SMU Faculty and Staff Invited to Participate in COVID-19 Study

A major challenge to stopping the spread of COVID-19 is a lack of information. You can help change that by participating in the DFW COVID-19 Prevalence Study. The results of this important study will be used to develop ways to reduce COVID-19 infections. SMU is partnering with UT Southwestern and Texas Health Resources on this study.

By participating in the study, you’ll receive:

  • A free COVID-19 nasal swab test for active infection
  • A free COVID-19 antibody blood test to see if you’ve ever been infected
  • Quick test results and advice on next steps if you have active COVID-19 infection

There is NO COST to you or SMU, and participation is completely voluntary.


  1. First, complete a brief survey by the end of the day on December 7. Enter this link into the web browser of your computer or tablet:
  1. If you complete the survey, you will receive an email or text message shortly after the survey closes on December 7 with instructions for making your testing appointment. Use the unique link provided in the message to make your appointment. Testing will be available on campus December 16, 17, and 18, 2020, at Prothro Hall, room 104 at 5901 Bishop Blvd, Dallas, Tx 75205 
  2. At the appointment, you’ll receive a simple nose swab to test for active COVID-19 infection and a blood antibody test to check for prior exposure to the virus. Testing should take 20 minutes or less. Leave time will not need to be utilized for participation in the study.
  3. If tests determine that you have an active COVID-19 infection, you will be notified within two days of the test. The results will be reported to Sheri Starkey, SMU’s Associate Vice President and Chief Human Resource Officer. SMU and public health services will work with you to minimize exposure and the spread of infection among your family, friends and fellow workers. Contact tracing on all positive cases will be conducted by the SMU contract tracing

team and you may also be contacted by Dallas County Health and Human Services department.  Notifying close contacts identified during the contact tracing process is required by law and is called “contact tracing.”  Otherwise, results of both tests will be mailed to you within two weeks.

Information collected in this study will be handled in a confidential manner, within the limits of the law. If the results of the study are published in a scientific journal or book, you will not be identified. The UTSW Institutional Review Board and other groups that have the responsibility of monitoring research may want to see study records which identify you as a subject in this study. Research policies require that private information about you be protected, and this is especially true for your health information.

Frequently Asked Questions:

More information about the DFW COVID-19 Prevalence Study can be found online at If you have questions, please see Frequently Asked Questions or contact

While participation is optional, we encourage you to help in this community-wide effort. Thank you.


A Message About Holiday Travel Guidelines and COVID Testing

Friday, November 13, 2020

Dear SMU Students,

As you get ready to leave campus for Thanksgiving, it’s important to recognize the potential risks associated with going home to family members who may be vulnerable to viral spread. Your best defense is to wear a face mask to reduce the chance of catching or spreading COVID-19, but there are other things you can do. 

Before you go, closely adhere to all the safety protocols we’ve been following. You know the drill: mask up, socially distance, wash your hands frequently, avoid large gatherings and limit your exposure to others – especially those other than your roommates, housemates and regular social group. If you haven’t already, get your flu vaccine. They are available at the Dr. Bob Smith Health Center and from a mobile flu shot cart that will be roving campus next week.

If you have especially vulnerable family members, you may want to take additional precautions, such as quarantining by staying home, only going out for class and picking up food or necessities, and always wearing a mask.

If your destination is outside of Texas, check with your home state for additional travel or safety restrictions. A few places may require a 14-day quarantine or COVID-19 test once you arrive. If you need a test before departure, you can schedule an appointment up to a week in advance by calling the Health Center at 214-768-2141. If you are not on the SMU Student Health insurance plan, the Health Center will bill the cost of the test to your student account. In most cases, your insurance will cover the charge after you file a claim for reimbursement. Allow up to three days to receive your results, and remember you must register by 4 p.m. the day before you go in for the test. COVID-19 testing is also available at off-campus sites with your insurance, if needed after hours. 

Keep in mind that testing for COVID-19 is not foolproof and a negative test could give you a false sense of security. The test provides a snapshot in time, meaning a negative test only indicates that you don’t have evidence of the infection at the time you are tested. However, the virus’s incubation period is up to 14 days, making it possible to test negative and simultaneously carry it. Also remember you could pick up the virus on the way home and spread it, even if you didn’t feel sick. More tips and recommendations for safe travel and celebrations are listed below. 

Thank you for your efforts in making this semester as healthy as possible. Please continue to follow these same safety measures during your winter break while enjoying time with family and friends. We look forward to seeing you again on the Hilltop next semester. 


Dr. Randy Jones,

Executive Director, Dr. Bob Smith Health Center

COVID-19 Status and Travel

  • If positive, you should not travel by air and preferably alone if by car, and then isolate for 10 days once you arrive at your destination.
  • If negative, but identified as a close contact, you should not travel by air and preferably alone if by car, then quarantine for a total of 14 days.
  • If negative, you may travel using caution and following safety protocols.

