Key updates & quick-reference

Updated 1/7/2022

Contacts to know

  • Report your positive COVID-19 test result: nmsu.edu/self-report
  • Disclose a positive case reported to you: Aggie Health and Wellness, campus_health@nmsu.edu, 575-646-1512
  • Upload proof of vaccination or test result: VaxTrax.nmsu.edu
  • Questions about NMSU system pandemic response: covid19@nmsu.edu
  • Restock classroom disinfecting supplies: Facilities and Services, askfs@nmsu.edu or 575-646-7114
  • Buy COVID-19 protective supplies: Aggie Service Center, asc@nmsu.edu or 575-646-2000
  • Report a student conduct concern (mask-wearing, etc.): Dean of Students, DOS@nmsu.edu, 575-646-1722

Vaccination & testing protocols

Updated 1/20/2022

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.

Booster shot or testing requirement added Dec. 22

All employees, including student employees and those who are teleworking, are required to receive a booster vaccine by Feb. 9 if eligible – or within four weeks of becoming eligible – or submit weekly COVID-19 test results. This is in alignment with the latest state Public Health Order and a subsequent memo from the New Mexico Higher Education Department urging all institutions of higher education in the state to align with that order.

Students and employees should upload their booster verification to VaxTrax once completed or within four weeks of being eligible according to FDA guidelines. Those who are not yet eligible for a booster by Feb. 9 must receive one within four weeks of eligibility or begin submitting a weekly antigen or PCR test result once that grace period has ended. If you have already received your booster, you can upload it now. Please do not wait to submit your documents.

Students who are not employees

Students who are not employees and who will be present on any NMSU campus at any time to fulfill program requirements or participate in activities are required to receive a primary vaccine series and a booster vaccine by Feb. 9 if eligible – or within four weeks of becoming eligible – or submit weekly COVID-19 test results. Test results must be uploaded each week by Thursday at midnight.

Expectations for online, dual credit, and adult education students

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

Dual credit students or early college high school students 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 and testing policy. They must adhere to the NMSU visitor commitment while on NMSU system campuses.

Documenting your compliance

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. 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.

Students choosing to test weekly must upload test results to Crimson Connection or VaxTrax each week before midnight Thursday to remain in compliance. 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 acceptable.

The Dean of Students Office will monitor student vaccine compliance and testing compliance for students who are not also NMSU employees. Those who do not provide appropriate documentation of vaccination or weekly testing 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. 

90-day testing exemption for a positive test

Students and employees who are eligible for a booster shot and have not received one, or who are testing weekly with an approved and documented vaccine exemption – and who have tested positive for COVID-19 and are within their 90-day “no test period” – should upload their positive test result and note the date the test was administered. The VaxTrax system will record a testing exemption for 90 days.

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.

A separate exemption for the booster shot is not required. Anyone electing not to take the booster shot must test weekly and upload to VaxTrax (or Crimson Connection, in the case of non-employee students). 

Faculty, staff and students approved for a vaccination exemption must upload the exemption documentation into VaxTrax and must adhere to the weekly antigen or PCR testing, with results due each Thursday by midnight. 

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, and is open from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday and 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday. 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

In alignment with updated guidance from the CDC and the state’s current Public Health Order, masks are required 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.

The spread of the omicron variant has health experts urging everyone to upgrade their masks. Omicron is significantly more transmissible than other variants, spreading at least three times faster, so mask protection is more important than ever. Masks should be multi-layered and close-fitting with no gaps. At this time, we are not requiring individuals to use an N95, KN95 or KF94 mask instead of a cloth one, but we do strongly recommend these options. 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.
An alternative is to use a disposable surgical mask, which also offers some electrostatic protection, paired with a cloth mask over it for a tighter fit and better level of protection.

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.