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Texas A&M announces employees must return to campus June 1

The new protocols will apply to all employees including faculty, staff, and student employees.
Published: May. 5, 2021 at 8:47 PM CDT
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COLLEGE STATION, Texas (KBTX) - Texas A&M University announced Wednesday remote work will end on May 31 and all employees are expected to be back on campus beginning June 1.

The new protocols will apply to all employees including faculty, staff, and student employees, according to a memo from the school’s Division of Human Resources and Organizational Effectiveness.

The memo goes on to say, “The University’s executive leadership, in consultation with the Chancellor, has decided to adjust protocols in an effort to better serve the growing number of students returning to campus including those participating in New Student Conferences over the summer.”

Currently, staffing on campus is at 50% capacity.

June 1 is also when M. Katherine Banks will officially assume her new role as the university’s 26th president. In April, she made clear she wants the fall semester at Texas A&M to be something of a return to pre-pandemic life.

“We’re hopeful we will have a full [football] stadium ... we don’t have to walk around with masks, we’re hopeful we don’t have social distancing,” Banks said “If we have an emergency situation, we will adjust to that. But right now, and perhaps this is the Aggie optimism, we are planning for a fully operational campus in normal mode,” she told The Texas Tribune.

Banks’ push for a totally in-person fall semester has the support of many students, but faculty are more cautious.

John Stallone, Speaker of the faculty senate, said while faculty understand the push to return to in-person classes, there is a concern that teaching in person will become a mandate.

“If we have another surge over the summer in COVID, then that’s going to raise some concerns and some worries amongst faculty,” Stallone said. “I hope that the flexibility that we’ve had so far will remain as she takes over,” Stallone told the Texas Tribune.

Some faculty are already expressing worry about Wednesday’s announcement from the school and reached out to KBTX with their concerns. One TAMU employee, who asked to remain anonymous, said this announcement was something no one on staff saw coming. “Some decisions were made at a high level that needs to be questioned. Explain it. We have so many folks that are not comfortable with 100%,” she said.

The following is the full memo from A&M on Wednesday:

COVID-19 Protocols Beginning June 1

The purpose of this email is to update employees on COVID-19 protocols first initiated in March of 2020, and updated as conditions have warranted throughout the past year. As you may be aware, COVID-19 infections can be drastically reduced by vaccination, and current conditions are such that vaccines are widely available. As a result, the University’s executive leadership, in consultation with the Chancellor, has decided to adjust protocols in an effort to better serve the growing number of students returning to campus including those participating in New Student Conferences over the summer. The following adjustments relate to office capacity and Alternate Work Location (remote work) requests and apply to all employees (including faculty, staff, and student employees).

  • Beginning June 1, 2021, occupancy levels will increase to 100 percent. Adjustments to occupancy levels will continue to be made as necessary.
  • Departments are encouraged to continue transitioning employees back to their offices by June 1 through the implementation of a return-to-campus plan that includes the rotation of employees onsite. For assistance with return-to-campus plans, supervisors may consult with Employee Relations.
  • Alternate Work Location (AWL) arrangements made with supervisor and department head approval due to COVID-19 protocols will end May 31, 2021. The temporary delegation of authority for approval of short-term AWL requests by department heads also expires May 31, 2021.
  • Beginning June 1, all staff AWL requests must be submitted through the formal request process. Employee Relations will be processing AWL requests in the order in which they are received. All faculty AWL requests must be routed in accordance with Standard Administrative Procedure 33.06.01.M0.02, Alternate Work Location – Faculty.
  • Current limitations on occupancy of research spaces (no more than 1 person per 100 sq. ft.) will expire on May 31, 2021. Infection control plans for human subjects activities approved by the Clinical Research, Education, and Service Advisory Committee will remain in effect until revised by the Committee.
  • Continue to practice healthy habits including practicing physical distancing where possible, wearing a face covering over your nose and mouth, and staying home when sick.
  • Vaccination remains the most effective way to mitigate the impact of COVID-19. Everyone 16 and older is eligible for the vaccine. Student Health Services has doses for students and employees, and you can schedule an appointment online. Alternatively, you may seek vaccination through your local health care providers such as your primary care physician or pharmacy. Locate a vaccine provider near you on the CDC’s vaccine finder website.

If you have any questions about this information, contact Employee Relations at Employee-Relations@tamu.edu or (979) 862-4027.

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