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COVID-19 Info

 

COVID-19 Guidelines

Updated: April 29, 2022

Overview

Stephen F. Austin State University will begin transitioning away from pandemic-level protocols May 9, 2022. Many COVID-19 related resources will remain available to the SFA community. The goal of this transition is to inform the campus of a final strategy for mitigation of COVID-19 cases among the SFA community. The below areas are affected by this transition.

COVID-19 Operations Team

Beginning May 9, 2022, the COVID-19 Operations Team will be deactivated. Following deactivation, the operations below will no longer occur:

  • weekly reporting of cases on campus
  • isolation rooms at North and South Halls
  • contact tracing for individual cases
  • and doctor’s note waiver for use of sick leave related to COVID-19.

The COVID-19 Operations Team will remain available if clusters (three or more cases in a localized area) are identified on campus. Events such as clusters will be reviewed by members of the COVID-19 Operations Team to allow proper mitigation strategies to be enacted.

Vaccines and Testing

SFA Health Services has transitioned back to scheduled testing. Students, faculty and staff are able to schedule a COVID-19 test in mySFA using the “Schedule a test” link in the important notification section. Health Services anticipates offering COVID-19 testing through December 2022 or until supplies are exhausted. Once supplies are exhausted, it is recommended that students, faculty and staff seek testing from their medical provider or other sources, such as an urgent clinic or pharmacy.

Health Services will not be acquiring additional COVID-19 vaccines. The final day to receive a COVID-19 vaccine from Health Services was April 27. It is recommended you seek vaccination from your medical provider, pharmacy, through covid.gov or call 211 in Texas.

Employees with health insurance through the Employees Retirement System of Texas have coverage under all HealthSelect of Texas medical plans for certain benefits, such as vaccines and testing, as well as access to virtual treatment options for COVID-19. For the most current information, go to COVID-19 and Your HealthSelect Plan | HealthSelect of Texas | Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Texas (bcbstx.com) or call (800) 252-8039 Monday through Friday, 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., and Saturday, 7 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Reporting a Positive Case

While many protocols are being lifted, it is still important to stay home if you are sick, follow the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines for isolation if you test positive, and report your positive test in mySFA.

Students, by reporting your positive case in mySFA, you are notifying Student Outreach and Support staff members, who will assist you with class absence notifications.

Faculty and staff, by reporting your positive case in mySFA, you are notifying Human Resources of your absence. You are still required to notify your supervisor of your absence and expected return-to-work date.

On-campus Isolation

Beginning May 9, 2022, the isolation rooms in North and South Halls will be closed.

On-campus quarantine and isolation rooms will remain available for the foreseeable future. The rooms will be available in each residence hall to allow students who live on campus the opportunity to isolate or quarantine for five days. Each residence hall will have up to three isolation rooms available. If the capacity of the isolation rooms is met, the COVID-19 Operations Team will reconvene to evaluate possible case clusters on campus.

Students isolating on campus will continue to receive meal service from Chartwells during their quarantine or isolation.

Sick Leave Usage

Beginning May 9, 2022, faculty and staff who plan to use sick leave during a continuous period of more than three working days for an absence due to COVID-19 will provide a doctor’s certificate verifying the employee was out due to medical reasons when returning to work.

This process is required for all illness as described in Policy 12.18 Sick Leave and was waived during the pandemic. With the return to normal operations, COVID-19 is now included in this process.

Employees who test positive for COVID-19 should continue to notify their supervisor, report their positive case in mySFA, and follow CDC guidelines regarding isolation.

Contact Tracing

Contact tracing will still be available through the Dean of Students office. Contact tracing will only occur when a potential cluster is identified, meaning individual cases will no longer be contacted by the tracing team. In the event a cluster is identified, members of the COVID-19 Operations Team will evaluate the event and begin mitigation strategies.

Communication

Beginning May 9, 2022, weekly case counts will no longer be reported on the SFA COVID-19 webpage. Formal communication regarding COVID-19 will be provided as necessary and the COVID-19 webpage will remain active through December 2022.

