Reopening and Campus Health and Safety

Reopening and Health and Safety FAQs

 

 


Reopening

Q: How will the university alert SU community members to COVID-19-related updates going forward?

A: We will continue to update this website and COVID-19 dashboard and send emails to faculty, staff, and students on a regular basis. Members of the Southwestern community are encouraged to forward their questions to their supervisors, department chairs, and/or senior staff, or submit them to questions@southwestern.edu.

 

 Q: What is the academic calendar for the fall semester? 

A:  We resumed on-campus instruction on September 7. On-campus instruction will be completed before Thanksgiving, and the remainder of the semester will be conducted remotely. 

September 7: Classes begin on campus

November 24: In-person instruction ends

November 25: Move-out deadline for campus housing

November 30–December 11: Remote instruction

December 12 and 14: Remote reviews, music juries, and capstone presentations

December 15–19: Final exams

We are creating contingency plans for returning to remote instruction should an outbreak of COVID-19 occur and/or public-policy changes prevent us from continuing instruction on campus.

 


Health & Safety

Q: Do I need to wear a mask? What health protocols are required on campus now?
A: As part of our return-to-work plan, all persons (staff, faculty, students, vendors, and visitors) on campus will be required to practice the following health protocols:

  • A mask or cloth face covering that covers an individual’s nose and mouth is required at all times in all indoor and outdoor campus spaces unless an individual is  alone in a private office or a private space, this includes students’ dorm rooms..
  • Southwestern is providing every student, faculty member, and staff member two high-quality nonmedical-grade masks. These are reusable and washable masks. One disposable mask will be provided to visitors. The University will have extra masks on hand for purchase to replace lost or damaged masks.
  • Everyone must practice physical distancing, maintaining a separation of six feet at all times and in all indoor and outdoor campus spaces.
  • Individuals need to practice good hand hygiene by frequently washing their hands and/or using hand sanitizer.
  • You must monitor your health symptoms on a daily basis. Anyone who is exhibiting a high fever or other symptoms must stay away from campus.

 

Q: Will the university be providing personal protective equipment (PPE), such as masks, to the campus community?

A: Yes. Southwestern provided every student, faculty member, and staff member two high-quality nonmedical-grade masks. These are reusable and washable masks. One disposable mask will be provided to visitors. The University will have extra masks on hand for purchase to replace lost or damaged masks. To purchase additional masks, contact Becky Rodriquez, rodrigur@southwestern.edu.

 

Q: Is there a plan for contact tracing?

A: Yes. We have identified SU staff members to serve as care coordinators. The care coordinators will be making immediate contact with the exposed student, interviewing them, conducting contact tracing, and assisting with protocols associated with quarantine/isolation. These staff members will be checking in with the student every day along their journey and will be able to assist with any cares or concerns. We will have a developed protocol for food delivery to the student in quarantine/isolation as well.  

 

Q: Where can students be tested for COVID-19 once in-person instruction has resumed?

A: We have increased the testing capacity and staffing of the SU Health Center with the establishment of the Pirate Assessment Triage and Containment Hub (PATCH). Students must go to PATCH if they experience COVID-19 symptoms. PATCH healthcare professionals will ensure that each student is examined, tested, and treated. We have point-of-care testing which should allow for results within 70 minutes.

 

Q: How will Southwestern make sure students, staff, and faculty are following the health and safety guidelines?

A: We ask all students, faculty, and staff to sign the Pirate Pledge and promise to take personal responsibility for following University guidelines for protecting the health and safety of our community. The Pirate Pledge can be found here. Student Life will manage the process for distributing and collecting signed Pirate Pledges from students.

Students, faculty, and staff can report the noncompliance of these tenets by others in our community by notifying Dean of Students Shelley Story (for students) or Associate Vice President for Human Resources Elma Benavides (for faculty and staff). We are encouraging all members of the community to be active bystanders and confront any noncompliance, with the assumption that there will be compliance. However, if there isn’t, we will respond swiftly and firmly. Learn more about Pirate Pledge Enforcement here.

All students, faculty, and staff must self-monitor for the following symptoms. Any individual who is experiencing these symptoms or has come into contact with someone who has exhibited these symptoms must immediately isolate themselves and contact Health Services (students) or their medical provider (faculty and staff).

