SMU suspends all non-essential University-sponsored or sanctioned domestic travel

Dear SMU staff and faculty,

We have all been working hard to meet the needs of our students during this extraordinary time, and I want to thank you for everything you have done and continue to do as we adjust to the changing demands of this crisis. You are the heart of the University, and your health is crucial.

With that in mind, in reaction to the spread of Coronavirus (COVID-19) in the United States, SMU is now suspending all non-essential University-sponsored or sanctioned domestic travel. Please consult your supervisors to determine if the planned domestic travel is essential or non-essential. To facilitate accurate processing of University-sponsored or sanctioned domestic travel, it is essential to book all travel through Concur so approval of any domestic travel can properly be tracked and reimbursed. Furthermore, the international travel ban for university-sponsored or sanctioned travel is now absolute, meaning no exceptions until further notice.

Some faculty and staff may be at higher risk if exposed to Coronavirus, such as older adults and people with underlying medical conditions. Some may also be dealing with issues related to school and childcare closures. Our Human Resources Department has been preparing to meet those needs and has a webpage dedicated to the options available. Please work with your supervisors to use those resources. Those who need to work remotely should fill out the emergency telecommuting arrangement form. The requirements for this emergency arrangement are not onerous, but it is important that expectations are clearly understood and the arrangements be formalized to keep the University running.

To prepare all staff for potential future telecommuting needs, SMU’s Office of Information Technology (OIT) will host a full day of drop-in training sessions as well as online webinars on Tuesday, March 17. Scheduled for Fondren Library East from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., the staff training will offer both one-on-one consultation as well as short in-person sessions on Box, Skype for Business, Zoom, VPN, Remote Desktop and more. More information on the staff training will be posted at http://smu.edu/keepworking by Monday. Meanwhile, staff can review the Essentials Quick Video.

Faculty will receive training for teaching online on Wednesday, March 18, and Thursday, March 19. Watch for an email Monday from the Provost’s Office outlining the schedule.

As we all understand, SMU does not follow a traditional business model. We are a service organization with responsibilities to students and the broader community that cannot be neglected, even under extraordinary circumstances. I want to stress, however, that all of the decisions made by the University up to now have been designed to keep our entire community healthy. By reducing the number of students on campus, it is now much easier for the University to diligently follow the social distancing recommendations recommended by Dallas County Health and Human Services to help protect the safety of our faculty and staff. Anyone who feels their workspace does not meet the criteria for social distancing from others should work with their supervisor to identify other space options on campus to use as alternate workspace. Our University cleaning crews are stepping up their cleaning of high-touch and common areas with stronger cleaning materials. SMU sick leave policy will be interpreted liberally as we are urging people who feel sick to stay home. We have restricted gatherings and events on campus to no more than 50 people, and we will continue to follow the guidance of Dallas County, Texas and federal health authorities.

Let me emphasize again how much I appreciate the contributions of our faculty and staff.  Please talk to your supervisors, deans and department chairs should you have any extraordinary needs. Thank you for your patience, dedication and strength as we work together through this challenging time. We will be in touch again if significant changes occur in our battle with COVID-19. 

Sincerely,

R. Gerald Turner