Key updates and quick-reference

Updated 09/16/21

Contacts to know

Vaccination and testing protocols for faculty, staff, and students

The New Mexico State University system continues to prioritize being agile and adaptive in its response to the changing pandemic landscape and evolving guidance from state and federal officials. All NMSU system students and employees at all campuses and offices have the choice to either provide proof of vaccination or proof of a weekly negative COVID-19 test beginning Sept. 30, 2021. This applies to both in-person employees and those who are working remotely, in accordance with new guidance from the U.S. Department of Labor Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

This is a change from our previous policy, which strongly encouraged, but did not require, vaccination or testing for students and employees. This change is consistent with the commitment we have made since the beginning of the pandemic to monitor the latest guidance at the federal and state levels, and take additional steps as a university system, should conditions warrant, to uphold our commitment to the health and safety of our students, faculty, and staff. 

Proof of COVID-19 vaccination or weekly proof of COVID-19 testing must 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.

Employees or students choosing to test weekly should begin uploading results after Sept. 30. The first testing upload must be complete by midnight on Oct. 7, 2021 – one week after the requirement is effective – and every week by midnight on Thursdays thereafter. Weekly COVID-19 test results must be from a test date within the past seven days, and must come from either antigen or PCR tests – antibody tests are not accepted.

A user guide for accessing and using the VaxTrax portal is available now in English, and will soon be available in Spanish. 

Staff will monitor vaccine and testing compliance through the VaxTrax portal, and students or employees who do not provide appropriate documentation will be subject to corrective action in accordance with the Student Code of Conduct or the COVID-19 Health and Safety Protocols.

 

Mask-wearing guidance

In alignment with updated guidance from the CDC and recommendations from New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham, masks will be required beginning Monday, Aug. 2, at all 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.

This indoor mask requirement applies to all classrooms, labs, meeting rooms, vehicles and other spaces, and to all faculty, staff, students, and visitors to NMSU campuses and offices, regardless of vaccination status or social distancing opportunities. 

Recent studies indicate that vaccinated people can still transmit the coronavirus. Wearing a mask reduces transmission of all variants and keeps our community safer. Please be mask-ready. If you need a mask, ask within your department and one will be provided to you. 

We received word from the NM Higher Education Department that our faculty exception to the indoor mask requirement could not continue. Effective immediately, instructors must remain masked while teaching. This is a change from the previous practice of allowing instructors who were fully vaccinated to remove their masks while teaching, if they were able to maintain a six-foot distance from students. The state’s latest public health order extends the indoor mask requirement for everyone, regardless of vaccination status, through at least mid-October.

We continue to monitor guidance from the CDC and the New Mexico Department of Health, and will update our requirements as that guidance evolves and as conditions warrant.

Individuals with special considerations regarding face coverings should work with a supervisor, Human Resource Services, the Office of Institutional Equity, or Student Accessibility Services to explore potential accommodations. Vaccination status and use of face coverings should never be used to discriminate or stigmatize.

Approval for an exception

Some members of our community will not be able to wear a face covering in situations when one is expected by NMSU guidelines. Employees seeking to be excluded from the face covering requirement should notify their supervisor and contact the Office of Institutional Equity at 575-646-3635 for consideration for an exception. Part of the exception approval process will include protocols for the employee to follow (telework, change of office space or alternate controls) to help protect the health of other members of the NMSU community. Students seeking an exception should contact the Dean of Students Office at 575-646-1722.

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

Free at-home testing is available to New Mexico residents from Vault Health. More information is available at learn.vaulthealth.com/nm.

In addition, COVID-19 testing is currently available at no cost from many providers, including Doña Ana Community College’s East Mesa campus and Aggie Health and Wellness Center at the Las Cruces campus (for students, faculty, and staff only).

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 at New Mexico Department of Health.