What is the difference between quarantine and isolation?

The University uses the definitions as provided by the CDCIsolation separates sick people with a contagious disease from people who are not sick. Quarantine separates and restricts the movement of people who were exposed to a contagious disease and monitors for symptoms. Students living on campus will quarantine in their room and watch for the development of any symptoms. If a student is required to quarantine, their roommate will also be required to do so.

I don’t answer calls from numbers I don’t know. How will I know if a contact tracer calls?

Contact tracers will make three attempts via phone and then send an email within 24 hours if an individual is not responsive. They will leave a message with follow-up instructions. All contact tracers are employees of the University, if “768” is in the number, that is a call from a University phone.

Why is SMU not mandating required testing for everyone to return to campus?

SMU follows CDC guidelines, which state: “Testing of all students, faculty and staff for COVID-19 before allowing campus entry (entry testing) has not been systematically studied. It is unknown if entry testing in IHEs provides any additional reduction in person-to-person transmission of the virus beyond what would be expected with implementation of other infection preventive measures (e.g., social distancing, masks, hand washing, enhanced cleaning and disinfection). Therefore, CDC does not recommend entry testing of all returning students, faculty, and staff. 

What if I test positive for COVID-19?

Students who have tested positive, or have come into close contact with an individual who has tested positive, should submit a CCC form. They will receive a phone call from a member of the SMU contact tracing team to discuss symptoms, current living situation, isolation procedures, close contacts and academic support.

Employees who test positive should complete the SMU Health Reporting Form and remain at home. If a dependent tests positive, employees should contact their supervisor for additional instructions.

I need to get a test for COVID-19. Where do I go?

If you are a student, contact the Dr. Bob Smith Health Center by calling 214-768-2141 for a screening interview by trained medical staff and possible testing and referral for treatment.

Employees can get an initial COVID-19 test screening via telemedicine at virtualcarefamilies.com/smu. Based on the screening, an appointment for testing can be scheduled at one of the Urgent Care for Kids clinic locations.

Learn more.

How do I request a more flexible work arrangement?

SMU remains committed to adjusting campus operations, as needed, to meet the changing nature of the COVID-19 pandemic and to best support our community. To reflect the most current guidance from the CDC and the State of Texas, the University has established a set of guidelines for flexible work arrangements. To learn more, please visit the Flexible Work Arrangements Guidelines.  

Will I be required to wear a face covering?

Face coverings are required to be worn over the mouth and nose in all public indoor spaces.  This requirement – in accordance with the latest local ordinance – includes classrooms; building entrances and exits; lobbies and lounges; as well as in hallways, stairwells, restrooms and elevators. Face coverings are not required outdoors when adequate physical distancing is possible; in private spaces such as inside an office or partitioned cubicle for employees; or inside an individual residence hall room for students.

Face shields do not offer the equivalent protection of face coverings over the mouth and nose.  However, due to the vocal aspects of classroom instruction, a face shield is an acceptable substitute for faculty members to wear while teaching as long as the instructor also adheres to the other required safety standards. SMU has added plexiglass barriers to podiums, provided face shields and coverings, and distanced desks and lecterns to accommodate faculty in conducting their instructional duties. Faculty can also wear a face mask instead or in addition to a face shield, for added protection.

Students are required to wear face coverings in classrooms. If additional accommodations such as a face shield are needed, students should work with SMU’s Disability Accommodations & Success Strategies for available options.

Understanding multi-ply face masks provide the best protection, SMU strongly encourages the use of multi-ply masks instead of other types of face coverings. Faculty can require students in the classroom to wear face masks versus other types of face coverings.

How does contact tracing work in identifying people who may have been exposed?

All individuals testing positive for COVID-19 are contacted and confidentially interviewed to identify people who came into close contact with the infected individual. University employees are trained on contact tracing by Johns Hopkins University and follow county, state, and federal guidelines. The CDC defines “close contact” as being within 6 feet of an infected individual for 15 minutes or more over a 24-hour period.

This trace assesses the class schedule, living situation, activities, work locations including offices and job sites, face-to-face meetings and any other situations that may have resulted in close contact from 2 days before the onset of symptoms or testing (if asymptomatic).

This process will evolve as we add technology to further support these efforts.

Why can’t I get more specific information about cases that might be near the area where I work or live on campus?

 Medical confidentiality must be maintained for everyone. Managers, supervisors and others who learn of positive cases must – by law – respect privacy by not commenting on any information that could identify the person with COVID-19. Refrain from social media posts about the case.

What requirements has the University set to hold an event?

Any event or other activity of University and non-University individuals and organizations scheduled in a venue. Events include but are not limited to meetings, conferences, study groups, rehearsals, practices, receptions, catered meals, screenings, ceremonies, performances, athletic games, and lectures. Events are further categorized by SMU’s Public Safety Standards.  Credit and non-credit academic classes are not “Events.”

  1. In-person meetings of SMU students, staff, faculty can occur as long as the most current county and state guidelines can be followed within the meeting space. There must be a way for attendees to participate remotely via Zoom, conference call, etc.
  1. No events (other than meetings as noted above) will take place on campus. Instability of sanitization supplies and the ability to adhere to cleanliness protocols is a leading factor. Exceptions to this recommendation may be requested by an Event Organizer/Sponsor.

Exceptions must be sent to the Events Group no later than 10 business days prior to the event for consideration. A recommendation to approve/disapprove will be made by the Group. If further discussion is required, the exception request will be brought forth to the EOC for determination. If PEC review is required, they will make the final determination. Find the event exception request online form here.

