- Latest guidance
- Safety measures
- Do your part
- Questions and information that can be requested of employees
- Agency testing
- Reporting COVID-19 cases
- Contact tracing to occur on and off main campus
- Alternate work locations
- Remote work resources
- Working hours, time off and leave – benefits-eligible faculty and staff
- Emotional support
- Flexible hiring freeze
- Converting courses online
- Travel guidelines
- International study and study-away experiences
- Visiting scholars and international visitors
- Event information
- College of Agriculture and Life Sciences student groups
- COVID-19-related event losses and entering into future contracts
- Texas A&M AgriLife Extension employee guidance
- New protocols recently outlined by the CDC specify the shortened recommended isolation and quarantine period after testing positive or having a close contact with someone who has the virus.
- Epidemiologists have warned that the newest COVID-19 variant, called omicron, is likely more contagious than the original strain, SARS-CoV-2.
- Even if a person is vaccinated, they still can contract the virus, but their symptoms are expected to be considerably milder.
- It’s fine to get the flu and COVID-19 vaccines on the same day.
- Employees should minimize in-person meetings and follow guidance related to the prevention of COVID-19. Meetings that include visitors may include as many individuals as necessary while still accomplishing social distancing (6 feet). Off-campus locations should follow local guidance, and should your local health authority implement stricter guidance, please adhere to this guidance.
- Face masks are encouraged in our facilities’ indoor public spaces, on public transportation and wherever a six-foot social distancing radius cannot be maintained. Please see the section on face coverings, below, for more information.
- Per guidance from The Texas A&M University System, faculty, staff and students are encouraged to bring their own water to minimize touching of common water fountains.
- On the Texas A&M University campus, SSC Services continues to prioritize cleaning measures to prevent spread of the virus. This group is also continuing to provide disinfectant wipes and other supplies that support healthy hygiene. In off-campus AgriLife locations, hygiene supplies and personal protective equipment should be sourced locally. If you need help sourcing personal protective equipment or other supplies, contact David DeLeon.
- AgriLife will follow Centers for Disease Control and Prevention-approved COVID-19 protocols related to isolation and quarantine, which can be found here.
Please note that county Extension personnel should follow the guidance provided by county leadership or, if there is doubt, with the applicable district Extension administrator.
Do your part
Mask wearing, vaccinations and routine testing continue to be strongly encouraged by public health officials.
You are strongly encouraged to please do your part by following these recommendations:
- Get fully vaccinated against COVID-19. This includes the booster shot; check here for on-campus locations and here for off-campus sites, including CVS and Walgreens.
- Get tested before returning to campus. Free testing is widely available across the main campus and off campus.
- Get the flu shot.
- Wear a well-fitted mask or face covering indoors, regardless of your vaccination status. Do’s and don’ts of mask-wearing are outlined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
- Don’t come to work if you’re sick.
Questions and information that can be requested of employees
Supervisors may ask, but not require, information about apparent signs or symptoms of illness that may be associated with COVID-19. Employees should not be asked if they have, or suspect having, a specific illness or diagnosis. However, employees may be asked about:
- Their possible direct exposure to COVID-19
- Their having been advised to go into self-quarantine by a healthcare professional
- Their recent travel or plans to travel, both domestic and international.
All information about employee illness should be maintained in the confidential medical record section of the personnel file. Elizabeth Schwartz, chief human resources officer, can advise supervisors on an appropriate way to have this conversation if necessary.
The A&M System continues to provide free on-campus testing options for faculty, students and staff at System campuses.
Testing locations through Curative at locations around the Texas A&M University College Station campus can be found here.
AgriLife employees outside of Bryan-College Station please utilize public health testing options in your local area. Free testing sites across the country can be found on Curative’s website. If you are having problems finding adequate testing resources, please contact:
Elizabeth Parker at Elizabeth.Parker@ag.tamu.edu with AgriLife Research,
Angela Burkham at email@example.com with AgriLife Extension, or
Debi Fincher at Debra.Fincher@ag.tamu.edu with the Office of Ethics and Compliance.
Students, faculty and staff are encouraged to get tested if they experience COVID-19 symptoms or suspect they have been exposed to someone with COVID-19. Close contact is defined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as being within six feet of someone with COVID-19 for more than 15 minutes beginning 48 hours before the individual had symptoms, regardless of wearing a face mask.
The university recently acquired at least 50,000 at-home test kits from the Texas Division of Emergency Management. Details will soon follow about how the free tests will be distributed to students, faculty and staff in the coming weeks. Supplies of these tests will be made available to all TAMU campuses across the state.
