Dear SMU Community,
Every week, our Emergency Operations Center group and the president’s leadership team review a number of data points regarding the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the SMU campus, then update the University’s operational level. This week, we are increasing the overall operational level from “moderate” to “high” to reflect the number of cases on campus and other related factors.
What does this mean? One of the many factors we consider in determining our operational level is the availability of spaces to isolate our on-campus students who test positive. Students have a choice as to where they will isolate, whether that is on campus or at some other location, and they will continue to have that choice. To ensure we can accommodate those students who choose to isolate on campus, we are working this week to increase the numbers of isolation beds available. Guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and our consultant epidemiologist is that it is preferable for students to isolate on campus (as long as it is feasible) in lieu of travelling home to prevent the spread of the virus to other areas. We are also opening up the Dr. Bob Smith Health Center for limited hours during the weekends to ensure students have access to testing on campus.
We should all remain vigilant about wearing face coverings, social distancing and hand-washing. We expected to see an increase in cases, as we have seen with many other universities that started fall classes before we did, and we are responding within expectations to these circumstances. Even with the current number of cases, we have a manageable situation and will continue in-person operations.
You can find a full explanation of our operation levels here (Appendix 2). We expect the following areas to continue to operate at the “moderate” level, as there is no data to support spread through these settings:
• Classrooms, lecture halls and academic buildings
• Religious group services
• Shared office spaces
• Labs and research (Human Subjects Research is already operating at “high” level)
• Library spaces
• Residence halls and common areas
• Student organizations and events (events remain at “Orange event level”)
• Dining halls
• Athletic events and activities
• Dedman Center for Lifetime Sports
• Health Center
• Meadows Museum
Thank you for all you do to keep this campus healthy.