Does SMU have any students, staff or faculty members who have tested positive for COVID-19?

On April 2, SMU was notified that an employee of the Dr. Bob Smith Health Center on the University campus had tested positive for COVID-19.  Prior to that, on March 25, SMU learned that three of our students, none currently on campus, had tested positive for COVID-19.
 
We have notified the campus community by email and posted details of the cases involving the students and the employee on the SMU COVID-19 blog. In addition, we have sent information to classmates, faculty, staff members, visitors, vendors and contractors who may have come in contact with the individuals who tested positive for coronavirus.

Will SMU offer May and June term classes?

Yes. Due to the uncertainty in the continuation of health and travel restrictions, SMU is moving May and June term classes online. Enrollment for the May term opens Monday, April 13. The priority enrollment deadline is Friday, April 24, but the final date to enroll now set for May 14 may change. If you have questions about May or June terms, SMU Intersessions staff are available from 2-4 p.m. Monday, Wednesday and Friday on Zoom or by scheduling an appointment by emailing intersessions@smu.edu.

Will SMU offer SMU-in-Taos classes this spring?

Yes. Many of the courses previously listed for May term at SMU-in-Taos will be offered online, while others that are site-dependent, such as “Photography in Taos,” will not. None of the field school classes previously scheduled for June at SMU-in-Taos will be available. Students with questions about SMU-in Taos courses may contact Rumanda Young at rkyoung@smu.edu or Lashanda Phillips at lashandap@smu.edu.
 

How does the decision to move to online instruction impact staff and faculty?

We have reduced even further the number of people working on campus. Effective Monday, March 23, the University moves to essential personnel only status until April 3.  Employees were contacted directly by their appropriate vice president or athletics director with guidance on their individual units’ operating plans. Also, staff members have been asked to fill out the Essential Telecommuting Arrangement Form to work remotely. Please go to Keep Working Online and Keep Teaching Online for additional information.

Under the “essential personnel only” status, do I need to come to work?

Following the guidance of Texas Governor Greg Abbott’s executive order on March 31 to slow the spread of COVID-19, SMU is extending its “essential personnel only” status through April 30, allowing most of our faculty and staff to continue working remotely.


Employees identified as “essential personnel” by their supervisor and the emergency policy should come to campus, as will those employees identified by their vice president as needed to provide on-site services. Each staff member should have received instructions from their vice president and each faculty member should have received instructions from the provost. 


All faculty and staff, whether salaried or hourly, will continue to be paid during this extension, but please make sure you report your time as you normally would.


Anyone at higher risk for serious illness from COVID-19 because of age or a serious long-term health problem that compromises the immune system, or who is experiencing childcare issues, should still work with their supervisor to make alternative work arrangements. Go to the Human Resources site here, review the documentation and, if needed, work with your supervisor to fill out the Emergency Telecommuting Arrangement Form

How can I help SMU students struggling with unexpected expenses related to the COVID-19 situation?

The SMU Student Emergency Fund exists for situations such as these when we must come together as a community.

While the situation around the COVID-19 outbreak continues to evolve, we are taking additional proactive measures that will protect our SMU community, on and off campus. As Mustangs are vacating campus and transitioning from in-person to online classes, students, in particular, may be struggling to cover unexpected costs related to travel, technology, health and wellness and other unforeseen circumstances. The SMU Student Emergency Fund can help provide the resources for students facing difficult situations.

Is SMU postponing Spring 2020 Commencement?

Given the current global uncertainty about health and the ability to travel, as well as extended Dallas County restrictions on large gatherings, SMU is postponing spring commencement weekend to Saturday, August 15, 2020.
 
Moving the ceremony will give our graduates the opportunity to walk across the stage in front of your friends, family and loved ones. Graduates will still receive their degrees on May 16th, which is important to allow them to start new jobs on time or continue their academic journey. Transcripts with their degrees will be available in early June and diplomas will be mailed to graduates.  

With online classes, are there changes in the academic calendar that I should know about?

With classes moving online for the remainder of the spring semester, some important dates on the academic calendar have changed, while others remain in place.

