staff and help keep our students and our community as safe and healthy as possible.

All current students in the NMSU system who attend classes or activities in person are required to complete their primary vaccine series – meaning two doses of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine or one dose of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine – and upload their vaccination records by July 1, unless they request and are approved for an exemption or extension of that date. In order to meet this deadline, students must have their first dose of Moderna by June 3 or their first dose of Pfizer by June 10.

All new and transfer students in the NMSU system who attend classes or activities in person are required to complete their primary vaccine series and upload their vaccination records by Aug. 1, unless they request and are approved for an exemption or extension of that date. In order to meet this deadline, students must have their first dose of Moderna by July 4 or their first dose of Pfizer by July 11.

Students who do not submit their vaccination records or receive an exemption in time will be subject to disenrollment. Aggie Health and Wellness Center is a fast and convenient provider of the Pfizer vaccine in Las Cruces. To schedule a vaccine appointment, visit vaccinenm.org and select Aggie Health and Wellness Center as your location. For questions, call the AHWC pharmacy at 575-646-8302 and speak with a pharmacist.

We are rolling out a new, simpler platform for uploading both vaccine records and exemption requests in the coming weeks, and will provide detailed information about how to access that system soon. Student vaccine exemption requests will be submitted through this system when it is operational. If you plan to submit an exemption request, please watch for more information about how to do so. For now, students may continue to submit their vaccination records to either VaxTrax.nmsu.edu or Crimson Connection. If you have already uploaded your vaccination proof or exemption documentation, no action is needed. Those records will carry over to the new system.

Employees, including student employees and contract employees

As we announced on Oct. 27, all NMSU employees systemwide are required to become fully vaccinated, in accordance with Executive Order 14042 on Ensuring Adequate COVID Safety Protocols for Federal Contractors and the follow-on guidance released Sept. 24 by the Safer Federal Workforce Task Force.

On Nov. 4, the original deadline of Dec. 8, 2021, set by the federal guidance was pushed back to Jan. 4, 2022, and the New Mexico State University system extended its deadline in alignment with that federal extension.

Subsequent to that announcement, the White House clarified that Jan. 4 is the deadline to receive the final dose of vaccine, meaning that compliant individuals would be considered fully vaccinated by Jan. 18. As we have done previously, we revised our own mandate to align with the federal requirement.

To ensure full compliance with federal requirements and safeguard our community, all NMSU system employees, including student employees, contract or affiliate employees, and employees teleworking, including from another state in the U.S., must receive their second dose of a two-dose vaccine, or their single dose of a one-dose vaccine, by Jan. 4 as a condition of continued employment. Employees who do not comply or become approved for an exemption by the deadline will be subject to disciplinary action, including possible termination.

This vaccine policy applies to all full-time and part-time employees, undergraduate and graduate student employees, and contract employees. The vaccine requirement applies regardless of whether an employee works directly on a federal contract and regardless of work location within the United States. This requirement does not apply to students who are not employees of the NMSU system or to employees, students, and affiliates living outside the United States and not coming to the U.S for official university business.

Medical and religious exemption requests must be submitted to the Office of Institutional Equity at equity@nmsu.edu

New hires are required to upload proof of COVID-19 vaccination or request an exemption through the Office of Institutional Equity within three business days of start date.

Weekly testing requirement ends May 5

Monitoring and enforcing compliance with requirements of testing for students and those with exemptions has been an important but extremely time-consuming process for many of our administrators and their staff. It’s also unclear how much longer PCR testing will be available at no cost, as federal funding to support this testing may soon run out. As a result, NMSU will discontinue its testing requirement after May 5.

We encourage continued testing as an effective way to prevent the spread of COVID-19 by allowing you to make timely decisions about quarantine and isolation; however, this will no longer be mandatory for anyone, including for employees who are vaccinated but have not yet received a booster. At this time, home tests are available for pickup at Aggie Health and Wellness Center, and Curative is still offering testing weekdays in the Pan Am parking lot.

Another change for faculty and staff is discontinuation of recording boosters. We highly encourage boosters for all, but we define fully vaccinated in the same way as the CDC: two weeks after receiving all recommended doses in the primary series of their COVID-19 vaccination. Boosters add to vaccine efficacy, and a second booster dose has been authorized for those who are 50 and older or who are immunocompromised. You can register for a second booster shot at nmvaccine.org.

Expectations for online, dual credit, and adult education students

Students enrolled exclusively in online courses are exempt from the vaccine, provided they do not live on campus and will not visit campus at any time to fulfill program requirements or participate in activities.