Vaccines

Vaccine Frequently Asked Questions

Is the vaccine required?

No. Vaccinations will remain voluntary and strongly encouraged. In compliance with Texas Governor Greg Abbott’s Executive Order GA-35, the university will not require individuals to receive a COVID-19 vaccine or provide proof of vaccination. We strongly encourage the SFA community to receive the COVID-19 vaccine and boosters to keep our community safer.

SFA recommends unvaccinated individuals follow Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines and continue to practice COVID-19 protocols, including to wear face coverings properly and practice physical distancing.

SFA employees and students have assisted in the administration of more than 30,000+ COVID-19 vaccinations in Nacogdoches County in 2021. In Texas, vaccine eligibility has been extended to all individuals 5 years of age and older and will be made available to students and employees throughout the Spring semester.

Where can I be vaccinated?

Visit vaccines.gov to find a vaccination provider near you today!

Nacogdoches County COVID-19 vaccination clinics and their sign-up forms are available by visiting bettertogethernac.com/vaccination-clinics.

Please recognize that some members of our campus community may not be able to get vaccinated for medical or religious reasons. As part of the principle of respect in The SFA Way, Lumberjacks are considerate of others and tolerant of differences.

How do I sign up to request a COVID-19 vaccination at SFA?

Health Services is currently offering the COVID-19 vaccine and vaccine booster to students and employees. Sign up for your vaccine using the link located in the “Important Notifications” section on mySFA!

If I received a vaccination that requires two doses and my first dose of vaccine was administered at another facility, am I able to get my second dose at SFA?

Yes! Please sign up for your vaccine using the link in mySFA, and bring your vaccine card with you to your appointment. SFA Health Services currently offers the Moderna and Johnson & Johnson/Janssen vaccines.

Who is eligible for a COVID-19 booster?

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued booster recommendations for all three available COVID-19 vaccines in the United States. Eligible individuals may choose which vaccine they receive as a “mix-and-match” booster dose. Please note, at this time, booster doses are not recommended for individuals under 18 years of age.

For individuals who received a Pfizer or Moderna COVID-19 vaccine, booster shots are recommended for those who are 18 years of age and older and who were vaccinated six months or more after their primary series:

Please note: The Moderna COVID-19 booster dose is half of the dose that is administered for the primary series dose.

For individuals who received the Johnson & Johnson/Janssen COVID-19 vaccine, booster shots are also recommended for those who are 18 years of age and older and who were vaccinated two or more months ago.

Who is eligible to get the COVID-19 vaccine?

Individuals 5 years of age and older are eligible to be vaccinated.

What COVID-19 vaccines are currently authorized in the U.S.?

The currently authorized vaccines to prevent COVID-19 in the United States:

  • Pfizer-BioNTech dose should be given three weeks (21 days) apart
  • Moderna dose should be given one month (28 days) apart
  • Johnson & Johnson is a single dose vaccine.

Face Coverings

Effective date: May 18, 2021

In compliance with Governor Greg Abbott’s executive order GA-36, all mask requirements at SFA are rescinded.

Most Frequently Asked Questions

Can I get masks and sanitizer on campus?

Yes! Free masks and hand sanitizer are available to the SFA community, and can be picked up on the 3rd floor of the Rusk building in the lobby.

How many cases of COVID-19 are on campus?

Daily figures are provided on our reported positive cases page.

Where can I be tested for COVID-19?

For SFA students, faculty and staff:

SFA Student Health Clinic - Walk-in COVID-19 testing is available from 8:30 to 11:30 a.m. and 1 to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday.

Students, faculty and staff are eligible to receive the test.

Individuals needing a test should come to the back door #3, closest to Lumberjack Landing. Once entering the building, go to the first room on your left and a member of the testing team will provide paperwork to be completed, and the test will be administered. Results will be called in approximately 1 hour.

If you have any questions, contact Health Services at 936.468.4008.

What happens when a test report is submitted?

