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Higher Education Center at McAllen


COVID-19 Guidance

Updated: July 28, 12:00 p.m. CDT


Resources:


The Latest:

General Guidance

Published on Mon 06/29/20

Below you will find information about academic operations for Fall 2020 including the university calendar, scheduling changes, and the instruction of courses and labs.
 

Please note that some graduate and professional school programs follow a different academic calendar and course schedule. Affected students will receive separate communications from their respective college or school regarding fall classes.
 

Section 1: University Calendar

  • Courses for most programs begin on Wednesday, August 19th.  
  • The last day of instruction is Tuesday, November 24th. No additional face-to-face meetings will be held. All assignments and projects that require face-to-face interaction must be completed at this time. The only remaining graded activities that are permissible are those which may be accomplished remotely and final exams.   
  • Reading days are Wednesday, November 25th and Monday, November 30th. No classes, exams, or other university-related graded activity may be scheduled for these days. Instructors may hold virtual office hours and review sessions. 
  • Final exams for most programs are scheduled from Tuesday, December 1st through Wednesday, December 9th, and all final exams will be administered online. Additional information about exams is provided in each section below.
  • Additional details are provided on the official university calendar website.    
 

Section 2: Scheduling Changes

  • The standard course schedule is being adjusted to accommodate 30-minute passing periods throughout the day and one 45-minute mid-day passing period to allow for additional cleaning of classrooms. This means the day will extend later into the evening, up to 8:35 p.m. on some days. Preliminary time periods are located here.
  • Courses previously scheduled using a non-standard time are being rescheduled into a standard time pattern to maximize the use of classrooms and allow for the elongated passing periods. 
  • Room assignments are being made to accommodate optimal use of available classrooms based on physical distancing seat capacity.
 

Section 3: Modes of Course Delivery

At this time, Texas A&M University is planning to offer courses in three ways:
  • Face to face which are also synchronously streamed remotely via Zoom from the classroom
  • Remote only (not face to face; instruction generally delivered synchronously during scheduled class time via Zoom although asynchronous activities may be used)
  • Online (not face to face; prepared specifically using principles for online learning; instruction may be delivered either synchronously during scheduled class time or asynchronously)
 

3.1 Face-to-Face Courses


3.1.1      Instruction
  • A face-to-face class is generally defined as a class that allows students to attend in person in a classroom with a faculty member a minimum of one time a week. 
  • Only classrooms designated in the final course schedule may be used. For safety reasons, the location shall not be changed.
  • In some classrooms, instructors will be asked to rotate students for face-to-face instruction in cohorts so that all students have the opportunity for a face-to-face class with an instructor at least once during the week while attending remotely the rest of the week. For example, an instructor teaching a Tuesday/Thursday class would assign half the class to come on Tuesday and the other half to come on Thursday. Or, a class scheduled for Monday/Wednesday/Friday class would have 1/3rd of the students attend each day of the week. All students would attend remotely on those days that they are not assigned to be in class. The decision on how to rotate students will be determined by the instructor. Colleges and departments will notify those instructors who are being asked to use cohorts to ensure students receive one face-to-face class meeting each week.
  • All face-to-face classes will also be delivered in a synchronous, remote delivery. Instructors should provide a mechanism for students joining the class remotely to ask questions, such as using the chat function in Zoom.
  • With the exception of some professional programs, students may opt out of face-to-face instruction voluntarily. A student cannot be required to be in the classroom. Students are still expected to complete assignments by deadlines unless otherwise excused by the instructor. Some students may opt out at the start of the semester for the entire semester. Others may need to opt out if they have been exposed to COVID-19 and need to self-isolate.  Still others may become ill and need to quarantine until cleared by a medical professional. Therefore, attendance in a face-to-face classroom is likely to fluctuate considerably over the semester. However, given the concerns over illness, flexibility is the most practical approach. For those faculty who plan to use an attendance policy, be prepared to allow attendance either in person or remotely. An instructional video on how to take attendance in Zoom is available here.
  • If team projects are assigned, they must be facilitated in a way that allows for participation by students electronically for those off campus as well as safe physical distancing for those students choosing to meet face to face.
  • Instructors may require that students turn on cameras during class and this should be stated clearly in the syllabus. The university’s new Bring Your Own Device policy requires that students have access to a webcam.
  • Local health care facilities are presently focused on testing and treatment.  To prevent overload at local health care facilities, the Faculty Senate Executive Committee has approved the use of this form in lieu of a medical confirmation note as required in Student Rule 7. This form must be submitted within two calendar days of returning to class. An electronic version of this form will be available for Fall 2020, and once completed by a student, a notification will automatically route to the student’s instructors and the student’s dean. Additional details will be provided closer to the start of classes. Timelines, requirements for make-up work, and other types of absences described in Student Rule 7 are still applicable.
  • Instructors should end the class on time in order to facilitate the exit of students from the marked doors in a timely manner while maintaining physical distancing. Students should exit the building without delay and not congregate in hallways. Students should wait outside the building before the start of class and not congregate in the hallways.
  • Instructors should schedule an adequate amount of online office hours so that students attending remotely can get assistance. This semester will present unforeseen challenges, so we encourage instructors to consider offering extra time for students to ask questions.  Although office hours may also be offered face-to-face at the discretion of the faculty member provided that face coverings, physical distancing, and other safety protocols are in place. Directions for scheduling office hours through Zoom are available here.
 