Only those dual-credit high school students who attend NMSU system courses, in person, in NMSU campus classrooms, are subject to NMSU's vaccine requirement for students. Early college high school students who do not attend courses in NMSU campus classrooms are not required to adhere to the vaccination and testing policy. They must follow their school district policy and adhere to the NMSU visitor commitment while on NMSU system campuses.

Adult education students who do not require a banner ID for credit enrollment are not required to adhere to the vaccination policy. They must adhere to the NMSU visitor commitment while on NMSU system campuses.

Documenting your compliance

Proof of COVID-19 vaccination be uploaded at vaxtrax.nmsu.edu. The site is only accessible through NMSU’s private network, so users must either use an on-campus computer or use NMSU’s Virtual Private Network to access it. For information about accessing NMSU’s VPN, visit vpn.nmsu.edu. Students who are not employees may upload their documentation to Crimson Connection as an alternative to using the VaxTrax portal.

More information about accessing and using the VaxTrax portal is available in English and Spanish at VaxTraxInfo.nmsu.edu.

Human Resource Services will monitor employee vaccine compliance through the VaxTrax portal, and employees who do not provide appropriate documentation of vaccination or approved exemption by the Jan. 4 federal deadline will be subject to corrective action in accordance with the COVID-19 Health and Safety Protocols, up to and including termination.

The Dean of Students Office will monitor student vaccine compliance for students. Those who do not provide appropriate documentation of vaccination will be subject to corrective action in accordance with the Student Code of Conduct. Adjudication for violations of NMSU policy is done through the Office of Student Conduct and Community Standards within the Department of Student Life. Sanctions for violations of the COVID-19 vaccination and testing requirements may result in suspension from NMSU for the semester. 

 

Approval for a medical or religious exemption

Medical and religious exemption requests for employees, including student employees, must be submitted to the Office of Institutional Equity at equity@nmsu.edu. Exemption requests take several weeks to process, and should be submitted as soon as possible. Submissions after Dec. 1 may not be approved in time for the Jan. 4 deadline. While an exemption is under consideration, individuals must continue to submit weekly test results in order to remain in compliance with NMSU’s COVID-19 policy.

Faculty, staff and students approved for a vaccination exemption must upload the exemption documentation into VaxTrax.

Vaccine resources

COVID-19 vaccines are available at no cost to employees and students through many sources in New Mexico and elsewhere. In Las Cruces, Aggie Health and Wellness Center offers free vaccine appointments, which can be scheduled by calling 575-646-1512. Local pharmacies and grocery stores across the state also offer the vaccine. Visit VaccineNM.org to schedule a vaccine appointment today.

Testing resources

A Curative COVID-19 testing site on the Las Cruces campus is now open. The testing site is located in parking lot No. 27, north of Piñon Hall. Testing continues to be available at Doña Ana Community College East Mesa campus, 2800 N. Sonoma Ranch Blvd.

Free at-home testing is available to New Mexico residents from Vault Health. El Paso residents can find testing information at www.epstrong.org/testing.php. Elsewhere in Texas, visit the Texas Department of State Health Services for information on testing sites. In other states, contact your state or local department of health for more information.

Presbyterian Medical Services provides free antigen testing at its Family Health Center locations in Alamogordo, Carlsbad and Grants.

Other testing sites across New Mexico, many of which offer testing at no cost, are listed on the New Mexico Department of Health site.

 

Mask-wearing guidance

(updated 02/17/22)

In alignment with the state’s Feb. 17, 2022, Public Health Order, masks are optional, but not required at most indoor NMSU system locations and offices around the state. This includes our Las Cruces, Doña Ana Community College, Alamogordo, Grants, and Carlsbad campuses, as well as New Mexico Department of Agriculture and Cooperative Extension Service offices and Agricultural Science Centers.

Masks are still required at NMSU’s Aggie Health and Wellness Center and must be worn by food service providers on campus. Those who are isolating or quarantining should also continue to wear masks, according to CDC guidance.

Masks remain an effective tool for reducing the risk of COVID-19, and we strongly encourage those who wish to wear a mask to continue to do so. While they are not required, masks are available for free in our classrooms, and anyone is welcome and encouraged to wear a mask in any setting.

The spread of the omicron variant has health experts urging everyone who does wear a mask to upgrade their masks. Omicron is significantly more transmissible than other variants, spreading at least three times faster. Masks should be multi-layered and close-fitting with no gaps. While N95 masks are in short supply and our health care workers need them, KN95 and KF94 masks are more widely available and offer the same electrostatic charge, which actually pulls virus particles in and helps prevent you from inhaling them.