Here are some important ones to keep in mind.

APRIL 13: Summer and fall enrollment starts
APRIL 24: Last day to drop courses
MAY 4: Last day of classes
MAY 15: All grades reported
MAY 19: Degree candidates’ deadline to convert assigned grades to a S/S-/NC
MAY 25: Deadline to convert assigned grades to a S/S-/NC

Please see this link for more information about the new grading policies. 

As an employee, will I get paid during the remote work period?

Please be assured that SMU is committed to sustaining the pay continuity for our dedicated and talented workforce.  Staff pay and benefits during the remote work period will be preserved for all hourly and monthly paid employees.  

o   People who continue working (remotely or on campus) will be paid as they are normally. 

o   For those whom there are no alternate assignments or work available due to shifts in the campus population, the University will continue normal pay. 

Details about how time should be recorded in my.SMU was sent to the campus in a letter on March 19, 2020 and will again be emailed to Time Access Approvers. 

I’m working remotely and need some additional supplies to do my job, how do I get them?

Faculty and staff should utilize existing resources as much as possible and OIT’s website offers information and training on available resources. All requests for additional resources must have advance written approval by the department chair or a supervisor and budget authority (if different), regardless of funding source. Please review guidelines here or contact the Purchasing Department if you need more assistance with procurement needs.

Will I be reimbursed for supplies purchased for use while working remotely?

You should continue to use the technology purchasing process available through the online ordering portal. If you make a purchase outside the ordering portal, SMU will not provide reimbursement for devices or accessories that are not within the University’s standard configurations and specifications. Examples of items that will not be reimbursed included, but are not limited to, Wi-Fi extenders, AirPods, large monitors (over 27”) and devices without adequate security. Please review guidelines here or contact the Purchasing Department if you need more assistance with procurement needs.

I’m a student worker, will I get paid?

Department managers are encouraged to allow students to work remotely if feasible. Students who are unable to work remotely may work on campus during this period. If a student cannot work remotely or work on campus, they will be compensated based on pre-existing work schedules.

SMU has received guidance from the Department of Education concerning students employed by the University during any closure related to COVID-19.

The University will continue providing compensation to student workers employed by the University, including those students who are performing Federal Work Study on a bi-weekly basis. The pay continuation provision will begin March 23.

Guidance on how to complete student workers’ timesheets will be forthcoming from the Payroll Office next week.  If you have questions, that guidance will likely answer them and provide a contact for further information.

Will certificate programs be online as well?

  • SMU Global and Online: Non-credit certificate classes are going online with a few exceptions where rescheduling was more beneficial
  • Simmons: certificates are embedded in the coursework and will be online
  • Perkins: certification courses have been rescheduled and will not be conducted online
  • Cox Executive Education: contact Luigi Pecoraro Ed. D., Managing Director at 214.768.3549 or email Luigi Pecoraro lpecoraro@smu.edu.

What is the campus-wide effort to address potential challenges created by the coronavirus?

SMU has activated its Emergency Operations Center team to coordinate the university-wide response to the rapidly changing coronavirus outbreak. Members of this team are continuously monitoring developments from local, state and federal health organizations, including daily advisory calls with the Texas Department of Health and Human Services.

What adjustments is the University making to clean frequently touched surfaces?

SMU is closely monitoring and following guidance from the CDC, Occupational Health & Safety Administration and other authoritative bodies.

Our facilities team has upgraded the disinfectant used on campus. SMU now uses Hydrogen Peroxide based wipes and chemicals with a one minute kill time for all touch points in Academic, Athletic, Workout facilities, Health Center, Labs and Childcare locations on campus.

Below are the primary touch points that staff has been instructed to focus on:

  • Tables
  • Desk (where accessible)
  • Door knobs
  • Showers
  • Doors
  • Counter top surfaces
  • Restroom fixtures
  • Restrooms walls
  • Restroom partitions 
  • Light switches
  • Daycare rugs
  • Daycare floors
  • Daycare mats
  • Athletic mats
  • Classroom desk and instructional podiums
  • Trash can lids
  • Interior hand rails
  • Kitchen/lounge fixtures
  • Elevator buttons
  • Door frames
  • Telephones
  • Dispensers
  • Soap tissue and towel dispensers

I saw a cleaning crew in dressed in gowns and masks. What does that mean?