 3.1.2 Enhanced Classroom Safety Measures

  • Classrooms are equipped with a movable plexiglass shield that can be positioned in front of the instructor at the podium or place of instruction. Faculty should maintain a 6-foot physical distance from the students in the class to maximize safety.
  • Classroom occupancy capacity to maintain physical distancing is established by the university and will be clearly marked for each classroom. Occupancy for classrooms is set at approximately 33% of normal capacity unless the room configuration allows for a higher percentage. Seats will be clearly identified so that students maintain a safe physical distance.  In some classrooms, seats may be marked to minimize use by multiple students between cleanings.
  • The new face covering policy (SAP) is in effect for all on campus. Those without a face covering shall not enter the classroom unless they have a note indicating an approved exemption and communicate this information to the faculty member. Individuals with an TAMU-issued exemption should wear a face shield if consistent with ADA accommodations. Faculty may request a student without a face covering or exemption to put on a face covering or vacate the classroom and join the class virtually. If the student refuses to leave, the faculty member should notify the Student Conduct Office who will treat noncompliance as a conduct violation.
  • Instructors may use a face shield in place of a face covering while lecturing, although face coverings are safer. More information is provided in the face covering FAQ. If the instructor can maintain at least 6 feet physical distance from the nearest member of the class and the a plexiglass barrier is in place between the instructor and students, then a face shield may be used while lecture. Instructors should still wear a face covering when entering and exiting the classroom since face coverings provide more protection than a face shield.
  • In most locations, the university is able to increase the amount of fresh air that will circulate through the ventilation systems in classrooms.
  • In most locations, classrooms will be cleaned twice a day – once at midday (45-minute passing time) and again either at the end of the day or the beginning of the next day before students and faculty arrive back into the room.     
  • Students and instructors exhibiting any symptoms of infection or who do not feel well should not attend class in person, only remotely or come to campus.
  • Students shall not be required to attend any face-to-face lecture class. In general, students should not be required to be on campus with the exception of professional programs that must meet strict accreditation and licensure requirements.
 

3.1.3 Technology

  • Cameras and microphones have been installed in all university-managed classrooms. The camera will be preset to capture broad area near front of the room, however, instructions for zooming and panning the camera will be provided in the near future for instructors desiring to change the settings. 
  • Recording synchronous lectures through Zoom is encouraged so that students have an opportunity to revisit the class session. However, please observe the following: (1) at the beginning of each class period, please remind students that the session is being cloud recorded, and (2) the cloud recorded lecture may only be accessible to students enrolled in the course in the current semester through NetID and password. It is recommended that Course Instructors use the Zoom integration through the LMS (available in both eCampus and Canvas) to ensure access is limited to students enrolled in the course in the current semester.  Because of FERPA, be aware that recordings should not be used in future semesters.
  • All courses will be pre-loaded in both eCampus and Canvas. The course syllabus should clearly identify which LMS the students will use as both will be available for use during the next year. The Instructor of Record will be responsible for activating the course (in eCampus) or publishing the course (in Canvas), which will allow students to access content for their class.
  • The university has implemented a new Bring Your Own Device policy that requires that students have access to technology for online and remote delivery. This policy allows inclusion of the cost of this device as part of the financial aid calculation. Additionally, students can request emergency aid to help purchase the required technology.
 