We will continue to monitor COVID-19 cases locally and across Texas. As history has proven, COVID-19 conditions can rapidly change, so please routinely check this page for updates to existing protocols.
Reporting COVID-19 cases
The university has released guidance for reporting COVID-19 symptoms, exposure, or a positive test. Please review the information here and report to the university’s portal. Email COVID19Process@tamu.edu with your questions.
In addition, AgriLife employees who meet the below criteria must notify their supervisor, who will then ask that the individual complete an online form, and also contact Debi Fincher.
Students, faculty and staff who test positive or are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 are required to self-report.
Contact tracing to occur on and off main campus
The Texas A&M Investigation and Operations Center is handling contact tracing for the main campus as well as all off-campus locations and the regional Texas A&M System campuses. Contact tracing is very important for the safety of our campus communities. Your assistance will be incredibly valuable in helping our campuses continue to offer face-to-face courses. If contacted by one of the professionals at the center, please assist them and help make our communities a safer place for all.
Alternate work locations
- AWL requests are subject to supervisor AND unit head approval and must be based on appropriate job tasks that can effectively be performed remotely through the formal request process.
- Quarantine-related AWL requests, limited to only the time period an individual is required to quarantine due to exposure to COVID-19:
- Request must be documented in writing (email, memo, etc.) and include all the following:
- Employee name.
- AWL start and end dates.
- Remote work location address.
- Reason for the request, which is requirement for employee to quarantine.
- Unit heads are delegated authority to approve.
- Documentation should be kept in personnel file.
- Request must be documented in writing (email, memo, etc.) and include all the following:
Remote work resources
For AgriLife IT agency supported employees
The AgriLife IT service desk will continue operation and provide remote assistance for the majority of computer and software support needs. A skeleton team is available to perform hands-on computer repair as required. The group has also put together the following reference guide with details on how to access email and files and perform voice, video and chat collaboration with fellow employees and others: https://firstcallhelp.tamu.edu/knowledge-base/remote-office-resources/
Additional information from the university on working from home can be found at https://it.tamu.edu/work-from-home.php.
For College employees
Information from the university on working from home, as well as VPN support, can be found at https://it.tamu.edu/work-from-home.php.
Supervisors will provide additional guidance in the coming days. We will also continue to keep you informed through email communications and on the AgriLife COVID-19 resource webpage for employees.
Working hours, time off and leave – benefits-eligible faculty and staff
- Employees who choose to self-monitor or self-isolate because they belong to categories considered to be at higher risk of getting sick from COVID-19 (adults 60+ OR people who have serious chronic medical conditions such as heart disease, diabetes, or lung disease) should consult with their managers about telecommuting or working from home, where feasible. See more information at https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/hcp/clinical-care/underlyingconditions.html. Otherwise, employees may take other paid leaves as applicable to their position and situation.
- When an employee returns from self-isolation, supervisors may accept a doctor’s note if it is voluntarily provided but they may not require or ask for any specific documentation. However, supervisors may require that the employee notify them prior to return to work and may also require that the employee be asymptomatic upon return from self-isolation.
- Employees who are coughing or displaying other symptoms can be sent home and may be encouraged to seek medical advice but cannot be required to go to the doctor. Supervisors can require the employee to be asymptomatic before returning to work.
- COVID-19 qualifies as a “serious health condition” under FMLA, allowing an eligible employee to take FMLA leave if either the employee or an immediate family member contracts the disease.
Employees experiencing emotional challenges (such as anxiety) due to the coronavirus outbreak should contact their physician and/or Work/Life Solutions Program by GuidanceResources®. Work/Life Solutions employee assistance program offers a variety of services including consultations with clinicians for anxiety, depression, stress, grief, loss, life adjustments, relationship challenges, marital conflicts, etc. Also see additional information about Work/Life Solutions Program by GuidanceResources®.
Flexible hiring freeze
Given the uncertainties and impact of COVID-19 on the state economy, we are continuing to conserve resources that can be called on should the need arise. At the direction of The Texas A&M University System, Texas A&M AgriLife has implemented a flexible hiring freeze for positions paid totally or partly from appropriated funds.
- Current requisitions for positions paid from appropriated sources will need to be reviewed by executive leadership to allow time for conversations with hiring supervisors about their needs.
- Requisitions for positions paid from appropriated sources and deemed essential by executive leadership will continue to be posted so that recruiting can continue. All others will be cancelled, and recruiting will be deferred.
- For positions paid on appropriated sources, requests to fill currently posted requisitions and to post new requisitions will require approval.
You may view additional guidelines on the flexible hiring freeze (pdf) on our website for guidance going forward.