The hygiene of our campus is a top priority. In addition to enhanced cleaning that is already taking place in campus facilities, you may periodically notice custodial staff wearing personal protective equipment such as gowns. Please do not be alarmed. This is an additional safeguard for professional cleaning procedures under certain circumstances as recommended by the Centers for Disease Control.

Where can I get the most updated information regarding the COVID-19 Coronavirus?

The most updated current information on the COVID-19 Coronavirus as it presents in the United States will come from the federal public health agency, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Any specific local advisories for SMU or Dallas County would be issued by the state and/or county public health agencies and will be shared with the SMU community on this dedicated website.

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. 

How will I get my mail?

Departmental and Faculty in Residence mail: 
Mail is available for pickup on Tuesday and Friday on a very limited basis. The Post Office will hold mail until normal business operations resume. If a department would like to request pick up on Tuesday or Friday between the hours of 10am and 2pm, please contact Patrick Cullen at pcullen@smu.edu to schedule the time or if you have any other questions.  

Who should comply with the University recommendation to suspend University-sponsored and/or sanctioned international travel?

Under SMU Policy 11.4 , which addresses global travel, the suspension applies to any SMU faculty member, staff, invited official guest, or student traveling internationally as an individual or in a group for SMU-sponsored, SMU-administered, SMU-affiliated, or SMU-sanctioned activities. This policy does not apply to personal or vacation international travel that is unaffiliated with SMU or to non-official guests or dependents.

Are there any exceptions to this?

No, the University is not granting exceptions to this at this time.

What happens if a student studying abroad decides not to comply with the University’s request to return home?

Students choosing to remain abroad do so at their own risk, and students and their families assume all responsibility for that decision. By staying, students are risking illness, involuntary isolation and/or a prolonged stay in the country of study because of travel restrictions. Students must also be prepared to find medical facilities and other types of support should they become ill.

If a faculty or staff member must cancel their university-sponsored travel, will any fees or travel expenses be refunded? What needs to be done for a reimbursement?

Based on the University’s decision to restrict all international travel, guidance is offered below to assist in addressing cancellation procedures and expense reporting.  The guiding principle is any expenses forfeited as a result of canceled travel will be reimbursed by SMU with supporting documentation.

  1. Anything booked through Concur can be canceled by emailing smutravel@cbt.com with a copy to travel@smu.edu.  Please include SMU COVID-19 in the e-mail subject line.  The email must have specific information related to services to be canceled (airfare, hotel, car) and include any record locator(s).  The remaining value of the tickets after change fees will be available for future travel on the ticketholder’s Concur profile.
    • Travelers that did not book via Concur/CBT will need to contact the various airlines and/or hotels to cancel and request supporting documentation, e.g., cancellation e-mail with detail of funds forfeited. 
    • Conference attendees should ask if the conference fee can be deferred to a future conference date.
  2. Submitting Expense Report Guidance
    • Please contact Millicent Grant for assistance in creating the report and include COVID19 in the report name.
    • For expenses paid on an SMU PCard the evidence of the funds forfeited will need to be attached to an expense report.
    • Any expenses already paid by the traveler will be reimbursed provided supporting documentation is provided.
    • The expectation is all cancellation expenses will be funded from the original departmental budget source.
    • Expenses for international travel booked after 3/2/2020 until the suspension is lifted will not be covered by SMU (personal reimbursement or SMU PCard expenses).

I have tickets to upcoming Meadows events that have been canceled, what are my options?

The Meadows School of the Arts has canceled all of its events through the end of April as well as the Repertory Theatre plays that were scheduled to take place in early May. Please let Meadows know via email what you would like to do with your tickets.  You may donate your tickets; Meadows will provide you with a donation letter for tax purposes. You may exchange your tickets into an account bank and save them for use at future events. You may also ask for a refund. For questions, call (214) 768-2787.