How will SMU be impacted by President Biden’s executive orders regarding COVID-19 vaccine/testing mandates?

SMU is studying the latest executive orders from the White House regarding COVID-19 vaccination and testing requirements.

Specifics have not yet been provided, but some of the provisions could impact the University, such as:

  • Vaccination or weekly testing for employers with over 100 employees – No firm timeline has been set by OSHA on developing a rule that will guide the implementation of this requirement. It remains to be determined how or when it might affect SMU.  
  • Vaccination of Federal Government Contractors – The Safer Workforce Task Force will provide additional information on this initiative by September 24, 2021.

As details on these items and others that could affect the University become available, SMU will evaluate and determine the best way forward for the campus community.

Are there health based exemptions to the face mask policy?

Generally, no. All students, faculty, staff and visitors are required to wear masks indoors to help slow the spread of COVID-19.

Students who seek a medical accommodation to the face mask policy should solicit assistance from Disability Accommodations and Success Strategies (DASS@smu.edu).

Faculty and staff employees should contact Human Resources.

What are SMU’s Tuition and Fee Policies and Due Dates?

Tuition payments at SMU are due Friday, Aug. 13.

Tuition is fully refundable if students formally withdraw prior to the first day of classes, Aug. 23.  To find more information about the enrollment and withdrawal process, including tuition and fee reimbursement timelines, please visit the Office of the University Bursar.

When will the temporary mask requirement be lifted?

We know from our history of COVID-19 cases on campus (prior to vaccine availability) that the first few weeks of a semester generally yield the highest level of infection rates and cases.

During this re-entry period, we will be closely monitoring our local metrics to assess the impact of the virus on our campus using key data points such as area infection rates and hospitalizations, confirmed cases, campus isolation capacity and available vaccine data. As the situation abates in our local community and on our campus, we will reassess.

We are not setting a deadline to end or reconsider the policy,  but will respond accordingly as soon as circumstances support a change. Remember, please, that as we announced in July, individual faculty members will have the option during the fall semester to include a mask requirement within their individual classrooms, even if the overall campus mask requirement is lifted. 

I have been vaccinated? Why should I wear a mask?

Our policies are meant to protect the overall community, and this temporary masking policy is designed to minimize the current spread of the delta variant, in particular. The vaccine never promised to completely prevent infection, but to reduce the spread and to dramatically decrease the likelihood of severe illness, hospitalization and deaths due to COVID.

Why did SMU establish a temporary mask requirement?

We anticipate this requirement will be a short-term measure as students are returning to campus from across the country, where infection rates vary widely, and while Dallas County’s mask mandate is in place due to high infection and hospitalization rates in our area. Our temporary mask requirement is for indoor spaces only – there is no requirement to wear a mask outdoors. For clarification, the mask should have two layers (2-ply) and cover the nose and mouth completely. We are not requiring two masks be worn at the same time. Please find specific information about the efficacy of wearing masks here.

In deciding how to respond to changes in the virus, SMU looks carefully at the impact on our campus. Our Emergency Operations Center uses key data points such as the Dallas County infection rate and hospitalizations, as well as SMU-specific data such as confirmed cases, isolation capacity and available vaccine data. The University is asking all employees and students to voluntarily upload their vaccination information to the student health center so we have a more accurate estimate of the campus vaccination rate.  

I am an SMU faculty or staff member. How do I get a COVID-19 test?

Convenient no-cost COVID-19 testing is available for SMU faculty, staff and benefits eligible spouses and dependents at 9 DFW Virtual Care for Families locations. The closest testing center to the SMU campus is minutes away on the corner of Preston Rd. and Forest Ln. (see below). Other locations in Arlington, Frisco, Garland, McKinney and Plano may be convenient to your home or along your commute to and from work. They are open 7-days a week. Locations and maps are listed at the bottom of the appointment page. Results are typically available same day.

When you book, enter “SMU – COVID-19 test” in the reason for visit box and click on the “self pay” button. Screening and testing costs are completely covered by SMU. Note that virtual telemedicine appointments indicate Round Rock, Texas, as the location. Once the patient is in the visit with the provider, the provider will schedule a curbside visit to a clinic at a location of the patient’s preference in the DFW metro area if any tests are needed.  

Virtual care Families closest location to SMU:


Testing is also available free of cost to you and your benefits-eligible dependents through your SMU benefits at pharmacies, health care providers and testing sites off campus. Additionally, the Department of Health and Human Services, State of Texas and Dallas County offer resources of where to find COVID-19 tests.

What should I do if I feel symptomatic or test positive and the Health Center is closed?

For COVID-19 emergencies such as trouble breathing, persistent pain or pressure in the chest, new confusion, inability to wake or stay awake, bluish lips, or face, call 911.

Students who need a test or consultation when the Dr. Bob Smith Health Center is closed can receive treatment through one of the local urgent care center listed here. The closest such facility to SMU is the Sanai Urgent Care Center (3414 Milton Ave., Dallas, TX 75205 // 469-522-3995).

If you test positive at an urgent care facility, or have come into close contact with a known positive case when the Health Center is closed, first fill out the CCC Form. A contact tracer will provide more guidance.

In the event a contact tracer does not reach out to you immediately upon filling out the form, follow CDC guidelines and isolate.

I am an SMU parent and am not receiving SMU communication such as email. How do I sign up?

To receive all university updates, your student needs to go into their my.smu account and grant permission for you to receive updates. To receive notifications from SMU alerts, please text SMUParent to 888777. Also, please follow COVID-19 updates at smu.edu/coronavirus.

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 stay home and 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 am a student and I need to get a test for COVID-19. Where do I go?

  • Students experiencing symptoms should stay home and contact the Dr. Bob Smith Health Center at 214-768-2141 for a screening interview by trained medical staff and possible testing and referral for treatment. 
  • If the Health Center is closed, students can receive treatment through one of the local urgent care center listed here. The closest such facility to SMU is the Sinai Urgent Care Center (3414 Milton Ave., Dallas, TX 75205 // 469-522-3995).
  • Students who test positive must complete a Caring Community Connections Form to report their status. The University contact tracing team will follow up with information about isolation and quarantine procedures, if needed.

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. An individual is not considered a close contact if they’ve been fully vaccinated

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.