When a test report is submitted, four protocols will be initiated:

Contact Tracing*: The case will be assigned to a contact tracer(s) who will work with the test-pending individual to identify those who may have been in close contact with him or her on campus. The contact tracer(s) will reach out to those identified to inform them of the potential exposure and provide guidance on next steps. Be sure to answer calls to the number you post on the report form so the tracer can connect with you. If you miss a call, please call back as soon as possible.

Student Affairs/Residence Life Support: If the student reporting resides on campus, he or she will be advised to complete the quarantine or isolation period at home when possible. If off-campus quarantine or isolation is not feasible or poses a higher risk, Residence Life will coordinate on-campus quarantine and/or isolation options with the student. Students needing additional support or assistance may reach out to the Office of the Dean of Student Affairs by calling 936.468.7249 or emailing DOSA@sfasu.edu.

Cleaning/Disinfecting of Physical Spaces: Physical spaces on campus that have been impacted will be cleaned and disinfected. The Office of Environmental Health, Safety and Risk Management will coordinate with the Physical Plant and/or Residence Life to facilitate the appropriate cleaning and disinfection processes in place for such instances.

Notification**: Should a test result be positive, the Office of Environmental Health, Safety and Risk Management will coordinate notification of the positive case via the 'Reported Cases' website. This is an informational notification only. Notification of a person's potential 'close contact' with the individual would come from the contact tracing team, not via this notification.

If I travel out of the country for any reason, will I need to quarantine when I return?

The proper entry and exit steps while traveling internationally will vary by country. Please visit the CDC’s Travel website for the necessary steps to take upon return from your destination.

If a person in a class tests positive for COVID-19, will the entire class have to quarantine?

No, in most cases students and employees will be able to obtain physical distance necessary to avoid quarantine. In cases where unvaccinated students and employees were not physically distanced, contact tracers will be able to identify those who should quarantine.

What if the student refuses to leave when they are presumed to be sick or are presumed to have COVID-19?

Students who refuse to leave the classroom when directed by faculty can be reported by contacting UPD from any campus phone by calling 911 from a land line or (936) 468-2608 from mobile phone. Please indicate whether the students are making threats or behaving in a violent manner. Faculty who determine that students should be restricted from the course can work with their chair/director to ensure all policies are followed. Faculty may also report these incidents to the Office of Student Rights and Responsibilities using the standard General Incident Reporting Form.

What will happen to students who are found responsible

The circumstances of the incident and the student’s prior history inform any sanctions which may be assigned to a student. Those students who are continually non-compliant may face more severe sanctions.

How will I know how many positive tests have been reported on-campus?

The Reported Positive Cases website is updated regularly and indicates the total number of reported tests and the number of tests that returned with positive results for those SFA faculty, staff or students who may have been present on campus during the time of their infection. Since the information is self-reported, confirmation of the results of each test cannot be definitively verified.

For updates across all counties in Texas, consult the Texas Department of State Health Services dashboard.

Can faculty members or supervisors ask students if they are vaccinated?

No. Students and employees should not be asked to disclose personal health information, including vaccination status, to faculty, supervisors, co-workers or fellow students. The university cannot legally require individuals to receive a COVID-19 vaccine. Additionally, the university cannot legally require proof of vaccination or otherwise confirm their vaccination status. See the governor’s executive order GA-38.

Some examples of questions NOT to ask:

  • Are you vaccinated?
  • When are you getting vaccinated?
  • Why haven’t you been vaccinated?
  • Do you have a medical or religious reason for not being vaccinated?

Who do I contact if I have a question or concern about COVID-19 protocols?

You may contact Dr. Jeremy Higgins, director of environmental health, safety and risk management, at 936.468.4532 or higginsjk@sfasu.edu.

Medical Related Questions: You may contact SFA Health Services, at 936.468.4008 or healthservices@sfasu.edu.

What mental health services are available to me?

