Updated COVID Protocols & Guidance, Aug. 27    

August 27, 2021

Dear Campus Community,

We’re incredibly excited to have you all back on campus and look forward to a successful semester. While we hoped this fall would bring with a return to business as usual, we must also face the reality that the delta variant is still influencing how we live, work, learn and play.

We know that the community mitigation strategies we used for the 2020 academic year allowed us to successfully complete semesters with little on-campus community spread. I urge each of you to consider using those same strategies – physically distancing, wearing face coverings and following good hygiene practices – as you return this year to set the foundation for our continued success.

Over the past few weeks you have received several communications from both the Galveston Campus and Texas A&M University related to Fall 2021 return to campus guidelines and COVID-19 protocols. We are aware that discrepancies in some of this information and the rapidly changing COVID environment caused by the delta variant has caused some confusion.

As we begin the Fall semester on Monday, I want to follow up on the COVID-19 guidance sent earlier this week by Interim Provost Mark Weichold and Chief Risk/Compliance Officer Kevin McGinnis, to ensure you have the most up-to-date information on COVID protocols on the Galveston campus. The Galveston Campus COVID-19 Dashboard contains information specific to identified and verified cases on campus. It is updated weekly.  

STUDENTS

On- and Off-Campus Testing & Vaccines

  • COVID testing is required for all employees and students. On-campus testing is available through Friday, September 10th in the Waterfront Pavilion. More details are available here
  • Test results of a test taken within the past 72 hours of submission will be accepted from any health care provider. Results should be uploaded to the Galveston Campus Reporting Portal prior to Sept. 11.
  • Exemptions from testing are available for those who will not be on campus prior to the Sept. 10th deadline or will not be on campus for the entirety of the fall semester. Email covidinfo@tamug.edu so you do not face sanctions after the testing deadline.
  • Vaccines are readily available in our region or through your health care provider and pharmacies in the community. The Galveston County Health District has complete information on where and how to obtain a vaccine. We will be offering a vaccine clinic on campus next week. Standby for further details.

Vaccination Status & Face Coverings

  • No one can ask you about your vaccination status or require you to wear a mask on the Galveston Campus.
  • We do ask you to remember that some faculty, staff and students may be immunocompromised or have family members that cannot be vaccinated (children, medical complications, etc.).
  • While no one on the Galveston Campus will require you to wear a face covering, they may request you do so in consideration of their personal situation. We ask that you be considerate and respectful in these requests.

Failing to Comply with Mandatory Testing

Students reported for failing to comply with the mandatory COVID-19 reporting and/or quarantine/isolation requirements will go through the Student Conduct Process. This may result in a student facing possible separation (i.e., suspension or expulsion) from the university or being considered a student "not in good standing." A status of "not in good standing" renders the student subject to the following restrictions:

  • Ineligibility to hold an office in any student organization recognized by Texas A&M or to hold elected or appointed office.
  • Ineligibility to represent the university in any way, including at an official function, intercollegiate athletics or any form of intercollegiate competition or representation both on and off campus.

Absences due to Self-Quarantine & Self-Isolation

Students who need to self-quarantine or self-isolate may request an excused absence by providing documentation consistent with Student Rule 7. Falsification of these reports constitutes a violation of Student Rule 24.4.1 and the Aggie Honor Code.

This link explains what students should do if they are sick or exposed to someone with the virus.

Positive Test Result

  • Students who test positive for COVID-19, whether symptomatic or not, may request an excused absence for the required period of self-isolation but must:
    • Provide appropriate documentation per Student Rule 7 and will be allowed to recover from the illness before making up missed work; and

Close Contact

  • Students exposed through close contact with someone testing positive or presumed positive for COVID-19 may request an excused absence for the period of self-quarantine but must:
    • Provide appropriate documentation per Student Rule 7;
    • Keep up with course work in collaboration with the instructor of record;
    • Report through the Galveston Campus Reporting Portal and/or follow the instructions of their case manager.

FACULTY & STAFF

On- and Off-Campus Testing & Vaccines

  • COVID testing is required for all employees and students. On-campus testing is available through Friday, September 10th in the Waterfront Pavilion. More details are available here.
  • Test results of a test taken within the past 72 hours of submission will be accepted from any health care provider. Results should be uploaded to the Galveston Campus Reporting Portal prior to Sept. 11.
  • Exemptions from testing are available for those who will not be on campus prior to the Sept. 10th deadline or will not be on campus for the entirety of the fall semester. Email covidinfo@tamug.edu so you do not face sanctions after the testing deadline.
  • Vaccines are readily available in our region or through your health care provider and pharmacies in the community. The Galveston County Health District has complete information on where and how to obtain a vaccine. We will be offering a vaccine clinic on campus next week. Standby for further details.

Failing to Comply with Mandatory Testing

Faculty and staff who do not comply with mandatory COVID-19 reporting, testing and/or quarantine/isolation requirements will receive a written reprimand, at a minimum, that will impact their eligibility for merit increases and also will be subject to other, more severe, disciplinary action as appropriate. 

Vaccination Status & Face Coverings

No one can ask you about your vaccination status or require you to wear a mask on the Galveston Campus.

Under no circumstances may you ask about a person’s vaccination status.

Under no circumstances can persons be required to mask but they may be strongly encouraged to wear a mask in your classroom, office, laboratory, conference room or other place of work.

The Faculty Senate has provided an optional statement to encourage masks and vaccinations that can be included on syllabi.

Faculty and staff (or their family members) that are at higher risks for developing complications from COVID can use the following examples to encourage students to wear face coverings, realizing that they cannot be compelled to mask or reveal their vaccination status: 

  • “I have small children at home who are unable to be vaccinated. I’m asking you to please wear masks in this class in deference to them. I very much appreciate your help in keeping me and my children well.”
  • “I live with a family member who is immunocompromised and has a higher risk of contracting COVID. I’m asking you to please wear masks in this class in deference to my family. I very much appreciate your efforts to help keep my family safe during a challenging time."
  • “There are faculty, staff and students on campus who are more highly vulnerable to COVID than many of you are. I’m asking you to please wear masks in this class in deference to them. I very much appreciate your help in keeping the Aggie family well.”

Self-Quarantine or Self-Isolation

This link explains what employees and students should do if they are sick or exposed to someone with the virus.

Staffing for Business Continuity

Supervisors retain the authority to develop staff rotations and develop assignments to ensure business continuity through Sept. 3.

 

Respectfully,
Antonietta Quigg, Ph.D. | Acting Chief Academic Officer
Senior Associate Vice President for Research and Graduate Studies
Regents Professor | Dept. of Marine Biology | Dept. of Oceanography