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UPDATED: 8-21-2020

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 President's Logo

To: Faculty, Staff, and Students

From: Walter V. Wendler, President

Date: August 21, 2020

RE: Individual Responsibility and COVID-19

As we kick-off the fall semester, I would like to reiterate this original memo distributed on June 1, 2020. Individual responsibility continues to be of the utmost importance. I appreciate the efforts of the Faculty Senate, Staff Council, and Student Government Association Executive Team who contributed to this reflection.

West Texas A&M University, under the leadership of The Texas A&M University System, plans for the reopening of our campus this fall under conditions unimaginable last spring. Circumstances require all to reflect on fundamental notions of public and private responsibility, corporate citizenship, reminiscent of Tocqueville's precarious balance of personal liberty, and good citizenship. However, nothing that has happened since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic diminishes the burden of self-determination and personal responsibility. To that end, as a preface to all of the actions that we will take institutionally to ensure a safe return to campus and resumption of study, intellectual activity, artistic expression, scientific investigation and servicetoourextendedcommunity,fourlevelsof personal accountability are recognized: (1) Institutional Leadership, (2) Faculty, (3) Staff, and (4) Students.

(I wrote the introduction and the institutional leadership perspective. The respective Faculty, Staff, and Student perspectives were written by the Faculty Senate, Staff Council, and Student Government Association Executive Team. This is a collaborative effort and represents what each organization believes will facilitate a positive and productive return to campus life, a goal which I know we all share.)

WT 125: From the Panhandle to the World holds as the primary underlying presupposition, the "Duty of Citizenship":

The many rights granted to citizens carry considerable responsibilities. Theodore Roosevelt probably said it best in his speech, "Citizenship in a Republic," given on April 23, 1910.

"The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, and comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat."

The essence of Roosevelt's proclamation was that power and purpose grow out of a person's duty as a citizen through the exercise of free will. At WT, we embrace the duty to encourage and sustain individual responsibility to the region, the state, and the country. Noble citizenship and its purpose expressed in an effective university is a potent and useful force for change.

(Page 24, WT 125: From the Panhandle to the World)

Institutional Leadership

As leaders of West Texas A&M University we will adhere to levels of safe practice, informed by science and public policy, through a combination of statute and suggestion, in recognition and response to individual responsibility. We will apprise the community, which includes our campus and all associated with it, of actions that we take, in response to elected and appointed leadership to whom we are responsible.

However, it is not our intention to become so rule and policy driven as to forget that individual accountability is the essence of good corporate/university citizenship that guides behaviors over which we might try to legislate or control, but ultimately will fail. It is our responsibility to continue to communicate and inform the campus and extended communities the best practices for living in current and future COVID-19 circumstances.

Faculty Leadership

The open exchange of ideas, tutelage, research, and personal development between faculty and students imbues and emblematizes the core spirit and raison d'être for West Texas A&M University as an institution of higher learning. In this relationship, faculty and students cultivate an environment that extends our collective acuity in the tenets of logic, reason, and empiricism; these traits remain as essential components in a deportment of good citizenship.

Together, as faculty and students frequently collaborate to forge students' journeys into the future, so too must we exercise our collaborative tradition to adjust our learning environment amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. As the student-faculty relationship remains at the core of the institution, we must together in that partnership practice the behaviors that will allow the maximization of our physical, intellectual, and emotional health. We emphasize the importance of personal responsibility as it will be the basis by which best practices become practical. For the benefit of our community, we are confident that administration, faculty, students, and staff will exercise the care and consideration that will sustain us through the COVID-19 crisis.

Staff Leadership

As proud members of the WTAMU staff, it is our responsibility, along with guidance from system and institutional leadership, to ensure that WTAMU's health is our top priority as we come back together. Just as our leaders were proactive in protecting students, staff, and faculty to ensure our health and safety, we must reciprocate by showing the same commitment to our students, fellow staff, and the community by taking all required measures seriously and responsibly. We will do our part to provide the services and support our students deserve, while ensuring each individual's voice and concerns are heard and everyone remains safe, not just on our campuses but within our families and communities.