  • The COVID-19 pandemic has brought challenges to students beyond those traditionally associated with adjusting to college. These may include feelings of isolation, anxiety, depression and grief. The following mental health services are available:
  • Free and confidential counseling sessions are available to SFA students from the professional counselors in Counseling Services. Individual, couples and group counseling sessions are all available via telehealth appointment. Call (936) 468-2401 to schedule an initial consultation.
  • For a brief 10-to-15-minute consultation with a counselor, students can call during "Call-a-Counselor" hours from 2 to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday.
  • Although counseling sessions are reserved for students, counselors can also provide consultations and referral services to faculty, staff and students. To access a list of community health providers or to learn more, call Counseling Services at (936) 468-2401 or visit sfasu.edu/counselingservices.
  • Graduate students in the School of Human Sciences' Counselor Education Program provide on-campus counseling services in a separate counseling clinic to both SFA students and the general public. For more information, visit the SFA Counseling Clinic website or call 936.468.1041.

COVID-19 Test Reporting

You are required to report when you have taken a test for COVID-19 by using the Report a COVID-19 Test online form. Do not wait until you receive your test results to report.

Since it is currently taking a number of days to receive the results of a test, this earlier notification allows our response efforts to begin more quickly.

Environmental Health, Safety and Risk Management

The Environmental Health, Safety and Risk Management department serves as the lead department in the university’s COVID-19 Operations Group and oversees the central collection of all test reports from both students and employees. This department works with others across campus to initiate the protocols designed to reduce the spread of the virus while also protecting the confidentiality of the affected individuals’ information to the extent possible. 

If you have any questions about the COVID-19 Reporting Process, please contact Dr. Jeremy Higgins, director of environmental health, safety & risk management, at (936) 468-4532 or higginsjk@sfasu.edu

General Guidelines for Employees and Students

Employee

If:

  • You are tested for COVID-19, or
  • You have been diagnosed with or received a positive test result for COVID-19;

you must:

  • stay home,
  • notify your supervisor of your absence, and
  • immediately complete the COVID-19 Test Report Form (selecting "Self" as the reporter).

If you are experiencing any COVID-19 symptoms (as listed on the CDC website) or you have been in close contact (within 6 feet for at least 15 minutes) with someone who has or is suspected to have COVID-19, or someone in your household has been diagnosed with or received a positive test result for COVID-19, you must stay home and notify your supervisor of your absence.

Student

If:

  • You are tested for COVID-19, or
  • You have been diagnosed with or received a positive test result for COVID-19;

you must:

  • stay home,
  • notify your faculty members of your absence, and
  • immediately complete the COVID-19 Test Report Form (selecting "Self" as the reporter.)

You must stay home if you are experiencing any COVID-19 symptoms (as listed on the CDC website); or you have been in close contact (within 6 feet for at least 15 minutes) with someone who has or is suspected to have COVID-19, or someone in your household (including a roommate or housemate) has been diagnosed with or received a positive test result for COVID-19, you must stay home and notify your faculty members of your absence. Students who suspect that they may have COVID-19 also are encouraged to contact SFA Health Services or their preferred health care provider for health advice.

Student Employee

If you are a student employee who works on campus, you must follow the steps above and also notify your work supervisor.

Both Students and Employees

When you report you have been tested for COVID-19, or if an infected person reports a close contact with you, you will be contacted by a "contact tracer." This person will provide guidance and answer questions about COVID-19.  

Reported Cases

Frequently Asked Questions

Do I have to report when I have been tested for COVID-19?

Yes. If you were tested for COVID-19 due to having symptoms, you are required to notify the university as soon as possible using the Report a COVID-19 Test online form. These reports can be initiated by the student or by others on the student's behalf, if needed.

You should self-quarantine after your test until you receive the test results. The results of your test will determine next steps.

Where does my submitted report go?

The Environmental Health, Safety & Risk Management department oversees the central collection of all test reports from both students and employees. This department works with others across campus to initiate the protocols listed above.

What is considered to be a "Close Contact?"

The CDC defines a "close contact" someone who was within 6 feet of an infected person for a cumulative total of 15 minutes or more over a 24-hour period starting from 2 days before illness onset (or, for asymptomatic patients, 2 days prior to test specimen collection) until the time the patient is isolated.

Will this guidance change?

Possibly. All SFA-issued guidance is based on guidance available from public health authorities and agencies. Our guidance may change as circumstances change or as the guidance we receive from others evolves.

