Dear faculty members,
As we work together to resume some semblance of normalcy and protect ourselves and our community, the Aggie core value of selfless service has been on my mind. Health experts agree that wearing masks and getting vaccinated protects not only ourselves but also those around us.
On that note of safeguarding our community, I want to clear up any confusion about what to do if a student you supervise or teach notifies you of COVID-19 symptoms, diagnosis or positive test result. For instance, students who develop symptoms or test positive for COVID-19 are required to notify their professors or instructors and may request an excused absence.
As a faculty member, you cannot notify a class about a classmate’s diagnosis. This comes too close to divulging privileged medical information. Instead, contact tracers will identify close contacts in classes. Please do continue to encourage your students and employees to get vaccinated, wear a face mask indoors, and frequently wash their hands.
Supervisors and faculty may advise relevant personnel that an employee or student may be absent from work — without relaying any medical information such as a diagnosis or symptoms about the student.
When responding to the student notifying you: Unless the student electronically provides you with a confirmation of a medical visit document or a Student Absence Notification form, instruct them to go home, self-report via the university’s online form, stay away from others, seek medical attention if necessary and fully cooperate with the university’s COVID-19 Operations Center. (You can also refer them to https://www.tamu.edu/coronavirus/sick-campus-members/#step4.)
Protecting our community also involves paying attention to your own health. Please follow the Texas A&M protocol for employees if you have been in close contact with an individual who has tested positive for COVID-19. Recall that close contact means someone who was within 6 feet of you for a total of 15 minutes, regardless of whether the person was wearing a mask.
Thank you, and stay well,
Patrick J. Stover, Ph.D.
Vice Chancellor, Texas A&M AgriLife
Dean, College of Agriculture and Life Sciences
Director, Texas A&M AgriLife Research