Furthermore, we shall:

  • Support WTAMU students, staff, faculty, and the communities of the Panhandle.
  • Take proud ownership of our respective areas.
  • Act in a manner that brings honor to oneself and WTAMU.
  • Focus on the mission and goals of WTAMU.
  • Forge a bright future by constantly seeking to improve oneself, our respective areas, and our guests.

Student Leadership

The West Texas A&M University Student Government will demonstrate an example of selfless and noble citizenship by ensuring the safety of self and others, while allowing students to maintain civil liberties and freedom. Student Government will support the institution and urge students to comply with federal, state, local, and The Texas A&M University System safety recommendations, but will continue to support our fellow Buff's in accessing their basic human and constitutional rights. Student Government will encourage each individual to accept personal responsibility and accountability on the premise of noble citizenship by recognizing, and practicing, the provided safety recommendations.

Walter V. Wendler
President
806.651.2100
president@wtamu.edu

Employee Guiding Principles

West Texas A&M University (WTAMU) is committed to responding to the COVID-19 pandemic with safety and the well-being of all students, employees, and visitors as a top priority. The primary goal of WTAMU's response is to protect the health of our students and employees while continuing the University mission of higher education and research from the Panhandle to the World.

WTAMU's plans are also consistent with guidance provided by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the State of Texas, and The Texas A&M University System (TAMUS), Randall and Potter counties, the cities of Amarillo and Canyon and the Bi-County Health Department. The COVID- 19 virus continues to evolve, and the WTAMU guidelines will continue to be updated as more information becomes available.

Employee Return to Campus

Campus Expectations and Guidelines

All employees are expected to comply with the TAMUS policies and WTAMU rules and guidelines outlined in this document entirely. All returning employees must have completed the TrainTraq Training #2114131: Safe Practices for Returning to the Office during the COVID-19 Pandemic and the TrainTraq Certification #2114130: Certification for System Employees.

Symptom Monitoring Requirement

Employees must self-monitor for symptoms daily before coming to campus. Employees instructed to return to the campus must be free of ANY symptoms potentially related to COVID-19 before reporting to campus.

These symptoms include:

  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
  • Chills
  • Repeated shaking with chills
  • Muscle pain
  • Headache
  • Sore throat
  • Loss of taste or smell
  • Diarrhea
  • Feelingfeverishormeasuringatemperaturegreaterthanorequalto100.0degreesFahrenheit
  • Known close contact with a person who tested positive for COVID-19

After completing the required training and certification, employees are confirming daily that they are symptom-free by their presence on campus. Employees experiencing symptoms should contact their health care provider, enter sick leave in Workday, and inform their supervisor. As a reminder, those employees on Blue Cross Blue Shield insurance can visit MDLive rather than visiting a medical facility. According to TAMUS and Chancellor Sharp, there should be no insurance-related co-pays for COVID- 19 medical visits or tests. According to the CDC, individuals with certain conditions are at a higher risk for COVID-19 infection. Those conditions may include:

  • Older adults (aged 65 years and older)
  • Chronic lung disease
  • Moderate to severe asthma
  • Serious heart conditions
  • Being immunocompromised
  • Severe obesity (BMI of 40 or higher) 
  • Diabetes
  • Chronic kidney disease being treated with dialysis
  • Liver disease

Testing Opportunities

WTAMU is partnering with several A&M System initiatives to bring COVID-19 testing to campus for all faculty and staff. Currently, we are collaborating with the Texas Department of Emergency Management to offer drive-by testing and results by Curative, Inc. The test results are typically provided within 48 hours. We are also working with test kits provided by The Texas A&M University System, the WT Nursing Wellness Clinic, and the WT Student Medical Services to provide testing for our faculty and staff. The test results are typically provided within 24 hours. The locations and timeframes for testing events will be communicated to the University via an all-informational e-mail. There is no cost to the employee for either of these testing opportunities.

Additional information for COVID-19 testing can be found on the University COVID-19 information webpage: COVID-19 Testing Information.