Who do I contact if I have a question or concern about COVID-19 protocols?

You may contact Dr. Jeremy Higgins, director of environmental health, safety and risk management, at 936.468.4532 or higginsjk@sfasu.edu.

Medical Related Questions: You may contact SFA Health Services, at 936.468.4008 or healthservices@sfasu.edu.

Employees

Can supervisors ask employees if they are vaccinated?

No. Students and employees should not be asked to disclose personal health information, including vaccination status, to faculty, supervisors, co-workers or fellow students. The university cannot legally require individuals to receive a COVID-19 vaccine. Additionally, the university cannot legally require proof of vaccination or otherwise confirm their vaccination status. See the governor’s executive order GA-38.

Some examples of questions NOT to ask:

  • Are you vaccinated?
  • When are you getting vaccinated?
  • Why haven’t you been vaccinated?
  • Do you have a medical or religious reason for not being vaccinated?

Can supervisors ask employees to get tested for COVID-19?

Supervisors can ask employees to get tested for COVID-19 as part of providing information in a conversation with an employee who is experiencing symptoms.

Testing may shorten the amount of time the employee has to quarantine.

Employees cannot be required to get tested for COVID-19.

If someone I supervise is advised by an SFA contact tracer to quarantine, will I be notified?

When an SFA contact tracer advises an employee to quarantine, the employee is reminded to notify their supervisor. This notification is the responsibility of the employee.

Someone I supervise has been tested for COVID-19. What do I do?

First, ensure the employee does not return to the workplace and advise the employee to self-quarantine until the result of his or her test is known. Next, instruct the employee to complete the Report a COVID-19 Test online form.

If the employee cannot complete the report for some reason, you should submit the report on their behalf completing as much of the information requested as possible.

This report triggers the necessary contact tracing, human resources support, and any cleaning/disinfecting that is needed.

What are my leave options if I get sick?

If employees are unable to perform work at their regularly assigned work location or another location, there are different types of leave available depending on the reason for the absence (employee is quarantining or isolating due to their own COVID-19 symptoms or diagnosis or on the advice of a contact tracer, or the employee is quarantining due to a household member having COVID-19 symptoms or diagnosis). Contact the Human Resources Department at 936.468.2304 or hr@sfasu.edu to discuss the different types of leave and determine what applies to your situation.

  • Sick leave: Sick leave may be taken when sickness, injury, or pregnancy and confinement prevent the employee's performance of duty, or when a member of the employee's immediate family is actually ill.
  • Vacation leave: Vacation leave is available for use and must be authorized in advance.
  • Compensatory (comp) time: Comp time is available for use and must be authorized in advance.
  • Leave without pay: All accumulated paid leave entitlements must be exhausted before granting such leave.
  • Family and Medical Leave: Family and medical leave may be used for an employee's own serious health condition or to care for a spouse, child, or parent who has a serious health condition. FML can run concurrently with other paid leave or leave without pay.

Previous COVID-19 Correspondence

This email was sent on Jan. 4, 2022.

Happy New Year, Lumberjacks. We hope you had a refreshing winter break.

As you are likely aware, the Omicron variant of COVID-19 has rapidly spread across the United States, including East Texas. The COVID-19 Operations Team has continued to monitor local infection and hospitalization rates during the break and as we start the new semester.

At this time, SFA will fully reopen for the spring 2022 semester with classes and activities being held as originally scheduled. We continue to monitor infection rates locally and regionally, as well as all recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. SFA will continue with current isolation and quarantine guidelines from the fall 2021 semester. All isolation and quarantine guidelines for SFA can be found on the COVID-19 website.

Actions you can take for the health of our community, including yourself:

  • Get vaccinated and boosted to reduce serious illness and straining local health care services.
  • Get tested if you have symptoms or suspected exposure.
  • Report positive results through mySFA.
  • Stay home when you can, especially if you’re sick. If you’re an SFA employee, work with your supervisor to arrange for work from home when it is reasonable or necessary to do so.
  • Wear a mask when you are going to be around other people.
  • Wash and sanitize your hands frequently.