3.1.4 Exams

  • During the regular semester, all non-professional school exams and other assessed projects or assignments must have a remote option. All non-professional school final exams and assessments will be administered online. Please see keepteaching.tamu.edu for additional details. Alternative methods of assessment are encouraged where possible.
  • If the instructor plans to administer a synchronous final exam, the assigned day/time slot for the course will be used to determine when the final exam may be conducted.
  • Per university policy, proctored exam fees may not be passed along to students.
  • Additional details about exam proctoring are under development and will be forthcoming. 
  • While connectivity with our LMS and with Zoom to the university was generally reliable in the spring, internet connections in many off-campus locations can be unreliable at one time or another. In many cases, there isn’t anything the student can do about these situations. Instructors should be as flexible as possible as students cannot guarantee reliable internet connections. We encourage faculty to set up a mechanism for a student to contact you in the event that difficulty with technology prevents the student from accessing or completing the exam. While this is less than desirable, it acknowledges a technological component that is beyond either the instructor’s or the student’s control.  We are working to maximize study spaces and computer labs on campus while maintaining physical distancing. We are considering ways to enhance the use of outdoor spaces for studying and internet access, but these spaces may not be suitable for taking exams.
 

3.2 Remote Course Instruction


3.2.1      Instruction
 
  • Synchronous remote courses allow instructors and students to meet at the assigned day and time on the schedule. Asynchronous activities may also be utilized as well although fully asynchronous courses are strongly discouraged.
  • Instructors teaching more than one section of the same course should deliver each the same way so that students are not disadvantaged by type of instruction. 
  • The course syllabus should be clear on the instructor’s expectations for synchronous and asynchronous activities. 
  • Instructors should establish regular office hours for students to engage and ask questions.  See this resource for more details on how to do this through Zoom. 
  • For non-professional school courses, if the instructor plans to administer a synchronous final exam, the assigned day/time slot for the course will be used to determine when the final exam may be conducted.
 

3.3 Online Course Instruction


3.3.1      Instruction
 
  • Courses identified by colleges and departments for online instruction should be delivered online, and faculty should be already working on course design.
  • Development of online courses should follow best practices and be prepared using standard online principles, including accessibility considerations.
  • Online classes being converted from planned face-to-face instruction will have an assigned day and time to meet in order to accommodate synchronous course activities. However, asynchronous activities may be utilized as well. If synchronous delivery is selected by the faculty, the assigned day and time must be used.
  • For non-professional school courses, if the instructor plans to administer a synchronous final exam, the assigned day/time slot for the course will be used to determine when the final exam may be conducted.
  • Faculty should establish regular office hours for students to engage and ask questions.  See this resource for more details on how to do this through Zoom. 

Classrooms

  • All classrooms, including the Conference Room, are closed to students and employee meetings of 10+ people.
  • Students may request classroom access for studying/attending classes by visiting the Security Office (127). Rooms will be monitored to ensure social distancing protocol is being followed.
 
Modified Building Access
  • Hours of Operation – Access with Aggie Card ONLY:
    • Monday – Friday, 8 AM – 8 PM
    • Saturday – Sunday, 9 AM – 5 PM
  • Building access will be limited to the Northwest, South, and Southwest doors via keyless access with Aggie ID Cards until further notice. 
    • Northwest Entrance – Entrance by student parking lot
    • South Entrance – Entrance by Security Office
    • Southwest Entrance – entrance by main staircase

All students and employees must comply with applicable local government orders.

If your Aggie Card is lost or stolen, or if you are a College Station student and need
access to this facility, email mmiguel@tamu.edu with your name, UIN, & phone number.