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

SUPD is also monitoring campus to make sure visitors are following SU’s protocols.

 

Q: How will physical distancing be enforced on campus?

A: Many precautions are in place upon the return to campus. Classrooms have been physically distanced. Travel paths in buildings and around campus have been identified. Traffic flow in residential spaces has been created. The Commons and overall dining experience has been revised to embrace physical distancing. RAs are important advocates for compliance within the residential spaces. What will be incumbent upon all of us is to monitor behavior and be active bystanders should non-compliance be noticed. To that end, Mosaic and the residential experience students have created programming on how to be an active bystander in many situations, including COVID response. Learn more about Pirate Pledge Enforcement here.

 

Q: Are publicly used spaces such as laundry rooms and various seating areas being cleaned more regularly?

A: Facilities Management has created a cleaning schedule, with more focus on community areas (lounges, laundry rooms).  

 

Q: If a student tests positive for or has been exposed to COVID-19, will they be quarantined?

A: Students who have been exposed to COVID-19 will be asked to quarantine—and students who have tested positive for COVID-19 will be asked to isolate at home or off campus for a period of at least 10 days and no fever for 24 hours. University care coordinators will assist the students through either process. If the student is unable to go home or off campus to quarantine, they will do so in their assigned residential space with precautions. If a student is unable to go home or off campus to isolate, they will be provided, as available, a designated isolation room on campus. Currently, 6% of University housing is dedicated as isolation facilities.

 

Q: Why can I not just present a negative COVID-19 test to avoid having to be quarantined if I am exposed to the virus?

A: To be as safe as we can possibly be, we are following CDC guidelines. Quarantine lasts for 14 days because the incubation period for COVID-19 can be anywhere from 2 to 14 days. We cannot use a negative test to end a person’s quarantine because they can develop the illness anytime during that 14 day period. 

 

Q: What are the health and safety protocols for classes and classrooms?

A:

  • Masks are required during class.  
  • Classrooms are physically distanced with six feet between students and 8 feet between the faculty member and students.
  • Hand sanitizer stations are present in all classrooms, in hallways, and other common areas. 
  • In most cases, classes are limited to one hour to limit viral load. 
  • Supplies are available for students to clean desk surfaces upon entry 
  • Class dismissal times are staggered to lessen traffic flow in hallways and other common areas. 
  • Scheduling includes 15-20 minutes between classes to provide time for desk cleaning and hand washing. 
  • We have traffic flow guidelines in all buildings to help with physical distancing and unnecessary contact.
  • Classroom furniture is arranged in a fixed manner to reinforce safe physical distancing.
  • No outside speakers will be allowed on campus for the fall semester in order to limit contact with people outside of the university community.
  • Office hours and advising will be remote to reinforce safe physical distancing practices.

 

Q: How is the University making adjustments to common spaces in academic buildings?

A: All common areas on campus are reconfigured to accommodate physical distancing.

 

Q: Are there more mental health services, with virtual options available? 

A: Yes, the University is a) transitioning our part-time health educator to full time, and b) adding an additional mental health professional to the current staffing model. The staff is prepared to offer a robust virtual model and even some in-person options should that be of interest to the student. 

 

See Clean Pirate FAQs and Physical Distancing FAQs for more info. 


Testing  

Q: Where can students be tested for COVID-19 once in-person instruction has resumed?

A: We have increased the testing capacity and staffing of the SU Health Center with the establishment of the Pirate Assessment Triage and Containment Hub (PATCH). Students must go to PATCH if they experience COVID-19 symptoms. PATCH healthcare professionals will ensure that each student is examined, tested, and treated. 

The PATCH is located in Moody Shearn 113 and will be open by appointment only from 9:00 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., Monday through Friday, for students with symptoms consistent with COVID. Walk-ins will not be possible. A separate clinic will help keep those who may be infected away from those who have other health-related needs. To make an appointment at the PATCH, students will call the Health Center at 512.863.1252; a nurse will assess their symptoms and make an appointment for the student at the PATCH if appropriate. If a student is tested for COVID-19 at the PATCH, they will remain there to wait on the test results, which will take approximately 70 minutes. During the wait, the student will be asked to start making a plan for what to do if the result is positive.

  

Q: How will the intake test be billed?