As a reminder, COVID-19 vaccines and boosters can be received from SFA’s Health Services on campus. There are two upcoming vaccination clinics, Friday, Jan. 14, and Thursday, Jan. 20. Individuals wanting a vaccine or booster must sign up using the link in the Important Announcements section of mySFA.

Health Services also continues to offer walk-in COVID testing from 8:30 to 11:30 a.m. and 1 to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday. Please proceed to the rear entrance of the Health Clinic at door #3.

Pursuant to SFA Policy 11.27 university employees may telecommute or work from home (WFH) as approved by unit supervisors. We must ensure that all essential services are conducted with in-person customer service.

SFA continues to strongly encourage mask wearing, vaccinations, and washing and sanitizing your hands as much as possible. Masks and sanitizer can be picked up (free of charge) from the Dean of Students Office on the third floor lobby of the Rusk Building.

You may direct any questions concerning COVID-19 to higginsjk@sfasu.edu and any questions about masks and hand sanitizer to dos@sfasu.edu.

Best wishes for the start of the semester!

Dr. Gordon sent this email to faculty, staff and students on July 1.

Updated COVID-19 Campus Protocols

Beginning August 1, 2021, Stephen F. Austin State University will transition the campus pandemic safety protocols back to Status 1 (Normal Operations). This change adheres to evolving guidelines produced by the CDC and state mandates.

With this transition, we look forward to the return of pre-pandemic operational norms in class formats, student life and other university traditions at SFA! Though most protocols will be lifted through this operational status change, some pandemic resources will remain as we begin the Fall semester.

Vaccination – Vaccination will remain voluntary and strongly encouraged. In compliance with Texas Governor Greg Abbott’s Executive Order GA-36, the university will not require individuals to receive a COVID-19 vaccine or provide proof of vaccination. We strongly encourage the SFA community to receive the COVID-19 vaccine to further secure a fully in-person education experience. Getting your COVID-19 vaccine helps keep you and your fellow Lumberjacks safe. Do your part in getting vaccinated today!

We encourage everyone to complete SFA’s voluntary vaccine reporting survey, now live on the home page of MySFA. By completing this confidential survey, individuals assist the campus in identifying SFA’s overall vaccination rate.

SFA recommends unvaccinated individuals follow CDC guidelines and continue to practice COVID-19 protocols.

SFA employees and students have assisted in the administration of more than 20,000+ COVID-19 vaccinations in Nacogdoches County in 2021. In Texas, vaccine eligibility has been extended to all individuals 12 years of age and older and will be made available to students throughout the fall semester.

Face coverings – These mandates have been lifted in all areas on campus. This change has allowed the university to comply with Governor Greg Abbott’s Executive Order GA-36 which states the following:

“No governmental entity, including a county, city, school district, and public health authority, and no governmental official may require any person to wear a face covering or to mandate that another person wear a face covering.”

Occupancy Levels and Physical Distancing – Occupancy on campus will open to 100% in all areas, with no physical distancing required.

Classrooms and Laboratories – Classrooms and labs will be open at 100% capacity with flexible modality available.

Travel and Transportation – Face coverings will not be required in any SFA/state-owned or rented vehicles including public transportation. Also, all vehicle and public transportation occupancy is at 100%.

Sanitation/Cleaning – All areas on campus will continue to be cleaned and sanitized. Custodians will return to their regular cleaning schedule.

Dining – Dining halls will be open at full capacity and will retain options for self-serve and to-go meals.

Residence Life – Residence hall move-in will be staggered over three days. Residents will be assigned a two-hour window to move in and may bring two helpers. All residence halls will be open at 100%.

Recreation Center – The Student Recreation Center will be open at 100% capacity and enhanced cleaning protocols will remain in place.

Athletic Events – Athletic events will be open at 100% capacity.

Visitors – It is recommended that all unvaccinated visitors continue to follow COVID-19 protocols to protect themselves and the SFA community from possible transmission.

Health Clinic Testing, Contact Tracing and Isolation Rooms – All will remain in operation through the beginning of the fall semester and will be re-evaluated periodically.