A Note from Academic Advising:

We want to assure you during this critical time that we continue to support your educational endeavors at Texas A&M. As you transition to online learning, we wanted to provide information to help you navigate this new learning environment. More than anything, we want you to know that we care for you and support you during this time.  If there are issues that are not addressed or you need more information, please reach out to us so that we can assist you.

** Questions about academics or classes? **
Know that you may email or call advisors, faculty, and other offices around campus.

Click here to schedule a meeting through NAVIGATE. 

Tutoring will resume in the Fall. Click here to see the full schedule. 

Keep Learning at TAMU is an online resource dedicated to helping you transition your learning online. For more information and resources, please visit https://keeplearning.tamu.edu/

If you need assistance with course accommodations, please contact Disability Resources
Deer Oaks is available 24/7 by phone at 866-329-4148 or online (Login/PW: TAMUSAP)

We want to make sure you have everything you need during this difficult time. Food should not be a factor anyone has to worry about during stressful times, and as such, we are extending access to the 12th Can Food Pantry on campus to students and employees as they need it. We have implemented a food pick-up system that will allow us to practice social distancing while meeting the needs of our community. 

Students and employees can fill out a request online at: https://tx.ag/12thCanMcAllen 

Dear Students,

As we prepare for the fall semester, we are taking a number of steps to keep everyone as safe as possible. Below are some of the steps we have taken or are taking. Please note that many of these changes are subject to change at the recommendation of Texas A&M University, local, state and national officials.
 
If you test positive for the Coronavirus, it is important that you report it by going to the following link COVID-19 Report Form. For more information, I would also direct you to the message from the Office of the Provost dated July 25th delivered at 10:27 am (https://www.tamu.edu/coronavirus/messages/july-20-covid-19-reporting-process.html).  
 

  1. In an effort to maintain social distancing and give students the option to learn from home, we have installed cameras in all of the classrooms. We are currently purchasing mobile cameras for the labs.  You will be able to attend class either in the classroom (face-to-face) or virtually. Your professors will work with you to coordinate a rotation schedule, determining who attends face-to-face instruction one day, while giving other students the same opportunity for the next class period. Many of our classes have low enough enrollments that rotating students will not be necessary to maintain social distancing. Some of you may prefer to attend class virtually. Please communicate that with your professors.  
    1. The labs are a bit trickier and we are working on some alternatives for you.
  2. In an effort to keep you safe and informed, we are administering COVID-19 tests. I have created a weekly schedule and will revise it as the need presents.
    1. For COVID 19 testing, you will need to setup an appointment by first going tohttps://texasam.curativeinc.com/welcome/screen/success
    2. After you address the screening questions, you will be sent an email. Click on the link provided and make your appointment.
    3. No Food, Drink or mouthwash: You should not eat, drink or use mouthwash 20 minutes prior to being tested.
    4. Test Type: This is an oral test (NOT a NASAL test). For testing instructions, please watch videohttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LNopEE7lC6E&t=7s.
  3. While everyone who enters the Texas A&M University Higher Education Center at McAllen will be required to wear a face covering, we will provide the added option of a face shield for all of our faculty, staff and students who want one. These reusable clear plastic face shields will be an added level of security we are providing. These face shields have been ordered.
  4. In an effort to further minimize the spread of COVID-19, we have installed plexiglass shields in key spots across the HECM. We plan to install shields for classroom podiums.
  5. Faculty, staff and students have the option of having their temperatures checked as they enter the building.
  6. To further protect you, class schedules have been adjusted so as to allow 30 minutes between classes. This will allow you to maintain social distancing as you walk to and from classes. At mid-day, the break between classes has been extended for 45 minutes, so that this time can be used to disinfect the classrooms. The building is being disinfected daily with EPA approved disinfectants. All offices and classrooms are also being outfitted with sanitizing wipes. The Office of the Provost offered more details at https://www.tamu.edu/coronavirus/messages/july-20-tamu-guidelines-related-to-the-monitoring-of-covid-19-reporting-and-cleaning-and-disinfecting-facilities.html.
  7. We have installed internet connectivity to extend to the student parking lot. You, could therefore connect to the internet from your vehicles if you prefer not to enter the building.
  8. To minimize contact, all academic advising is being offered virtually via ZOOM. Students needing advising will setup appointment via Navigate.
  9. For your protection, some faculty may hold office hours via ZOOM.  
  10. Efforts to keep students safe while also keeping you engaged are underway. PALM camp and Howdy Week activities for new students will be conducted virtually.
  11. We continue to encourage you to wash your hands frequently. We have also installed sanitizing pumps throughout the building. We will also be providing disinfectant wipes in all the classrooms and offices.  

