Reopening of Campus Operations

The information on this page is intended to provide general guidance for Texas institutions of higher education (IHE) from the THECB as it pertains to reopening various campus operations during this health emergency. THECB staff will update this guidance as we receive additional inquiries and information. Questions related to the reopening of various campus operations can be directed to Ray Martinez, Deputy Commissioner for Academic Affairs and Workforce Education, at ray.martinez@highered.texas.gov.

Recommended Health Protocols for Institutions of Higher Education

The following health protocols are recommended for IHE for reopening various campus operations. The practices specified are recommended to assure a safe and measured reopening of campuses as they transition back to in-person instruction and operations while putting measures in place to protect their campus communities. 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. IHE leaders may consider adopting additional protocols for their specific needs and circumstances to protect the health and safety of students, faculty, staff, and campus visitors. 

Reopening Plan WebLinks for Texas Institutions of Higher Education

The URLs included within the following spreadsheets are designed to provide links to IHEs’ COVID-19 updates and their reopening plans for fall 2020.

Campus Operations FAQs

FALL 2020:

Yes.

Institutions of higher education may begin to reopen additional campus operations, including residence and dining halls, in a gradual and phased manner, consistent with Governor Abbott’s current Executive Orders 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. For any reopened campus operations or facilities, institutions of higher education are required to comply with any applicable executive order regarding the wearing of masks.

The Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board (Coordinating Board) is committed to supporting institutions as they transition back to in-person instruction and operations while putting measures in place to protect their campus communities. We also recognize that any determinations made about instruction, regardless of modality, must acknowledge the interconnectedness of learning with the variety of operations, services, and activities that occur on campus. These include residential and student life facilities that are conducive to healthy, safe, and inclusive learning environments.

The Coordinating Board has developed a checklist of recommended health protocols for safely resuming in-person instruction at public and private universities; community, state, and technical colleges; and private postsecondary institutions across Texas. This checklist is based on what is currently known about COVID-19 and incorporates existing federal and state public health and safety recommendations directed at postsecondary institutions. The health protocols in the checklist may change as new information becomes available.

While the Coordinating Board’s checklist considers the diversity of Texas institutions and campus communities, institutional leaders and their campus response teams must specify and coordinate each institution’s unique path forward. The checklist describes general considerations to support healthy, safe, and inclusive learning environments when resuming in-person instruction, operations, services, and activities. Institutional leaders and their campus response teams should carefully review the checklist and determine the best strategies for their own campus communities.

Institutional leaders’ decisions about whether to reopen any aspect of in-person campus operations or facilities should continue to 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 campus operations—particularly with regard to in-person instruction, residence halls, and dining facilities—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 students, faculty, staff, and campus visitors as these plans relate to the reopening of face-to-face instruction and other campus operations. Each institution of higher education should post a link to its campus reopening plans to the institution’s home page prior to the start of the fall semester.

Institutions’ operational plans as they expand in-person instruction and operations should include, at a minimum, the following:

  1. Contingency plans for rapid return to online instruction if an increase in local infections requires physical distancing.
  2. Limits on the number of individuals assigned to classrooms or auditoriums.
  3. Monitoring and tracking of in-person attendance.
  4. Use of physical distancing plans, such as staggered or rotating schedules and reduced classroom occupancy, along with other safety measures such as face coverings.
  5. Plans for protecting the health and safety of vulnerable student, faculty, and staff populations.
  6. Designating an administrator or staff member to be the primary COVID-19 liaison responsible for communicating and coordinating with the local health department, local emergency services, and local health care providers.

In all cases, 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 fall 2020. Institutions may adopt additional protocols consistent with their specific needs and circumstances to help protect the health and safety of all students, faculty, staff, and campus visitors.

  1. In accordance with Governor Abbott’s Executive Order No. GA-18, the Coordinating Board has worked with medical experts on the Governor’s Strike Force and in consultation with institutions of higher education to develop a checklist, Recommended Health Protocols for Institutions of Higher Education – Fall 2020. This checklist is based on the health protocols included in The Governor’s Report to Open Texas (April 27, 2020) and the Governor’s Strike Force to Reopen Texas (June 3, 2020), as well as the COVID-19 Considerations for Institutes of Higher Education (updated May 30, 2020) provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
  2. The American College Health Association(ACHA), on May 7, 2020, released Considerations for Reopening Institutions of Higher Education in the COVID-19 Era, which includes important recommendations regarding the reopening of various campus operations, including Instruction and Learning Environments, Student Health Services, Health Promotion, Housing and Dining Services, and Athletics.
  3. The Association of College and University Housing Officers - International (ACUHO-I) has assembled a Future of Housing Work Group which has been tasked with exploring and making recommendations for how campuses may safely and most effectively proceed with providing campus housing for the next academic term. The work group has developed a COVID-19 Checklist for Campus Housing Professionals, a recommended checklist of items for campus professionals. The list represents a working document, which will be added to as the work group learns more about the virus and associated mitigation strategies and receives further guidance from public health professionals/entities, including but not limited to, the CDC.
  4. The CDC has released additional resources that may be relevant as you develop your campus-specific plans: Interim Guidance for Administrators of U.S. Institutions of Higher Education, Cleaning and Disinfecting Your Facility, Living in Shared Housing, and Shared and Congregate Housing.

As additional resources about the reopening of higher education campuses becomes available, the 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.

 


SUMMER 2020:

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.

 


CAREER AND TECHNICAL EDUCATION (CTE):

Yes.

Under Executive Order No. GA-18 issued by Governor Abbott on April 27, 2020, CTE programs offered by public and private institutions of higher education, as well as private postsecondary institutions, that require face-to-face instruction that cannot be delivered online can continue to be delivered, but in strict accordance with CDC guidelines. Programs that may require face-to-face instruction include, but are not limited to, workforce education programs for health professionals, first responders, transportation, and critical infrastructure technicians.

In accordance with Governor Abbott’s Executive Order GA-18, institutions should follow the Minimum Standard Health Protocols for Career and Technical Education Programs at Texas Higher Education Institutions. The Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board has worked with medical experts on the Governor’s Strike Force and in consultation with institutions of higher education to develop this checklist based on the health protocols included in The Governor’s Report to Open Texas as well as COVID-19 Interim Guidance for Administrators of US Institutions of Higher Education (revised March 18, 2020) provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Institutions may adopt additional protocols consistent with their specific needs and circumstances to help protect the health and safety of all students, faculty, and staff.

Note that included with this checklist is a “Chief Executive Officer Certification” form, which is required to be completed and returned to the Coordinating Board for any institution that will offer face-to-face CTE instruction during any May term or summer session (2020). Information collected on this form will be shared with the Governor’s Office and the Texas Workforce Commission to inform state planning efforts to restart and revitalize the state economy.

In developing this and related guidance, the Coordinating Board continues to work closely with the Governor’s Office and the Texas Department of Emergency Management (TDEM), and in consultation with Texas institutions of higher education.

Questions related to CTE programs and face-to-face instruction not covered by this FAQ can be directed to Ray Martinez, Deputy Commissioner for Academic Affairs and Workforce Education, at ray.martinez@thecb.state.tx.us. In situations where there is a need to consult further with TDEM, the Coordinating Board will do so on behalf of the requesting institution. The Chief Executive Officer Certification form should be submitted to Deputy Commissioner Martinez at the same email address.