If You Are Sick, Stay Home – It is important for individuals to remain vigilant of their health and symptoms. Individuals should screen themselves for COVID-19 symptoms daily. If they feel sick, they must stay home. If they have symptoms of COVID-19 or if an unvaccinated person has been in close contact with someone who has, they must follow quarantine and isolation guidelines and get tested. If an individual tests positive, they should report it in MySFA.

Report Positive Tests – Those who test positive for COVID-19 should report positive test results through the reporting link on the MySFA homepage. Reporting test results accelerates contact tracing and cleaning to decrease overall risk of spreading COVID-19 at SFA.

Monitoring – SFA will continue to monitor COVID-19 cases reported on campus throughout the Fall semester to ensure no additional protocols are necessary as the year progresses. The current case count for campus can be seen here.

Any additional questions may be directed to Jeremy Higgins at ext. 4532.

Dr. Gordon sent this email to faculty, staff and students on May 18, 2021.

Mask requirements immediately lifted in compliance with Govenor's executive order

Dear members of the SFA community:

Effective immediately, to comply with an executive order issued today by Governor Greg Abbott, all mask requirements at Stephen F. Austin State University are rescinded.

Governmental entities in Texas are now prohibited from requiring mask wearing, or they will face penalties beginning this Friday, May 21. The SFA Charter School is permitted to continue with its mandates until June 4.

Individuals may choose to wear masks, but they cannot be mandated to do so. Previous requirements that mask-wearing be mandated in classrooms, labs and on public transportation are now lifted.

We continue to encourage everyone to practice proper hygiene, stay home if you are sick, report positive tests in MySFA, and pursue vaccination to keep our community healthy.

Thank you for your hard work and dedication to bringing COVD-19 levels down through your previous compliance and care for each other.

If you have any additional questions Please contact Jeremy Higgins, director of environmental health, safety and risk management, at higginsjk@sfasu.edu or ext. 4532.

Axe ’em,

Scott A. Gordon, President

Dr. Gordon sent this email to faculty, staff and students on May 14, 2021.

Updated COVID-19 Campus Protocols

Overview

This coming Monday, May 17, marks an important change in the campus’s COVID-19 safety protocols and bringing us to Status 1.5 before an anticipated return to full classroom occupancy and normal operations Status 1 in Fall 2021.

Most notably, face coverings will only be required in indoor classrooms, labs and public transportation. Physical distancing will reduce from six feet to three feet. All occupancy rates will return to 100%.

With the latest CDC guidelines issued May 13, individuals who are vaccinated are free to safely go without a face covering in all other locations. Those who are not vaccinated are strongly encouraged to continue wearing face coverings when in:

  • Elevators,
  • Hallways,
  • Lobbies,
  • Restrooms,
  • Conference and meeting rooms,
  • Break rooms,
  • Office settings,
  • Outdoor spaces,
  • SFA-owned vehicles.

Remember, these protocols are not just about protecting yourself, but others around you. When you are vaccinated or wear a face covering, you protect yourself and you do your duty to keep others around you and in our community safe.

If you have any additional questions Please contact Jeremy Higgins, director of environmental health, safety and risk management, at higginsjk@sfasu.edu or ext. 4532.

Axe ’em,

Scott A. Gordon, President

Dr. Gordon sent this email to faculty, staff and students on April 6, 2021.

Overview

With expanded vaccine availability and limited impact from spring break travel, COVID-19 conditions are trending in a promising direction on campus, in Nacogdoches, within the local trauma service area (TSA H), and within the State of Texas.

As of April 5, there are three active cases connected to campus – three students and zero employees – while available capacity at North and South halls for quarantine/isolation is at 99% respectively.

The COVID-19 Operations Team, Faculty Senate and Chairs Forum leadership, members of the President’s Cabinet, along with representation from the Student Government Association, have met and updated recommendations for campus COVID-19 protocols. I have reviewed and accepted their recommendations and put forward the following campus protocols for Summer and Fall 2021 terms.