Travel recommendations

  • Check for any requirements or restrictions at your travel destination.
  • By car:
    • Driving alone is best.
    • Wear a face mask if in a car with others, and sit in the back seat if someone else is driving.
    • Open the windows if conditions permit.  
    • Pack food/snacks or use drive-through or curbside pickup.
    • Wash hands after pumping gas.
  • By plane, train or bus:
    • Strictly follow safety measures such as mask-wearing and hand hygiene.
    • Take a direct route if possible, and avoid traveling at peak times if you can.    
    • Carry and use hand sanitizer (with at least 60% alcohol) frequently. 
    • Use a disinfecting/sanitizing wipe to clean touchable surfaces. 
  • If sick or exposed, delay travel:
    • Anyone who is feeling ill, or has been recently diagnosed (within 10 days) or exposed to someone with COVID-19 (within 14 days) should self-isolate. 
    • Follow guidance from your health care provider regarding when recommended isolation/quarantine periods are complete and travel can be resumed. 

Upon arriving home, the most cautious approach is to quarantine for the first 14 days. This is especially important if there are vulnerable, higher-risk family members living in the home.

Quarantine recommendations

  • Wear a mask and maintain a distance of at least 6 feet when in the presence of others.   
  • Eat meals in a private space or outdoors socially distanced from others.
  • Use separate serving ware, utensils, glasses and plates.  
  • Use a separate bathroom from other family members. 
  • If a separate bathroom is not available, disinfect the bathroom after each use. 
  • Avoid physical contact, including hugging, kissing and shaking hands. 
  • Restrict movement within and outside the home.  

If quarantine is not possible:

  • Stay physically distant from family household members for the first 14 days at home.
  • Wear a face mask and avoid close contact, including hugging and shaking hands. 
  • Consider placing HEPA filter units in the home and opening windows to increase air circulation.

Extra Faculty and Staff Vacation Days Added to Holiday Break

November 2, 2020

Dear SMU Faculty and Staff,

We are heading into the home stretch of a successful fall semester, thanks to you and your tremendous dedication and support. I am grateful for your continued commitment and resilience in the face of this pandemic.

It was through research, planning and implementation of campuswide operational changes that our University avoided many of the difficulties that other institutions of higher education faced. You embraced learning new skills and changing many of the ways we do our work. Your ingenuity and perseverance are how we have been able to safely continue our educational mission – with students on campus and virtual – as well as many of our cherished traditions. It has required long hours under stressful circumstances with critical deadlines. And as many of you have expressed, we all need a break.

In recognition of your tireless efforts, SMU is adding two extra days to the University’s holiday break. This year, December 21 and 22 will be campus holidays, in addition to the time off scheduled for December 23 returning January 4. The hope is this will be a time for renewal that will energize us all to return with optimism and stamina for 2021.

As you plan for this holiday season, please remain diligent with safety protocols – wearing masks, social distancing and avoiding large gatherings – that help prevent spread of the virus. Also, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently changed their definition of close contact to within 6 feet of an infected person for a cumulative total of 15 minutes or more in 24 hours. You may want to alter some of your interactions accordingly to keep yourself and others healthy.

Knowing you will have extra days off should help with plans for the holidays and give us all an additional incentive as we wrap up this year and prepare for a new one. Please accept my heartfelt appreciation for all you do for SMU.


R. Gerald Turner

SMU COVID-19 Student Testing

On campus at the Dr. Bob Smith Health Center

  • Students who need a test can contact the Dr. Bob Smith Health Center at 214-768-2141 to schedule an appointment.
  • If you are enrolled in the University-sponsored health insurance plan: Costs are fully covered without additional steps.
  • If you are enrolled in a non-University health insurance plan (such as your parent’s): Costs are typically fully covered after filing a claim.
    • You will receive a charge for testing on your student portal, which most insurance providers will fully reimburse if you file a claim.
    • In the event your insurance denies your claim, contact the Health Center and ask for assistance on testing costs.

Through an off-campus pharmacy or health provider

  • If the Health Center is closed, students can receive a test through their local pharmacy (CVS, Walgreens) or in some cases, one of the local urgent care center listed here.
  • Students who test positive must complete a Caring Community Connections Form to report their status. The University case management team will follow up with information about isolation and quarantine procedures, if needed.

Additionally, the Department of Health and Human Services, State of Texas and Dallas County offer resources of where to find COVID-19 tests.

At home using an over-the-counter test

At-home testing kits are becoming more widely available through local pharmacies and health clinics. In the event you test positive through one of these kits, you should report your status to SMU through the CCC Form.

If reporting a COVID-19 positive test result for yourself or another SMU student, select “Confirmed COVID-19 Positive” in the “Nature of Report” section.

Also, include the following in Question 2 of “Incident Details”:

  • Date of Onset of Symptoms and Description of Symptoms
  • Date of Positive Test
  • Residence (Commons, Fraternity or Sorority House, or Off-Campus)