Contact Tracing

In the event an employee tests positive for COVID-19, the employee must immediately notify the University by e-mailing information to COVID-19@wtamu.edu (name, department, immediate supervisor, date tested, date informed of positive test results, last day on campus). The Assistant Vice President for Risk Management (AVPRM) will notify Human Resources and the Vice President for Philanthropy and External Relations with pertinent information while protecting the employee's HIPAA information.

All employees, including student workers, who test positive are required to self-report their information to The Texas A&M University System COVID-19 Reporting Portal for purposes of contact tracing.

Additional information for employees who test positive or experience symptoms of COVID-19 can be found on the University COVID-19 information webpage: Employee Guide for COVID-19 Positive Tests and Symptoms.

Return to Campus versus Working Remotely

WTAMU will continue to follow the State of Texas mandates, and CDC guidance as the campus continues to welcome an increasing number of staff, faculty, students, and visitors to our campus. Consideration should be given to those who are at high risk, as previously defined, to continue working remotely. Supervisors should work in conjunction with Human Resources on requests by employees to continue working remotely. All employees should submit the Request for Return to Campus Exemption form if they wish to request to continue working remotely beyond June 30, 2020, due to a COVID-19 high-risk factor.

Return to Work Operations

Employees instructed to return to work on campus should work within their building and department to ensure compliance with required social distancing measures and to reduce crowds within workspaces.

  • Remote Work: Those who are approved to work remotely to fulfill their work responsibilities maycontinue if the arrangements have been approved by the employee's immediate supervisor and appropriate vice president.
  • Staggered Entering/Departing: The beginning and end of the workday typically bring more people together at common entry/exit points of buildings. Staggering entering and departure times will help reduce traffic in common areas to maintain social distancing requirements.

Returning of University Equipment

Campus equipment checked out to employees for remote work must be returned and sanitized before use. Please coordinate returns with the supervisor who granted permission to use University property at home.

Employee Health and Safety Guidance

Personal Safety Practices

To prevent transmission of the virus, the State of Texas requires and the CDC recommends that employees wear appropriate facemasks/coverings while in close proximity to others (within six-feet) and in public settings where other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain (common workspaces, meeting rooms, classrooms, etc.).

Facemasks/Coverings

WTAMU requires all employees to wear appropriate facemasks/coverings in the following areas:

  • Indoor public areas on campus, including all non-private or residential spaces, such as lobbies, restrooms, common spaces in residence halls (including hallways), conference rooms, break rooms, elevators, and related campus-community areas; and
  • Outdoor spaces where six feet or more of physical distancing is challenging to maintain reliably.

Faculty will not be required to wear facemasks/coverings in explicit-learning spaces to facilitate clear instruction; however, students will be required to wear a facemask/covering in all classrooms and teaching/researching laboratories.

*Definition of a facemask/covering: According to CDC guidance and West Texas A&M University, for the purpose of the COVID-19 pandemic. An effective cloth facemask/covering will:

  • Include multiple layers of tightly woven fabric.
  • Fit snugly but comfortably against the side of the face.
  • Cover the nose and mouth.
  • Be secured with ties, ear loops, or wrap around the head (such as gaiter style masks).
  • Allow for breathing without restriction.
  • Be able to be laundered and machine-dried without damage or change to shape.
The following would not be appropriate for cloth facemasks/coverings:
  • Fabric that you can see through.
  • Hosiery, gauze, hand knit/crochet, and other loosely woven materials.
  • Holding a towel, t-shirt, or other non-secured item over your face.
  • Face shields as are intended for eye protection. Face shields may be worn by faculty members in explicit-learning spaces. A face shield should be changed to a facemask/covering when coming within six feet of others or worn in addition to a facemask/covering.

Any facemask/covering with an exhalation valve does not meet the standards of this policy as they allow particles to exhaust from the wearer. Disposable filtering face piece respirators, such as KN95 and N95s are appropriate for those who are part of a respiratory protection program through their workplace. FDA-approved surgical masks may also be used as a facemask/covering.

