Testing, tracing top priorities as CASNR community returns to campus
By: Glenys Young
The faculty and staff of Texas Tech's College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources are working hard to ensure your best possible return to campus this fall, one that offers both the full university experience of on-campus living, in-person classes and campus events and the increased health and safety measures necessary to maintain that experience.
"An important part of starting and moving through the fall semester is that students, faculty and staff arrive on campus virus-free and make a commitment to stay away from situations that increase the risk of contracting the virus," said CASNR Dean William Brown. "We all must take responsibility for proper social distancing and other measures to stop the spread of the virus both on and off campus."
The first step for a healthy campus experience starts before students even leave home, Brown said. Students who have not been practicing the safety guidelines recommended are strongly encouraged to be tested for COVID-19 prior to returning to campus for any scheduled activities, meetings or classes. For faculty and staff members, or students unable to test before arrival, the university will offer free drive-thru testing in the north parking lot of the Museum of Texas Tech University at 3301 4th St. Weather permitting, the testing will be open from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Saturday until Aug. 24. Registration is required.
After Aug. 24, the Student Health Services will coordinate testing for the remainder of the semester. Students can schedule a test by contacting Student Health Services at (806) 743-2848. Costs for these tests will be billed to insurance, for students who are insured, or students can choose the $40 self-pay option, which can be billed to their account through Student Business Services. Once students arrive on campus, they are discouraged from traveling away from Lubbock, especially to areas where COVID-19 infections rates are high.
Separately, Brown said CASNR facilities will be disinfected frequently, but students, faculty and staff can take steps to protect themselves by cleaning and disinfecting their own frequently touched objects and surfaces, including cell phones, laptops and iPads, with approved wipes and cleaning solutions.
Getting Sick: If a student begins to feel sick while on campus or displays symptoms consistent with COVID-19 as outlined by the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention, they should contact Tech's Student Health Services by phone at (806) 743-2848 or contact their primary care physician with any medical questions. If a student tests positive for COVID-19, the student should immediately notify Student Health Services by calling (806) 743-2848. All students who test positive or are exposed to COVID-19 will be required to complete the mandated self-isolation period provided by the CDC. The Office of the Dean of Students can assist the student with accommodations to their academic schedule.
If a faculty or staff member is experiencing symptoms or has a known exposure, the individual should follow these steps that have been provided by Texas Tech Human Resources and contact their primary care physician; visit the Texas Tech Physicians Family Medicine Faculty/Staff Clinic, located on the second floor of the Student Wellness Center, or visit a local clinic that is providing COVID-19 testing. Faculty or staff who receive a COVID-19 positive test result should notify their immediate supervisor and submit the online reporting form. For additional guidance, faculty and staff can contact the TTUHSC Nurse-on-Demand at (806) 743-2911. Before returning to work, the faculty or staff member must complete the CDC-mandated self-isolation period.
Contact Tracing: A student, faculty or staff member who has been exposed to the virus will be contacted by a trained contact tracer. It is important to be responsive to these communications, so if a health professional or university administrator contacts an individual by phone or email, the individual should make every effort to return the message as quickly as possible.
Self-Isolation: If a student lives in university housing and is required to self-isolate due to possible COVID-19 exposure or a positive test result, the student may be asked to temporarily vacate their current housing location and return to their permanent residence or move to a different location to complete self-isolation until the student meets the CDC guidelines for return. If such a student is unable to return home and a campus self-isolation unit is not available, the university will work to assist that student with temporary accommodations, including meal delivery and wellness checks, so the self-isolation period can be fulfilled.
Mental Health: Texas Tech leaders are committed to providing for the mental and physical health of its community during this stressful and unpredictable time. The Student Counseling Center is available from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday by calling (806) 742-367, and the Risk Intervention & Safety Education office maintains a 24/7 crisis hotline at (806) 742-5555, through which students can be connected to a trained counselor.
Protect Yourself: To reduce the odds of COVID-19 exposure on campus, face masks or appropriate face coverings are mandatory in campus buildings by all students, faculty and staff. In addition, face coverings also are required in public outdoor spaces where physical distancing cannot be achieved. Other recommendations intended to reduce COVID-19 transmission include:
• Refrain from shaking hands.
• Use paper towels, available in all restrooms, to open doors.
• Use telephone and video conferencing instead of face-to-face study sessions or group meetings.
• Maintain a 6-foot physical distance from others when possible. If you can't maintain a 6-foot physical distance, be sure to wear your mask or appropriate face covering.
• Wash hands frequently with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based sanitizer. Additional hand sanitizer dispensers have been placed throughout campus, including the residence halls and dining facilities.
• Use the Red Raider Wellness stations deployed in all academic buildings. These stations feature hand sanitizer, sanitizing wipes and a limited supply of disposable masks. The sanitizing wipes can be used to wipe down personal seating areas in classrooms and common areas.
CONTACT: William Brown, Dean, College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources, Texas Tech University at (806) 742-2808 or email@example.com
Editor's Note: A new online, video-orientated Red Raider Orientation is now available for our Fall 2020 incoming students. The microsite features a 'Meet the Deans' introduction, six CASNR department videos, three 'How To' videos, four 'Helpful Links' and a FAQ section.