Is SMU changing its fall schedule?

SMU is revising our semester schedule to reduce the number of students returning to campus after holiday travel and lessen the chance of contagion.

Fall classes will start on campus Monday, August 24, as originally scheduled.

However, we will not break for the September 7 Labor Day holiday and October 12-13 Fall Break; they will be in-class instruction days.

This change allows students to complete their on-campus studies and leave campus housing prior to the Thanksgiving holiday. Classes will shift to online-only for the remaining class days after Thanksgiving, and all final exams for the fall 2020 semester will be administered online.

What will classes be like on campus this fall?

Most SMU courses will be offered in-person, on campus, but some classes will follow a hybrid model, providing a virtual, off-site component and staggered attendance schedules. They’ll be taught in-person as well as online simultaneously to accommodate international students facing travel restrictions or students with health conditions that may keep them from class. The classes will also be recorded to offer greater flexibility for online students who may live in dramatically different time zones, or so students can re-watch if it’s helpful.

For classes where students are participating online, all tests will be administered online so that every student’s progress is measured under the same circumstances.

A few courses, such as large lecture classes, may be online-only. Other small classes will be offered in-person, only, in spaces adequate to health and safety guidelines. Special accommodations will be made for students in the performing arts.

Does SMU plan to have football games and other athletic team events this fall?

We are planning for athletics on campus this fall. The health and well-being of our student-athletes, coaches, staff and fans is our highest priority. Athletics is following the guidance from SMU officials, the NCAA, the American Athletic Conference, state and local public health departments and medical experts to establish appropriate safety measures for practice and competition sites.

Will SMU offer Hilltop Sports Camps this summer?

No. Because of concerns related to COVID-19, SMU’s Dedman Recreation Center has decided not to hold its Hilltop Sports Campus this summer.

All parents who have signed up their child for Hilltop Sports Camp should have received an email about the decision to cancel. Full refunds will be issued for each registered camper.

Please don’t confuse Hilltop Sports Camps with other similar sports camps offered at SMU.

Did SMU require safety training before employees returned to campus?

All employees returning to work completed a “COVID-19 Return-to-Work Training” before returning to campus. The required training can be accessed on Canvas here. The training covers the following topics:

  • COVID-19 Basics
  • Social Distancing and Face Coverings
  • Cleaning and Disinfection
  • Proper Hand Hygiene
  • Respiratory Etiquette
  • Medical Self-Screening and Reporting
  • Human Resources Elements
  • Meeting and Meal Etiquette

Should I self-screen before coming in to work?

All employees are required to conduct a daily self-screening to ensure you are symptom-free. The screening includes taking their temperature and assessing for the following symptoms:

  • Fever or chills
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
  • Fatigue
  • Muscle or body aches
  • Headache
  • New loss of taste or smell
  • Sore throat
  • Congestion or runny nose
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Diarrhea

If these symptoms are present, the employee must stay at home, report to their supervisor, and complete the SMU Health Reporting Form. If you are sick and cannot work, you will need to use sick leave until you return to work.

What is SMU doing to make sure my work and education environment is safe?

In addition to health and safety measures by employees of social distancing, face coverings and daily self-screenings, SMU put in place enhanced cleaning protocols designed to keep University students, faculty and staff healthy while on campus. Enhancements include a 94% increase in hand sanitizer availability, a 10% surge in custodial staff hiring, and an increased emphasis on disinfecting high-touch areas like light switches and door knobs. Additional measures, including the use of hospital-grade disinfectants, are outlined in the custodial response guide.

Has SMU stopped hiring because of COVID-19?

Because of financial concerns created by the pandemic, SMU is delaying the hiring of vacant positions through at least December, 2020. The hiring delay applies to full and part-time faculty, staff, temporaries, consultants, and independent contractor positions funded from unrestricted resources (fund 10 or 12). Existing temporary positions will not be extended once the current commitment has been met. Grant or restricted-fund positions are not impacted by delayed hiring.  

For more information visit SMU HR’s Hiring Delay: Guidance for Managers.

How are graduate classes being handled?

Each school will responsible for the rollout of online instruction to their graduate students. If you are ever in doubt please reach out to your faculty directly or program director. Here are the website instances we have so far:

For Cox graduate students, click here.

For Perkins graduate students, click here.

For Dedman graduate students, please consult with the departmental Director of Graduate Studies.

Will my university health benefits cover testing or treatment for COVID-19?

When medically necessary and consistent with Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidance, testing to diagnose COVID-19 will be covered at 100% regardless of the SMU medical plan you and your family may be covered under. Testing will not be subject to copays or the deductible or co-insurance, and no prior authorization is needed.
 
Treatment cost-sharing related to COVID-19 has also been waived. Treatment related to COVID-19 includes deductibles, copayments and coinsurance. The waiver applies to costs associated with COVID-19 treatment at in-network facilities and treatment for out-of-network emergencies.
 
Click here for more information. Additional questions can be directed to benefitsu@smu.edu.

How do I sign up to receive SMU alerts by text?

Parents may register for SMU Alert by texting SMUParent to 888777. Visitors may register for SMU Alert by texting SMUVisitor to 888777. Check out the Office of Risk Management site for more information.

SMU students, faculty, and staff should already be signed up, but may login to my.smu.edu to add/update their SMU Alert contact information.