This plan offers a path to move from Campus Operation Status 2 (which has been the status since Fall 2020) to a Status 1.5 in Summer 2021 before reaching Status 1 (normal operations) in Fall 2021.

Status 1.5 is recommended to take effect May 17, 2021, and remain in place until the beginning of the fall semester.

Summer 2021 - Status 1.5

Face Coverings

Individuals must continue to wear face coverings over the nose and mouth in indoor classrooms and labs, until further notice. Individuals are also strongly encouraged to do so wherever it is not feasible to maintain physical distance from another person not in the same household. The face covering exemptions process will remain the same.

Physical Distance

Campus physical distance requirements have been adjusted from 6 feet to 3 feet in classrooms and shared spaces.

Occupancy Levels and Physical Distance

Occupancy on campus will open to 100%, with the exception of classrooms, laboratories and shared spaces requiring a physical distance of 3 feet.

Travel and Transportation

Face coverings will remain mandatory on all public transportation. It is strongly encouraged in SFA/state-owned or -rented vehicles.

Dr. Gordon sent this email to faculty, staff and students on March 5, 2021.

Happy Friday, Lumberjacks.

Before spring break officially begins, I wanted to provide you with information regarding our COVID-19 policies and, specifically, the face-covering requirement. After receiving input from the Student Government Association and our Faculty Senate, our SFA COVID-19 Operations Team has recommended that the face-covering requirement remain in effect on campus until the end of the spring semester.

I concur with this recommendation, and as a result SFA’s face-covering requirement will remain in place until further notice.

Although Gov. Abbott rescinded the statewide mandate, his order encouraged institutions of higher education to establish standards provided by the Texas Education Agency. The Texas Education Agency responded by updating their protocols to include this statement:

Every student, teacher or staff member shall wear a mask over the nose and mouth when inside a school building, school facility, facility used for school activities, or when in an outdoor space on school property...wherever it is not feasible to maintain six feet of social distancing from another person not in the same household..

Additionally, federal public health officials have strongly urged Americans to continue wearing face masks to control the spread of COVID-19 and limit the emergence of potentially more dangerous variants.

The well-being of our faculty, staff and students remains our highest priority, and we are committed to maintaining a campus environment that is as safe as possible and minimizes the spread of COVID-19. I hope you will commit to complying with the safety measures that protect our ability to safely hold face-to-face classes and other events.

I appreciate the work of our COVID-19 Operations Team and support the team’s decision regarding face coverings. We will review the policy again at the end of the semester and keep you informed when any changes are made.

Have a fabulous and safe spring break.

Axe ’em!

President Gordon

Dr. Gordon sent this email to faculty, staff and students on March 3, 2021.

Dear Colleagues and Students,

I hope the first half of the semester has gone well for you and you were able to successfully navigate the extreme weather challenges we experienced. It is my hope for all of us that the remainder of the spring semester will be smooth sailing!

With many traveling or taking some much-deserved time off during Spring Break next week, I want to encourage you to keep yourself and those around you safe. It’s now been one year since we began battling COVID-19, and I understand that this is still top of mind for many of us. It is a substantial health risk, and when we return from Spring Break, the university will continue to work to minimize the risks and limit the spread of the virus.

Although Gov. Greg Abbott has issued an executive order that will lift the statewide mask mandate effective March 10, the SFA COVID Team will be meeting this week and seeking guidance from health agencies and vested entities regarding any changes to the campus safety and health protocols. Until that time, all of our SFA safety protocols will remain in effect.

SFA will continue to make the health and safety of all Lumberjacks a top priority, and I encourage you to visit the university’s COVID-19 page for updates regarding health, student and campus services.

If you are traveling during the upcoming week, make sure someone you trust knows where you are going, when you plan to return, and has contact information for someone at home if you are in need of help. When you arrive at your destination, learn your surroundings and ensure you know how you will return before going out by yourself or in a group.

Whether you are staying home or traveling, I encourage you to take care of one another this coming week. Enjoy yourself, use good judgment, respect those around you, wash your hands, and return to campus rested and ready for the final portion of the academic year. And, as always…

Axe 'em, Jacks!

President Gordon