Message to Campus on Rising COVID-19 Cases

September 4, 2020

Dear SMU Student,

With two weeks of the fall semester successfully behind us, I would want to recognize our SMU students, faculty and staff for your efforts to adapt to learning, living and working on campus during this pandemic.

As we anticipated, we are seeing a rise in COVID-19 cases as well as an increase in quarantines. The summer preparations are working: We are aggressively isolating positive cases and quarantining those who came into close contact with infected individuals. This week, we had a localized outbreak at the Sigma Chi Fraternity House. In cooperation with Dallas County Health and Human Services, SMU requested that all students residing in the house quarantine for 14 days. We also asked the Kappa Kappa Gamma sorority to quarantine one floor of their house out of an abundance of caution. We greatly appreciate the positive cooperation from the fraternity and sorority members and their organizations.

We are also using more of our isolation units to house on-campus students who test positive. While the numbers are growing, we still have capacity and contingency plans, if needed. We also continue to provide resources including meals and case management for those in isolation and quarantine so they can keep up with their studies. Even with the jump in student cases, we currently have only a few known cases in faculty or staff. You can see the latest numbers on our updated COVID-19 dashboard.

We are hearing reports of students choosing to test off campus at night or during the weekend. You can find a list of nearby urgent care centers and other after-hours support if the Dr. Bob Smith Student Health Center is closed. If you are feeling anxious, remember that we have counselors available 24/7 by calling 214-768-2277. We ask that you continue to support the overall wellness of your fellow students and faculty and staff by reporting positive cases or if you came into contact with an infected individual. We are grateful for your efforts to abide by the Pledge to Protect and wear face coverings or masks, wash your hands frequently and maintain a distance of at least 6 feet when you are gathered together. Science tells us that these steps stem the spread of the virus. We have taken disciplinary action against some individuals and groups who are in violation of the pledge, and remain committed to enforcing it through the Student Code of Conduct.

Even though we will be attending class – in person and virtually – on Labor Day, please stay focused this holiday weekend and continue to follow our health and safety protocols both on and off campus. Your cooperation is critical to keeping our campus open for a full semester of activities.

R. Gerald Turner