May 15, 2020
Dear Students, Faculty and Staff:
SMU, including its campus in Taos, is expecting to offer a combination of in-person and online classes for Summer Session II, commonly referred to as July term. We will continue to monitor and adjust as evolving guidelines emerge from Dallas County and the Texas governor.
You may recall that the President’s Task Force for a Healthy Opening Fall 2020 is charged with the important mission of bringing our students, faculty and staff back to campus safely. One of the first charges assigned to the group was to evaluate the feasibility of an on-campus experience for the July term.
The task force surveyed more than 1,000 students who enrolled in July term, as well as the faculty who signed up to teach. While most students replied that they would prefer to continue their summer learning online, many students expressed that they would like the on-campus experience, provided that safety and health protocols are in place. Faculty survey results mirrored the students’ responses, with most planning to teach online and many open to teaching in person.
Informed by the latest science, along with health and safety guidelines from federal, state and local officials, the task force recommended that a hybrid model combining some on-site classes with online classes would be feasible and most responsive to the student needs. Welcoming a small community of students on campus in July will also enable SMU to fine-tune recommendations and protocols for the larger group of students returning in the fall.
Recognizing that we are paving new ground, the University is committed to ensuring a safe and healthy environment for on-campus students in July and when the fall semester begins in August. Employees are returning to campus June 1 after receiving training on safety and health practices, which will include daily health self-assessments; face coverings; enhanced cleaning protocols; social distancing guidelines in workspaces, restrooms and elevators; as well as contact tracing. All these safety procedures will be in place for students as well.
As we prepare for July, we are layering in plans to reduce the density of academic and residential facilities and dining halls, planning for distance-conscious transitions between classes, on-campus COVID-19 testing and more. These details will be shared with you as we get closer to welcoming our July students.
Thank you for your patience as we navigate the continuously changing landscape created by COVID-19. Your safety and wellness are our highest priority, and our commitment to flexibility and responsiveness will help us give you the high-quality academic and student experience that defines SMU.
R. Gerald Turner
President of SMU