Putting on facemasks/coverings:

  • Wash hands or use hand sanitizer prior to handling facemasks/coverings.
  • Ensure facemasks/coverings fit over the nose and under the chin.
  • Situate facemasks/coverings properly and snug.
  • Throughout the process, avoid touching the front of facemasks/coverings.

Taking off facemasks/coverings:

  • Do not touch eyes, nose, or mouth when removing facemasks/coverings.
  • Wash hands immediately after the removal of facemasks/coverings.

It is recommended that individuals have multiple facemasks/coverings to use throughout the week to begin each day with a new or cleaned facemask/covering. Wearing facemasks/coverings from personal vehicles to end destinations when others are near is recommended. Cloth facemasks/coverings should only be worn for one day at a time and should be properly laundered before re-use each day. Employees may also use their own personal facemask/covering. Appropriate use of a facemask/covering is critical in minimizing risks to others around you. You could spread COVID-19 to others even if you do not feel sick.

Disposable facemasks/coverings will be provided by WTAMU as needed. Disposable face masks/coverings may only be worn for one use and then should be placed appropriately in the trash. Also, a limited supply of reusable cloth facemasks has been procured for employees. Departments with employees who need disposable or reusable facemasks/coverings should contact WTAMU Central Supply (ext. 2155).

According to medical experts, there are very few medical reasons that would justify non-compliance with the facemask/covering expectation. Documentation of any exemption from wearing a facemask/covering should be carried with you, and should also be put on file using the Face Mask Exemption Request Form.

Social Distancing

Keeping space between you and others is one of the best ways to avoid being exposed to the COVID- 19 virus, slowing the spread, and helping protect people who are at higher risk. Since people can spread the virus before they know they are sick, it is important to stay away from others when possible, even if you do not have symptoms. Employees who have returned to campus should follow these social distancing practices: Always stay at least six feet (about two arm's length) from other people.
  • Do not gather in informal groups of more than 10.
  • When gathering with others, gather outdoors when possible.
  • Stay out of crowded places and avoid mass gatherings.
  • Wear facemask/covering when not in personal offices.
Taking Temperatures

Each employee should continue to self-monitor daily and should not report to work if they have a fever or display any of the COVID-19 virus symptoms, as previously listed.

Coughing/Sneezing Hygiene

Remember, always cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or with the inside of your elbow when you cough or sneeze. Always throw used tissues in the trash. Immediately wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not readily available, clean your hands with a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol.

Handwashing

Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after being in a public place, after blowing your nose, coughing, sneezing, or touching your face. If soap and water are not readily available, use a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol. Cover all surfaces of your hands with soap, and after rinsing, pat completely dry. Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth, but if necessary, be sure to wash your hands before and after touching your face.

Hand sanitizing stations are located across campus and will be refilled as needed. If you find a station that needs to be refilled, please contact the SSC Physical Plant (ext. 2133; physicalplant@wtamu.edu) with the exact location.

Gloves

According to the CDC, gloves are not necessary for general use and do not replace good hand hygiene. Washing with soap or cleaning your hands with a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol is considered best practice. If your job duties require gloves, please contact your supervisor. The University has gloves in stock for departments that request them.

Goggles

Employees do not need to wear goggles as a part of general activity on campus.

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)

The University has provided small "Start Back to Work" kits that contain gloves, a mask, and hand sanitizer. Please contact Central Supply (ext. 2155) if you have not received a kit. Gloves are not required but are provided. PPE items will be available for zero-priced ordering as needed. Be aware that quantities may be limited. Employees may provide their own preferred PPE stock as well.

Cleaning/Disinfection

SSC teams have enhanced their disinfecting and cleaning practices across campus. They are paying particular attention to high-traffic areas and high-touch fixtures such as doorknobs, light switches, and handrails. SSC monitors soap and hand sanitizer dispensers and is refilling them as needed. If you find a station that needs to be refilled, please contact SSC (ext. 2133; physicalplant@wtamu.edu) with the exact location.

