Reopening of Campus Operations

The following health protocols are recommended for institutions of higher education (IHE) for reopening various campus operations for summer 2020. The practices specified in this protocol are recommended to assure a safe and measured reopening of in-person campus operations. The virus that causes COVID-19 is still circulating in our communities. We need to continue to observe practices that protect everyone, including those who are most vulnerable. The responses below are intended to provide  general guidance for institutions from the THECB as it pertains to Reopening of Campus Operations during this health emergency. THECB staff will update this guidance as we receive additional inquiries and information.

Questions related to the phased and gradual reopening of campus operations can be directed to Ray Martinez, Deputy Commissioner for Academic Affairs and Workforce Education, at ray.martinez@highered.texas.gov.

Campus Operations:

Yes.

Institutions of higher education (IHE) may begin to reopen certain campus operations in a gradual and phased manner, consistent with Governor Abbott’s Executive Order No. GA-23 allowing for the expanded reopening of services as part of the state’s strategic plan to Open Texas in response to the COVID-19 disaster.

Institutional leaders’ decisions about whether to reopen any aspect of in-person campus operations should be made only after careful consideration of various factors, including, but not limited to: local public health conditions; institutional capacity; accommodations for the protection of vulnerable populations; and adherence to public health practices to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Resumption of in-person operations—particularly with regard to in-person instruction—should be done in a gradual and phased manner, and in close consultation with state and local public health officials. All institutions should develop campus-specific plans to protect the health and safety of all students, faculty, staff, and campus visitors as it relates to the reopening of any campus operations.

Summer I

For the first summer term (through late June for most institutions), institutions should continue to deliver instruction for general academic courses via online or distance education to the extent practicable. For academic courses with required components where remote instruction is not practicable, such as instructional labs and clinicals, institutions may decide to offer these components in-person but should do so in strict compliance with all applicable CDC guidelines. Other campus operations that institutions may prioritize for a gradual and phased reopening during this period include student support services, computer labs, libraries, and student testing centers.

Summer II and III

For the second and third summer sessions, in addition to the aforementioned core campus activities, institutions may want to consider broader implementations of hybrid modes of instruction, where academic courses combine some in-person instruction with online or distance education components. Institutions’ operational plans as they expand in-person instruction and operations should include the following:

  • Contingency plans for rapid return to online instruction if an increase in local infections requires physical distancing.
  • Limits on the number of individuals assigned to classrooms or auditoriums.
  • Monitoring and tracking of in-person attendance.
  • Use of physical distancing plans for each course, such as staggered or rotating schedules and seating spaced at least 6 feet apart; and
  • Plans for protecting the health and safety of vulnerable student, faculty, and staff populations.

In all cases, any aspect of campus operations that reopen should be in strict compliance with all applicable CDC guidelines. Several currently available resources may assist institutional leadership in developing institution-specific plans for Summer 2020:

The Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board will continue to consult with medical experts on the Governor’s Strike Force and IHEs to provide additional guidance for Fall 2020 campus operations. As additional resources about reopening of higher education campuses become available, the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board will post these resources to the agency’s COVID-19 webpage.

Questions related to the phased and gradual reopening of campus operations can be directed to Ray Martinez, Deputy Commissioner for Academic Affairs and Workforce Education, at ray.martinez@highered.texas.gov.