While we realize that these are unique times, we know that working together, wearing face coverings, washing hands frequently, and maintaining social distancing; we can help curtail the spread of COVID-19. We look forward to the start of the fall semester. We also look forward to providing you the very best educational experience. Do keep in mind that many of our current plans are subject to change, depending on local, state or TAMU recommendations and requirements.
 
Good luck and BTHO COVID.
 
 
Adolfo Santos, Ph.D. | Assistant Provost
Texas A&M University Higher Education Center
6200 Tres Lagos Blvd
McAllen, Texas 78504
adolfo.santos45@tamu.edu
 

Published on Mon 07/29/20
Dear College Station Campus Faculty and Staff:

It’s the time of year when we see students begin to return to campus. Some of our professional programs begin classes as early as next week while most graduate and undergraduate courses will begin in 23 short days. We are pilot testing equipment and completing documentation to make this as smooth as possible for those of you teaching face-to-face classes. Watch for more on this next week. Also, if you have a class with a common exam scheduled in the evening, please note the times of those exams have been rescheduled to later in the evening due to significant time conflicts for students from the previous schedule changes. For the latest in online learning resources, please visit our keepteaching page.


COVID-19 Testing

COVID-19 testing is now available Monday through Friday for Bryan/College Station Texas A&M University students, faculty, and staff.

  • Priority for testing is given to those with symptoms associated with COVID-19 infections and those who have been in close contact with known or suspected cases. Close contact is defined as closer than 6 feet for 15 minutes or longer.
  • Appointment windows open 1-2 days prior to their availability. 
  • Tests are administered in requestor’s vehicle parked in the faculty/staff parking lot. Test requestor will call 956-540-8546 upon arrival.  
  • To schedule an appointment, click here.

 

  • Lab results will be available within 2-3 days from the time the test is taken. Negative test results will be provided directly to the individual via email. Positive test results will be reported to state and county health offices and the Texas A&M Investigation and Operations Center will contact you directly to provide additional guidance.


Reporting

Last week, the university released guidance for reporting COVID-19 symptoms, exposure, or a positive test. Please review the information here and report to the university’s portal. Email COVID19Process@tamu.edu with your questions.


Contact Tracing

The Texas A&M Investigation and Operations Center will be handling contact tracing for the main campus as well as offering services for all off-campus locations and the regional System campuses. Contact tracing is very important for the safety of our campus communities. Your assistance will be incredibly valuable in helping our campuses continue to offer face to face courses. If contacted by one of the professionals at the center, please assist them and help make our communities a safer place for all.


Outdoor Study Space

To maximize study space, we are acquiring a tent and outdoor seating to provide additional seating outdoors for students. WiFi will be available. Additional furniture will be placed in existing covered areas.


Air Circulation

Air circulation for each building was evaluated individually. Facilities Services has increased the amount of fresh air being pushed through the ventilation systems in most university-managed classroom spaces, while other buildings may have enhanced filtration or other engineering controls. Ventilation will begin 2 hours before and continue 2 hours after classes.

As you can see, it’s been a busy summer preparing for a very different experience this fall. Updates on the latest information are available on the central COVID-19 page. We are working diligently and investing well to support your needs and meet our goals of the best education as safely as possible to our returning students.
Best wishes as you wind down your summer activities in the coming weeks. 
 
Adolfo Santos, Ph.D. | Assistant Provost
Texas A&M University Higher Education Center
6200 Tres Lagos Blvd
McAllen, Texas 78504
adolfo.santos45@tamu.edu