University Buildings: In addition to the routine custodial cleaning protocol, the University has instructed SSC to implement an enhanced cleaning frequency to clean and disinfect common areas and commonly touched surfaces in occupied buildings. Touchpoints such as entrance handles, handrails, elevator buttons, tables, and restroom stall handles/doors are being cleaned once daily, and they will be increased to twice daily five days a week, using EPA-registered disinfectants. Some areas of the campus, specific to the operation, will be cleaned to the standard of their department or unit's operational needs. WTAMU administration will continue to monitor the situation and update cleaning protocols as necessary.

University Installed Sanitizer Dispenser Stations: Dispensing stations containing alcohol-based hand sanitizer are installed near all building entrances and will be maintained as supplies allow. In addition, during the summer months, SSC will be installing sanitizer wipe stations in all University buildings to wipe down surfaces as needed. Although hand sanitizer can help prevent the spread of the virus, practicing the CDC's proper handwashing technique is considered more effective. Handwashing should include the use of any soap and water for a minimum of 20 seconds. If soap is not immediately available, use hand sanitizer with 60% alcohol content or greater.

Disinfecting My Work Area: Clean commonly touched surfaces several times per day. This includes desks, phones, remote controls, printers, fax machines, computer mouses and keyboards, lab benches, and lab equipment. The University is providing departments with EPA-registered disinfectants such as single-use disinfectant wipes and multi-surface spray cleaner VIREX II 256. Always use cleaning products as recommended on manufacturer labels, including wearing disposable gloves as directed. It is recommended that your workspace be personally cleaned before and after personal use. There are sanitation stations located throughout facilities that will house disinfectant wipes and hand sanitizer. We encourage all employees to use these stations to clean their areas they will be using to work.

Below are some simple instructions for the use of the one-step disinfectant cleaner and deodorant (VIREX II256) in a spray bottle:

  • Pre-clean heavily soiled areas.
  • Apply a light mist to hard, non-porous environment surfaces. To disinfect, all surfaces mustremain wet for approximately 10 minutes.
  • Air dry, wipe surfaces to dry and remove residue, or rinse with potable water, do not use on glassware, utensils or dishes.

Office: Highly touched surfaces including chairs, desktops, computer monitors, mouses, and keyboards, remotes, light switches, elevator buttons, handrails, doors, knobs, door push plates, card readers, refrigerator/freezer doors, and handles will be cleaned during daily servicing.
Labs: Equipment panels/switches, benchtops, biosafety cabinet and fume hood sashes and their working surfaces; bio-waste container lids, commonly used hand tools and small objects, PPE (including goggles), refrigerator/freezer doors and handles will be cleaned during daily servicing.
Classrooms: Highly touched surfaces including chairs, desktops, tabletops, computer monitors, mouses, and keyboards, remotes, light switches, window shade handles, handrails, doors, knobs, door push plates, card readers, and cabinet handles will be cleaned during daily servicing.
The Difference between Cleaning and Disinfecting: Cleaning refers to the removal of germs, dirt, and impurities from surfaces. Cleaning does not kill germs, but by removing them, it lowers their numbers and the risk of spreading infection. Disinfecting refers to using chemicals to kill germs on surfaces. This process does not necessarily clean dirty surfaces or remove germs; however, disinfecting a surface after cleaning can further lower the risk of spreading infection.

Cleaning and Disinfecting Area Exposed to COVID-19: The University has instructed SSC to be ready to send special cleaning crews as needed to disinfect and sanitize areas that have been reported to have been exposed.

Campus Visitors

Campus visitors are expected to follow the same guidelines as employees. Visits to campus should be postponed when possible to reduce traffic in common areas. Visitors should not visit campus if they exhibit any of the COVID-19 virus symptoms, as previously listed.

Employee Guidance for Specific Campus Scenarios

Working in Office Environments

If you work in an open environment, be sure to maintain at least six-feet distance from coworkers. If possible, have at least one workspace separating you from another coworker. You are required to wear a facemask/covering while in a shared workspace/room.