A:  CareNow intends to bill insurance for the on-campus testing they are conducting. Their interpretation of the Cares Act is that testing should be covered as long as it is prescribed by a doctor and a condition of school attendance. They recommend parents with concerns reach out to their insurance companies and explain the school’s policy if the insurance is reluctant to cover. If the insurance does not cover, the cost of the on-campus test will consist of two separate billed entries. The first is from CareNow for the doctor visit. Prices for this will vary based on insurance rates, but should be treated as an urgent care visit by the insurance company, so likely nothing more than a standard urgent care copay. The second will be the cost of the test itself, which will be billed separately by the lab. That is a $100 fixed cost. The test they use will be a nasal swab, but NOT the nasopharyngeal swab, which is the 6-inch swab for 15 seconds. It is an anterior nasal swab, so just the swab less than 1 inch inside the nose for about 3 to 5 seconds.  

If you have further questions, please reach out directly to CareNow. They can assist you with any insurance questions and help you get a more accurate picture of what, if anything, it may cost.

  

Q: How will random testing be conducted this fall?

A: In continuing to support the health of our campus, the University is starting weekly randomized COVID-19 testing the week of September 21. The testing will include students, faculty, and staff. 

Here’s how it will work: 

  1. Number of Tests: Fifty members of the Southwestern community, including students, faculty, and staff, will be tested each week.
  2. Start Date: Testing will begin next (September 21).
  3. Student Testing Scheduling: Students will be identified and contacted for testing each Friday prior to the scheduled week of testing. Selected students will receive an email asking them to self-schedule their testing time using the provided link to the patient portal. 
  4. Faculty and Staff Testing Scheduling: Human Resources will identify, at random, faculty and staff for testing during the upcoming week. Selected faculty and staff will receive an email asking them to call the Health Center to schedule their test in the upcoming week. 
  5. Testing Process: Everyone who is required to be tested will report to the Health Center at their designated date/time. A staff member will be present to oversee the entire testing process. Please remember to bring your phone to your appointment. 
  6. Tracking: Health Center staff will record who arrives for their test as well as track and ship all testing samples to the laboratory.
  7. Getting Your Results - Students: Students will be notified of their results directly from the testing laboratory. The Health Center will be notified of any positive tests and take appropriate action to ensure the student is immediately assigned to isolation.
  8. Getting Your Results - Faculty and Staff: Faculty and staff will be notified of their results directly from the testing laboratory. HR will receive faculty and staff results and will contact those with positive test results to guide  them through the process of isolating at home.

If you have any questions, please contact the Health Center at 512.863.1252.

 

Q: Does the student, staff, or faculty member have to cover the cost for the randomized test?

A: No, the Univeristy will cover the cost for randomized testing. We feel it is very important that we track and stay ahead of what is happening in terms of potential spread of the virus for our entire campus.

 

Q: If a student tests positive for COVID-19, what is required for them to return to campus or leave isolation?

A: Once the University is notified of a positive test result, a Care Coordinator will contact the student to discuss the criteria that determine when he or she can return to campus or leave isolation.  If the student never had any symptoms, he or she will likely be cleared to move in/return to campus, or leave isolation, ten days after the date of the positive test.


Academics    

Q: Will Southwestern still be able to offer all of their majors the classes necessary to graduate?

A: Absolutely. The University is committed to supporting students in making progress toward their degree. 

 

Q: If Southwestern moves to remote learning, will tuition be discounted?

A: No, Southwestern University will not discount tuition. The University is committed to offering an outstanding educational experience centered on the student-faculty relationship within a small class atmosphere, whether in person or virtual.

Professors are participating in faculty development over the summer to prepare for both blended instruction and remote delivery depending on their own circumstances. Remote learning at Southwestern will be very robust: faculty will be actively engaging with students during scheduled class periods through synchronous lectures, class discussions, and problem-solving. This synchronous learning will be combined with a variety of asynchronous activities—as is normally the case with in-person instruction—such as discussion forums, blogs, outside readings, homework problem sets, reflection pieces, etc. Southwestern will continue to emphasize faculty accessibility and close mentorship in all of its courses, whether delivered remotely or in the classroom. Our faculty are here because they love interacting with students, and that interaction will continue, albeit sometimes using different tools and formats, as we face some of the constraints posed by the pandemic.