Converting courses online
To support faculty in converting their courses to online formats, the college has established an onsite help center in the open-access computer labs in the Agriculture and Life Sciences Building. Instructors seeking assistance can log in to a desktop machine with their NetID and password or bring their own laptop. Registration is required so we can maintain social distancing safeguards.
- Faculty are recommended to review the guide at https://keepteaching.tamu.edu/ before scheduling time with the help center.
- For assistance, you can email firstname.lastname@example.org with your request or questions.
We are conducting regular research operations, with consideration given to pandemic conditions and business needs.
Impacts to federal funding agencies / grant opportunities
If you have program-specific questions for your federally funded projects, please contact your federal program manager.
Updates related to COVID-19 impacts from other federal funding agencies can be found in the following link provided by the Council on Government Relations: https://www.cogr.edu/institutional-and-agency-responses-covid-19-and-additional-resources
Additionally, current federal agency COVID-19 funding opportunities can be found at https://cers.tamu.edu/funding-opportunity-news/.
- Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service employees are following pre-COVID travel authorization protocols. Supervisors should be following up with employees to confirm the process and approvals. International travel is being reviewed by the Office of Ethics & Compliance, but should be approved by the Director, Dean or designee as mission critical.
- Domestic travel authorizations for Texas A&M AgriLife Research are following pre-COVID protocols.
- All travelers should review the current levels of community transmission of COVID-19 in the locations where they will be traveling.
- Extension agents planning out-of-county travel should submit the travel request form AG-802 (pdf), approved by the immediate supervisor.
- Mission-critical international work travel may be approved on a case-by-case basis by the CEO or designee. However, please note that any country on the CDC’s list of countries with restrictions on entry to the U.S. will be included on the A&M System Risk Management’s list of Extreme Risk Countries. Travel to these countries will not be approved. Please continue to check the CDC travel website, as these recommendations may evolve. All requests for international travel must be routed through Concur for Ethics & Compliance review, risk mitigation, and subsequent recommendation to the CEO for approval.
- Approval and Routing:
- Route all travel requests through Concur to obtain approvals.
- Requests will route automatically; departments have pre-loaded Concur workflows.
- For routing requiring VP/Dean approval, these individuals can be added to the workflow during the submission or approval process within Concur. An email stating mission-critical reasons the travel should be approved can also be uploaded into Concur showing the approval given by the Director/Dean/Designee. Contact Ethics & Compliance if you have any questions at email@example.com
Vehicular occupancy limitations are removed for AgriLife Extension and AgriLife Research. However, we recommend that unvaccinated personnel wear masks when traveling in the same vehicle with others. We also recommend that if traveling for work with more than one person per vehicle, do not exceed 50% maximum vehicle occupancy, have the ventilation system turned on but not placed in recirculation mode, and, when possible, have two windows slightly open.
AgriLife Research continues to strongly encourage its employees to keep to one person per vehicle for work travel. But, if you choose to travel with more than one person per vehicle, the Vehicular Travel for Mission-Critical Research acknowledgement must be signed as part of the travel approval process.
Employees traveling outside Texas should review the CDC COVID-19 Data Tracker prior to travel. Also see the CDC page for state health departments and their travel restrictions. If you have any questions, please e-mail Debi Fincher.
It is recommended that everyone self-monitor their health after travel, following the CDC guidelines for return from international travel. While full details can be found on the CDC website, they are summarized below:
Regardless of vaccination status, all air passengers must show a negative COVID-19 test taken no more than 1 day before travel to the United States. All travelers (recommended):
- Get tested with a COVID-19 viral test 3-5 days after travel.
- Find a U.S. COVID-19 testing location near you
- Self-monitor for COVID-19 symptoms; isolate and get tested if you develop symptoms.
- Follow all state and local recommendations or requirements after travel.
If you are not fully vaccinated:
- In addition to the recommendations above, stay home and self-quarantine for a full 5 days after travel.
Self-quarantine and self-monitoring guidance can be found on the Texas A&M COVID-19 website and on the CDC Care Guide. Please check the CDC website for COVID-19 high risk countries and the U.S. State Department’s website for other countries’ travel restrictions for U.S. citizens.
Mission-critical international work travel may be approved on a case-by-case basis by the CEO or designee. However, please note that any country on the CDC’s list of countries with restrictions on entry to the U.S. will be included on the Texas A&M System Risk Management’s list of Extreme Risk Countries. Travel to these countries will not be approved.
Please continue to check the CDC travel website, as these recommendations may evolve.
