Published on Thu 08/26/21
Welcome back to Texas A&M University and the beginning of another semester. I appreciate all that you have done under very challenging pandemic conditions and want you to know how important your contribution to having a safe teaching and learning environment has been to Texas A&M.
To help protect Aggieland and stop the spread of COVID-19, Texas A&M University urges students to be vaccinated and to wear masks in classrooms and all other academic facilities on campus, including labs. Doing so exemplifies the Aggie Core Values of respect, leadership, integrity, and selfless service by putting community concerns above individual preferences. COVID-19 vaccines and masking — regardless of vaccination status — have been shown to be safe and effective at reducing infection, spread of the virus to others, hospitalization, and death.
As we prepare for the start of the fall semester next week, I would like to take this opportunity to address specific issues that may need clarification or additional information:
- No one can ask you about your vaccination status or require you to wear a mask.
- If you have not already done so, please be sure to take your COVID test prior to September 10, 2021. Information about testing locations can be found at tx.ag/GetTested.
- Texas A&M has a COVID-19 Contingency Council that meets regularly and reviews international, national, state, and local data along with recommendations from the CDC, various governmental levels, and the Texas A&M University System to provide the best possible guidance for behavior and operations. It considers many metrics from these sources, not one of which will automatically trigger a change in operations under the present conditions. If COVID-19 conditions require actions to be taken, the COVID-19 Contingency Council will communicate that need to the campus community.
- As a reminder, vaccines are readily available on campus through Student Health Services or elsewhere in the community. Texas A&M encourages you to take advantage of these opportunities and become vaccinated. If you are vaccinated and can provide proof, you become eligible for a random drawing that will provide the winners with funds that could offset most or, in some cases, all of a year of your tuition and fees. More details will follow regarding drawing rules. For more information on the incentive program, please see this fall 2021 update.
- Students who test positive for COVID-19, whether symptomatic or not, may request an excused absence for the required period of self-isolation. Documentation must be consistent with Student Rule 7. Students must report their positive test through the COVID-19 reporting form. Falsification of these reports constitutes a violation of Student Rule 24.4.1 and the Aggie Honor Code.
- Close contact for COVID-19 continues to be defined as being within 6 feet of an infected individual for a cumulative 15 minutes, with or without a mask, within a 24-hour period.
- Students exposed through close contact with someone testing positive or presumed positive for COVID-19 should follow university guidance regarding quarantine. Students in quarantine due to exposure should not attend in-person classes but are expected to keep up with course work in collaboration with the instructor of record. Students should reach out to their instructors to discuss access to course content and submission/completion of graded work. Students must report their close contact through the COVID-19 report form.
- Remember that some faculty, staff, and students may be immunocompromised or have family members that cannot be vaccinated (children, medical complications, etc.). While they cannot require that you wear a mask, they may request that you do so in consideration of their personal situation. We ask that you be considerate and respectful and wear a mask whenever possible.
- Students who will not be on campus for the entirety of the semester (studying abroad, participating in off-campus internships, enrolled in fully online programs, etc.) are not required to complete COVID-19 testing at their local campus. Students are to follow testing guidelines at their location.
While we had all hoped that the pandemic would not be an issue this fall, it is still a major factor, influencing how we live, work, and study. I am heartened that university management of COVID-19 over the last 1 ½ years has kept the campus community safe and has not resulted in widespread transmission of the virus. We will be able to keep the campus community safe only if we all continue to do our part.
Mark H. Weichold ’78
Interim Provost and Executive Vice President