Dear students and families,
We are excited to welcome you to the Hilltop and want to share what to expect before you arrive. We are returning to a traditional semester, with some exceptions, in order to maintain a healthy and safe campus. Our faculty and staff are eagerly awaiting you and looking forward to engaging you in interactive class learning and vibrant campus life.
Rest assured that we are moving forward with careful consideration of the changing pandemic conditions in North Texas, and are continually assessing the impact to our community.
Here is some insight into how we manage the pandemic at SMU: We have an Emergency Operations Center (EOC) that closely monitors the virus trends and meets regularly with local health authorities to determine the best path for our University. This group uses key data points such as local infection and hospitalization rates as well as campus-specific information on cases, isolation capacity and vaccination reports to guide its recommendations. We know what has worked in the past, and can pivot quickly to contingency plans, if necessary.
Effective tomorrow, August 12, SMU is temporarily requiring masks (two or more layers covering the nose and mouth) in indoor spaces on campus, including classrooms, event and meeting spaces, and common areas in all buildings and residential halls regardless of vaccination status. Masks are not required in private spaces such as residence hall rooms for students with roommates.
All events, such as Convocation and orientation, should continue as planned with masks being used indoors. This requirement is a temporary precaution during the Delta variant surge to supplement our other pandemic protocols. We will continue to monitor and review industry-specific guidance and recommendations from the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and state public health authorities in order to make the best decisions for our community.
COVID-19 vaccinations and testing
We strongly encourage you to get the vaccine to protect yourselves, your loved ones and our SMU community. We offer vaccinations and testing right on our campus at the Dr. Bob Smith Health Center. I am grateful to the students and employees who have received the vaccine and voluntarily reported their vaccination status. We believe that many more are vaccinated than have reported, and are reaching out to students and employees to encourage them to report through the Dr. Bob Smith Health Center so we have a better estimate of our campus vaccination rates.
We are no longer offering virtual classes and look forward to having you in class and at campus events.
Contact tracing, isolation and quarantining
We continue our essential pandemic protocols such as contact tracing and case management to identify and offer resources to those who test positive for COVID-19.
For our residential students, we have set aside 44 double-occupancy rooms for isolation spaces and will provide delivery of food for three meals a day during the required 10-day stay for positive cases. A quarantine will also be required for those identified as a close contact of a positive case unless the student demonstrates proof of vaccination.Residential students can choose to isolate and quarantine on campus or at another location of their choice. An easy way to show proof of vaccination is to upload an image of your vaccine card to a secure online portal at the Dr. Bob Smith Health Center. If you are a returning student who was vaccinated last year on campus, that vaccination will be automatically added to your record.
Thank you for putting your trust in SMU. We understand that you may have continued concerns about the pandemic, and urge you to make decisions that support your health and the health of others, including getting the vaccine and wearing a mask. We also ask that all our community members support one another and promote a culture of respect.
Please check our Mustang Strong website for the latest updates and answers to questions about our campus response to COVID-19. Also, watch for upcoming Mustang Strong newsletters for quick reminders.
Pony Up! We’ll see you soon.
R. Gerald Turner