International study and study-away experiences
Recent CDC guidance regarding study-abroad programs states that institutions of higher education should be aware that students may face unpredictable circumstances, such as travel restrictions, challenges returning home and challenges accessing health care while abroad. Taking this into consideration, study elsewhere and study abroad may be permissible under the following considerations:
- Semester-long study abroad experiences may be allowed on a case-by-case basis, depending on local conditions of the places to be visited.
- The statuses of some study-abroad and study-elsewhere experiences remain to be determined, depending on conditions at the places to be visited.
- Student travel should be mission critical.
- Approval processes are dependent on the type of student travel:
- A student planning travel associated with an academic program, or a faculty member planning a trip with students, should consult with his or her department head to determine if desired travel is essential to the mission of the university.
- Travel within the state of Texas essential to the mission of the university will be permitted at the discretion of the applicable department head. Out-of-state travel essential to the mission of the University will be permitted at the discretion of the dean. Mission-essential approval must be obtained prior to travel. Route all travel requests through Concur to obtain approvals.
- Student organizations should consult with the Department of Student Activities to determine if desired travel is mission-critical to the institution. Pre-approval for domestic travel is required from the vice president of student affairs and, for international travel, from the Office of the Provost.
- Students travelling for mission-critical research projects supported by 06 funding should continue to route from principal investigator to department head to Henry Fadamiro, Ph.D., associate director and chief scientific officer, AgriLife Research.
Please continue to check the CDC website as these recommendations may evolve: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/travelers/index.html.
Visiting scholars and international visitors
All international visitors to campus, including those invited for job interviews, should adhere to current CDC guidance. Please refer to the section above for international travel.
International visitors should ensure they have appropriate insurance coverage if they get sick. Departments/hosts should consider including providing testing on campus or within the community, if possible.
We suggest a continuation of virtual or hybrid meetings as appropriate. Please also consider the comfort level of in-person attendance with attendees, and ensure a virtual option is provided if feasible. With the return of some in-person programming, we encourage you to consider the following areas:
- Gathering limits: Follow the relevant local, state or university guidance regarding group gathering limits and appropriate protocols. Please reference the appropriate Open Texas Checklist for your event.
- Hybrid offerings: Not all guests may be comfortable with attending in person. Please consider offering a virtual option to events to ensure all parties can attend in their preferred format.
- Virtual meetings: For alternative methods of delivery for traditional face-to-face meetings and educational programs, the Digital Education unit has put together a resource on best practices and tools that are currently supported by AgriLife.
- Visitors to AgriLife Facilities: AgriLife facilities are open to visitors, and until further notice visitors should complete the COVID-19 Screening for AgriLife Facility Visitors form prior to their arrival onto our facilities. The document should be kept in case contact tracing is needed.
- Vaccination status of attendees: Attendees may be asked vaccination status anonymously and as long as responses are voluntary. This can assist the organizer in assessing risks and employing mitigation strategies.
College of Agriculture and Life Sciences student groups
Please consult the student activities website for relevant updates pending further notice.
COVID-19-related event losses and entering into future contracts
For those of you who are amid canceling events or planning gatherings, we understand this can be an uncertain time. If there are COVID-related financial implications from an event that has occurred or has been canceled, please let your business administrator know and they can assist with further guidance related to coding these losses appropriately.
In regards to entering into future contracts, AgriLife Rule 25.07 (AgriLife Research / AgriLife Extension) sets out when facility agreements need to be sent to the AgriLife Contract Office for review. However, if a department wants to send a facility use agreement for review before signing (even if it can be signed at the department level without the Contract Office’s review per Rule 25.07), you may do so by emailing the agreement to firstname.lastname@example.org. The standard facility use addendum is located at AgriLife Research / AgriLife Extension. If a facility refuses to sign the addendum or requests revisions, please contact email@example.com before signing the agreement. Note that the contracts office cannot provide legal advice/interpretation of a signed facility rental agreement related to the department’s rights to cancel the contract or the financial implication (if any) associated with the cancellation.
As we receive updated guidance on gathering limits, you will be notified via email or you can visit our web resource for COVID-19 updates. If you have any questions in the meantime, please do not hesitate to contact AgriLifeEvents@ag.tamu.edu.
TVMDL has been identified as providing essential services to the State of Texas and has remained fully operational throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. TVMDL employees are considered critical infrastructure workers and follow essential worker processes in accordance with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Texas A&M System, and city/county governments. TVMDL employees should contact TVMDL HR Representative Paula Mondebello at 979-845-3414 with questions regarding agency protocols.
Texas A&M AgriLife Extension employee guidance
Texas A&M AgriLife Extension employees should utilize the resources, services and guidelines found on the employee resources website.