Greetings and welcome back for the fall semester of the academic year. Our calendars are filled with many exciting events and activities for the current semester. However, we need to stay vigilant and focused on the pandemic threat that remains with each of us. We cannot afford to have a "pre-COVID" mentality such that we let our guard down and assume it is business as usual. The rate of infections by students, faculty, and staff has risen dramatically beyond what they were a month ago. A number of pandemic forecast models indicate this surge will peak in Texas later in September with a decline forecasted for later this fall.
We are going to re-institute some COVID protocol steps that were in place last academic year, and also implement additional steps effective immediately:
Dr. Don Topliff, provost and vice president for academic affairs, will authorize and encourage the faculty to move their classes to a hybrid format of some sort, if practical, for the next three weeks, beginning Monday, Aug. 30, through Friday, Sept. 17.
Professors will inform their students as to what that means for each class.
This is not an authorization to go completely virtual for the rest of the semester.
We will re-assess the situation the week of Sept. 13, and decide how to proceed.
I have directed each vice president and the athletic director to:
Work within their respective division to determine which employees can productively work off-campus to limit the spread within the offices.
Keep offices and services open and available.
Direct employees whose function and/or service cannot effectively be done from a remote site to continue to report to campus.
We will continue to require members of the Ram Fam (students, faculty, and staff) who come on the ASU campus to complete the wellness screening and be prepared to show evidence of having completed the screening if asked to do so by a member of the ASU faculty or staff.
All guests/visitors who come to a function on the ASU campus are also required to complete the visitor wellness screening and need to be prepared to show evidence of having completed the screening if asked to do so by a member of the ASU faculty or staff.
Everyone who comes to a campus event or function should also be prepared to have their temperature checked prior to entering the facility.
While I am not at liberty to mandate the wearing of a mask or to get a vaccination, I strongly recommend everyone wear a mask while on the ASU campus and particularly while in a closed environment. I also strongly recommend everyone who is physically able to be vaccinated get the vaccination. We are not "out of the woods" with this pandemic, and must recognize the virus is indiscriminate and dangerously contagious regardless of age, ethnicity, or gender. The variant’s impact on the unvaccinated and younger populations is increasing the risk to our campus community.
We will continue our commitment to a quality on-campus experience and service while remaining safe. Please let me know if you have any questions or concerns.
Ronnie D. Hawkins, Jr.