 

Q: How will the Sarofim School of Fine Arts accommodate new physical distancing guidelines?

A: Each of the department chairs in the Sarofim School of Fine Arts is working with the Dean of the Faculty to ensure that courses and experiences are structured in such a way that the health and safety of students and instructors are prioritized. We encourage you to reach out to your department chair for more information. 

 

Q: Am I still allowed to receive academic credit for off-campus internships or community-engaged learning experiences this fall?

A: Yes, please refer to Off-Campus High Impact Experiences Pandemic Protocols for more information.

 

Q: How will a student’s current classes be affected if a student is required to isolate or quarantine? 

A: Faculty will work with students who are in isolation or quarantine to help them stay caught up with class material. Many students have chosen to be remote learners for the fall semester, and our blended instruction model takes into account that some students may never be physically present in the classroom, while others may have shorter periods of being remote-only due to quarantine or isolation.

 

Q: Why were face-to-face class times reduced to one hour?

A: Face-to-face class times were reduced to one hour because after one hour in an enclosed space with others, the risk of transmitting the virus increases.


Life at Southwestern   

Q: Will on-campus parties be banned?

A: Student organization leaders recieved specific guidance and training from Student Activities over the summer with regard to planning activities on campus. Any in-person gathering will be required to follow all safety protocols, including physical distancing, reduced capacity of indoor spaces, and mask-wearing practiced by all attendees. No event will be approved unless its organizers can first demonstrate how they will successfully follow these protocols. There are additional specific limitations that will prevent groups from congregating, and those will be described in upcoming communications. 

 

Q: What precautions are being taken with Pirate Bikes?

A: Pirate Bikes are not in operation during the fall semester.

 

Q: Will students be allowed to have off-campus jobs this semester? 

A: Students are allowed to have a job off campus. We only ask that they take reasonable precautions at work to reduce their exposure to the virus — wearing a mask, keeping physical distance where possible, and washing hands frequently.


Athletics

Q: Will the fall and winter sports programs have a season and what might that look like? 

A: We are currently working with the NCAA, SCAC, and the ASC to ensure a quality playing experience for all our student-athletes. It is our desire to move all of our 2020 competitive schedules to the spring of 2021. The SCAC and ASC offices are working on schedules that will be made available once approved by the NCAA.

During the fall, all of our athletic teams will conduct conditioning, strength training, and other practice opportunities, as health and safety conditions allow. This includes training for spring sports such as golf and tennis that utilize the fall for non-traditional activities. While the workouts will be limited, coaches will have the opportunity to work directly with our student-athletes. 

We will update you when more information is available.

  

Q: How will this impact athletic eligibility? 

A: Student-athletes who participate in an NCAA-sanctioned season will still use one year of eligibility. However, if we are unable to participate, no year of eligibility will be used. Decisions on partial seasons or the student-athlete clock will have to be determined by the NCAA. Please address any eligibility concerns with our Associate Director of Athletics and NCAA Compliance Coordinator, Doug Ross, at dross@southwestern.edu

 

Q: Do student-athletes have access to Athletic Training services? 

A: Athletic Training services will continue to be available to all student-athletes. As long as health and safety protocols can protect student-athletes, there is still an expectation athletes will be working out and practicing during the fall semester. With our transition to Healthy Roster this year, we now have access to telemedicine appointments for evaluations by athletic trainers. There will also be limited face-to-face appointments scheduled as needed. 

 

Q: Can student-athletes participate in their strength & conditioning program? 

A: Yes, as long as health and safety protocols are observed by all student-athletes. We will continue to offer strength and conditioning opportunities for all of our student-athletes. All sessions will remain completely voluntary with every team participating in their nontraditional season as defined by the NCAA. 


Daily Health Screening 

Q: Do I need to download anything to access the health screening?

A: No, the form is powered by a Web app, but there is no mobile app to download. Simply navigate to the Southwestern University Daily Health Questionnaire at https://swu.mobi/DailySurvey, fill out the form, and click “Submit.” The questionnaire is also accessible through the SU App.

 

Q: Is my information secure?