Departments should assess open work environments and meeting rooms to institute measures to physically separate and increase the distance between employees, other coworkers, and customers, such as:

  • Place visual cues such as floor decals, colored tape, or signs to indicate to customers where they should stand while waiting in line. The University will provide signage where needed. Contact Stan Pena (ext. 2939; spena@wtamu.edu) for further information.

If you work in an office, no more than one person should be in the same room unless the required six-feet of distancing can be consistently maintained. If more than one person is in a room, facemasks/coverings are required to be worn. A facemask/covering is not required if you are working alone in a confined office space (note this does not include partitioned work areas in a large, open environment).

Any employee in a reception/receiving area is required to wear a facemask/covering. Facemasks/coverings should also be used when inside any facility where others are present, including walking in hallways where others travel and in break rooms, conference rooms, and other meeting locations.

Common Spaces

In hallways, workrooms, and breakrooms, it is always important to maintain six-feet of distance between you and others. If more than one person is in these common spaces, a facemask/covering is required. Individuals should not sit facing one another. Departments should remove or rearrange chairs and tables or add visual cue marks in employee breakrooms to support social distancing practices between employees. Wipe all surfaces, including tables, refrigerator handles, coffee machines, copiers, etc. after use.

Restrooms

In restrooms with stalls, employees are encouraged to occupy every other stall, if possible. After using the restroom, wash your hands thoroughly or use hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol to reduce the potential transmission of the virus.

Elevators

No more than three people should be in the elevator at a time. Those who are able should use the stairs whenever possible. While using an elevator, you are required to wear a facemask/covering and avoid touching the elevator buttons with your exposed hand/fingers, if possible. Wash your hands thoroughly after or use hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol to reduce the potential transmission of the virus.

Meetings

Convening in groups increases the risk of transmitting the virus. Where feasible, meetings should be held in whole or part using a virtual meeting program such as Zoom, Microsoft Teams, WebEx, or by telephone. In-person meetings should follow the Program and Event Guidelines Manual, posted on the COVID-19 information webpage. Departments should remove or rearrange chairs and tables or add visual cue marks in meeting rooms to support social distancing practices between attendees. All attendees are required to wear a facemask/covering while sharing space in a common room. While on campus, you are encouraged to communicate with your colleagues and supervisors as needed by e-mail, telephone, Zoom, Microsoft Teams, Jabber, or other available technology rather than meeting face-to-face.

Dining

Before and after eating, you should wash your hands thoroughly to reduce the potential transmission of the virus. If dining on campus, you should wear a facemask/covering until you are ready to eat and then replace it after eating. On-campus dining will have markings to ensure there is at least six feet of distance between each customer. Some seating areas have been removed to ensure social distancing. When possible, employees are encouraged to enjoy their meals outside, where social distancing is more manageable, and air quality is better.

Classrooms

All classrooms currently contain the Registrar's number of seats, which is lower than the Fire Marshall's occupancy number. Please do not remove seats or tables within any classroom. Contact Stan Pena (ext. 2939; spena@wtamu.edu) to assist with a social distancing plan in a classroom or lab. The University is not recommending or enforcing an occupancy percentage, but allowing faculty to implement seating that provides for adequate safe distancing for all attendees.

Laboratories

Researchers performing non-hazardous and/or dry work should, whenever possible, perform such work in their individual workspace. Researchers conducting work with hazardous or bio-hazardous material or who are conducting work on animals should follow social distancing guidelines.

Plexiglass

Where necessary, if your area desires to have plexiglass installed, please contact Stan Pena (ext. 2939; spena@wtamu.edu). Plexiglass has been installed in areas where service to customers occurs within six-feet (Bursar's Office, mail services, dining areas, etc.).

Signage

Building occupants are expected to follow signage about social distancing throughout University buildings, doors, restrooms, etc. Only University-approved signs and posters can be placed around campus. If a department has identified a need for signage that is not already established, please contact Stan Pena (ext. 2939; spena@wtamu.edu) with your request. The University has provided signage for doors, floors, restrooms, and sanitation stations.

All University entrances will have the below signage posted:

covid-campusguide-posters.png