A: Yes. Your information will not be shared with anyone; it is merely a screening that will help you assess whether to go about your normal day or else whether to contact the Health Center if you’re a student or need to go through a more detailed symptom checker if you’re faculty or staff. You will receive an email after you click on “Submit” that documents your responses.

 

Q: Will I be submitting my responses to a human?

A: No, the reply you receive will be automated and based on your responses to the screening questions.

 

Q: When should I complete the daily health screening?

A: You should complete the screening each day, preferably first thing in the morning or at least before you leave your room or home.

 

Q: What if I forget to complete the screening?

A: That’s OK; you will not be penalized, and no one will contact you. This is merely a questionnaire to help you assess whether you are well enough to attend class, report to work, or engage in other activities on or off campus. However, we do strongly encourage you to fill out the questionnaire every day so that you’re checking in with yourself about how you’re feeling and not potentially infecting others if you are experiencing COVID-19 symptoms or have come into recent contact with someone who has COVID-19.

 

Q: What should I do if the Southwestern University Daily Health Questionnaire returns a recommendation to self-quarantine?

A: Stay in your room or at home. If you are a student, call the Health Center at 512.863.1252; our staff will assist you with determining what to do next. If you are faculty or staff, contact the Human Resources department, and reach out to your healthcare provider. 

 

Q: What should I do if I received a message to stay in my room or at home but I am feeling better later that same day?

A: If you are a student, call the Health Center at 512.863.1252 to assess your next steps. If you are faculty or staff, please check with the Human Resources department to assess your next steps.


Dining

Q: What does dining on campus look like this fall?

A: Dining hours are significantly increased to allow de-densified and in-person dining for those who choose to eat in Mabee Commons. There are no self-serving options. For those who desire to order meals to go, there is the Bite app to facilitate the order and provide pick-up details. For those who would like a grab-and-go option, that is available at the Cove, the Merzbach room, and the Commons. Learn more about your dining options here

 

Q: Do I have to wear a mask in the dining locations?

A: You are required to wear a mask when entering, exiting, standing in line, and moving about all dining locations. You may remove it when sitting to eat or drink. 

 

Q: Can I still eat with my friends or significant other?

A: Yes, the dining room in the Commons is a rare spot on campus where you can be together without masks; however, you are required to maintain appropriate distance. The dining room is at less than 50% capacity and has several other measures in place to help reduce risk while diners are unmasked.

 

Q: How often are you cleaning the tables in the Commons?

A: Staff is constantly monitoring the sitting area and wiping down tables and barriers as you get up. Unsanitized tables have an “X” sign indicating they are unavailable. 

 

Q: Do I use the same reusable to-go container each time?

A: No. When you enter any dining location with your reusable container, you will exchange it for a new one to use during that visit. Please clean out your container before returning it. 

 

Q: What happens if I forget my reusable to-go container? 

A: If a student loses their container, they may purchase a new reusable container. If the student forgot their reusable container, they may dine in (at the Commons or outdoors only) or may take a new disposable to-go box for a charge of $0.25.


Financial

Q: Will Southwestern reimburse tuition since the fall semester is starting late or if we have to move to remote learning?

A: There will be no reduction of tuition regardless of the mode of instruction. All students will have access to faculty and student services, and all will be receiving academic credit. The fall semester will have the same number of days of instruction (69) as previous semesters. Classes start on September 7 and end November 25, then we break for Thanksgiving and wrap-up the fall with remote learning November 30 through December 11. Finals are December 15 to 19. If we need to move all or part of the semester to remote learning due to COVID-19, instruction will continue as scheduled.

 

Q: Why isn’t Southwestern offering a tuition discount for the fall, given the limitations that the pandemic will place on the student experience and learning?

A: While the fall semester will be different in many ways, we are confident in our ability to deliver on our mission as a residential liberal arts institution. We have improved teaching technologies to enhance the experience for students who choose remote learning for the semester. To mitigate the risk of on-campus transmission of COVID-19 we are providing personal protection supplies, equipment, and instruction to our students, faculty, and staff.  We have made investments in our facilities to improve physically distanced foot traffic flow and air filtration across campus. The University is also implementing testing protocols and hiring additional staff.

 

Q: Will Southwestern refund any room and board if we move to remote learning?

A: After examining all of the factors that go into room and board charges, including COVID-19 related schedule changes, Southwestern will make any adjustments for unused room and board at the end of the fall semester and apply them to spring 2021 charges.

 

Q: Will Southwestern refund any room and board for the days lost on campus due to the later semester start?

A: After examining all of the factors that go into room and board charges, including COVID-19 related schedule changes, Southwestern will make any adjustments for unused room and board at the end of the fall semester and apply them to spring 2021 charges.

 

Q: Why did Southwestern change the fall calendar after tuition bills had been mailed?

A: The uncertainty of the COVID-19 pandemic means everyone’s scheduling and plans are subject to change. Our billing process was in place and in motion before Texas experienced the June wave of new infections. While the timing was not perfect, the University made the decision to delay the start of the fall semester after careful deliberation and an abundance of concern about the health of our students, faculty, and staff.

 

Q: In what ways is Southwestern addressing the financial needs of students during this pandemic?

A: Any student whose financial circumstances have changed due to COVID-19 related economic hardship should reach out to the Financial Aid Office to discuss your options. For students experiencing financial difficulties the University has established the Southwestern Emergency Fund. You may apply through this online application: Southwestern Emergency Fund Application. 


Residence Halls   

Q: Will students be able to stay in their residence halls over winter break? 

A: All residential facilities will be closing on November 25, as we work to de-densify and thoroughly clean the campus between the fall and spring semester. Students are asked to bring only the minimum of what they need for the fall semester and then completely move out before the start of the spring semester. Housing and Residence Life will be providing more information on the fall move-out process as early as possible to ensure students can make the proper arrangements.

 

Q: If students are sent home during the fall semester will they receive refunds for their remaining room and board costs?

A: We will follow the same process as we did for the Spring semester. If the pandemic necessitates that we close campus, room and board costs will be prorated.

 

Q: What is Southwestern doing in order to decrease a students’ risk of exposure in residential areas? 

A: Housing, in collaboration with health services and facilities, has implemented protocols to decrease students’ risk of exposure, while allowing for some of the community-building benefits of the residential experience. In accordance with established guidelines, we have planned for changes such as:

  • requiring residents to wear masks or facial coverings while on campus and in community  areas
  • restricting building access to residents of that building only
  • configuring community areas for physical distancing per current guidelines
  • educating residents about proper hand and respiratory hygiene
  • educating residents on proper cleaning of their private spaces
  • providing hand sanitizer across campus
  • using isolation/quarantine spaces for residents who test positive and/or have had exposure to the virus
  • cleaning common areas with OSHA-approved disinfectants and on an OSHA-recommended schedule
  • optimizing HVAC systems for better ventilation and increased percentage of outdoor air.

 

Q: What is Southwestern doing in order to decrease students’ risk of exposure in fraternity houses?

A: In addition to what is occurring in residence halls, the fraternity houses have de-densify their spaces (fewer residents). As with other residences, only those who live in the house will be allowed entry into the house. There are no large events/gatherings. Facilities cleans two of the houses, and they have engaged with the other two houses about cleaning resources for them as well.

 

Q: What is Southwestern’s residence hall visitor policy? 

A: Entry into residential spaces (including fraternity houses) is restricted to residents of those spaces. Visitors from another residential space or from off campus will not be permitted.

 

Q: Will residence hall study rooms be available for use?

A:   Yes, study rooms are available on a reservation basis. 

 

Q: Who is responsible for cleaning personal bathrooms in residence halls? 

A: The students are responsible for cleaning personal bathrooms. Common area bathrooms are cleaned by our facilities staff.


Travel Policy 

Q: What is considered essential travel?

A: Essential trips are defined as shopping for groceries and essentials, going to medical and dental appointments, going to work, or taking trips within a short distance of your home that are absolutely necessary for your well-being.

  

Q: What is the University’s travel policy?

A: University-sponsored travel for faculty and staff should be limited and must be approved. All students, faculty, and staff are asked to enter travel into the appropriate Travel Registry Google Form.


Georgetown Community

Q: Due to Georgetown Mayor’s Dale Ross’ edict on June 29, masks are not required when exercising outside. Am I still required to wear a mask on your campus when exercising?

A: We have instituted a face mask requirement for everyone who works on or visits our campus. We ask our neighbors to assist us by serving as role models for our student body and wear a mask if you are on our campus.


Helpful Links